Are You At Home On The Water?

Have you ever wished you could just live on the water? I’m sure that most, if not all of us here, have thought about it at some point. Was yours a fleeting thought after a great day on a boat, which then dissipated quickly once thoughts of seasonal storms and inclement weather intruded? Did you perhaps let the idea float on by because your current responsibilities made it seem impractical or self-indulgent? Or, are you one of the people who feel or felt something stronger, an insistent pull towards the water – and took, or are planning to take, action?

If you are part of this latter demographic, you are in luck, in that popular culture and wisdom is now on your side. These days, it’s common to read or hear that the key to a happy life is to find some way to do what you love, to follow your heart and your intuition – whether it is in terms of career or other lifestyle choices. The tenet is that if you do what you love and are drawn to do, the other details in your life will fall into place around that decision.

Have you made that leap, put that into practice? If you haven’t, no worries; I haven’t yet done so either, but am taking steps in that direction. Research, planning, laying groundwork and understanding the pros and cons of any decision are important first steps before venturing in deeper.

The very definition of living on the water can, of course, be interpreted in a variety of ways. To many, if not most, living on the water evokes images of living at the water’s edge or close to the water, still on terra firma. For others, living on the water might mean living aboard your vessel; which in turn could imply some degree of permanent moorage, or alternatively, an ongoing adventure. Each have merit, as well as many variations.

I have always been fascinated by another way of living on the water – the formerly quaint, yet now very trendy, concept of a home and vessel melded into one – the houseboat. Houseboat living varies considerably depending on locale. It might not be so compelling in very cold or stormy regions. In the Pacific Northwest, where I live, it definitely has appeal.







I took the above photo in Victoria, British Columbia, near a wonderful waterfront restaurant where my companion and I stopped for Fish ‘n Chips some years ago. I’ll never forget this charming place (granted, the photo helps). Playful harbor seals looked up at us from just below the surface, in line for “Take Out,” and who could resist their huge dark eyes, speckled fur and long whiskers? But, I digress… My longer-term take-away from the adventure was the image of those very unique houseboats, and a new and persistent curiosity about what it might be like to live in such a setting.

I’ve had relatively few houseboat experiences, (unless one also counts repeated viewings of the film, When Harry Met Sally, with its charming houseboat scenes). During college, I took care of two large parrots on a houseboat while their owners were traveling. I enjoyed the setting immensely, but one of the birds was a terror and would swoop and peck at me whenever I walked within range of their perch. I soon realized just how small that houseboat was; he owned most of that space, so I wasn’t ever able to fully “Relax and make yourself at home,” as directed.

In subsequent years, I sampled houseboat living at summertime parties with friends. I was struck by the camaraderie and festive atmosphere of their neighborhood; it seemed like the perfect spot for entertaining, if not full-time living. I must admit, that I was somewhat put off by the noise levels and the close proximity of the many other houseboats there.

Fortunately, what I saw as potential drawbacks then, the small spaces, density issues, the lack of privacy from neighbors, the clash of musical tastes, are not necessarily true of houseboat living today – and those things can be equally true of other urban living.

These days, when I tour houseboats that are for sale; they run the gamut in terms of size, style, features and price. The Sleepless in Seattle houseboat was sold last year, but unfortunately wasn’t within my budget; not surprising because of its prime location and its iconic status.

But, that’s okay — I’ll be at home on the water, whenever I get the chance.

Karen Berge

Karen Berge

I enjoy living in Seattle, where boating opportunities abound. My goal is to take advantage of them all!
Karen Berge

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