Tommy and Christa Edwards, who have been married 15 years, weren't exactly sure what they were looking for when they first decided to purchase a pre-owned houseboat. They knew their finances wouldn't allow for a new custom-built dream boat, but were actually quite happy to find their 1986 Summerset custom-made houseboat. The young couple took the boat from there and were able to not only refurbish it so it looked like new, but when they were done they had transformed it into a completely different boat.
The couple decided to sell their 31-foot cruiser in the fall of 2007 because they needed more space than it could provide. Their plan was to sell the cruiser and then purchase a runabout and then begin looking for a used houseboat as well.
After finding two perfect boats in their budget, the couple just couldn't decide between the two that both had their advantages. "We knew that if we bought the less expensive houseboat we would want to remodel it, but we couldn't decide if we wanted to take on a project that big," Christa recalls. They decided to flip a quarter three times and twice it signaled for the older boat and that's how they became owners of their Summerset in April 2008.
A Boating History
Tommy and Christa have owned a total of 11 boats, as well as three Jet Skis. They currently have three boats including a speedboat, fishing boat and their 1986 refurbished Summerset houseboat which they named Rain or Shine. "We love having a home away from home," says Christa. "It's a great get-away, but with all the conveniences of a home. We love to cook and entertain so it's perfect for us."
For The Love
It's a three hour drive every weekend to get to State Dock on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, and that's just one way. Since they drive quite far, that is how they came up with their boat's name Rain or Shine. When friends ask why they are going to the lake when it's going to rain all weekend, they always reply that rain or shine, that's their motto.
"The love of boating brings a lot of great people together," says Tommy. "I've found over the years it doesn't matter what type of boat you have, how big, how new, how fast or anything else, it's just the love of being on the water that we all share."
The couple has met some of their best friends at Lake Cumberland over the years and they attribute it to houseboating. "We love State Dock and all our dock neighbors," says Tommy. "It's a first-class establishment and the customer service and management at State Dock is great."
There are a lot of reasons Christa loves having a houseboat, but only one specific one that she really appreciates. "I love waking up on the water; it's the feeling you have when you're on vacation and you know that you don't have any obligations other than just enjoying the day," says Christa. "That being said, the sunset on the water is my favorite time of the day."
Tommy, on the other hand, has invested what he refers to as a small fortune into their new stereo so his favorite thing to do on the houseboat is turn the music up so loud it rattles the windows."At that point, usually all of our neighbors end up on our boat to hang out," says Tommy. Adds Christa, "I'll walk by and turn the stereo down so that everyone can talk and usually one of the guys turns it right back up."
Even though their boat is one of the smallest at the dock, they typically seem to have the most people on it. "It's not big deal to have 10-12 people on our boat for a last-minute dinner," says Christa. "I think everyone just enjoys hanging out with us on our boat, because they know we love hosting. I try to keep my fridge/freezer well stocked so that at any given moment we can invite someone to stay for dinner. The more the merrier!"
The Remodeling Process
The couple started their remodeling process in the fall of 2008, and are now finished for the most part. The first step they took was taking out all of the trim window/door casings, cabinet doors, counter tops and carpet. Since Tommy works for an interior molding company, they had a good vision of what their end product would be heading into the project.
After choosing the mahogany interior, they covered all of the wood on the walls and cabinets, added new cabinet doors, hardwood floors, and endless coats of polyurethane. They removed the hall bunks and made it into a full-size guest bed. They then mounted flat screen TVs, added a stereo system, and updated the light fixtures. They worked through the winter months and then spent the summer enjoying their houseboat.
In the fall of 2009 they started up again by painting the outside of the boat, adding a front enclosure, a 20-gallon water heater, and finished small items like cabinet hardware. They tinted all their windows and added a glass tile back splash during their third winter, which Christa did all by herself while Tommy sat in his recliner and watched her. At least that's her side to the story. They also added mahogany countertops-which is Tommy's favorite feature-and installed a vinyl/insulated ceiling in the salon. Cornice boards and other décor were then added to give Rain or Shine its finished look.
Tommy and Christa didn't have too many helpers, but did have lots of encouragement along the way. "It was always a treat when our friends would invite us over for dinner after a long exhausting day," Christa says.
Christa's brother David, who loves boating as much, or even more than Christa and Tommy, helped a lot in the remodeling process. Most of the labor was done themselves, except for the electrical and plumbing items, which they had to hire someone to do.
The hard work that was put into the Summerset as well as the time is now reflected in a vintage houseboat that has a lot of character and doesn't look its true age.
Tips And Advice
If you are looking to buy a used houseboat and refurbish it, the couple has some tips and advice to offer including understanding what you're getting yourself into.
"Finding your perfect houseboat is the easy part; the rest is time-consuming and hard work," says Tommy. "It's not like working on projects at home where you have the convenience of running to Lowes or Home Depot real quick. Plus it was hard for us to stay focused when the weather was nice."
The couple admit they were always more productive when it was freezing outside and pouring rain, but they caution to just be patient and not to get discouraged if you don't finish it right away, because they now realize that it does take a while to refurbish a vintage boat.
"In regards to working with your spouse, patience is the key," says Christa. "Also, try and stay focused on one task at a time. Otherwise you won't see any progress."
Tommy and Christa have decided to sell their Summerset through Elite Boat Sales and have already started looking for their next boat. "In buying our next houseboat we want more space including more bedrooms and two bathrooms," says Christa. "A washer and dryer and dishwasher would also be nice, but that might end up being another coin toss decision for us.
Whatever they decide to do, you can count on their next houseboat to be just as inviting, rain or shine.