This floating cabin caught a lot of attention when it appeared online, with mostly positive remarks, although one person described it as a “Redneck Yacht Club”, a nickname these owners probably agree with, but they prefer to call it “Chateau Bathtub”. Regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, Foy and Louisa Brown love their hand-built cabin, which resides just off the shores of Vinalhaven island in mid-coast Maine. They originally planned to rent it to vacationers, but quickly thought otherwise, as home insurance only covers so much in the case of drunken Bostonians accidentally disappearing into the cold Atlantic waters. Plus, once they finished building the cabin they loved it so much that it only seemed right spending their days relaxing there.
Maine natives operate at their own pace, and it took the couple over a decade to build the cabin, or at least to get it safe enough before Foy could convince anyone to safely set foot on it. After he built the float and towed it offshore he began the next stage, building the cabin itself using mostly pine shiplap as material. If you thought building was tough on land, try doing it on an offshore float, where forgetting a tool means paddling back to shore. He finished just in time for the couple’s wedding night in August 2010.
“Finished” might be a relative term however, as the roof leaked on their air mattress, and waves conducted a symphony of creaking noises from the structure. Over time he made improvements and they eventually towed it to the Fox Island Straight, a calmer portion of water between North Haven and Vinalhaven islands.
While Foy took care of the build itself, Louisa added the finishing touches, including the decorations. She also collected driftwood to use for the railing in the upper loft.
Images by Nicole Wolf via Maine Home+Design
With no electricity or plumbing, Louisa ferries out fresh water daily and they have propane tanks to power the stove, refrigerator and hot water. At night they use candles and oil lamps to illuminate the place. Like many houseboat owners, they value the unique freedom of having their own mini-island, with its lack of two-legged neighbors. Louisa planted a small bunch of flowers and vegetables on the patio, where she can be found posted in an Adirondack chair with a good book. Things aren’t always so relaxing though, like the one time it began floating away after a strong wind broke it free from its mooring.
The good-natured couple takes it all in stride.
“The best part is getting away from it all,” says Foy. “There’s no TV, no one to bother you—and no property taxes or permits.”
Amen to that.