The Houseboat is Captain Flint's summer residence on the Lake. A retired steamer, a little passenger launch, carrying visitors to and fro on the lake (WH13), she has blue sides, a large cabin with separate galley, foredeck and after-deck, a rope ladder and a permanent mooring chain and buoy. She is moored in Houseboat Bay.
There are rumours of valuables in the houseboat. Mr Jackson says they do say he’s got things in the houseboat worth a fortune (SA5), and Young Billy tells the Swallows to warn Captain Flint that Down in the pub at Bigland yonder there was a deal too much talk going about that houseboat and what he has in it (SA13),
Owner: Captain Flint
Flag: Siamese elephant
- Swallows and Amazons – mined (with a firework on the cabin roof) by the Amazons, later attacked by them allied with the Swallows during The Battle of Houseboat Bay, this was followed by a feast on board.
- Winter Holiday – They see her frozen in ... the smooth ice when on the way to Spitzbergen (Wild Cat Island). She is an old blue houseboat, with a raised cabin and a row of windows, and a high railing round the after deck sides, a large cabin with separate galley, foredeck and after-deck, heading north .... with a little mast for a flagstaff and, in summer, an awning over the after deck. Dick and Dorothea heard of the night the houseboat had been burgled (WH13). Re-named Fram (after Nansen's ship that was frozen in the ice) by the North Polar Expedition when Nancy sends a large brass key, old and tarnished labelled FRAM (WH14). She briefly became a residence for the Ds. When Captain Flint returned, she was still the Fram, and there was sometimes so much noise in the Fram that the explorers no longer had any right to complain of the rowdieness of the Eskimoes dancing in Rio Bay (WH23).
- The Picts and the Martyrs – Timothy Stedding's residence and laboratory. Great Aunt Maria was marooned on board overnight.
- 'Coots in the North' – sketch in notes to this incomplete story suggest the Houseboat coming adrift and being salvaged by the Death and Glories.
The original Houseboat?
The boats considered to be what Arthur Ransome had in mind for the Houseboat are:
- Esperance (pictured above), a steamboat moored at the Windermere Steamboat Museum, (NBUS pages 66, 248)
- Gondola, a passenger steamer on Coniston Water, as a guide for illustrator Clifford Webb (CFT1; pictured in photo 21 in 1988 paperback ed). See Photograph of Gondola.
- "There was one at Falmouth, where people used to live all the year round." (John tells Titty; SA3)
- Coming into Wroxham they caught a glimpse of moored houseboats with smoke from their chimneys where people were cooking midday meals (CC1). Then Mrs Barrable tells the D's that We're only going to use her (the Teasel) as a houseboat (CC2).
- Miss Millett's houseboat "There was one yesterday... [a motor cruiser, presumably Margoletta] ...going up late in the evening, [ie 21 April, 1931] upset half Miss Millett's china in her little houseboat. (Ella Dudgeon, CC3). He (Tom) remembered little Miss Millett in her houseboat with the china rocked off her shelves ..... these people had refused to move even when Pete had explained to them .... (CC4).
- The Breydon Pilot lived in a houseboat: the old hulk of the Breydon pilot's houseboat where the River Waveney goes into Breydon Water (CC20,25).
- When they sail Titmouse around Beccles, they see a rickety old houseboat moored down there, and on the open deck at the stern an old man was sitting with a big bucket at his side fishing with a stout bamboo rod (CC22).
- they moored close to an old sailing ship that was being dismantled and turned into a houseboat (CC24).
- The hulk of Harry Bangate the eel man is referred to as a houseboat (BS3)
- The green houseboat which is cast adrift (BS5)
- The hulk Speedy, the bow part of which the Mastadon has made into a living place or lair (SW8) could be called a houseboat.