Live Auctions

Floating Find: 1968 52-Foot Houseboat

Now for something completely different. Here on eBay is a 1968 houseboat for sale, bid to $8,701, with no reserve. This houseboat is in a slip on the St. John’s River in Florida near Jacksonville. This is a static houseboat designed to remain moored, with no provision for a motor. The seller suggests that a buyer could either move it with an outboard (slowly!) or tow it to its new home, or leave it in its current slip. It is 52′ long and 12′ wide, with a captain’s quarters bedroom, and a living room with a queen bed foldout. Each sleeping area has its own outside entrance and its own deck.

There is one bathroom with a shower, sink, and toilet. The houseboat is equipped with a hot water heater and each sleeping area has an air conditioner. The kitchen is in the center of the floorplan. It includes a refrigerator that looks to be about three-quarter size, a two-burner stove, an oven, and a double sink. The seller estimates that at least 250 cubic feet of storage are available below deck, in addition to abundant shelving in the various rooms. Onshore power is 2 x 30 AMP, and offshore is 12-volt.

The interior wood needs restaining, and there are a few holes here and there that are said to be benign. The front window is cracked; the seller says it has not been a problem through several hurricanes and doesn’t leak.

Recent maintenance includes three coats of Kilz on the deck, repair of several holes, and sealant applied to the roof. The chrome trim, poles, and all railings are said to be in good condition. The seller suggests several possible uses for the houseboat including an office, a getaway, a permanent home, or – my favorite – a vacation rental. In fact, in the category of “why didn’t I think of that”, here is a VBRO site for houseboats all over the world. Florida is a natural! But now let’s talk about ongoing maintenance. A houseboat is a house in water. Water is bad for nearly everything except fish. Items specifically vulnerable to being in the water include all trim, lines, wood – including the hull – and electrical apparatus. We don’t know if this hull is fiberglass or wood but plan on more care if it’s wood. Then there’s all the regular house-type upkeep including AC, refrigerator, stove, plumbing, and finishes. Daily chores like garbage disposal, pumping the toilet, and food shopping will add yet another dimension to the ownership experience. Still, the price is right, so far. If you owned this, how would you use it?


  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    All cool ideas Michelle, my niece lives in a houseboat in the Florida Keys. Very expensive to moor it and the daily issues that you have described. She is a young Parrot head and pulling it off, good for her. Nice to see a non car post. Take care, Mike.

    Like 12
    • Grant

      Expensive to moor, exactly. Just like all the RV commercials have them camping all by themselves in a pristine wilderness. Not happening unless you are crazy rich and own that wilderness. Face it, you just can’t plop your stuff anywhere. As much as the idea of this as a way to beat stupidly high rents, I am kind of happy you can’t just park it anywhere as suddenly our waterways would be marred with them everywhere. A form of checks and balances to maintain some civility in public spaces. Of courser, I lament with the young people on absurd rents as well. My generation is at fault for that, and many should be ashamed of themselves.

      Like 9
      • Kenn

        Actually, here in Michigan you can almost.”…plop your stuff anywhere.” Including some places on the Great Lakes if you’re boating and not RVing.

        Like 1
  2. PaulG

    Water heater.
    If the water is already hot why heat it…
    I could win the biggest powerball or mega millions lottery and a boat wouldn’t even make the list.

    Like 13
    • SirRaoulDuke

      Eh, I could use a new kayak.

      Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      And why a toilet, you’d be floating in a giant one,,what?

      Like 2
  3. Mike B

    Barge Find?

    Like 18
  4. Kenneth Carney

    Nice place to entertain the ladies. I’d
    consider it if it were closer to me. I’d
    moor it near Old Man Frank’s so that I
    wouldn’t have that far to go home and
    sleep it off when I have one too many.
    It’s a great place to kick back and down a few. And the tacos, they’re
    outs sight!

    Like 3
  5. Kermit Henderson

    Do you need a “driver’s license” to operate a boat?

    Like 1
  6. Walter

    As a really big fan of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee I find this intriguing. Not very practical but definitely intriguing. McGee certainly led an interesting life from his houseboat in “Ft. Lauderdamndale.” Not sure I would be up for that much excitement but maybe up North in the St. John’s would be just right.

    Like 10
    • Twins

      Walter. Hes the first character I thought of when I saw houseboat and Florida. Inwas just looking for my old Travis McGee books last week!

      Like 3
      • Walter

        I lost mine to water damage in my attic after a hurricane. In some ways I guess that’s appropriate.
        Born and raised in SoFla. The McGee books always reminded me of a place and time that no longer exists. Even Bahia Mar is changing.

        Like 3
    • KevinW La

      Bahia Mar Marina slip F18, The Busted Flush. Yea, I’m a big fan too.

      Like 5
    • Francisco

      And a neighbor and friend named Meyer. And an electric blue Rolls Royce pickup named Miss Agnes.

      Like 4
      • Walter

        Converted to a pickup and powered by a Mercury engine. I wonder how that would fly here or on Jalopniks Nice Price or No Dice?

        Like 1
    • philthyphil

      busted flush II

  7. Steve

    If it’s a steel bottom and 1968, run, run, run!!! Had a 1969 that found its way to the bottom of the lake last summer. $7500 to get out.

    Like 5
  8. Howard A Member

    This certainly stretches the limits of what might be found in a barn. I don’t know about you, but I think living on water, bobbing up and down all night, would get a bit old. No motor, if your neighbors pixx you off, you can’t leave. Someone mentioned high cost of rent, and none is more evident than here in Colorado. Drag it out of the muck, be a nice place to live.

    Like 3
  9. Troy

    1) I know nothing about boats and how to take care of them the only boats I’ve ever had were the blow up rubber rafts to take out on the lake
    2) I have zero interest in living in Florida

    Like 3
  10. erik johnston

    This is a fun change-thanks barnfinds. I like a interesting change. Most of the comments are same take I would have.Houseboats are great fun. I lived in the Seattle area and the owner of the shop had own like this .Went out on it a few times-great fun(it had a motor and nice shape)Stayed on it at moorage a few times and loved it. They offered to rent it to me-no crusing,just live on it $300 a month. After some deep thinking I declined. The owner took a few of us lucky ones a trip out on lake Washington to watch the unlimited hydros run in the seafair show. That memory makes me want this house, but being on the other side of the states-not going to happen. I wonder what it will sell for.

    Like 1
  11. Joe Haska

    Michelle, I like this. My wife’s boss has a share of what they called a “House Boat or Motor Launch” it was built in the Forties had two bedrooms , kitchen , living room. It was sea worthy and at one time belonged to The American Can Co. It was kept in Shelter Island, San Diego. We stayed on it about a week, with our kids. The Captain came down one day and we toured the harbor with it. The boat next to us was a multi million dollar yaught and we got to hang out with the owner, another story. It was the most fun , the kids will never forget. Also got to park my 40 Ford right on the edge of the dock.

    Like 3
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Very cool – your experience. I am thinking that a houseboat is best visited, as opposed to owned.

      Like 1
  12. Bunky

    I was OK with a houseboat on Barn Finds, though I would prefer an actual powered houseboat- not a “housebarge”.
    I don’t appreciate the political opinion that I am somehow responsible for high rent cost because of my age- that’s not germane to this site- and I reject the premise.

    Like 8
  13. Rufus

    I’ve lived on boats and it’s not the “idyllic” life most people imagine. Water is insidious, and if it doesn’t leak in from the top, it finds a way in from the bottom. A storm in the middle of the night isn’t a lovely diversion, it’s an “all hands on deck to secure the lines and fenders” event. I lived in a marina in Marathon Florida on a 38 foot cruiser, and the marina would not allow houseboats, period! There are dangers most folks can’t even imagine from living aboard, and the cost of maintenance and upkeep is staggering.
    Just as owning a vintage auto isn’t for everyone, living on a boat takes a special kind of person. And unless your significant other is a real adventurer, you would do well to move along, nothing to see here.
    Have fun

    Like 4
  14. roger gorski

    One word…SumpPump. You also better have a reliable power generator to keep that sump-pump going during a big storm.

    Like 2
  15. Naptown mark

    This looks suspiciously like one of those purchases that ends up bringing the most pleasure on the day it is sold on to the next poor sap…

    Like 7
  16. 19sixty5 Member

    Turn it into a replica of the early 60’s TV show, Surfside 6. The original houseboat from that series ended up in Maryland and was turned into a restaurant/tiki bar. It sank in early 2021 and was scrapped. Sooner or later anything that floats is going to sink!

    Like 3
  17. Dave

    That looks like a steel hull River Queen Houseboat. I had a 38′ River Queen from the ’60’s. Really cool old boats.

    Like 3
    • Steven

      Grew up on a 38 ft River Queen! Joliet Illinois!

      Like 3
  18. angliagt angliagt Member

    I’ve thought about getting out of cars,& into
    something cheap,like boats.

    Like 4
  19. Danny V. Johnson

    This may seem a little snarky. I can’t tell you the last time that I heard of a 52′ house boat “Barn Find.”

  20. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $11,642.

    Like 1
  21. chrlsful

    WoW !
    a big’un.
    maintainin the hull (interfaces w/water 24 hrs/day) is not 1/2 the running costs. Its the most important, aahahahaa

    To the living comment: I love being rocked to sleep and the sounds at shore side. I’d just hafta take’er out tho, so no go w/this 1.

    A slip 365 would not B bad but I’d wanna bike w/trailer to bring in the groceries etc (long gangway, dock). Seattle? Imagine a cruse of the Sound or Bay there? San Fran? Cabrillo (quick trip to mexico)? Portland, ME? Usta love the Chesapeake, but ponder NC now…

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