Couple transform 100-year-old boat into impressive eco-friendly home – and it only costs £20 per month to run
A creative couple have spent three years renovating a 100-year-old boat into an impressive eco-friendly home – and it only costs £20 per month to run.
Gina Dutton, 45, and her husband, John, 60, spend as little as £20 per month during the summer after selling their three bedroom bungalow to live on the Bideford harbour, Devon, mortgage free.
The boat – which is powered by solar panels from March until October and even the rain is filtered so it’s usable – was purchased by the couple in January, 2016.
Previously spending £600 per month on their mortgage alone, Gina and John both worked up to 80 hours a week, in order to get by.
But they decided to pack up their lives in Anstey, Leicester after John, 60, suffered an almost fatal brain aneurysm over four years ago.
Once he returned from the hospital, they quit their jobs, sold their house and moved into a camper van and headed down to the seaside town where they stumbled across the 100-year-old boat.
The couple have transformed their eco-boat using furniture found in their charity shops, recycling centres or given to them from locals.
Gina added: “After John’s aneurysm, we began to live for today. We have always loved the sea which is why we headed down to Devon. We never imagined our new home would be a boat, it was totally random like us.
“John had to go to an emergency dental appointment which was in Bideford, whilst he was there, I had a look around and found a boat that had gone up for sale for £65,000, the day before.
“It was fate, within a week we had moved in.
“Despite having a flood last May, due to a hole, which left us up to our waist in water and meant we had to start downstairs all over again, we have loved every second of living here.
“I have learnt to love the crash and bangs from the tide against the boat, it is like being in the belly of a whale.
“Most of our furniture is from the recycling centre, I am like an eagle, I’m always scanning for scrapped furniture in the streets that we can reuse.
“We make use of everything like the doors which we found online as people were giving some away and others we found at the tip, we then painted and distressed then made them into a feature wall in our bedroom.
“We love being resourceful and living off grid teaches you that, to not be reliant on big corporations.
“All of our water comes from the rain and we have a log burner, but we still have to wear plenty of layers on the evening. We are like a pair of Eskimo’s during the winter,
“We have a little community here, we all stick together and look after each other, if there is a problem with our boat, other people who live on the water help us. We never had that living in a house, I didn’t even know my neighbours name.
“Our family have asked us to live with them during the cold winters but we never have, we love the boat too much, there is always something to do here.”
The couple’s boat – which boasts 10 rooms and is 140 feet long – has been stylishly decorated into a quirky living space.
Gina said: “It is like being in the inside of a whale’s belly, it is that big. The front room is my favourite as we have put in three big windows so I find myself looking outside at the forever changing views. Whether that be ships passing, the sun setting or a thunder storm.
“The main difference when living on the boat is that you always have to think ahead with the seasons, we spend the whole year collecting wood to prepare for the winter.
“It has definitely helped us grow as people and discover new strengths like being able to handle all situations, I’m not bothered by little things such as the electric running out or the boiler being broke anymore.
“We just fix everything ourselves now or just get on with it and bare the cold.
“Before living on the boat I was working 80 hours a week, I was a sales manager in a gym Monday to Friday and cleaned a local hospital on the weekends, I had no time for myself.
“Whereas now I am a temporary administrative assistant and work from home during the mornings and spend my afternoons with John, going for walks on the beach with our dog and collecting drift wood for a new feature wall I am working on.”