By Katie Shaw
Of all the boats in Hansville, Roger Weeden’s is comfortable to live in full time. In fact, he does live in it — and on land.
The house, which is often mistaken for a retired ferry, was taken from the top of a V4-M-A1 oceangoing tug, used in World War II by the U.S. Maritime Commission.
After the tug’s brief service in the “Mothball Fleet,” aka Reserve Fleet, a man named Doug Evans bought the tug from the government and sold parts from it. The superstructure he left intact and sold to Hamilton Dowell, who made it into his home, Weeden said.
In 1972, the house came to Hansville by barge, which beached near Point No Point so movers could roll the house to its location.
“They took a steel shell and turned it into a house,” Weeden said.
Weeden bought the house in 1991 and has lived there since.
“With my background as a marine engineer and a lifetime of going to sea, it was a natural fit,” Weeden said.
Dowell remodeled and furnished the house when he moved it to Hansville, hiding exposed pipes and metal walls. Now, you could almost forget it was once part of a tug, although the portholes in the living room on the main floor are somewhat of a giveaway.
A spiral staircase leads to a cozy multi-purpose room. The upstairs has reminders of the house’s origins, including the hatch leading to the deck and a once-functional helm, compass and SOS signaling device.
“When the wind gets whipping around, you’ll get these strange whirring sounds because of all the shapes [of the house],” Weeden said.
On the open deck, there are large gun turrets, a mast and a view of the water.
Living in a former oceangoing tug isn’t all smooth sailing, though. Indoor lighting is dim because the portholes are the only windows on the main floor. The exterior requires constant upkeep and painting of its considerable surface area.
Being such a unique home presents other difficulties.
“It’s been appraised before,” Weeden said, “but it’s hard to find comparables. I tell people the house is either priceless or worthless.”
The only insurance provider he found that would give him the time of day is Lloyd’s of London, which is expensive, he said. And now, since his wife’s death earlier this year, the house’s continued maintenance is growing more cumbersome to him.
“I can see myself downsizing in the next few years and finding a new captain for this thing,” Weeden said.
In front of the house, a sign informs curious passersby of the former tug’s history.
“During the war, the Maritime Commission built some 50 of these seagoing tugs ... in addition to several dozen smaller tugs,” the sign reads.