As the Boat Floats: Finding the Right Boat and Marina

I’ve always wanted to live on a houseboat. In my dreams, lapping water soothes the soul; a tender breeze caresses thoughts; and a brilliant sky sparks ingenuity. I fantasize a boat as a conduit for Mother Nature’s gifts> I would simply immerse myself in the ambiance and absorb her forces. As I logged into Ebay, I told myself I was chasing a dream that could never come true. I did not have the finances to buy a houseboat. I was exercising a futile attempt that would only end in disappointment, if not disaster.

And then, magically, it was there! An affordable 55-foot houseboat built in 1975 with two 270 hp inboard motors and a pilot house. Originally docked in Minneapolis, a new owner and three friends piloted the boat down the Mississippi, across the Gulf of Mexico, to the port of Houston, Texas. It was transported to Lake Travis, Texas and docked at Paradise Cove.

I called Nathan, the broker, for an appointment to inspect the houseboat. The marina was in the middle of the lake and the houseboat was moored at the entrance. A steady stream of pedestrians and continuous waves generated by passing boats created an atmosphere of Times Square on water. As I entered the bucking, swaying houseboat, I held onto furniture inside the boat to maintain balance. It had a laidback atmosphere, generated by a devil-may-care male presence. Upholstered baby blue rocking chairs were perched on matching shag carpet. Window air conditioners and dusty curtains that featured fish and sea shells blocked the view of the lake. The entire interior took me back to the 70’s, desperately needing refurbishing. But the houseboat itself was irresistible. Simple, livable, and a refuge from the complexity of city living. I felt I had come home.

The first step was to find another marina. After visiting several, I settled on Sandy Creek on the northern part of the lake with little traffic. There were two docks under aluminum roofs: one for ski boats and pontoons (B-dock) and another for houseboats and cabin cruisers (A-dock). A-dock featured a concrete patio for each slip that extended the living space of the anchored boats.

Because I had no idea how to handle a houseboat, Nathan piloted my prized possession to the marina and maneuvered it into a slip with just inches to spare. His parting words were, “That cabin cruiser next to you is worth more than one million dollars. You don’t want to run into it.” Thanks for the warning, I thought. I had entered another realm. Have I jumped in over my head?





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