Lifestyle / POSTED 11-Sep-2023

Focusing on the Journey, Not the Destination

Sheldon Loupe builds a tiny cabin on a Yamaha-powered pontoon and casts off into retirement

Sheldon Loupe was born and raised on the Louisiana bayous. His father built a small pirogue for him when he was eight years old, and he’s been on the water ever since. He considers Bayou Lafourche his home waters and, when he was ready to retire, Loupe made the decision to live not just beside but actually on the water permanently. His unique approach to houseboat living is now delivering a simple and abundant lifestyle, bringing him closer to nature as well as the bayou community he loves.


“I live a very simple life, and I’m on my own.” When I retired, I looked around and decided I didn’t want to just sit in my house and watch TV,” said Sheldon, who previously taught middle school science and high school biology. “I started following this guy on YouTube® who makes a living remodeling shanty house boats and though ‘I can do that, too – why not!?’ So, I bought a used pontoon and got to work.”

It took about a year for Sheldon to finish his plan before he purchased a 2019 pontoon and trailer. He then took the boat to his local Yamaha dealer to install a brand-new Yamaha outboard on the back. 

“I bought my first Yamaha more than 25 years ago and I’ve only owned Yamaha ever since then,” he said. “I never had to put one of them in the shop – they are very reliable and dependable. When I decided to take on my houseboat project, I knew I would have a Yamaha on it.”

With the help of his dealer, Sheldon chose a 60-horsepower, high-thrust Yamaha outboard for his pontoon, knowing that he only wanted to push the vessel about five-to-six miles per hour through the water. Once he had his outboard power in place, Sheldon took the boat home, stripped all of the “furniture” off of the pontoon’s deck and built a tiny cabin – less than 100 square feet - on top of it. He sold his home and his truck, put the things he wanted to keep on the boat and sailed away on March 2, 2023. He’s now about 100 miles away from his former home, living a life free of schedules and stress. 


“I love it and I have everything I need right here. I do not miss one single thing I left behind,” Sheldon continued. “I’m completely self-sufficient and can go anywhere I want whenever I want to go. I have no itinerary with the exception of staying to the north during hurricane season. Once winter arrives, I will travel south closer to my hometown to hunt with my family.”

Sheldon’s houseboat uses solar energy and a small generator to power a refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven and TV.  He installed a gutter on the side of the cabin to trap rainwater that he keeps in a 30-gallon drum. He has an electric bike he uses when he needs to leave the boat to buy supplies or fuel, and he only burns between two-to-three gallons of fuel per day when he travels by boat.

“The most I travel by boat is about 25 miles in a day and I am super-efficient with my fuel because I never go fast, and my Yamaha gets me there every time – I never have to worry about it. I take good care of it, change the oil but it allows me to do what I want without even thinking about how I will get there,” he said. “If I get to a town and like it, I may stay a few weeks or, if I am ready to move on, I may only stay a few days. The best part is that along the way, I’ve met the kindest, most giving people. Everyone here was born and raised on the water and these communities are always ready to help a fellow boater. I’ve never had an issue finding a place to dock.”


Sheldon fully appreciates his new, slower way of life and the joy he gets from the simple abundance around him every day.

“Coffee tastes better in the mornings when you can sit on the deck of the boat and watch the geese fly by. It’s good for the mind and soul. I stay in touch with my family and friends, but I love being a nomad,” Sheldon said. “I’m 66 years old now, in good health and I plan to life on the water as long as I can. I catch, clean and cook fish for dinner, float by giant bald eagle nests, and go to bed listening to the frogs and gators in the swamp. 

“For me, it’s all about experiencing the journey instead of reaching the final destination. There’s just nothing like it. I have nowhere to go and the rest of my life to get there.”

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