A True Houseboat Pioneer

Published online: Mar 15, 2012 Feature Brady L. Kay
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It wasn't an easy decision for Bill Green and his wife Joyce when they decided it was time to sell their beloved houseboat. Even though houseboating was a huge part of their lives and was responsible for countless family memories over the years, the Tennessee couple in their mid-80s knew it was time.

They contacted Pat Riley, a boat broker who works for Houseboats Buy Terry, and soon their custom houseboat that was built in 1997 by Lakeview Yachts began its new life with a different family.

But the Greens' love of houseboating started well before the 16- by 60-foot custom boat was built for them over a dozen years ago. Their history dates back to when 50-gallon metal drums were the base of some houseboats. 

The couple had quarter ownership on a 10- by 25-foot houseboat that had six oil drums (metal barrels) that had to be replaced each year because of rust. Powered with a Johnson outboard, the houseboat was kept at Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee and the Greens enjoyed it despite its limitations.

"We'd sleep on it and it didn't even have electricity at first," recalls Bill. "In 1958 it took an act of congress to get electricity on the lake."

The second boat was the same length and was home-built as well. It cost $1300 to build and it will be forever remembered as a great fishing boat.

"It wasn't built just for luxury, but for fishing," says Joyce. "When fishing was good Bill would go down during the week with a different crew each night."

The couples' third boat was a 1969 Drifter as the houseboating lifestyle was becoming more and more of who this family really was.

"It's what I enjoyed doing and my buddies loved it too," says Bill. "I used the boat to entertain business clients, but it wasn't built for business, but for pleasure." Bill was in the banking business from 1949 to 91, including 26 years with one company. His dedication led him to several awards including the NACA Lifetime Achievement award that he received in 1996.

A year later the Greens had a custom built boat from Lakeview built that would be their fourth and final houseboat. The 60-foot Lakeview, named the Green Genes' Pride, is where the couple that has been married over 60 years spent most of their free time. With three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, many memories were created thanks to their desire to houseboat.

The family spent 25 years at Dale Hollow before moving over to Center Hill Lake in Tennessee in the late `70s. 

"It was in 1980 that we had our best year at Center Hill, while 1970 was the best year for fishing on Dale Hollow," says Bill. "All along Dale Hollow was always about the fishing including 87 fish in one day and a 37.5-pound catfish."

Bill considered himself more of a night fisherman and the most he ever caught in one night was 142 on May 6, 1980 with the fish weighing one to two pounds on the average. And on May 20, two weeks later, he caught 96 fish for the second most in a single night.

"I would have 30 to 40 lanterns around the boat," explains Bill, who now proudly displays those lanterns in his shop outside his home. "And these weren't striped bass, but striper bass."

When the Greens decided to buy the Lakeview they we're exactly thinking seriously about it at the time.

"We had seen our neighbors new Lakeview so we blamed them for having us buy a new one," says Joyce. "We just liked the style that Lakeview offered and they were really good to us. We'd recommend them to anyone."

It wasn't an easy decision for the Greens to finally part ways with their houseboat, but because they kept them in good condition they were able to sell each of their houseboats for more than they paid despite using each one a lot.

Working in his shop doing wood projects has replaced some of the void since selling the houseboat for Bill and one particular hobby is building unique bird houses.

"We never sell them, bur rather give them out as gifts," says Joyce, who enjoys painting the bird houses that her husband creates.

The Greens keep busy these days with many different hobbies as well as spending time with their family. There are still plenty of times when they wish they still owned a houseboat, but all it takes is a quick look at the photo albums and the books that have been created to bring a flood of memories back. And yes, those memories include their first houseboat that was built on six oil drums that served as a sold base for many successful trips. It's nice to see just how far our industry has come through the eyes of a true houseboating pioneer.

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