One beautiful spring day we put on our leathers and headed out on the motorcycle. It was a scenic ride from our home in Cabot, to Freeport, Pa., a small town on the Allegheny River about 30 minutes away. I guess you could say we were headed “over the river and through the woods.”
My husband Jeff and I were told the River Forest Yacht Club at the end of the road winds through the golf course. When we pulled into the marina, there was a 1973, 34-foot Chris Craft houseboat for sale. It looked huge sitting on the trailer and, since our last boat was a 16-foot ski boat, we were both thinking it was too big for us. Well, we couldn’t leave without taking a walk to the dock.
We met another couple who asked if we needed help. It’s a small club so everybody knows everybody. They informed us that their friends were “going the other way.” We looked puzzled so they went on to explain that they were selling their boat to spend more time riding motorcycles. The light bulb went on—it was fate. We thought it couldn’t hurt to ask and before we knew it, we had traded our Suzuki for a houseboat! Once we installed an A/C unit, a TV and a queen-sized mattress, the Sick Day Resort had all the comforts of home. That was two years ago and we are having way too much fun to miss the bike.
Coming up with a name was more difficult than we expected. Everything we thought of was too long, too complicated and too hard to spell. We finally got tired of bouncing names off each other and said. “Let’s just call her BOB—a guy with no arms and no legs floating in the water!” We laughed and said we could get the decal guy to make the ‘O’ look like a bobber. The next day we learned that Jeff needed foot surgery and suddenly Sick Day Resort sounded more appropriate.
We stay on our boat all summer long because it’s not much farther for either of us to drive to work from River Forest Yacht Club. Even with the price of gas, it’s worth a few extra miles to go to sleep and wake up on the river. We have weathered some storms only to experience the most picturesque skies that followed. It really is God’s ever-changing etch-a-sketch.
Although we spend much of our time at the dock, we enjoy inviting friends and family to be “captain for a day.” We let our niece, Brooke, captain the boat when she’s onboard.
“It’s fun being captain for the day,” says Brooke Bastin. “I get to sit in the big chair and steer the boat. Best of all, Max (the dog) sits by me while I am driving. The boat doesn’t go real fast, so it is easy.”
We are convinced that you meet some of the nicest people on the water, like the Bengels. Eric and Carrie Bengel and their children, Eric Jr. and Alexis, are docked next to us at River Forest Yacht Club. Eric is a senior in high school and clearly the captain of his family houseboat. Alexis is first-mate when she’s not playing soccer. We have fun with the kids, whether helping Eric work on his boat, or teaching Alexis how to mix drinks (non-alcoholic of course). It is nice to know someone has our back, not only because we are docked bow to stern, but because boaters look after boaters—it’s a BOAT thing!
There is nothing like a relaxing dinner cruise to wash away your tension. We have some unique recipes like crawfish etouffee and pineapple burgers. Ultimately we end up concocting a drink of the day, such as margaritas or purple hooters, or our own Fourth of July invention that we call “Red, White and Blue” which is blue raspberry martini mix, a splash of vodka, maraschino cherries and mini marshmallows. We absolutely love sharing our creations with everyone at the dock. Good friends, good food, good times!
Luckily it’s a pet-friendly place too because we don’t go anywhere without our German Shepherd, Max. He loves chilling under the bimini—or bikini top as we call it—which, by the way, is the best place to catch some rays, catch some z’s, or catch some fish. After dark, we turn on the tunes and dance like no one is watching—because no one is.
Houseboating is more than a sport or a hobby; it’s a lifestyle, and it’s our passion. We are water lovers but never knew this houseboating life existed so close to home. The only sad part here in Pennsylvania is putting her away for the winter. Our dream is to someday move south and live on a houseboat year round. Until then, we are making the most of our summers at the Sick Day Resort.