Houseboat/RV Combo! 1972 SeaCamper

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Why not combine the best features of a houseboat and a small RV into a single unit that can also cruise comfortably on the water? That’s exactly what the creators of the SeaCamper did in the early 1970s. There’s a small but devoted following of these fairly unique vehicles today, and if you like the idea as well you can purchase this one that is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has just broached the $3,500 mark and the hybrid home is located in the aptly named Three Rivers, Michigan.

A check of this March 1970 Popular Science article illustrates that the design was pretty good at both being a boat and a camper, and even mentions that the boat can “climb onto plane” in only four seconds. The special trailer supports the hull more substantially than a typical boat trailer and those cool-looking fold-down stairs work both on the ground and in the water. I can easily see how a family looking for recreational activities would be intrigued by the possibilities offered by a SeaCamper!

While it’s obvious that even the original designers recognized the styling limitations of the multi-purpose configuration, a shiny like-new SeaCamper would be impressive in the driveway, at least! Apparently, however, only about 600 were produced according to an owners’ group, so the idea didn’t take off quite as much as anticipated.

As far as this particular SeaCamper goes, it’s been unused for the past four years due to family illness and has been in storage. A test tow of 15 miles a week ago to a lake passed without incident (although we’re not told if the boat went in the water) and the original trailer seems intact, albeit with some rust on the fenders. I would be really interested in the lake-worthyness of the hull and stern drive. The owner suggests that new batteries will be needed at a minimum.

Plenty of room in the kitchen and a full bathroom is included. While of course it’s dated in appearance, if this stuff is still functional I could live here for a while!

Here’s a surprise! Rather than the original 120 or 160-horsepower Mercruiser engines mentioned in the Popular Science article, this has a crate 454-cubic inch engine that was fitted at a cost of $12,000 at the time. Based on the cleanliness of the engine compartment it wasn’t done that long ago, but that’s an inquiry I’m sure the seller could answer. I’ve actually sent the owner some questions about this SeaCamper; if I get responses I’ll add them to this post. Do you like the idea of a vintage camper/boat combo as much as I do? Let us know in the comments!

Update 8/10: I asked if this was the dual helm version; the seller reported that was only on later SeaCampers, and that the roof only has the horn and light as seen in the pictures.

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  1. CadmanlsMember

    So was the design supposed to be duel usage? This doesn’t look light but kind of a cool idea. Small camping type boat. So the range was cut when the big Chevy moved in as I doubt the fuel tank was enlarged. A lake or a river might be ok but it’s old and the systems may need updated or replaced. Most boats don’t age well.

    Like 5
  2. Scotty GilbertsonStaff

    Nice one, Jamie! I could easily live in this thing on Lake Superior, at least seven months a year. It’s definitely cheaper than a house to maintain and has no property taxes, basement leaks, roof leaks, etc. Although, I guess you wouldn’t want the “basement” to leak in this SeaCamper when you’re in a lake.

    Like 11
    • HoA Howard AMember

      “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee”,,

      Like 13
      • Francisco

        I hope this particular boat doesn’t share the same fate as Gordon Lightfoot’s subject.

        Like 7
      • Bluetec320 Bluetec320

        The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead, when the skies of November turn gloomy. Yikes! I think I would want a different theme song for my boat, Howard.

        Like 8
  3. Bluetec320 Bluetec320

    I’m digging this, but unfortunately, whenever you buy a boat you almost always end up “under water” financially. But how cool would it be to tell all of your friends that you own “Water Bug- Land Beetle”

    Like 7
    • PJ

      but the ad says it should increase in value…

      Like 3
  4. tony t

    No “basement leaks” ….uh huh

    Like 3
  5. Troy

    I would wind up using the trailer for something else, the boat would become a field Ornament for the grand kids to play in or build a pond around it and rent on air b&b

    Like 2
  6. chrlsful

    same as any other vehicle (car, truck, camper), depreciates. Needs constant maintenance. Gorsh – same on ur house.

    I like the trailer’s added outriggers (in/out door rug padding?). Would like even more inspection of that trailer. May B need to beef it up.

    Water ways were the nation’s hwys for a long time. Like to drive between and explore these ‘back yard streets”. What’s it’s draft? Also uncertain on it’s length, use on blue (open) water. Example: can I drop off at Cape Cod, pick up on Chesapeake Bay? My idea ofa nice 3, 4 day cruse. The wife, not so much, let her run the p/u – haul vehicle.

    Like 2
  7. Jack Quantrill

    Man, this thing is ugly!

    Like 0
  8. Marko

    I would trade my fifth wheel trailer in a heartbeat for this.

    Looks like a well thought out layout, compared to some I have seen on the market.

    This type of camper / house boat, is currently all the rage in the Aussie market.

    Like 3
  9. Scott Schwaninger

    Hi, how much dose it weigh for towing purposes?

    Like 0
  10. HoA Howard AMember

    See, the thing with this, IDK how much you are going to use it, I mean, where you going to go, that wouldn’t cost a fortune. I can only imagine this thing, as equipped, gets maybe 2 gallons/ mile? 3 gallons? I suppose you could live in a boat slip, but I think it would make a dandy house for on land. Properly anchored, I’d think it would weather storms pretty well. Or, leave it on the trailer and use it as a camper, but for any big body of water, I’ve seen the Great Lakes get ugly, and trust me, even a 728 foot iron ore freighter isn’t safe,,,as the story goes,,,.

    Like 3
  11. Frank

    looks like a cheaper version of this

    we had one when I was a kid – bought new around 1973.

    Like 1
  12. Kenneth Carney

    What fun this would be here in Florida! Since we have water almost
    everywhere, you could explore the state in a way you couldn’t before. And since my favorite see-loon has
    lakefront access, I could have my
    future BIL drive it there, tie it up at the
    dock, tie one on, and then sleep it off
    before I’d take it back to my house. I
    saw a guy do this last Sunday when we went to see a friend of ours play
    music there. But, you know what they
    say about a boat: Bust Out Another

    Like 0
  13. Kenn

    I rented one for a week with wife and 2 kids on Florida vacation. Had a ball. Stuck to the intercoastal waterway ’cause I question it’s stability in the open Gulf. And frankly, I wouldn’t want to be far from shore on any of the Great Lakes with it.

    Like 0
  14. Matt c

    Theres one thats been sitting at the local yacht club , no engine and gutted interior , a bit rough but the hull is fine. My wife is not on board with me acquiring it. And it would cost next to nothing. It has a bracket for a small outboard and an acme plug in the I/O hole. Not sure if the flip steps are there. If I put a “Boston whaler” emblem on the side everyone would want it.

    Like 1
    • Al Williams

      Hello matt.
      I have a 1978 Sea Camper and am looking for parts, Yep, the flip steps are what I need if you ever see that Sea Camper again could you check. Would greatly appreciate.
      Super hard to find and have been looking for a long time.
      Al Williams

      Like 0
      • Matt C

        I will look to see if its there the next time I go by it, I dont recall it being there and the I/O was removed long ago and the hole plugged and a small outboard bracket is on it so it may not have been necessary in their eyes. A few years back I did get inside it and it was pretty empty, essentially gutted.

        Like 1
    • Al Williams

      Hello Matt
      Thank you for your response, That would be GREAT if you could give it a look.
      I bought my Sea Camper about a year ago ,it is a 1978 with fly bridge in really good shape but it does not have the lower flip stairs.
      Super hard to find.
      Can’t wait to hear back from you, fingers crossed.
      I totally appreciate you looking for me!
      Al Williams

      Like 0
  15. Karl

    Not sure what to think of this one! The tri hull would be the absolute worst choice in styles in any kind of waves what do ever, would beat the people in the boat and the boat itself to pieces in short order. With the BBC in there the cut the range by a good margin, and what did they do to the outdrive to accommodate the new engine?
    Last but certainly not least, it’s OLD every piece of this thing is going to need attention, time and money, then do it all again, and again, you get my point!

    Like 0

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