Home sweet houseboat

Published online: Jun 28, 2011 News Sue Vorenberg - Columbian Staff Reporter
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Larry and Penny Rasmussen just love to sit on their woody porch and watch the traffic in front of their Ridgefield home.

Kayakers, after all, don't tend to honk or yell at each other as they travel down the winding Columbia River tributary that is their house boat's front yard.

Neither do the otters, muskrats, beavers and other creatures that casually float, swim or fly by.

"In the early morning, watching the herons coming off the water, and there's a little fog - it's beautiful," Penny Rasmussen said.

Life on a houseboat has its ups and downs, both literally and figuratively, with the changing of the tides and seasons.

Living that way isn't as common in Southwest Washington as it is over the river in Oregon, but once it gets its hooks in you, you can't imagine living any other way, said the couple, who've lived at McCuddy's Ridgefield Marina since last August.

"I'd be hard pressed to want to live back on land," said Larry Rasmussen, a semi-retired architect. "Driving around looking at houses in town - it's pretty boring. I'm not sure I could go back."

One reason that there are fewer houseboats in Clark County than in Portland is that state laws make river property ownership more complicated in Washington, said Mike Armstrong, the marina's manager.

People in Oregon can buy property on the water, but in Washington they have to lease water access from the state, which makes it harder for facilities like McCuddy's to do any sort of industrial or property development, he said.

"When they set up statehood, Oregon said keep our rivers industrial - and if you look at houseboats and marinas down there you'll see million-dollar homes, lots of development," Armstrong said. "Washington said keep those riverways for the people, so we have a lot less development. It's a smaller community."

The Ridgefield marina has 55 houseboats, with about 75 percent of the owners living there full time. The other 25 percent are renters who either lease year-round or lease for vacations, Armstrong said.

Read more at http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/jun/26/every-day-we-have-a-tide-here-and-its-a-lot-strang/

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