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volume 19 issue 07

$4.95 US & $5.95 CAN










volume 19 issue 07 Cover Photo By Greg Larsen Cover Design By Chris Searle







A Gibson Is Rescued And Restored On Their Own Frequency


Boat Mechanics Talk Shop


A Different Kind Of Houseboating


Building A New Marina





Houseboating News, People & Places




What Exactly Does Google Know?




Bird Watching

54 NOTES FROM THE STERN Beyond Port And Starboard

Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses


Gary and Jeri White named their 105-foot Sharpe The BroadCaster because she loves to fish (broad’ ‘caster) and he is the president and CEO of the Kentucky Broadcaster’s Association. Together they’re quite a pair that knows how to get the most out of life.



0 July




PUBLISHER Greg Larsen EXECUTIVE EDITOR Brady L. Kay ASSISTANT EDITOR Brandon Barrus EDITORIAL CORRESPONDENTS Dan Armitage Karlee Jo Dahl | Gordon Groene Janet Groene | Gary W. Kramer Gini McKain | Ted Thompson



Dan Armitage is a popular freelance boating writer and photographer whose articles and boat reviews have appeared in several national publications. Armitage is the fishing editor for Houseboat magazine and he also contributes travel features and boat reviews on occasion. In addition to his writing, Armitage also conducts seminars at boat shows across the nation and hosts a syndicated radio show, Buckeye Sportsman with Dan Armitage.



Janet and Gordn

ADVERTISING EXECUTIVES Brad Anderson | Steve Sargent PRODUCTION MANAGER/ART DIRECTOR Janet Chase DESIGN Chris Searle PRODUCTION Janet Chase | Jim Donovan R.D. Dye | Chris Searle

The Groenes lived full-time on the go for 10 years. They just moved from Central Florida, where they lived between the St. Johns River and the Intracoastal Waterway, to North Florida, where they live on the Suwannee River.




Gary Kramer has messed with boats since the early 1970s and has written about them since 1993. He won a Boating Writer’s International writing contest for a “real life” boat test article. He’s also been a cruising field staff for Quimby’s Cruising Guide. He and his wife Carol are Mississippi River boaters.

ACCOUNTING Laura Rafferty IT DIRECTOR Chuck Harris WEBMASTER Darrin Steffler

Copyright 2009, published by Harris Publishing, 12 per year, sub rates, back copies, foreign, reproduction prohibitions, all rights reserved, not responsible for content of ads and submitted materials, mail permits, printed by Falls Printing, Idaho Falls, ID. CORPORATE OFFICES Harris Publishing, Inc. 360 B Street, Idaho Falls, ID 83402 (208) 524-7000 • Fax (208) 522-5241 President - Jason Harris Vice President - Chuck Harris Vice President - Ryan Harris Vice President - Steve Janes Treasurer - Clayton Ward Secretary - Janet Chase ALSO PUBLISHERS OF: Pontoon and Deck Boat & Boating Sportsman




Gini McKain is a traveling journalist who always seems to find the unique stories. Best known for her travel pieces, Gini has won numerous awards for her writing and photography skills. Gini spends the majority of the year traveling, but she does reside in Louisiana when she’s not on the road.


Ted A.

Ted A. Thompson is a freelance writer living in Harrison, Ark., with his wife, Roxanne. They have two daughters and two grandchildren. Their houseboat, docked at Table Rock Lake, is a unique 40-foot steelhulled Sea Master which they spent a year refurbishing and customizing. Ted is a former advertising copywriter, with interests in boating and motorcycling.




at the helm


What Exactly Does

Just in case you were curious, the folks in Tampa, Fla., are desperate for info on boat repair. And when it comes to needing to know more about rentals or specifically houseboat rentals, no U.S. city searches more than the people in Cincinnati, Ohio. Well at least that’s what Google, the all-knowing Internet search engine, is reporting. Google knows what we’re thinking because every day millions of us enter our innermost thoughts into (Syracuse, N.Y., residents by far have the highest percentage of searches for “boat tours” in America), our best-kept secrets (Las Vegas, Nev., ranks number one for the most interest in “bankruptcy”) and our deepest desires (Cincinnati, Ohio, which had America’s first professional baseball team, is now first in another category: downloading pictures of Anna Kournikova).

I decided to search the search of this magazine. I was excited to learn that “houseboat” is entered by boaters most from Nashville, Tenn., Louisville, Ky., and Salt Lake City, Utah, but. I must admit I was a little disappointed that “Houseboat magazine” couldn’t be found in Google’s Trend search, but apparently “boat houses” are huge in India! Turns out that Bristol, United Kingdom, is the spot to find out more about “boat trips” and ironically, Philadelphia, Pa., leads in such critical categories as “Oreos” and “brownies,” which might explain why it also leads in “fat” inquiries. Some Google Trend results made complete sense to me, but others left me scratching my head. How is it that Edmonton, Canada is number one in the world for searches for “houseboat vacations” and not a place known for warmer weather year-round? Or that Salt Lake City, Utah, ranks

“Cincinnati, Ohio, which had America’s first professional baseball team, is now first in another category: downloading pictures of Anna Kournikova.” Google made all of this information public a few years back when it launched Google Trends, at trends. I couldn’t resist, I had to try it out for myself. I typed in a search term, and I was able to see which cities devoted the greatest percentage of their Google searches to that word or phrase. This is why I can now speculate that Texas has the world’s worst collective case of drunken boaters or at least those wanting to know more about a “BUI” while online. What all of this gives us is nothing less than a spreadsheet of the earth’s identification—our most private impulses made manifest. What it provides houseboaters is an entirely new abstract of the boating world. And I do mean world. Two of the top three cities searching for “jet skis” are from Australia. With this tool we can now tell which city in the world worries about the weather the most (Calgary, Canada) or locate the city that wastes the most time searching for “rain” (Seattle, Wash.) with Google Trends. By the way, even though Idaho is known for its potatoes, no Idaho city made the top ten list for searches under “potato” (Bangkok, Thailand) or “spuds” (Kutztown, PA). My curiosity was getting the best of me so I started typing in search words in hope of getting some dirt on some U.S. cities. After I exhausted my keyboard by typing random phrases like “ugly people” (Brooklyn, NY), “barbeque chicken” (Rocky Mount, N.C.) and “bikini top” (Honolulu, Hawaii), 8

number one in searches for both “water toys” and “mullets” according to Google? I can’t explain the mullet searches, but maybe it’s because those of us who live near places known for houseboating spend more time doing these activities, than searching for information about them. Are you curious to find out if your city is on the top of any lists for unusual searches? You might as well take a look because Google already knows, so you should, too. Brady L. Kay Editor, Houseboat Magazine


house magazine





bow to bow to stern

Houseboating’s places, faces, views, news, products, and more

Forum Projects Painting by budget houseboaters Kevin Williams of Sandy, Utah, has been a proud houseboat owner since May of 2006, and when we put out a call for forum members to tell us their remodeling projects, he was one of the first to volunteer his story. In short, Kevin’s boat, a 1988 Skipperliner Custom named Play it Forward, was in severe need of a paint job. It had been a long time since the boat had been painted, but as he purchased the houseboat used, he was unsure about exactly how long it had been. “Until we moved it to Utah Lake, it spent its life at Lake Powell; I’m not sure the last time it was painted, but we know for sure it was prior to 2001,” Kevin said. Needless to say, almost a decade of Southern Utah sun had done a lot of damage to the houseboat. The bottom paint was completely worn out, and though the boat had been repainted at sometime in the past, that was long ago, and it was time to fix things up again. Kevin enlisted the help of family and friends for the project. While he did all of the steam cleaning on the bottom himself, two of his sons spent a day taking turns with him using an angle grinder, grinding and wire-brushing rusty spots. They also helped him apply the rust converter and primer. Kevin’s wife, Vickie, and two family friends helped with the bottom painting.

Before 10

Kevin uses an inexpensive vacuum-feed spray gun purchased from Harbor Freight. It is technically intended for automotive work, but it gets the job done nicely. He also chose to use Sherwin Williams B54 series industrial enamel, in a color called “Nebulous White.” “The paint instructions say the paint doesn’t need thinning, but I found it would barely spray without it,” Kevin said. He thinned the paint with odorless mineral spirits, and it made a great deal of difference in ease of application. The paint went on without a hitch, lies down nicely, and according to Kevin, it looks great! When asked if there were anything he’d do differently if he had to start the project over, Kevin responded, “I’d love to be able to pay someone to do all this for me, but we’re budget houseboaters, and we just can’t afford it.  So far, everything’s coming along nicely with no big surprises, so I can’t think of anything I’d change!” The project is ongoing, and Kevin hopes to have it completed by the end of this month. For other project stories or ideas visit the Houseboat Forum at


house magazine


bow to stern

July 11


Top Ten Boat Names bow to stern

And what they may tell you about the owner

Boat names can reveal much about the personality, passion, or experiences of a boat owner. This year the BoatU.S. list of Top Ten List of Most Popular Boat Names is particularly revealing:

1 2

Seas the Day: While this boat owner may feel he has no control over his declining retirement account, he is completely in charge while boating and intends to get the most out of his boating lifestyle. (This is the sixth appearance of this name and its cousin, Carpe Diem, on the list since BoatU.S. began tracking boat names in 1991.)

7 6

Dream Weaver: Like the 1976 Gary Wright song that muses about an escape to dreamland, this boat owner may weave memories of good days spent on the water, sheltering him from the pressures of day-to-day life.

Black Pearl: The name of a fast, stealthy and intimidating fictional ship from the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean films, this boat likely has plenty of kids aboard.

Summer Daze: A combination of warm weather and long days spent afloat on sun splashed waterways may have put this boater into a dreamlike state.

3 12

Second Chance: Perhaps this boat owner has had a life-changing experience and feels that his boat now gives him a second lease on life. Second Wind is the sailboat equivalent.


Aqua-Holic: On the Top-Ten list for the last seven years, this boat name illustrates a boater’s chronic love for the waterways.


Wind Seeker: No doubt a true sailboat name for a wanderer or racer.



Hydrotherapy: Takes into account the healing nature that boating provides this boat owner.


The Salt Shaker: If you know what a “Parrot head” is, you’ll know what The Salt Shaker is for. On a Saturday night this boat and its owner could be the most popular in the marina.

Sea Quest: This boat owner likely grew up watching Jacques Cousteau TV specials and wants to explore the world with his boat.

The BoatU.S. Boat Graphics service offers a free library of over 8,500 boat names and also allows boaters to easily select, custom design and preview boat names online— without having to pay up front. For more information, visit the online service at


Mold, mildew, cold drafts and corrosion are a fact of life on houseboats and in other outdoor-related environments. Instead of messy dehumidifying bags or fan units with tanks to empty, Air-Dryr from Davis Instruments uses heat and natural convection to keep the air dry and prevent mold. The compact unit is placed on the floor and plugged into a 110/120 volt outlet. The air is heated above dew point to hold the moisture in suspension so it won’t settle on surfaces, then released through the top vents of Air-Dryr. As warmed air rises, cooler damp air is drawn into the unit, where it too is heated. Designed to be left on 24 hours a day, Air-Dryr handles a high volume of air. The attractive, neutral beige housing is made of strong and durable polycarbonate. Slim and stable, it can be placed out of the way. Silent and costing no

more to operate than a light bulb, the unit is troublefree, with no switch, fan or thermostat. A thermal cut-off turns the unit off should air flow be impeded. With no components to cause sparking, Air-Dryr is safe for marine use and it’s perfect for galleys, engine rooms and bilges. An alternative to expensive dehumidifiers, the AirDryr 500 from Davis Instruments handles up to 500 cubic feet, draws only 0.6 amps, 130W, measures 14 inches long by 5 inches wide and is 4 1/2 inches tall and retails for $57.99. The Air-Dryr 1000 handles up to 1,000 cubic feet, draws 1.1 amps, 130W, measures 13 1/2inches in diameter, is just over 4 inches high and costs $67.99. For more information contact Davis Instruments by calling 510-732-9229 or visit them online at boat house magazine

The following names were voted by the editors of BoatU.S. magazine to be the most humorous: 1. What College Fund? With three out of four boat-owning households making less than $100,000 a year, where else are you going to get the money? 2. Stocks-N-Blonds: Clearly someone still has a job on Wall Street. 3. Anchor Management: The calming effect that boating brings. 4. Sweet Em-Ocean: A floating love shack? 5. Knotty Buoy: The Johnnie Depp of boaters. 6. Reel-e-Fish-ent: Could teach Capt. Sig Hansen of the Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch a thing or two about fishing. 7. A-Frayed Knot: Fearless in their ability to tie bowline. 8. O-Sea-D: Obsessive, compulsive, and loving the ocean. 9. A-Loan-Again: Either cruising for a date or has purchased his boat on credit. boat 10. Really Big Car: Small boat complex? house magazine

July 13


bow to stern


Make moisture, drafts and corrosion disappear


July 15


Revolutionary LED Replacement Toilet? Bulbs bow to stern

Check out Raritan’s latest

Never before have so many innovative features been combined into one revolutionary toilet at such an affordable price. From Raritan comes the most advanced toilet in its class, the stateof-the-art Marine Elegance. Employing new Vortex-Vac Flush technology, the Marine Elegance creates a vacuum in the bowl for the quietest and most efficient flushing action of any comparable toilet on the market. Performing at a noise level less than 63 decibels, the sophisticated toilet ensures a sound nights sleep for guests aboard. Incredibly compact, it has a small footprint of just 8 1/2 inches by less than 10 inches, making installations in tight spaces simple. Offering an angled back for a contoured fit, the stunning Marine Elegance provides a sleek, one-piece vitreous china bowl and full-size toilet seat. Due to its durable construction, it has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than competitors and the contemporary mounting system enables a streamlined presentation and easy cleaning. A fully-programmable Raritan Smart Flush Control gives users four flush options for maximum flexibility. With an attractive wall-mount design, the low-profile control has several features available, including a lock-out when the holding tank is full. In addition to the Smart Flush Control, other flush controls are available upon request. The Marine Elegance can be flushed normally or with a low water option. An environmentally-friendly function

helps conserve precious water onboard and extends the useful capacity of most holding tanks. Water can also be added to the bowl before use. A unique discharge loop eliminates odors and enables the bowl to hold water similar to home toilets. Specially-designed holes under the bowl rim deliver unmatched rinsing capabilities with less water. Powerful, Raritan’s Marine Elegance can pump an amazing 10 feet vertically and 100 feet horizontally. Unlike typical vacuum toilet systems, a convenient, built-in shredder with stainless steel blades transforms waste into small particles to reduce clogs. The VortexVac Flush technology eliminates the need for outdated vacuum pumps and tanks, as well as foot pedals and other mechanical components that can fail. Built for the harsh marine environment, the reliable Marine Elegance features a heavy-duty motor coated with epoxy paint. Available in 12-and 24-volt units, Raritan’s Marine Elegance comes in pressurized fresh water and remote intake pump raw water models. The economical Marine Elegance from Raritan has a suggested retail price of just $899 for a freshwater model with the Smart Flush Control. An informative virtual presentation on the new Marine Elegance can be downloaded at raritan2.swf. For more information contact Raritan by calling 856-825-4900 or visit them online at boat house magazine

Looking to update your onboard lighting to energy-efficient LED lights? Houseboaters no longer have to replace the entire fixture just to get nice and safe lighting. Using revolutionary LED technology from Contoure, houseboaters can simply exchange the bulb like they would in a regular light fixture. The economical LED bulbs consume 90 percent less power, fit perfectly into a variety of existing lamps and are comparable to a 10 watt Xenon or halogen light. Cost-effective, shockproof, no filaments to break and provide 40,000 hours of service, these LED bulbs are a dream come true for poorly lit houseboats. Environmentally-friendly, the LED bulbs contain no mercury and generate little heat. Delivering consistent, warm white light, the high-intensity 12 volt DC LED bulbs require just 2.4 watts of electricity to operate. With multiple color options available, they can be controlled with Contoure’s dimmers and switches already installed. Contoure lighting fixtures have been installed in many boats throughout the years. To help owners find the correct lamps and LED replacement bulbs, the company has set up a convenient, cross-reference section on its website, All new Contoure lights now also feature several LED options. Replacement LED bulbs from Contoure have suggested retail prices starting at $29.95. For more information, call Contoure at 941-355-4488 or log on to boat house magazine


Lake Hartwell Area Recreation Guide Book by Lara Kaufmann Review by Karlee Jo Dahl

bow to stern

While visiting different lakes and areas around the country it can be an adventure just to locate activities and fun things to do. If you find yourself in the South, there is one lake that you’ll want to visit, and the Lake Hartwell Area Recreation Guide will ensure your time is well spent. Lake Harwell is located on the South Carolina, Georgia border and has a shoreline of 962 miles and comprises of 56,000 acres of water. The Tugaloo, Seneca, and Savannah Rivers combine to make this man-made lake. All around the shoreline are fun towns that have activities for people of all ages. There is information on 35 towns and cities, including Anderson, Athens, Clemson, Greenville, Seneca and Toccoa. As the Lake Hartwell Area Recreation Guide goes through each of the towns that border Lake Hartwell, it includes information on the city, things to do there, places to eat and places to stay. This guide also includes information on whether or not the certain places are appropriate for children. An index stating what activities are found in certain towns is a helpful addition to the book. From horseback riding to golfing to art galleries, search through the book by subject to find out which towns you would be most interested in visiting. The Guide also includes websites for some of the activities, making researching the area easy and less time consuming. Lake Hartwell Area Recreation Guide also covers fun things to do while you’re on the water like Andersonville Island that is only accessible by boat. The wildlife and the ruins make this island a must to explore. For a more lively night life scene, visit the popular Broyles Party Island. There are several restaurants that are accessed by boat and many marinas to visit and meet new people. Surrounded by charming towns and beautiful scenery, Lake Hartwell is definitely a good vacation spot for the whole family. Pick up the Lake Hartwell Area Recreation Guide to keep your vacation filled with all the memory-building activities you want to cherish with your family and friends. Lake Hartwell Area Recreation Guide retails for $9.99 and can be purchased at several South Carolina and Georgia businesses as well as online at boat


house magazine

July 17


bow to stern

Preparing For The Fourth

10 boating tips to keep you safe From BoatU.S. With American’s busiest boating holiday, July 4, upon us, the waterways will soon be brimming boaters. The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water says that making a few extra preparations ahead of time will go a long way towards increasing your family and friend’s safety and fun on the water. Here are ten tips that will help you stay safe this July 4 holiday weekend: 1. Put safety into your weekend plan: The Foundation’s free Online Boating “Toolbox” at has helpful information on trip planning and preparation, boating equipment, emergency preparation, navigation, and quizzes to test your knowledge. The Foundation also offers a free NASBLA-approved online boating safety course for residents of more than 30 states at 2. “Little” guests need life jackets: Everyone wants to be on the boat this holiday weekend, but do you have the right-sized life jacket aboard for any visiting kids? The BoatU.S. Foundation loans children’s life jackets for free at over 350 marinas, fuel docks, and other waterfront businesses and boat clubs. To find a location near you go to www. 3. Take your time to get home: July 4 is the one time a year many fair-weather boaters—who may rarely navigate in the dark—venture out after the sun goes down. The most reported type of boating accident is a collision with another vessel so it’s a good idea to keep 18

your speed down, post an extra lookout, and ensure all your navigation lights work. A spotlight is a must, and ensure all safety gear is readily available and life jackets are worn. Be extra vigilant about not running over anchor lines in crowded fireworks viewing areas, and don’t take shortcuts in the dark. 4. Wear life jackets: Almost threequarters of all fatal boating accident victims drown, and of those, 87 percent are not wearing a life jacket. Accidents can happen very quickly, sometimes leaving no time to don a life jacket. 5. Don’t overload your boat: Resist the urge to invite more friends or family to the fireworks show than what your boat was designed to carry. Heavily loaded small boats and those with little freeboard are more susceptible to swamping from weather or wake action associated with heavy July 4 boating traffic. 6. It’s a long day: A full day in the sun will increase alcohol’s effects on the body, so it’s better to wait until you’re safely back at the dock or home before breaking out the libations. Also bring lots of water, a VHF radio, and check the weather reports to avoid storms. 7. Know how to get back in the boat: A fall overboard can turn into a lifethreatening situation pretty quickly, especially for small boats without built-in boarding ladders. The BoatU.S. Foundation recently tested a range of portable boarding ladders, and you may be surprised what they found. To view video of these ladders in our boarding tests, or learn which ladder may be best

for you, see the Foundation Findings #44 at 8. Never run the engine when swimmers are in the water: Raft-ups, or groups of boats tied together in a protected anchorage, is a great way to spend the holiday with fellow boating friends. But you should never run an engine with swimmers in the water near exhaust ports or props. Even though the boat’s transmission may not be in gear, propellers can still rotate, and odorless, colorless carbon monoxide can quickly overcome swimmers. 9. Take a local boating safety class: The Foundation has a complete list of boating safety courses taught in communities across the country. To find one near you, go to Courseline. 10. Cruising offshore? An emergency position indicating rescue beacon (EPIRB) from the BoatU.S. Foundation’s EPIRB rental program will give you the margin of safety you need during an offshore passage. These $750 beacons rent for just $40 per week (plus shipping). Go to Founded in 1981, the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit education and research organization primarily funded by the voluntary contributions of the 650,000 members of BoatU.S. It excels in providing safe, smart and clean boating resources for boat owners nationwide. boat house magazine



Congratulations to these readers who were first to report the location of the anchor in our June issue: Jim Noren – Lake Mead, Nev. Jerry Krogel – Nicholasville, Ky. Mike Smith – Victor, N.Y. Dennis and Pam Horstman – McLouth, Kan. Eric Stevenson – Buford, Ga.


How Safe Is Your Boat?

According to our recent survey, those houseboaters who voted don’t feel boat theft is a problem in their area. By an overwhelming margin, it seems most people feel quite safe, do you agree? Check out our latest poll at to cast your vote on our current poll question.

bow to stern

Did you enjoy the article on the BBQ Bonanza in the last issue? As you were getting tips for your next barbeque did you spot the hidden anchor? We figured the headline would be a great place to hide it. Take a closer look at page 32 if you missed it. We’ve hidden the same anchor within the pages of our July issue. Find it and drop us a note with its location to The first few to locate the anchor will have their names and city published in an upcoming issue of Houseboat. Good luck!

The Big

Is boat theft a problem in your area? Not sure, but it does concern me 5.56% Not at all; I don’t feel I have to worry about it 66.67% It is a big problem in my region 11.11% I’ve seen an increase in the last few years 16.67%

Houseboat Video of the month Visit to see the digital version of this issue, which includes our pick for the best houseboat video of the month.


More Photos Video Look for these icons throughout this issue for more photos and videos in our digital version at

July 19


Bird Watching hooked

By Dan Armitage

I was paying big bucks for a day with the flats fishing guide, and had flown better than a thousand miles to get to the corner of the Bahamas where bonefish are said to be thick as the doctor flies that had painfully punctured my skin as we poled silently along edges of mangroves in search of the elusive “grey ghost.” The swishing sound of Bonefish Joe’s push pole broken only by a curse and a slap as yet another deerfly-sized bug chomped through Supplex to get at my blood, I stood steady as a statue on the deck of the sleek skiff, fly rod in hand, trying to beat the eagle eyes of my guide to spot the first fish. Half a morning later, when neither set of eyes had yet to see a bonefish, barefooted Joe suddenly hopped down from his platform atop the outboard and announced that we were moving. Some 200 yards up the fringe of mangroves, at a spot that looked no different that the thousand or so yards we had already covered, we started poling and fishing again under the watchful eye of an osprey perched in one of the low-growing trees. Less than a minute passed before Joe whispered that fish were approaching from 10 o’clock at 40 yards. Casting slightly to the left of where the boat was pointed, my beadeyed fly sank to what I thought was bottom—when the guide said “strip fast!” and the “bottom” took off toward Africa throwing a rooster tail of water as it charged across the ankle-deep grass flat. We hooked several fish in the immediate area, landing two, before the action subsided. When we stopped for lunch, I asked my guide how he knew to move, and to where, since everything above and below the water appeared to be identical to the fishless areas we had cruised all morning. “’Was de bird, mon,” Joe replied. “Dat de diff ’rence.” He explained that he had used the


osprey to show him where the fish were. Joe told me that flats guides have learned that ospreys hang out in the vicinity of fish activity, including bonefish, and provide valuable beacons for fishermen. I have to admit, learning that the famous fishing guide was using birds to show us where the fish were took some of the mystery out of the classical hunt for the elusive bonefish, but it wasn’t the first time I had heard of birds being used to locate prime angling areas. The Bahamas bonefish experience was just another example of ways I have witnessed over the years our feathered

Proud Angler. Frigate birds led the author and his family to the fishing action off the Florida Keys last spring, where they caught dolphin and tuna by following the birds.

friends assisting fishermen. On assignment in the Florida Keys for Houseboat magazine in April, I was trolling about 12 miles offshore. Hoping to hook into tuna, dolphin or sailfish, we were not having any luck until I spotted a frigate bird circling high overhead to our south. Also known as “fish birds” because they often follow schools of baitfish waiting for the prey to swim shallow enough to feed on from above, by the time we got to the frigate it had been joined by gulls and terns that began diving into a patch of water. Kicked to a froth by panicky baitfish being attacked by birds from above and gamefish from below, by trolling our lures just through the watery mass we took tuna on practically every pass. “Following the birds” is a popular practice among saltwater anglers everywhere, and it’s a tactic I’ve used fishing in freshwater, where gulls are often seen diving into the water. Casting or trolling lures the size of the local baitfish into the area under the birds, we usually catch white bass, but sometimes crappies, largemouth or smallmouth bass as well. The most recent example I’ve run across of birds helping fishermen came from a catfish guide I hosted on my weekly outdoor radio show Buckeye Sportsman with Dan Armitage ( When my guest mentioned fishing “the plops,” I stopped him in mid-sentence and asked the catfish expert to elaborate on the unfamiliar fishing term. “Y’all ever see cormorants roosting in trees by the water?” he asked with a thick Texas drawl. “We’ll, they eat shad and other fish and what their bodies don’t use they [excrete] when they are sitting up in the trees. Wherever it lands in the water it acts like chum, attracting bait and fish and the catfish can be thick under those roosting trees feeding on all that stuff. We bait up with shad guts and cast to water under anywhere we see cormorants roost-



house magazine


ing—and usually hook into cats!” Which begged the question: “So why do they call it fishing the plops?” I asked. “Cause that’s the sound the [excrement] makes when it hits the water,” responded the Texas guide. “You want to try to copy the sound with your bait size so it goes ‘plop’ when it hits the water.” It was a noteworthy radio show, and not my last, thanks to my producer’s fast action with the “bleep” button keeping me one step ahead of the FCC.


“Strip fast!” is veteran ‘guidespeak’ for “Set the hook!” Flats fishing guides have learned that if they yell “Set the hook!” to their angler, novice fly fishermen—and some rattled veterans who know better— will often jerk their rod into the air to set the hook freshwater-style rather than pointing at the fish and pulling sharply on the line to properly set the barb in the maw of saltwater gamefish such as bonefish, permit and tarpon. “Strip fast” rather than the usual “Strip slow” is just another way to tell anxious anglers what to do and when.

July 21


Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses Tips to keep you cool this

Boating season in now in full swing and hopefully our winter paleness is behind us as we work towards the ultimate summer glow. The sun is out and it feels good to lie out on the top deck, but the heat can be a killer too. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. From 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.


summer By Karlee Dahl

To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. You need to increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour. Use caution when drinking liquids that contain alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, since these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps. You body has natural mechanisms to cool itself from extreme heat. Heavy sweating is one way that your body deals with heat. But sweating removes salt and minerals from the body and must be replaced. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you 22

lose in sweat. If you are not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area. Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heatrelated illness. Taking a cool shower or

bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven sparingly to maintain a cooler temperature onboard your houseboat. Although anyone at anytime can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Infants and children up to four years of age are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids. People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature. People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat. Be aware that any sudden change in temperature, such as an early summer heat wave, will be stressful to your body. You will have a greater tolerance for heat if you limit your physical activity until you become accustomed to the heat. If you travel to a hotter climate, allow several days to become acclimated before attempting any vigorous exercise, and work up to it gradually. Even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health prob-




house magazine


lems. Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. Know the symptoms of heat disorders and overexposure to the sun, and be ready to give first aid treatment. Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. It is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure and people working or exercising in a hot environment. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. Cooling measures that may be effective are to drink a cool non-alcoholic beverage (preferably water), rest, cool shower, get into an air-conditioned environment and wear lightweight clothing. For more information on heat exhaustion or other heat-related symptoms, call your local health center.

July 23


Rescued And Restored feature

Daniel Pitman’s is a love story, not much different from those of many Houseboat readers. Born and raised in Brentwood, Tenn., much of Pitman’s family time was spent boating at lakes surrounding his hometown. He enjoyed being out on the water, but never felt compelled to buy a boat of his own until about two years ago. A friend of Pitman’s took him and some others out to Percy Priest Lake, just 10 miles outside of Nashville, Tenn., for the July 4 weekend. One evening, he accepted an offer to watch the sun set on the lake from the top of the houseboat, and, in his words, “I fell in love.”


The story of one man’s quest to find his dream houseboat By Brandon Barrus

The Search Begins

Most people can’t just decide they’d like a houseboat and manage it financially right away, but Pitman’s successful career in real estate meant he could start his hunt immediately. “I was just looking at random marinas,” he said. “I knew I wanted a diamond in the rough.” Pitman was searching for a fixer-upper, but there were a few specific qualities he wanted in his prize. For starters, he was looking for a 50-foot Gibson with a blue hull and a Marine air system. “And a galley down. I didn’t really care for the galley up,” says Pitman. “It needed to be in somewhat decent condition and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time working with fiberglass.” After a short search, he found it: a 50-foot Gibson with a blue hull at Kentucky Dam Marina at Kentucky Lake.

Pitman made the trip with his four closest friends to see what kind of condition the Gibson was in. They only ran across one problem—the sea trial was a complete disaster. The owner hadn’t taken the houseboat out on the water for over two years, and after an aborted attempt at a run on the lake, Pitman was convinced the entire engine had blown. “I was so upset and I offered them a ridiculously low price knowing they wouldn’t accept, went home, and drank my sorrows away,” he said.

An Unexpected Development

To his surprise, he got a call at 7:30 the next morning telling him his offer had been accepted. “I was shocked,” Pitman said. “Hung over and shocked.” Pitman made the trip back to the marina and prepared to move the boat back to his home lake. However, he ran into a slight problem just a few miles into the


July 25



journey: the houseboat got stuck under the first bridge just outside the marina. “The horn got ripped clean off,” the new owner said. “It was one thing after another.” He and the Lake Cumberland Boat Transport crew had to go up and pull the entire helm wiring harnesses and steering to the side. With the horn missing, the boat cleared the overpass by only three inches. “The movers treated the boat like it was theirs,” Pitman said. “I wasn’t even upset about the horn deal, because we knew it was going to be a tight fit under that bridge.” They put the boat back together after squeezing under the overpass and continued the nine-hour trip to Nashville. Once at Percy Priest Lake, he had to launch the houseboat from a dock on the other side of the lake from where his usual dock is, as the water was not deep enough to launch a houseboat of this size from the usual docking site. He describes the short trip, which began at 9 p.m.: “I had one engine, 300 gallons of bad fuel, and it was raining. No power, no generator, no nothing,” he said. The boat had gone unused for so long that fuel was all bad, and he ended up having to pump 240 gallons of fuel out of the houseboat. At four dollars a gallon, that came to almost a grand in blown gasoline.

Silver Linings

However, not all the news was bad. Instead of being saddled with a crippled boat, as he originally anticipated, he happily discovered the previously-thought “dead” engine’s spark plug wires were crossed and it just needed a new distributor to get it up and running again. 26

That’s not to say he didn’t have a decent-sized repair job to do on the exterior of the engines: he installed two new Edelbrock carburetors, put in a new 12 1\2 KW Westerbeke generator, replaced all of the wiring from bow to stern and installed two new transmissions and two new V-drives. He also replaced the water pumps and alternators, got two new HEI distributors, replaced all of the spark plug wiring, and bought new impellers. “When I opened that hatch in the back, I wanted it to be as close to showroom condition as you can get from a 20-yearold boat,” Pitman said. “It’s in immaculate condition back there.” He got his work done at J.R.’s Marine Sales and Service at Percy Priest Lake. “I was very happy with J.R.’s,” he said. “I stand by every bit of what (owner) J.R. does.”

More Work To Do

house magazine


The boat’s exterior work was a bit less involved. “We put new furniture outside and that was it,” Pitman said. “We were lucky.” He also redid the entire interior, putting in hardwood floors, granite countertops, and new cabinets in the kitchen. He also put in new hardwood in the salon and the galley, installed new carpet in the stateroom and the cuddy, and put recessed lighting throughout the boat. The Tennessee native also attacked the bathroom, installing new travertine in the middle bath, a new Atlantis toilet, granite in the salon and both bathrooms, getting new refaced cabinets and reinstalling the Siemens washer and dryer. To top it off, he installed new plumbing hoses throughout the houseboat. He was able to do all of this while keeping costs down by completing all of the labor himself. The engine repairs ended up costing him around $35,000, including the generator. He estimates he spent around $40,000 total restoring the houseboat, which he named Cool Change after the hit from the Australian group Little River Band. These days, the locals of Priest Percy Lake are more likely to call the boat “Flash,” because of the way it comes out of the water when it’s planing. Pitman has clocked the 28,000-pound boat at 23 miles per hour on his GPS unit. “I just enjoy it, it feels almost like a cruiser,” Pitman said. “It’s a mix between a cruiser and a houseboat. Good for people who want the speed, but still want the boat space.”


See more footage on our digital magazine.

Video 28

Gary White has been a houseboater for almost 20 years and he and his wife Jeri make their home in Frankfort, Ky. According to Jeri, it was her husband that introduced her to the world of living on the water in 2004 when the two met. “I have been hooked on houseboating ever since!” Jeri says.

Gary’s first houseboat purchase was in 1992, when he bought a 47-foot by 12-foot steel-hull houseboat. Then in 2001 he launched The Odyssey, a 90-foot by 19-foot luxury boat as a charter houseboat on Lake Cumberland, Ky. While he also made use of the boat for personal reasons, Gary made the boat available for overnight trips and dinner cruises.

July 29



By Brandon Barrus Photos by Gordon Burkett

“The business concept was to offer guests the opportunity to experience a houseboat vacation on an upscale luxury houseboat with a captain and crew,� Gary explains. The Odyssey offered meals prepared by onboard chefs and served in a fine-dining atmosphere. The cruises were very popular, and lasted around three hours, concluding as the sun set over the marina. In 2004, Gary had built up a sizeable clientele, and was running a profitable business. At this time, he recognized that houseboat trends were changing, and in order to stay relevant, he would need to create a new and larger boat. Unfortunately, the cost of building a new boat had increased substantially in the preceding years, and he was unable to justify the decision. With that, he sold The Odyssey and began planning for a new one.

Sharpe Enters the Story


After Gary met Jeri, they started searching for a manufacturer to build a new houseboat.


“After weeks of walking the docks, talking to brokers and visiting manufacturers, we walked into the Sharpe factory and found exactly what we were looking for,” Gary remembers. The boat they were impressed with was the one being built for the 2008 Houseboat Expo, and both Gary and Jeri were impressed with the floor plan and color scheme, as well as the granite countertops, extensive tile work, hardwood floors and other furnishings. Sharpe Houseboats, located in Somerset, Ky., is a staple of the houseboat building industry; the manufacturer has built over 450 houseboats and has been producing quality boats since the late ‘90s. The company’s motto is “Experience. Quality. Satisfaction.” and has been used in every advertisement Houseboat has run over the years. Sharpe’s customer base is a diverse one; they build boats

for people from Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and also for customers as far away as California. The company has a dedicated and talented delivery crew, and they move completed boats to areas you’d never think could be possible. And as Gary and Jeri demonstrate, Sharpe finds customers close to home, as well.

The BroadCaster

Gary and Jeri’s project with Sharpe ended up being a 105foot by 22-foot boat named The BroadCaster. “Jeri loves to fish and says she’s not sensitive to the term ‘broad;’ Hence, the ‘broad’ ‘caster.’” Gary explains. The name also comes from Gary’s current job as president and CEO of the Kentucky Broadcaster’s Association, a trade organization that represents and works with over 300 radio and television stations in the state. Jeri owns TravelWise, a travel agency, and works from home.


Meals aboard The BroadCaster houseboat are often prepared by onboard chefs. What’s the butcher’s cut? Check out the video clip for this article online to hear where the best cut of meat can be found according to one chef.

Video July 31


Attention to Detail


It’s the detail that really sets Sharpe apart. The Kentuckybased manufacturer employs Debbie Sharp, President Joe Sharpe’s wife, as a full-time designer. Her experience with houseboats as well as the interior design industry make her uniquely qualified to help customers decide how best to take advantage of what a houseboat can offer, and her expertise was key in building The Broadcaster. “Boats are getting bigger and more customized every year,” says Sharpe’s Brent Fothergill. “A lot of this customization has to do with technology. With the advent of flat-panel televi-


sions, more and more customers want that entertainment center on the roof or in the living area. Recessed lighting has also become popular over the years.” President, Joe Sharpe compares today’s trends to the past, “Back when dad was in charge, the boats were pretty much the same layout. You had a green carpet, a blue drape, and a red stripe. Today, everybody has to have a slide, everyone wants an entertainment center on the top deck, everyone wants the setup with the Jet Skis, and we deliver.”

Economic Realities

Sharpe has even built half a dozen houseboats with heli-

copter landing pads in the past few years, but it admits that the industry has hit a bit of a bump in the road with the economy the way it is as of late. However, the manufacturer is confident that Sharpe is headed to the top. “We’re sending boats nationwide and have some international buyers, things are looking good,” says the president. Sharpe is also in the business of turning renters into owners. “People come to Lake Cumberland for the weekend, rent one of our boats, then return and buy,” says Sharpe. “Sometimes friends will go in and buy one together, then return a couple years later and each buy their own.”

“Honestly, we wouldn’t have changed a thing,” Gary says. “However, Brent Fothergill did add a built-in pressure washer at our request. I lugged around a portable unit on my last houseboat and that’s not fun.” The couple plan on cruising Lake Cumberland for many years to come, just two more people who love what the lifestyle has to offer. For more information on Sharpe Houseboats call 606-676-0610 or visit boat house magazine

The Whites’ Response

Gary and Jeri are both pleased with their experience with Sharpe.


July 33






Boat mechanics talk shop


By Gary Kramer Illustration By Dayne Dingman


hen boaters start griping about this or that, it doesn’t take long before the conversation turns to boat mechanics and technicians. These sessions can easily get out of hand as each boater tells his tale of woe about how much he was charged or how poor the service was. They even grumble about the failure of a mechanic to fix what he should have, even though it wasn’t in the work order and the customer hadn’t authorized the work. But turnabout is fair play, so in an effort to provide some balance and fairness, we asked some mechanics and service technicians to tell us stories about silly, rude or not-so-smart things customers have done. We promised that no names, dates, or places would be used in order to protect both the story providers and the identification of the guilty parties. Here are just a few:

W Busted Pump?

After a shop put in a new water pump for a customer, he stormed into their place “raising hell” and carrying on about having to pay for a water pump that didn’t work. The shop foreman says the man was so irate and almost out of control they thought they might have to call the police. When they went with him to his boat, they found out he had been turning on the wrong switch. The shop says they lost his business, not because of their work, but because they think he was too embarrassed to deal with them again.

Complete Package A common category involves houseboaters who “know everything” and attempt to do their own service work. One customer decided he just wasn’t going to pay to have his engine and generator winterized because a) he knew exactly what to do, and b) it wasn’t that big a job. The facts here are that he apparently did know how to winterize the generator, but not the engine. That is why he slunk back to the shop the next spring so they could order and install a new engine for him. But he did learn something in the process as the shop reports he called them in the fall to winterize everything. A Little Dribbler

This one is another “do it yourself” story; there are many out there. After one owner completed some of his own work, his boat was launched but mechanics noticed water dribbling into the engine compartment through three pinholes in the forward bulkhead. When the owner was given an estimate for the repair work, he decided it was too expensive so just had the boat put in its slip. Eventually the motor compartment flooded, the bilge pump burned out and the owner had to buy a new engine that cost far more than what the repair work would have been. A follow-up to that story is that the same mechanic saw that boat three years later after the boat was sold. He discovered the previous owner had jammed foam earplugs into the holes then covered them with duct tape and put another patch on top of that before painting the whole mess.

A Key Problem One mechanic got a call about when a houseboat’s engines wouldn’t start. When he made a service call to the boat, he watched the owner fire up the port engine with no problem and then put the starboard control in warm-up position. But that is when the owner turned the same key he used for the port engine to try and start the starboard side. When the correct key was turned, the problem was solved. On Or Off? Another non-working engine story involves an owner of a luxury houseboat who called in to report both his engines had lost power. The mechanic went out to assist him and was amazed to find both drive units were knocked off. The presenting problem in this loss-of-power story is that one engine of an owner’s boat would shut down when he was barely out of the marina. The first step was to go over the operating instructions with him again. When the problem persisted, he was asked to show how he went through his starting procedures. What was discovered was that he was turning on his port gas line but then turning off the starboard line. He had the general idea of what to do but somehow confused on and off. Deal Or No Deal?

Wanting a flybridge for his boat, but not wanting to pay a lot for the work, one boater found someone who gave him a “great deal” on installing one. He was proudly showing off this new flybridge when someone walked into the cabin and noticed a circular arc of screws protruding two inches from his ceiling.

July 35



Balanced Dosage One customer was semi-irate about the fact the audio speakers on his houseboat were not working. The technician patiently listened to the fairly common refrain of “I paid a lot of money, these don’t work and I want it fixed now.” When the technician got aboard the boat, he quickly discovered the customer had set the speaker balance completely to the right side. A simple turn of the balance control knob fixed the problem. At least, according to the technician, the customer was embarrassed enough that it showed.

Just A Flash Another “do it yourself” story involves a generator. The owner had the yard remove his generator so he could rebuild it at home. He unhooked everything so their only job was to lift it out. After he worked on it, they put it back in and he said he would hook it up later. When the shop launched the boat, water began leaking into the engine compartment. They located the leak and told the owner they could fix it right away with their portable welder and he gave his permission. But when a worker created some sparks while grinding the area clean, there was a flash explosion. It seems the owner had just plugged the gas line by inserting a bolt and that allowed a slight drip but not enough to create a gas odor. Sheepishly, he told the mechanic, “I wish I could blame that on you.”

Running On Empty

There is a similar story about another stingy owner who kept complaining about a generator that wouldn’t run. Described as a “cheap guy,” he regularly filled his tanks from five-gallon cans he lugged on the dock so he wouldn’t have to pay marina fuel prices. He got so disgusted with the generator he removed it and replaced it with a much bigger one. Someone noticed the generator on the dock and bought it for $100. In his bullheadedness, what he had done was sell a perfectly good generator that would have run just fine if he would have kept the gas tank full enough to supply the pickup line for the generator. And that is something he had been told about.

Don’t Ask


Stories about houseboaters and their secondary crafts also brought mention from a couple of technicians. One houseboater and his wife rode their jet ski over to the fuel dock for gas and supplies, but then couldn’t get the ski started again so he went to the shop for help. Without saying a word, the mechanic simply reached over the counter, grabbed the safety lanyard hanging from the man’s vest and gave it a tug.


When the man’s wife asked if the mechanic was going to take care of them, the reply was “it’s fixed…don’t ask.”


Although this story sounds too farfetched to be true, the mechanic involved swears it is. A ski boat, driven by a houseboater’s wife and full of her girlfriends, was driven into a shop on the water. Their complaint was that they wanted to go skiing, but the boat wouldn’t plane. The technician determined the engine started and ran well but when he checked for a rope around the prop he noticed a license plate and then saw trailer fenders and tires along the side of the boat. What they had done was back the boat down the ramp, unhook the trailer from the truck and head out for a day of fun with the trailer attached to the boat. Of course, we feel sure none of our readers would ever do anything like the folks mentioned in these examples. Regardless though, a word of caution might be in order. The next time you feel yourself getting your feathers ruffled when working with your service provider, it might be a good idea to remember that “the customer is always right,” except when boat he isn’t. house magazine



Experiencing New York’s Hudson By Mary McCarthy

This summer, the “Hudson 400 Celebration of Discovery” hosts special events to commemorate the voyage of Henry Hudson in 1609. Here, Mary McCarthy recalls her family’s experiences on charter canal boats on the river. These boats are available for rental in New York State on the Hudson River as well as the Erie Canal and tributary canals, which link to the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. For additional information about canal boat rentals, see Boats for Hire on www.nyscanals. gov. For information on the Hudson River celebration, visit www.

riverbank in Albany reads “New York City 145 Miles, Buffalo 360 Miles,” and these destinations are easily linked by waterways of the Hudson River and canal system. Our floating home away from home has been a houseboat that is a reproduction of an English narrowboat, used on European canals. These are long, low vessels with the cozy feel of a wood paneled cottage. The boats have upright walking room throughout, but sit low in the water—essential because of the bridges in canal systems. The words of the old canal tune, “low, bridge, everybody down,” still ring true enough to limit the height of masts and boats. Canal boats have a fully equipped galley (knotty pine, of course), two sleeping cabins, two heads, and open front and back decks and a propane system operates a stove, oven, and refrigerator. We unpacked our clothes, made the bed, and stowed our food supplies in the galley cabinets. Soon Mike, a representative of the rental company, joined us for a floating tutorial of the boat’s systems. A tiller, rudder, and bow thruster did a good job with steering. As part of our lesson, Mike took us through the Federal Lock near the juncture of the Hudson River and Erie Canal. After he’d showed me how to manage lines, while Kevin steered us to a spot on the lock wall, I said to him, “Mike, would you mind bending down to my height and extending your arm to my reach?” He did so, and after his mini

July 37



Fireworks lit the night sky in arcs that peaked and then curved downward to settle gently into the Hudson River. We were watching from the top of our vacation home for the week—a 42-foot canal boat. My husband Kevin and I had decided to keep the boat close to home in Albany, N.Y., for the first night of our rental, so that family could join us for the Fourth of July celebration on the river. We clambered onto the boat’s roof, which served as an upper deck and storage for bicycles. A boat parade of decorated crafts began the evening, capped off by an Elvis impersonator spotlighted atop a cabin cruiser. The last amplified notes of “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog” faded, followed by the pop of a rocket. Faces in the crowd on the riverbank shone like dots of holiday confetti. By the light of the fireworks, I could see the wide grin of our grandson and smiles on the rest of our gang. The next morning, Kevin and I cast off and began a week of R&R on our private, floating knotty pine cabin. Regulars On The River The waters of New York State have been our vacation playground thanks to the availability of charter canal boats. Over the course of several summers, we have cruised the lower Hudson River to see West Point, traveled the upper Hudson River to Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga, visited wineries on the Finger Lakes by boat, and navigated the historic Erie Canal. A sign on the

A Different Kind Of Houseboating


Top Left-It is always dramatic when the gates open in a lock. Center Left-Galley of canal boat. Bottom Left-The famous Trinity Episcopal church in Seneca Falls, New York, on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. The canal is a tributary to the Erie Canal in the NYS system. Large Photo-A typical New York State canal boat. experience at being five feet tall instead of six, he said, “Okay, we’re going to use a different way for you to catch the line on the canal wall.” By the end of the afternoon, I was pretty good at slipping my hands into work gloves like a surgeon careful to avoid previous contamination by gunk on the sides of the lock and then using a pole and hook to grab the stability lines on the lock wall that keep the boat from roaming when whirlpools of water lower or raise the lock depth. Happy Anniversary This summer is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage as the first European on the river now named for him. His ship the Half Moon was owned by the Dutch East India Company for whom Hudson, an Englishman, was seeking a trade route to the Orient. He sailed 150 miles upriver as far as Albany before giving up his quest. Hudson found treasure, though it was not the highly sought passage to China. Surviving excerpts from his ship log comment on the beauty of the forests and water. He wrote of a land plentiful with fish and wildlife and a friendly native population. A replica of the Half Moon now sails the river as 38

a floating school and history museum, the gift of a Dutch benefactor wanting to reinforce the contributing heritage of the Netherlands. Our canal boat had an advantage over Hudson’s ship—a draft of only three feet and excellent charts. Thus we did not have the explorer’s concern about hitting the river bottom in unknown water. Tides on the Hudson River extend 150 miles north. Technically, the river is an estuary. The Half Moon sailed only at low tide, so that it could use a rising tide as lift, if it should go aground. On our first canal boat vacation, we followed part of Henry Hudson’s travels on the river, cruising between West Point and Albany. We had made arrangements ahead of time and tied up briefly at the West Point pier, but it was quickly clear that the military academy’s industrial dock was too big for our canal boat, which looked like an out-of-place toy in a war movie. Instead we docked overnight at the marina across the river in Garrison, where the views of West Point’s famous granite façade were even better than being there. Much better. The lower Hudson is over three miles

wide at its widest point, a full, open body of water running south straight to the sea at New York Harbor. With so much water, we had a sense of privacy, even with other boat traffic. One morning after spending the night anchored out in a riverside cove, life was so leisurely and I was so relaxed on my floating front porch, that Kevin finally pointed out that I was the only boater on deck in a nightgown. Tribute To Frederick Church A must-stop for us on the Hudson was Olana, the home of Frederick Church, the prominent artist of the Hudson River school of painting from the 1800s. His oils of the river and use of light are legendary, and his paintings are displayed in museums around the world. Kevin and I had decided that visiting Olana by boat would be a fitting tribute to Church’s love of the river. This required advance planning, as Olana is on the east bank of the Hudson, and the closest public dock is on the west shore. We confirmed before we left home that a local taxi service could drive us. Thus to reach historic Olana, we combined travel in a current day taxicab and a reproduction of an

antique canal boat. Once there, we were surprised to find Persian architecture and were awed by views of the river that Church planned as living paintings from carefully placed windows. The river is a transportation microcosm. On an afternoon of leisure boating, we passed ocean-going barges while planes flew above, and we glided under bridges where cars and trucks crossed. On either shore, trains traveled like tiny pieces in a diorama, freight trains on the west shore and Amtrak passenger trains on the east side. Our return trip to Albany traveling north on the Hudson River included coves of sandy beaches, historic light houses, and the abandoned brick ruins of an ice house from times when winter ice was harvested from the river. We spent a night in Kingston, visiting its Maritime Museum on the waterfront. The next day, we stopped for lunch in the picturesque water town of Athens, and then cruised past modern mansions as well as historic homesteads that were stops on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. We passed the city of Hudson, once an upstream whaling

port. We tied up and went for a stroll at Schodack Island State Park in Castleton, another old river town. Marinas and town parks dotted the shoreline, and we were never far from a stop if we chose. Returning Home As we neared home, the port of Albany returned us quickly to current times. Storage tanks and industrial piers crowd the riverbanks in the port. Behind them rises the skyline of the city, with sleek white skyscrapers of the Empire State Plaza and the red tile roof the 19th century Capitol building. We passed huge blades for modern windmills, waiting on shore for land transport. The working river fulfills its mission while a harmony with its beauty is sought. Efforts continue to protect the environment and create more recreational access to the riverfront. In Albany, accomplishments include Corning Park, a pedestrian bridge and public docks. In nearby Waterford, where the Erie Canal begins, a rebuilt waterfront hosts a Fall Tugboat Roundup and Spring Steamboat Meet. As we pulled into port, our water and time travel on the river ends, gifting us with a desire for more. boat


Top Right-You never know what other boats you’ll share the water with on the Hudson River. These are two old-fashioned, wood-burning steamboats. Center Right-The active port of Albany, New York, with skyline of the capital city in the background. Bottom Right-Olana, the Moorish style home of famous Hudson River School painter Frederick Church.

Log on to the digital magazine to see over 10 more photos.

More Photos

house magazine

July 39


When Disaster Strikes Marina pulls together to build Cave Springs By Karlee Dahl


When the Corp of Engineers at Lake Cumberland in Kentucky decided to lower the level of the lake between eight and 12 feet, it left the new owner of Alligator 1 marina in a tight spot. With less than 24 hours notice on the dropping water levels, many of the houseboats at Alligator 1 were touching the bottom of the lake, which made the water utterly unusable. The water was so low, houseboat owners couldn’t even fuel up their boats. Over half of the houseboaters at Alligator 1 were forced out of their slip and moved to different marinas on Lake Cumberland. Some even pulled their boats out of Lake Cumberland altogether. 40

5 5

The Alligator 1 site that shows Lake Cumberland at a low 680.

Alligator 1 before the move started.

Losing customers, Ed Slusser, the new owner of Alligator 1, decided that drastic action was required to save the business and the lifestyle of this marina. Jumping through hoops, Slusser along with Dave Cruse, John Francis, Gary Fisher and Greg Sudduth were able to get the permits and contracts approved in record

time to move the unusable Alligator 1 slips to a new location called Cave Springs. Throughout this past winter, these volunteers dedicated their time to moving this marina to its new location. But it wasn’t as easy as one might think. Moving a marina is more than just cutting the anchors and floating a dock along the shore line. This operation was more like moving a small town. “Alligator 1 had electricity just like your house. The infra structure that you have to replace when moving is phenomenal. There are TV lines, phone lines, water lines, sewer lines… and to do it that fast all with volunteers is phenomenal,” Cruse says.


Bringing the barge around to dock. Esty Slusser, Tonda Francis, Gary Fisher, John Francis and Reggie.


Ed and Esty Slusser, dock owners riding the dock to its new home in Cave Springs.



John Sudduth, 12-years-old, provides a taxi service between the docks with the faithful dock mascot, Taz.


Work doesn’t stop at dark, Gary Fisher, Greg Sudduth, John Francis and Ed Slusser brainstorming the process of pushing the anchors.

The process of moving Alligator 1 to Cave Springs forced Slusser, Cruse and the other volunteers to go through areas that no other marina had gone through in the past. The proper permits had to be approved quickly because of the fast pace that Alligator 1 was losing its slip owners. The Corp of Engineers had already approved Cave Springs as a marinara spot; it seemed that this was going to be the quickest spot to move to. Since the Corp had approved it, SHIP (State Historic Preservation Office) had already approved the location and had finished with all the studies on the pristine land that were needed.

The Corp gave Slusser the okay and he started to spend time and money making the move. But there were more setbacks and hurdles to cross. “The Corp came back and told me that they couldn’t find the environmental or the archeological studies so SHIP had to come and do that again. Then we were back to starting over. They had already given me the spot and let me start and then they put their hand up,” Slusser explains. Once that hurdle was crossed and all the other permits were passed, the manual labor needed to start. Two hundred anchors that were 10,000 pounds each needed to be dropped

July 41


anchors. In order to dismantle an Alligator 1 dock, 40 houseboats needed to be consolidated and moved so that there were empty slips. Then the electricity had to be disconnected and the slips needed to be separated from the walk way. The last thing was to remove the anchors from the dock and connect the dock to a boat that pushed the dock five miles down to the new location. Each section of dock was about 600-700 feet long and 100-180 feet wide and took between eight and 10 hours to float to Cave Springs. After dismantling and floating the dock to Cave Springs, rebuilding the dock


The most dangerous part of the job was hoisting the anchors. Gary Fisher and Ed Slusser are on the anchor, John Francis and Giles.


at the new Cave Springs location. Slusser, Francis, Fisher and Sudduth, with a few other volunteers, poured the cement anchors, and then the anchors were pushed off the boat ramp. A boat picked the anchors up with a big wench and wound 500 feet of cable on the wench. The boat would then take the anchor out to where it needed to be and lower it down, then take the cable that held the anchor back over to the dock to attach it. “We got so we could do five or six anchors a day. It’s a long process, too,” Slusser says. Taking apart the dock known as Alligator 1 was almost as big a chore as the

5 5

John Francis releasing the cable attached to an anchor down slowly, Gary Fisher releasing the 40-foot long tether cable that is rolled up on front of the barge and Ed Slusser on standby.

Ed Slusser holds the new winch stand that is being fabricated by Jerry Poppelwell


A work barge sinks after a hole gets knocked into the bottom of it while lifting 10,000 pounds of anchor from under it.


became the next chore. Step by step, the dock slowly came together after jockeying boats around and playing leap frog. The volunteers started to put the slips back on the walk way and welded them together. Once that was done, they started rewiring all the electric lines, water lines and putting the underwater trusses on between the fingers. Finally, that part of the dock was ready for boats. They did it piece by piece, 40 slips at a time, over and over until all the slips were slowly put back together and

ready for boats. “It seems like it was moving slow while you were doing it, but it came together pretty well,” Slusser says. From the first of October until Memorial Day weekend, these volunteers worked relentlessly to put back together a working dock. There are some people who deserve to be thanked for helping this impossible task become possible including Slusser who was the glue for the whole operation and made sure he helped with everything he could possible do. “If any of us were still on

the water working, he would leave whatever he was doing and come join the crew that was out there,” Fisher says. “I don’t remember a day when he did not do that. He’s a man’s man. He’s good to his word, and a hard worker.” Also the wives of all the volunteers cooked every meal for them every day. “We probably ate better in those couple months that we were working at the dock than we had at any other time in our lives,” Slusser says with a smile. Cave Springs is now a beautiful place to dock a houseboat. The 80-foot deep, crystal clear water keeps the boats cleaner and invites more than just the dock customers to visit. People from all over Lake Cumberland stop by and the slips on the front row have a perfect view of the beautiful lake. When disaster struck, these houseboaters showed their true colors and pulled their already close community closer to make a wonderful dock. boat house magazine

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notes from the In the wake of our existence are the stories of our lives.

Beyond Port And Starboard


An end to confusion

A friend suggested I write a column about the origins of the terms “port” and “starboard.” So I did some research— on the internet, of course, to assure absolute accuracy— and found plenty of information from some expert nautical etymologists. Whatever those are. There’s no need for confusion. See, port is to the … um, left side of the boat, right? No, your other left. Facing forward. That’s right. So if left is port, reason dictates that the right side of the boat must be starboard, because that’s what’s left. Remember, however, that the “right side” of a boat does not necessarily mean the correct side, especially as it applies to pulling into port, when the right side is totally wrong. Thus ends the confusion. In days of old when one of the salty sailors was high above the deck in the crow’s nest facing forward, left and right might have been referred to simply as left and right. But the captain down on the poop deck preparing lunch for the crew—perhaps marinated shish kebob with just a hint of chipotle and a nice Caesar salad—might have been facing aft in order to monitor the gas grill. So his left could well have been someone else’s “other left.” Can you imagine the pandemonium? It was crucial to accurately refer to one side of the boat or the other without regard to stem or stern (which is a whole ‘nother discussion). Way back when boats were invented, ships were commonly steered with a sweeping board or oversized paddle mounted on the right side of the vessel. In Olde English it was referred to as a “steorbord,” literally a “steering board.” Phonetically, it was a short hop from steorbord to “starboard.” Without getting into nautical engineering issues, I hope the genius who finally thought of putting the rudder in the back of the ship where it belongs was awarded an extra ration of grog. We got to the term “port” from a whole different direction. Logically, I surmised that “port” referred to the side of the ship over which certain Portuguese sherries were smuggled aboard, but this turns out to be incorrect. I did post my theory to Wikipedia, however, in case someone finds that information useful. While starboard was the side of the ship from which it was steered, the other side was referred to as “larboard.” The left side, of course, was the right side for the port. If you’ve been paying attention, you recall there were rudders mounted on the right side, so that left the larboard side as the right side for docking. See how easy this is? Literally, “larboard” means … oops. Apparently no one knows. Not even Google. Etymology and pure conjecture have it that “lar” was an Olde English word for “lade,” or “load,” so “larboard” referred to the side of the ship from which cargo was taken in—cases of sherry or anything else. That would be the side without the rudder, of course, the right side of the ship to be up against the port—the left side. Clear? Voila, we have now accounted for “starboard and larboard.”


But the story doesn’t end there, thankfully, or I wouldn’t have enough material to fill this space. Now imagine a fierce battle between great sailing ships, with cannon exploding and sailors yelling. Over the howling wind, the skipper orders a strategic maneuver. “Hard to … arboard! Step lively, lads!” “Huh?” the first mate asks, “Did he say starboard or larboard? I couldn’t tell with all this racket.” “Me either,” the coxswain shrugs, “Let’s go with larboard, there’s a 50/50 chance that’s right.” “No, no, I’m certain that’s left,” the first mate argues with authority, as the ship is rammed from behind and sinks ignominiously to the bottom. It was clear that “larboard” sounded too much like “starboard.” The similarity was costing battles and sinking ships. So someone—perhaps the same guy who had that Eureka! moment about putting the stupid rudder in the back of the stupid boat—came up with the bright idea of calling the left side of the ship where the port lies the “port” side. And that seemed right to everyone. So now we have port and starboard, and it doesn’t matter which direction we’re facing, the terms are always accurate. We never again have to ask, “Your starboard, or mine?” All we have to remember is that starboard is right and port is left. Right? I’ve also found it helpful that “port” and “left” each have four letters. Some little kid at the dock taught me that. boat Until Next time, My best from the Stern, Ted A. Thompson house magazine

Ted A. Thompson is a freelance writer living in North Arkansas. He can be contacted at

July 55




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