A WOMAN who gave up living on land to live in a floating home balanced on a river pontoon revealed she can sunbathe on her roof and swim whenever she wants.
The boat, named The River Den (or La Tanniere), features custom-made asymmetrical windows, a classic ship’s wheel, an antique fireplace, and hand-built furniture.
Bonnie told Exploring Alternatives that she impulsively designed the houseboat, before her boatbuilding friend Denis Tremblay, who is known locally as the Wakefield Pirate, helped her build it.
Denis, along with a few of his friends, built the boat by hand including the aluminum frame, custom windows, cabinets, and the grill floor in the loft.
The boat is built on five pontoons that are specifically designed to provide flotation while still taking on some water to keep the boat weighed down for stability.
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They are also designed to freeze in the ice and were crafted by a local company called Les Quais Navigables.
Bonnie’s four-season houseboat is fully insulated and has an antique wood-burning fireplace that provides heat during the winter.
For power, the DIY whizz installed a deep cycle marine battery that provides 12-volt power for the boat’s interior lighting, bilge pump, and navigation lights.
She has a Separett composting toilet from Sweden and a sink that pumps water from the river for washing dishes.
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“It just draws river water and the river water is really clean, it’s not drinking water but it’s really nice and clean to do dishes with and to brush your teeth,” she said.
The waterless toilet separates the liquids from the solids and has a quiet flush – perfect for solo water life.
“It’s great because you can’t hear it and it dries out the solids really quickly and turns it into compost and there’s no odor whatsoever,” she said.
Bonnie also uses a cooler with ice as a refrigeration system but revealed she is planning on installing solar panels so that she can power a proper fridge.
The main floor of the miniature houseboat boasts a fully functioning kitchen, toilet, dining room, and living room, and upstairs is a cozy loft space that doubles as a bedroom area.
Bonnie’s bedroom has a queen-sized bed and storage space made from old crates that hold extra blankets.
One of the windows in the loft even opens up onto a stunning rooftop patio with a cedar deck.
Bonnie said, “It’s great to wake up on the water and just jump in the river first thing in the morning, it’s a really peaceful way to live”.
With all the space in the decking area, Bonnie is able to kick back and soak up the sun – all from one step out of her bedroom.
The boat can also be used on the road as Bonnie had a wedge roof built over the loft that can be taken apart if she wants to move it to a different location.
Bonnie lives in the boat unless she is renting it on Airbnb where guests have “full access of the entire boat”.
According to Bonnie’s Airbnb advert of the houseboat, The River Den is the “perfect off-grid paradise in any season” – and judging by the 4.85-star rating and over 630 reviews, it seems as if past guests would agree.
One previous guest left a glittering review that read: “Wonderful house boat experience, beautiful river and very cozy and lovely decorated place. Would love to stay there again! Highly recommend”.
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Another said: “Hidden gem in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. A must visit for a unique weekend getaway. The host was responsive and provided clear instructions. We really enjoyed our stay”.
A third added: “What a cute little place. Absolutely perfect for a night or weekend getaway! So cozy and comfortable. Thanks again!”