Panbo adds a land yacht to our test fleet

There’s been a lot written recently about the strength of the boat and RV markets. At times I’ve struggled to understand why, especially with the uncertainty looming around all of us. But, I also understand the escape that a recreational vessel or vehicle can bring. In fact, I understand it so well that my wife Laura and I decided to add an RV to our fleet of mobile residences — the fleet now sits at two with the RV.

The “helm” of our RV

We bought a 2016 Holiday Rambler Navigator 35E. Built on a Freightliner chassis with a Cummins 6.7L inline six-cylinder diesel engine, Allison six-speed automatic transmission, and a six-kilowatt diesel generator, the Holiday Rambler has fit nicely with our itinerant lifestyle. We have no intention of moving off the boat or really moving away from boating at all, but the RV does allow us some flexibility for the time when we’re not on the boat.

While we spend much of the year in southwest Florida, both of our families are in Illinois and we try to make our way back for a chunk of the summer. The RV will allow us to stop and smell the roses along the route while remaining appropriately and safely distanced. Plus, Have Another Day has really spoiled us by allowing us to travel with our own beds, stocked fridge, and comfortable living space. The RV allows many of the same comforts of home while on the go.

The mobile office works quite well

We’ve traveled by RV for about a week now and thus far it’s working quite well — though not without a mishap in which I proved trees are stronger than fiberglass. Campgrounds and RV parks aren’t quite as picturesque as a good marina or anchorage but we’re also less at the mercy of wind and weather.

The RV is a good proxy for a boat for much of what I test. Currently, I’m working on reviews of Victron’s new SmartShunt battery monitor and a GL.iNet travel router. I expect to expand what I’m testing on the RV; especially because we will spend our time outside of Florida while there continue to be five and ten thousand new Covid-19 cases per day. I wonder how many RVs are running around with NMEA 2000 networks. I know of one for sure.

I’m well aware we’re not the only boaters with an RV. I’d love to hear from any of you who also travel by RV. We’ve thought about an RV for several years but previously didn’t feel like it was the right fit. The insanity that 2020 has been thus far changed our minds, and based on what we’re seeing, we’re not alone.



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Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, completed the Great Loop in 2017.

7 Responses

  1. Lori Dekeyser says:

    Oh Ben. All of us RVers learn that tree lesson the hard way! Even my hubby who has driven a 70 ft long semi tractor-trailer combo over a million miles. There was this time at Bluewater Key in Florida where a 42 ft motorhome met a palm tree…..and even now he drives several miles put of his way to get his latest 42 ft Toyhauler Trailer into our driveway without tree branches scratching the paint. If you want picturesque camping, stay away from KOAs and try to find the mom and pop campgrounds or the state and county parks on weekdays when they are empty. And learn how to boondock…its like anchoring out and there are apps and books dedicated to helping you find those free and highly private places to escape. Out west, the Bureau of Land Management has places that would delight your family. You should really plan a land loop!

  2. Jennifer King says:

    Grew up sailing and cruising a 40 ft sailboat. Parents lived aboard for 15 years before health reasons had them move ashore and move north near me in the PNW. After living in apartments and a house, my partner and I decided to live in an RV (28 ft travel trailer) for 7 years before my parents just recently passed away and we are now living in their house. Although, we have recently sold the big boat that I grew up on, we still run a marine repair business and are around boats every day, including several small boats (16 ft fishing boat and a collection of dinghies) that we still own. There are many similarities in the boat and RV market, however, you will find RV’s are not made quite as stout as most boats. I’ve always been baffled at the lack of accessories available for the RV market and why some electrical and electronics companies haven’t gotten involved, but I believe they recently are starting to get there. Anyway, I agree with Lori above, boondocking/dry camping is the way to go to truly experience living in an RV. You can find some awesome sites out there that will bring the same peace and quiet you experience while sitting in your favorite solitary anchorage. Equip your land yacht with solar power and it’s even more peaceful. We have 250 Watts of solar on our trailer and go several weeks without plugging in. Although, we don’t have an inverter, so that helps on the power consumption. However, we have room to expand the solar capacity if we ever feel so inclined. Anyway, I could go on and on, but the main thing we love about living in a land yacht or a boat is that we can bring our home with us wherever we choose to go. For those of us that don’t like staying put for years on end, it really helps us feel like we have a home. Our home just follows us wherever we go! Enjoy our new “home on wheels”!

  3. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Thus far our boondocking has been in picturesque places like Cracker Barrel parking lots but we do intend to improve on the scenery. Tonight we’re headed to a little farm in South Carolina booked through Harvest Host. Harvest Host allows you to boondock one night for free (after paying their annual membership fee of ~$80) at farms, wineries, breweries, and museums. They ask you spend $20 with the business during your stay. It seems like a pretty symbiotic pairing but we haven’t tried it yet.

    -Ben S.

  4. Bill Nieman says:

    We’ve got a little 12′ trailer that we tow behind our CR-V. It’s a great getaway setup for weekends where land seems more compelling than sea. We’ve got a four day trip to Eastern WA planned for later this month. I’ve set up the camper with two Victron controllers and a charger so that the house battery (stolen from a Nordhavn stern thruster) is always topped off with solar,tow vehicle or AC. It keeps our fridge running 24/7.

  5. Butch Davis says:

    Be careful overnighting in parking areas. There are some bad people out there and you don’t want them praying on you. Walmart parking lots are best avoided although there are folks that overnight in them exclusively with no problems. Why roll the dice? There are some organizations like CCC you can join for a fee and annual dues. They have member campgrounds that are vetted for members.

  6. Hey there.. welcome to the road! We were actually full time RVers since 2006, and didn’t get into boating until 2017. We now split our time between our motoryacht (currently in FL) and our two RVs. We have a 35′ vintage bus conversion as our main RV (currently out in AZ) and we have a camper van that we use as both our daily driver when parked in either, doing side trips and for getting between our two primary homes.

    Having a nomadic fleet is awesome and incredibly practical … and since we dipped our toes into it – we’ve found it’s actually not all that uncommon. We started a Facebook group a while back called ‘Wheels to Keels’ to keep in touch and share tips of splitting time on land and water. Come join us 🙂

    Like you, we’re also techno-geeks dabbling in solar & lithium (our bus was actually one of the first lithium based RVs out there, and we just installed our second set) – and we track mobile internet pretty closely as well.

  7. Walter Yale says:

    Ben Stein, I loved the Cracker Barrel Overnighters. Sometimes we would use one day for travel Cracker Barrel overnight and breakfast and a National or State Park the next day for a few days or a week.
    I found these sites to be excellent for finding RV camp grounds…..https://www.findrvparks.com/site/buck-hall-recreation-area
    https://www.allstays.com/Campgrounds/South-Carolina-campground-map.htm Also Cracker Barrel for free overnight Parking

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