Houseboat guy ponders next move

Published online: Mar 15, 2011 News Patricia Wolff - www.thenorthwestern.com
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Jeff Jacobs, the man who gained notoriety last winter when his houseboat froze into the Fox River at Rainbow Park, stepped lightly across two small boats moored at Lakeside Marina on Taft Avenue next to his larger boat.

Fleet of foot as usual and clutching a map, the 54-year-old former Omro man came out to greet a visitor who came to his boat Wednesday morning. The map, he said, came from Oshkosh police officers. On it police had marked all city-owned shoreline property boldly in red ink to show him the spots to avoid when anchoring his boat.

A city resident complained to police last week when Jacobs tied his boat to city property. He had first moored at the Boat Works, on city-owned land along the river at the foot of Michigan Street. When officials told him he could not stay, Jacobs moved his 1968-model 35-foot Whit Craft to city property on the other side of the river near Marion Road.

"We said, 'nope,'" said Darryn Burich, planning services director. "City property is like private property. He can't just tie up."

Jacobs ended up going back to Lakeside Marina where he had spent the entire summer.

To avoid potential insurance liability problems for Lakeside, Jacobs is not technically moored there. Rather, his houseboat is tied to free standing posts in the water.

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.

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

He made it as far as Rainbow Park when mechanical problems arose and the ice came in.

Jacobs first became stuck in the ice at Rainbow Park in January. He violated a city mooring law that allows such tie-ups for no more than 48 hours. But he was unable to leave due to the ice and mechanical problems.

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