Anke and I live aboard SLACKTIDE, our T26′×7′ box barge ketch. We sail by wind, tide and muscle (no engine) in the waters of Southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago.

We try to maximize the joys of life, and minimize the chores. To us, this implies voluntary simplicity on a small footprint.

Our boats provide mobility, shelter, transportations of food, tools and gear, and a platform from which to forage. They’ve got to be quick, cheap and easy to build and maintain, while being robust enough to stand up to our sometimes harsh environment. In a hard chance, we feel that our investment of time, money and energy should be low enough that we could walk away toward a fresh start.

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Yet we value our comforts. We design for a spacious feel that accommodates a number of friends, sitting ‘in the round’. An ample galley is the heart of the boat, and good lounging and bedding are below-deck priorities.


SLACKTIDE’s cabin is laid out in a manner inspired by the yurt; as a luxurious tent. A thick sleeping pad doubles as seating, by day, and pulls out to a bed by night. Large pillows (stuffed with extra bedding) plush out the interior. A bar galley stretches across the forward end, and a ‘chest of drawers’ is tucked aft, under the deck. Banjo, mandolin, rifles and fishing gear are mounted around the edges of the overhead in easy reach.


Ease of cleaning is a big focus… we’re tending toward good ventilation, watertight compartments (divide and conquer), containerized storage (can be moved for cleaning without unpacking), smoother surfaces (easy wipe-down) and the elimination of interior angles (smooth fillets make for easy cleaning). So far, we’ve saved up to six weeks of elbow-grease per year!


SLACKTIDE’s boxy structure allows copper plating, below the waterline. This provides armor for drying out on rough shores, anti-fouling (no need for expensive haul-outs or toxic paints). It’s expensive, at first, but pays for itself quickly.


We’re working toward a subsistence lifestyle (somewhat impeded by addictions to coffee, chocolate and cheese). Tools to process wild foods and a year’s supply of food helps keep us independent of towns. A woodstove provides heat and cooking on fuel that literally grows on trees.


SLACKTIDE is the latest in a series of floating homes spanning a quarter century. Our only complaint is that life is too short!

–Dave Zeiger & Anke Wagner

4 Responses to Slacktide

  1. Hi Lew,

    A couple of extra photos snuck in… one of Anke in TRILOBYTE, a T16x4ft camper/cruiser, and one of Andy Stoner’s MARY ELISABETH, a T32x12 live-aboard motor/sailor.

    The rest are SLACKTIDE, our current home. She proved the concept, and we’re currently building a T32x8 laid out as one of our previous boats.

    Thanks for running the article! Great site.

    Dave Z

  2. Ron says:

    Are these boat for sale? how much? who to contact?

  3. Evox Ideo says:

    Hey David and Anke! I saw your boat this summer when visiting my parents in Petersburg. We went up Petersburg Creek one day and there you were. I was so intrigued by your vessel! Just now found your blog by searching photos for “square front sailboat”. Is anyone making these to sell? I’ve often dreamt of living aboard a houseboat of some kind in SE Alaska. I like how simple, practical and above all, useful this boat appears to be. Cheers from Seattle! Evox

  4. @Ron and @Evox

    So far, all the designs I offer are for DIY construction (plans at, blog at… no one I know of is building them for sale.

    The idea of these simple, box barges is that anyone who can swing a hammer can put one together. We thought we’d just tolerate them for their economies, but turns out we choose them for their virtues!

    Dave Z

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