Houseboat man leaves Rainbow Park

Published online: Mar 22, 2010 News PATRICIA WOLFF  OF THE NORTHWESTERN
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Motorists traveling the Oshkosh Avenue bridge Friday morning might have done a double take. Jeff Jacobs' houseboat, a familiar sight docked at Riverside Park for nearly three months, was gone.

But, Jacobs didn't go far. Late Thursday, he and a friend moved the boat just to the other side of the bridge. The words he had uttered to a newspaper reporter on Wednesday proved prophetic.

"I've got to get out of here. I don't care where, just not here," he said that day.

Jacobs had been at Rainbow Park since Christmastime when his 1968-model 35-foot steel hull Whit Craft became stuck in the ice.

Photos: Man set to spend winter on houseboat in ice on Fox River

Although staying in the park violated city rules, Jacobs was allowed to stay until the ice melted.

With the river now open, the pressure was mounting for Jacobs. People had begun to ask when he would leaving. Police told him on Thursday they would begin enforcing the 48-hour docking ordinance, said Chief Scott Greuel.

Uncomfortable Attention

A series of setbacks that included the loss of a home care business, health problems and a divorce resulted in Jacobs being left with just his boat. It holds nearly all his earthly goods including three cats.

Before coming to Oshkosh Jacobs had been living on his houseboat on a small island he owned in Omro, property he lost due to financial problems.

A shy man, Jacobs has not enjoyed being in the public eye. The 54-year-old former Omro man became something of a celebrity when he was forced to take refuge at a dock late last year. Temperatures dropped , the ice formed, and there he was. Stuck fast.

At that time he asked to be left alone until spring when he'd head to the Mississippi River. He was violating city mooring laws by staying at the dock for more than 48 hours. Police urged him to move along but backed off when a groundswell of support materialized for Jacobs and his predicament.

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