Reader Request Week 2021 #4: Living on a Boat
Matt C asks:
I recall in a different post you mentioned you spent a summer on a houseboat when you were young? Can you elaborate on the story of how it came about and some or all the shenanigans that ensued?
“Houseboat” is a little grand. It was a sailboat, probably 26 feet long or so, and it belonged to my mother and her (now-deceased) husband Roger. For a time they lived on it in San Diego with a couple of dogs and a parrot, which strikes me as very cramped, given that the interior was basically the size of a small RV (I mean, I guess it was a recreational vehicle, just not one you could take on roads).
Now, as it happens, right around the time that I got an internship at the San Diego Tribune (now the Union-Tribune), mom and Roger were going to pull up stakes in order to run an orphanage in Mexico (don’t ask). However, they weren’t able to bring the boat with them, and it would be several months before their dock rental (or whatever you call it) would be up. So rather than have me find a room somewhere in town, I lived on the sailboat. It benefitted mom and Roger, since someone would be there to look after the boat, and it benefitted me, because I didn’t have to pay rent. They also left me one of their vehicles, a ridiculously huge Ford F-450 that got, like, maybe eight miles to the gallon. That solved my issue of how to get about in San Diego for a summer.
I don’t know how my mother and Roger managed to live on the boat with three animals and all the accoutrement of an actual life, but for a 20-year-old kid who showed up with a small suitcase and no dependents? It was pretty great. Living in a marina is very much like living in an RV park, except on the water — I showered and did my laundry at the Marina and ate out most nights. I had enough space for me, my clothes and my guitar. I’d have friends come over occasionally, mostly long enough to go “well, this is cozy,” and then we would head out somewhere else. I was not actively dating or playing the field, so there was no rocking the boat, so to speak.
And, no, I didn’t actually take it out on the sea. I would have probably crashed it leaving the marina. I didn’t want to drown, y’all.
Otherwise I was living a storybook life for a 20-year-old dude. I was in San Diego, I was young, I had friends, and my internship was with the entertainment section of the paper, so my days were spent writing reviews of concerts that I had seen the night before. I got to interview some memorable people and learned a lot about working at a newspaper, which came in handy when I started an actual newspaper job a year later. It was, basically, a perfect summer, and I’m glad I got to have it. On a boat!
(There’s still time to get in a topic request for this year’s Reader Request Week — go here to learn how to do it and to leave a topic suggestion!)