The Boaterhome: Half Boat, Half Camper Van, and Completely Ridiculous

You’ve heard of RVs and camper vans. And even if you live hundreds of miles from a body of water, you’re familiar with boats and other watercraft. But what would the lovechild of a garden-variety camper van and a boat look like? Well, it would look like the Boaterhome, an amphibious vehicle that went viral. 

The most popular Boaterhome is a supersized RV/speedboat combination. It might look absurd, but it’s the peanut butter and jelly of camping and boating. It’s a must-see if you haven’t yet witnessed this insanely over-the-top vehicle.

Summertime is the perfect time for the Boaterhome

Kids are venturing back to school, but summer isn’t over yet. And this year, millions of Americans chose to spend their time camping or on the water. After enduring a year of pandemic shutdowns, families were eager to get out there this summer. And it’s been the summer of RVs, as many adventurers rented or purchased campers or camper vans to vacation on the road.

Even Winnebago CEO Mike Happe told the StarTribune just how popular RVing has become, citing the company’s record numbers of dealer orders and sales.

But perhaps nothing exemplifies summertime recreation better than the Boaterhome.

Nothing is more ridiculous or fun than the Boaterhome

A side view of the Boaterhome. Car enthusiast John Ortlieb of Nevada owns two of these vehicles. Only 21 exist.
The Boaterhome is based on the Ford Econoline van | Jessica Sherry / Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Nevada resident John Ortlieb actually owns two Boaterhomes. The boat-and-RV mashup featured in a 2020 BoatBlurb article is based on an open-floor concept and was still in progress last year. Ortlieb is making “smart” boat innovations and hopes to transform one of his Boaterhome models into a party bus worthy of the Vegas strip. Even Little Caesars called out his over-the-top vehicle in a commercial.

John Ortlieb’s other Boaterhome may have served as his inspiration for the latest one. Inherited from his father, the boat-meets-RV hybrid is based on a Ford Econoline van and stretches 36 feet long. That’s big enough to house a full galley and a king-sized bed. Even more impressive: It can travel 40 mph on the water and up to 100 mph on the highway.  

Other marvelous amphibious vehicles

The Boaterhome isn’t the only land-and-sea vehicle out there. For instance, the Amphicar has been around for decades. Though the Boaterhome enthusiast went big with his aquatic RV, another man thought it would be a great idea to affix his boat to a go-kart for a compact version. 

HemaX Caravan introduced the CaraBoat 7500 — a catamaran-meets-caravan combo from 2016. Developers Andrew Kiernan and Rob Shenn of Port Stephens boatbuilders sought to create a transportable houseboat.

And in a more heartwarming story, a wife sought to combine an old GMC Jimmy and the shell of an old boat to cheer up her husband, who had been recovering from cancer. This 4.3-liter V6 SUV transformed into the boat utility vehicle of a lifetime that still drives today.

The Boaterhome gained plenty of online traction and a boost from the Little Caesars commercial. But it goes to show how ingenious people can be, especially when combining their favorite pastimes.

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