intend to buy a houseboat! We’re sailors! We just needed a slip with power
since the dock we were on at a marina on Lake
Ouachita in Arkansas shared a 110 power source. Then a
sailboat down the way would plug in an electric coffee maker and pop the
breaker. What were they thinking? No sailor worth their salt would be caught
dead with an electric coffeemaker! So we went from marina to marina looking for
a slip with power all our own. When we arrived at Spillway Marina (now know as Echo Canyon)
we saw an old houseboat at the end of the dock with a for sale sign posted in
the window. We fell in love with the slip. We knew nothing about houseboats. So
we made an offer to the owner who came back with reasons we should pay more for
that boat, and we told him we didn’t want the boat, just the slip. He took our
offer so now we had two boats.
We went in
and were amazed with the room. Remember we were in a small sailboat with a
V-berth and tiny head. This thing had room! It’s a 1972 Stardust Cruiser, steel
hull, 13 by 50 and a large deck on the front. We started restoring the boat and
fell in love with our new home.
is located just north of Hot Springs, Ark., and is one of the top five cleanest man-made lakes
There are several marinas and since it’s surrounded by forest and Corps of
Engineer’s land, no building is allowed. You can camp anywhere along the lake
or on one of the many islands the lake has to offer. It’s a great houseboat
lake with many coves and shoreline to tie up to and explore.
We use our
boat all year long. Very seldom do we miss a weekend so we wanted it to fit our
needs. We painted it with the proper paint in all white, then added the
nautical shudders and painted the rails to match the color of the shudders. The
enclosure added a new room for the winter with the use of an electric heater on
the front deck. A box was built for the propane tanks as required by insurance
and for the boat survey. Insulated windows were replaced on almost every window
and helped tremendously with heat and cooling bills.
time we took the boat out with our family the outdrive fell off! It only
happens when you have guest. It was still attached, but only by the boot. Now I
heard enough horror stories about the boots going and the boat right behind
them straight to the bottom of the lake.
had it hauled out to replace the outdrives, we had to find two that matched. My
husband David searched eBay and found one in California
and one in Pennsylvania
that had a buy-it-now price and we did! Bought both of them and had them delivered
for under $1000.
the bunk beds and added storage for tools on one end and a pantry on the other.
The cabinets are a set of upper kitchen cabinets that can be removed if the
beds are ever needed. We rent our guest a cabin for their privacy and ours.
replaced the carpets throughout the boat, and the bunk bed windows with one
large insulated window.
projects we can get into! I didn’t like the old wall board and had seen enough
of Amy Mathews on DIY that I was sure
we could tackle this little shower/tub area. Three weekends later with me
constantly saying, “Amy says to do it this way,” finally David asked, “WHERE IS
THAT AMY?” But we got it done. New tile and fixtures over cement board. David
said if there’s ever a storm, get in the tub. It’s not going anywhere!
thing we did in the head was to install a holding tank. Next we replaced the
countertop and the big bulky medicine cabinet with two smaller ones on each
side of the sink and turned the faucet behind the sink. Then we added a mirror
and new lights above.
kitchen, we painted the cabinets and added nautical rope hardware. Soon after
we moved in, we found out that the stove wasn’t working. It knew one
temperature—full blast! It never shut off, so that had to be replaced and we
went with an apartment size that converts to propane. We replaced the countertops
then saw the same countertops in a new boat at the boat show. David added the
shelves under the window for more storage on both sides of the kitchen. I use
the window fan to exhaust the heat and that keeps the kitchen cool even in the
A table in
a narrow boat takes up a lot of valuable space. We replaced the 12-inch cabinet
with the microwave on top with a full size cabinet and new countertop. We
wrapped the kitchen with a bar under the windows that gave us extra storage and
counter space. This is my favorite spot to work in the kitchen. Under the large
cabinet, we added the cabinet trash container to keep the trash out of site.
We have a
variety of lighting in the area including natural light from the windows and
track lights above the work space/bar area. The rope lights are around the
ceiling, the work light over the sink, and of course 12-volt for when we take
the boat out.
damage was a problem when we bought the boat because of the lack of curtains.
We added insulated liners behind the drapes, which are really shower curtains.
We cleaned and oiled the walls to refresh the wood where we decided to keep the
now my favorite place to sit. We added a split lounge chair so that we could
remove the back section when we’re ready to take the boat out. After removing
the old carpet, we added the laminate flooring with a rug runner through the
salon and kitchen. We recently replaced the old metal windows with insulated
windows; the sweating and fog covered problem was solved. We added nautical
shutters outside on each side of the windows to compensate for the width the
new windows needed. David built a tower for the TV and other components, then
added a fireplace/heater under the tower. Rope lighting was placed all along
the living room and kitchen above the trim at the ceiling.
a freezer with front door on the end of the loveseat recliners that also serves
as an end table.
removing the air conditioner from the window that blocked a beautiful view, we
moved it to the other side of the room over the vanity. We moved the bed under
the back and replaced it with a centerline queen platform bed for storage
under. Shelves were added on each side of the bed. Insulated windows and
insulated curtains keep it cozy inside no matter the weather outside.
see lake and mountains, sky and wildlife (and not the dock kind!). We’ve seen
deer swim across the lake, eagles almost fly into our windows and swoop down to
pick out a fish, and largemouth bass under our boat corralling the shad for a
meal. The shore is filled with deer and herons, geese and other types of birds.
We have made some of our best friends from the dock neighbors.
the area under the floor to tackle next with new water heater, new fresh water
tanks, larger holding tank. We also want to put a party top on for trips out in
the summer, but right now we enjoy the stars.
finished? No! Our marina was recently bought and new docks are being built as
we write this, which means our boat will be moved in a new location in the
marina with a different view. Like my husband says concerning the boat, “Mess
with us and we’ll adjust!”
thinking about a sunroom on the front deck! This means we’ll have a dining room
for the winter and a living area on the front deck with a glass surround for a
view in any direction we’re facing. A good quality older boat is an opportunity
waiting for someone to love it and to give life and beauty back. Maybe even
better than it was before.
a wonderful place to get away for a quiet time and retreat from the busy
lifestyle we have. I’m so glad we became houseboaters!