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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sausalito Houseboats: Fond Memories of Sewage and Near-Death

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Location, location, location...
  • Location, location, location...
The San Francisco Chronicle today published a 1,000-word story based on the premise that people who live on Sausalito houseboats have as perfect a life as can be found.

"I didn't meet anybody who regretted buying a houseboat," reads a quote from the story. "I like just about everything," says another."Being so close to nature is wonderful. We pay attention to the forces of nature, the wildlife and how it changes during the year, the water, the sky."

We're here

to tell you that there have been drawbacks to the Sausalito houseboat

lifestyle, such as inhaling lungfuls of bay sewage all the time, and

having your toddler helplessly tumble into the bay -- as your blogger

often did when he was a little boy growing up on a Sausalito houseboat.

The Chronicle piece notes that the piers filled up with houseboat dwellers around 60 years ago.


"A creative sensibility emerged in the 1950s as artists and writers sought spacious and inexpensive living situations," the piece quotes the houseboat book author as saying. "Families with children came on board in the 1960s, and although artistic types remain, the floating homes are becoming "an elite place to live."

Your blogger was brought from Berkeley to live on the houseboat docks as a toddler during the 1960s when my dad worked as a guard on San Quentin prison's death row. That entails being a type of "artist" I suppose. My mother sat around listening to the radio all day because she was afraid to talk to the other nearby "artists," who were mostly just heroin addicts with barely enough stipend to afford what was then the Bay Area's cheapest housing.

Houseboat memories... - STEPHEN MORGAN
I had to wear a life jacket 24-7, so that I wouldn't drown during the seven or so instances when I stumbled off a pier into the bay. When tide was out, everything would smell like sewage. For childish recreation, I would toss hampers full of laundry into the bay muck.

Well, the Audi set has discovered the place, and things have apparently changed. One of the residents is a self-described inventor who splits his time between the docks and Los Angeles. The Chronicle's Beth Hughes begins her story thusly.

With an extensive collection of Paul Jacoulet woodblocks hanging on the walls and a centuries-old Buddha statue on the landing downstairs, the 350-year-old Japanese temple bell is just another one of those signature items that make a house a home.

This proves yet another adage: If you're rich enough, and you surround yourself with enough other rich people, it's possible to tolerate pretty much anything.

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Matt Smith

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