It’s a glorious winter morning on the river at Mosman Park as I step off the jetty and onto the good ship Myoho.
Well, it’s not exactly a ‘ship’; it’s one of the only houseboats currently plying the waters of the lower Swan River, and to say she’s turning a few heads is a mighty understatement.
This funky craft is the creation of artist and builder Brett Todman who, through his business Floating Dreams, wants to create these marine works of art for anyone who loves messing about in boats – and doing it in homely style.
On board is Brett, at the helm, his friend Lisa and the trusty shipboard pooch, Bingo.
We pull away from the jetty adjacent to Mosman’s Restaurant and set out over the glassy dawn waters for a short cruise around Freshwater Bay.
The Myoho, lovingly crafted from cedar, is arguably the most interesting boat on the river with its lofty superstructure, artsy curves, French doors and windows, and unique deck spaces.
It consists of a comfortable enclosed living area and steerage on the main deck, and an outdoor lounging area and bedroom on the upper deck.
The superstructure is mounted on a polyethylene trimaran configuration and the craft is powered by a couple of 25hp outboard engines.
Brett says the houseboat cabins can also be used for a studio, weekender or granny flat – so it’s a versatile design indeed!
“It was a childhood dream of mine to build a houseboat,” says Brett, negotiating several moored boats as he heads for open water.
“I finally got around to it and began building the Myoho at my studio at Munster, then finished it off at various locations on the water.”
“It took me about two years to get to this stage. I’m really happy with what it has become, both as a vessel and a piece of art.”
We steam along at a steady clip (she can get up to a respectable eight knots) past the decidedly more conventional yachts and launches lined up at the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club.
Lisa and Bingo head up for’ard and enjoy the morning sun on the bow as we steam along.
While houseboats are quite common in areas like Mandurah and on the inlets of WA’s south coast, there is a distinct paucity of them on the Swan. Brett puts this down to laws prohibiting people living on houseboats in the river.
But this certainly doesn’t stop them from being great fun for cruising and mooring in some the river’s most picturesque locations.
Cruising the River in Style
The Myoho is remarkably stable due to its trimaran waterline.
“You could even take it out of the harbour on a calm day,” he says. “We could even make a trip to Rottnest one day when the weather is suitable.
“We can take it up the river as far as the Causeway. Its shallow draft allows me to sneak into plenty of areas that regular boats can’t go, so it’s the perfect way to explore the river.”
We steam slowly along the Peppermint Grove foreshore, and notice people coming out of the houses to watch the Myoho pass. Morning joggers and walkers call out and wave from the beach.
It suddenly occurs to me that this thing is really something special! Not even the slickest super yachts get this kind of attention.
In WA, houseboats only require the regulation license for a recreational vessel and Brett would like to see far more of them on the river.
“Image having a whole fleet of houseboats on the river,” he says. “They are a safe, stable, relaxing, fun way to cruise about. They also make an artistic statement and would add to the charm of our beautiful river.
“I’m happy to take orders from people who would like a custom built boat. They can have just about any design they like. I already have 10 different design concepts that we can adapt to people’s requirements.”
“We get great feedback from people about the Myoho. They are intrigued by her and have asked how they can get one.
“I can build a houseboat similar to the Myoho for about $100,000. But if people want custom specifications, this amount could vary a bit. It’s a lot cheaper than you can buy most vessels of this size.”
“The boats take about six months to construct, after an order is made.
“I call it Art on the Water, and am really enjoying bringing this new idea to Perth. After all, the Swan River is ideal for houseboats, and they are so much fun.”
Brett says even though he is focusing on WA customers, he can build his houseboats and have them shipped anywhere in Australia.
We cruise back to the jetty as canoeists paddle around the Myoho having a good gander. Even before we have come alongside, Bingo leaps off the bow and onto the dock like a Viking raider.
I bid Brett and Lisa goodbye and can’t help thinking what a wonderful, unique experience I have just had aboard the Swan River’s most celebrated house on the water.
For more information about Brett Todman’s Floating Dreams houseboats or even putting in an order to own one yourself, he can be contacted on Ph: 0431172244, email: email@example.com, Facebook: Brett Todman – Myoho Arc.