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DIY Houseboat Named Y-Knot Built for a Trip to Lake Powell

Lake Powell is the Mecca of pontoon boating. But what if you only have an RV – and no pontoon?

Ron K Miller’s Folding Chalet Houseboat

Ron K Miller first thought of the idea to put his Chalet folding travel trailer on a pontoon boat in September, 2010.

He scoured the internet and found some knowledagable people on, a hub of DIY boating.

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After only one year, Ron completed his DIY houseboat project.

Here’s what he had to say on the design and build,

My Trailer-on-a-Toon was created out of sheer whimsy one evening while my wife and I discussed vacations we’d enjoyed over the years. We identified two memorable trips. One was renting a houseboat and floating through the canals of southern France. The other favorite was camping with our 16-foot Chalet XL hard-sided folding camping trailer in the incredibly scenic and wild Chiricahua National Monument.

We agreed that water and wilderness, along with sublime comfort, would be the ideal combination. The 1.2-million-acre Lake Powell is only an 8-hour drive from our home, and the Y-Knot? was born. I started with a salvaged 1988 Party-Hut 28-foot tritoon and a broken 90-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor. The project was finished in just over a year. I had no game plan – this was a “build it as you go and figure out how to make it work” project.

Upon completion, the Y-Knot? passed a rigorous inspection, with zero deficiencies, and was awarded a Coast Guard safety sticker. We christened the Y- Knot? in May of 2011 with a bottle of $2.99 Andre sparkling wine – and saved the Dom Perignon for drinking.

Ron and Amy Miller live in Tucson AZ. Ron is a Commercial Pilot and Amy is an RN. In their spare time, they enjoy exploring the western US by air, land and water with their adopted “child”, KoKo (a 13-lb. toy poodle). The Y-Knot? is their first boat.

Ron made a video of his boat in action, along with some more build notes:


The Trailer:


Ron’s words (link): 

New, 16 foot 2007 Chalet XL1930 purchased February, 2009. Chalet logos removed. This is a hard sided folding trailer, the roof is powered by an electric ram for quick set up – about 30 seconds from folded to latched and secured.

making of chalet pontoon boat yknot

Ron’s words (link):

The beginning of the build. All of the old toon furniture and rigging was taken off the Party Hut. It was stripped down to the bare frame and a new deck installed. Sandbags approximate the weight of fuel tanks, batteries, passengers, new furniture, etc.

CG of the yknot

Ron’s words (link):

Determining the CG. The yellow straps and steel tracks to locate the wheels were temporary, and allowed me to roll the trailer fore and aft without danger of it rolling off or capsizing.

yknot camping out

Ron’s words (link): 

The day after 50mph wind gusts overnight. 8 anchor lines!  Footprints on the beach were gone, and there was powdery sand inside everything on shore. I’m really glad I wasn’t tent camping. You really need an expedition quality tent to camp here successfully. The $50.00 Kelty’s at Costco won’t cut it. Oddly enough there was no sand on the boat!

yknow diy camper pontoon boat

Ron’s words (link): 

Hanging out in a side canyon far up Reflection Canyon for a few days. The sand here was like powdered sugar and you could walk barefoot since all the rocks were smooth from erosion. This was very remote, I only had a few fishermen visit the entire time. Regular size houseboats would have a difficult time navigating to get here. The length of the beach is what you see. It is solid rock on either side.

He even got it approved by the Coast Guard:

coast guard approval pontoon boat

Here’s some pictures of the inside: 

chalet interior1chalet interior2chalet storage

Photos courtesy: Ron K Miller. See more pictures here.

You can also read a first-hand account of Ron’s thoughts on the TinyHouseBlog.

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