CBVA has campgrounds, RV parks and marinas where boaters can dock. Spend the weekend in the lap of luxury at one of our bed and breakfasts in historic Victorian mansions. Go back in time and stay at a refurbished retro, 1950s vintage inn. Budget travelers enjoy the simple life at our local motel. For families and groups, there are more than fifty beach cottage vacation rentals.
Adventure travelers may want to consider more unique lodging: a tiny house on water. The Otter House is a tiny floating houseboat parked at the dock by Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar at Colonial Beach Yacht Center on the Monroe Bay.
Anyone who knows Colonial Beach resident Robin Mae Schick is not at all surprised to hear she built a tiny houseboat.
“It explains me in a nutshell,” says the owner of and designer of RMS design LLC, located in Colonial Beach, VA.
Robin is an active environmentalist. She studied architecture in college, lived on a houseboat while in school, and designs houses for living. She grew up in Colonial Beach, where her family owns a marina and Robin is now Vice Mayor and a member of Town Council.
“I grew up in the marina, so for me, it was perfectly natural to put a house on a boat,” explains Robin. “But it was a shot in the dark; I had no idea how well it would be received.”
Schick’s initial plan was to build a tiny house in the small river and bay town of Colonial Beach, located midway between Washington, DC, and Richmond, Virginia. She wanted to add a new vacation experience to the community of beach cottage vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts and inns. All the building materials were ready to go when she ran into difficulty with the land.
The idea for the tiny houseboat came to life when Ms. Schick’s father found a pontoon boat for sale.
“It was kind of a wreck,” recalls Schick. “It didn’t run, the seats were eaten up. There were clam shells strewn about and otters had made it their home.” Hence, the name The Otter House.
Using refurbished boat materials, reclaimed building materials and supplies which she had already acquired for the tiny house, Robin stripped down the pontoon boat and rebuilt it.
The eco-friendly tiny houseboat measures 5’ ft. wide by 21 ft. long and 11 ft. 6 in. deep. The interior is designed to fit a 5 ft. couch with fold-out bed. There is a rooftop deck, swimming and fishing platform and sliding glass door. Amenities include WiFi, phone charger, television, DVD, stereo system with indoor and outdoor speakers, multi-colored led lighting, fishing license, fishing poles, and built-in cooler with drain plug. All electrical systems run off of solar panels.
“It has turned out to be very popular—I get requests all the time to do another one!” exclaims Robin. “Those who opt to stay in a tiny houseboat tend to be a bit more adventurous. They are looking for a unique experience: the opportunity to be outdoors, in the moment enjoying Colonial Beach’s fabulous sunsets, nature and wildlife. Luxury amenities aren’t what they are interested in.”