In the dead of winter, on those dark nights with the wind moaning through the trees, I often think about how wonderful it is to be in a backwater with my toes dipped in the drink, at peace with nature and life. I think most of us share the notion that a bit of shanty boating would be a grand way to pass some time: securely anchored in some cove, out of the brunt of the wind and far away from the buzz of the daily news cycle.
Shanty boats can run the gamut from fixed float-house types to self-powered examples. The waters you frequent will determine whether you need a self-powered version or can get by with a less-mobile option.
I drew the Shanty 36 about eight years ago for folk singer and artist Gordon Bok. He fancied a movable summer home for his local waters in New England. Malone Boatbuilding in Rockport, Maine, built her, and from the photos, I’d say they did a fine job of it. Christened Jeannie Teal, she frequents Down East waters.
One of the most interesting features of the Shanty 36 is that she is one level throughout, from the covered stern cockpit deck to the main salon and galley, head and berthing area forward. One only needs to go up a single step to the forward, self-bailing cockpit. From here, the Shanty 36 is conned when motoring her with the twin high-thrust outboards on the stern.
There is a sliding door on the rear cockpit bulkhead that allows entry into the salon. For comfort, there is space for a diesel or wood stove adjacent to the galley.
A forward door from this cabin into the head also becomes the passageway to the cabin. This boat is designed for a couple to live aboard for weeks, or even months, at a time, so I could include some features that might not work for a boat occupied by more of a gang. Another door on the forward wall opposite the head accesses the sleeping cabin forward. An athwartships queen berth is on a raised platform with stowage below and access on three sides, just like at home. There will be no climbing over the mate to get up for a midnight anchor check, and making the bed is simplified. Cabinets are both the hanging and bureau type. At the forward end, a sliding door accesses the bow cockpit.
Three opening hatches are in the roof of the Shanty 36, and there are 15 opening windows all around. Solar panels could be mounted, coupled to the ship’s batteries. With those panels and LED lighting, the Shanty 36 could easily detach from shore.
Power on the Shanty 36 comes from twin 60-hp high-thrust outboards. Each is in a motor well, with the tops of the outboard wells doubly functioning as cockpit seating. When the outboards are raised upright, there is enough height over the top to leave the seating undisturbed. If the skipper needs access to the outboards, the hinged seat lids lift, eliminating the need to lean over the stern. There is a stern boarding door for easy access.
The Shanty has outboard controls and steering in the forward cockpit.
One advantage of shallow-draft boats with good bottom protection is that they can ground out on a soft bottom, which means they can anchor where normal yachts cannot go. For that purpose and to keep her off the immediate bottom, I included a substantial, chafe-protected keel and twin bilge keels. They provide three-point suspension above the bottom and ensure that she will not damage anything on her hull below the waterline.
I would consider it a necessity on the Shanty 36 to have a small dingy with an electric outboard and removable sailing rig. Imagine being anchored in some small bight with a light afternoon breeze, sailing about with a background scene of the Shanty 36 patiently awaiting your return.
The appropriate costume for a Shanty boat crew might consist of a frayed straw hat, bare feet, pants with the bottoms rolled up, and a long-sleeve, unbuttoned shirt with rolled-up sleeves, but I leave that up to the captain and crew.
But do not miss trailing your toes in the water on a warm day in a calm, and secure anchorage. That is singularly an experience that is rare these days.
LOA: 36ft. 2in.
Beam: 12ft. 4in.
Draft: 2ft. 5in.
Displacement: 14,500 lbs.
Engine: 2 x 60-hp outboard
This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 issue.