A WOMAN who gave up life on land to live in a floating house balanced on a river pontoon revealed she can sunbathe on her roof and swim whenever she wants.
Bonnie, from Quebec, Canada, lives in a stunning little house on the banks of the Gatineau River.
Named The River Den (or La Tanniere), the boat features custom-made asymmetrical windows, a classic ship’s wheel, an antique fireplace and hand-crafted furniture.
Bonnie told me Explore alternatives that she spontaneously designed the houseboat before her boatbuilding friend Denis Tremblay, known locally as the Wakefield Pirate, helped her build it.
Denis, along with some of his friends, built the boat by hand, including the aluminum frame, custom windows, cabinets and grill floor in the attic.
The boat is built on five pontoons specifically designed to provide buoyancy while holding some water to maintain the weight of the boat for stability.
They are also designed to freeze in ice and were made by a local company called Les Quais Navigables.
Bonnie’s four-season houseboat is fully insulated and features an antique wood-burning fireplace to provide warmth in the winter.
For power, the DIYer installed a deep-cycle marine battery that provides 12-volt power for the boat’s interior lights, bilge pump and navigation lights.
It has a Separett composting toilet from Sweden and a sink that pumps water from the river for washing dishes.
“It just sucks in river water and the river water is really clean, it’s not drinking water but it’s really nice and clean to do the dishes with and brush your teeth with,” she said.
The waterless toilet separates liquids from solids and has a quiet flush – perfect for living alone by the water.
“It’s great because you can’t hear it and it dries out the solids very quickly and turns them into compost without there being any smell at all,” she said.
Bonnie also uses a cooler with ice as her cooling system, but revealed that she plans to install solar panels to power a proper refrigerator.
The ground floor of the miniature houseboat has a fully functional kitchen, toilet, dining room and living room, and on the upper floor there is a cozy attic that doubles as a sleeping area.
Bonnie’s bedroom has a queen bed and storage made from old boxes for extra blankets.
One of the attic windows even opens onto a stunning rooftop terrace with a cedar deck.
Bonnie said: “It’s great to wake up on the water and jump in the river first thing in the morning. It’s a really peaceful way to live.”
Thanks to the generous space on the terrace, Bonnie can sit back and enjoy the sun – all with just one step out of her bedroom.
The boat can also be used on the go, as Bonnie had a wedge roof built over the attic, which can be taken apart if she wants to move it to another location.
Bonnie lives in the boat unless she rents it through Airbnb, where guests have “full access to the entire boat.”
According to Bonnie’s Airbnb advertisement for the houseboat, The River Den is the “perfect off-grid paradise any time of year” — and judging by the 4.85-star rating and over 630 reviews, it seems like previous guests would agree .
A previous guest left a glowing review that read: “Wonderful houseboat experience, beautiful river and very cozy and lovingly decorated place. Would love to stay there again! We recommend.”
Another said: “Hidden gem in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. A must for a unique weekend getaway. The host was helpful and gave 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!”