Houseboat escapes down the Connecticut river, puzzles residents

Published online: Mar 14, 2011 News middletownpress.com
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Some Higganum residents were awakened to a surprise Friday morning when they saw a wooden shack floating down the Connecticut River.

Steve Rocco said he and his wife were getting ready for work around 7 a.m. when his wife looked out the window and noticed the shack floating by on a raft.

"It was pretty funny," Rocco said. "It looked like something out of Tom Sawyer."

Some reports from Higganum called it a floating house, but it turned out to be the houseboat of local resident George Frick. Frick said he built the boat eight years ago, with the help of Wesleyan students and a group of Middletown teens.

The boat consists of a wooden shack on top of a raft, and Frick said he and the North End Action Team had used the boat for river cleanups over the years.

Frick, reached in Florida, said he had tied up the boat for the winter in a cove near Grove Street in Portland. Two sailing friends helped him secure it, but it must have washed loose during the recent rainstorms.

Frick said a friend volunteered to take a boat and try to catch the houseboat Friday, but Frick told him not to bother.

"It's not worth risking your life over," Frick said.

There is nothing valuable in the boat, Frick said, but his friend was hoping to catch the boat if it washed ashore further downstream.

Rocco said the boat slowed down because of the current, and at one point, came ashore against some pilings near his house. One of his neighbors went to investigate, he said, and it was mostly empty except for a woodstove. 

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