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Mikhael on Living on a Houseboat

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

“When you tell people you live on a boat, they usually have the same kinds of reactions. People may have an idea of a boat trailer park or think back to the articles about when Senator X and Congressman Y were up to no good down at the marina. I think that these are some of the unfortunate stereotypes and most people don’t recognize what a wonderful community we have among people who choose to live on the houseboats down here.

People always ask about the best way to meet people when you move someplace new. Well, one of the ways I have found is to move onto a houseboat.

“When I first came to Washington, I lived on land. I was working in emergency management after working down in the Gulf after Katrina. I was born and raised in Vashon Island, Washington State and had never lived here before. I thought that Crystal City was a nice place to settle and learn about the area. At the time, I gave a quick thought to houseboats, but didn’t think too much of them. When my apartment raised the rent, I decided that although I could afford it, I didn’t want to afford it anymore. I wanted to be closer to nature, have a shorter commute, and be in a stronger community. I went to look on Craigslist and found that D.C. actually had houseboats. That shocked the heck out of me, so I decided to buy a boat and move down to the marina.

“People always ask about the best way to meet people when you move someplace new. Well, one of the ways I have found is to move onto a houseboat. I met more people here in my first couple of weeks at the marina than in my year in the apartment in Crystal City. These are a really excellent and very different group of folks. The boating environment is a pretty wonderful place to be, but boats are not the safest things in the world. That’s why we really depend on each other so much for help. And, we all share the interesting, and at times, unusual experience of dealing with the things you get from living on a boat that you don’t get in houses. If your plumbing breaks in your house, you are not going to sink. You just might if it happens on your boat.

“Outside of that, this is really civilized living. One of the most common questions that people ask when they find out that you live on a boat is, ‘Doesn’t it get cold?’ Well, does your house get cold? If so, you heat it right? Well, we do the same. We may be closer to the elements, but we still have things like heating, air conditioning, and plumbing. Plus, I see the Washington Monument from my boat, am a few blocks from the Mall, and live out with nature. It’s a really wonderful way to live and I have gotten really used to it. One of the things that most surprised me when I first lived here was that after spending time on the water, I would get land sickness. I got so used to everything moving that when it wasn’t, I was so disoriented. With time, that passed.

“When I first moved to D.C., I didn’t plan on staying long. I was going to finish my work assignment and then head back to the Pacific Northwest. Living here in the marina has given me that sense of place that I desired and made me feel at home. Whereas I once thought about how quickly I could get out of here, I now think, I like it here. How can I make it last? That is a nice change that took place not because I was living on land and in an apartment building, but because I met a nice community here at the marina.”

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5 Comments »

  1. I have always lamented how much I dislike Logan Circle, where I live, because of the lack of community. Maybe I should just pick up and head to the marina. Sounds like a much better place to live.

    Comment by Ron — November 4, 2010 @ 1:23 am

  2. As a former Logan Circle and current Gangplank Marina resident, I meet more new people every month at Gangplank than I met during two years at Logan Circle.

    Comment by Mark — November 22, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  3. I lived on my boat at Gangplank for 2 years, and I’ll be heading back in the spring. As a waterman in the DC area I can honestly say that it’s like no other community in DC. The people on the water are your family, and they care and look after you as such. It’s really amazing. cd

    Comment by captainDave — November 29, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

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