By Michael Deulley
Just like most great things in our lives, if you've been with your houseboat long enough, you'll inevitably find ways to make it even greater. Often, the outer appearance becomes a bit drab and worse for wear, and as houseboaters, keeping things fresh and up-to-date is just part of our lifestyle. The only problem we face when we start to revitalize our floating home is the price tag. With the help of LRT Graphics, one proud owner, Kenneth Franklin, won the exterior renovation of a lifetime on his 1996 Sumerset that resides at Green River Marina, in Camelsville, Ky.
LRT Graphics in Chico, Calif., set up a contest in the late summer of 2012 on its houseboat graphics Facebook page. As a grand prize, they offered to create a custom graphics package, including striping, boat names, etched glass decals, life ring, flag and registration numbers valued at $2500. The contest was seemingly simple enough, but the competition was fierce. Each contestant was required to post a picture and, along with that, a description of why their houseboat should win the grand prize. Facebook viewers then "liked" the best houseboat story among the contestants and the owner with the most votes was selected a winner. Seems simple enough, right? Well, Franklin told a slightly different story.
The Winners Circle
When Franklin bought his 73-foot Sumerset, he did so with intentions of renovating it from the inside-out. The 17-year-old houseboat was extremely neglected and uncared for and Franklin saw the potential in it.
"When the boat was new, it would have been one of the top-of-the-line boats on the water," says the houseboat owner. "When I got into it though, there was obviously no upkeep or maintenance done on it for a long while. The interior was dated and smelled old, too. I wanted to get it back on the water, so I started getting some of the interior work done. I did everything I could think to do, from installing new hardwood floors to getting the windows treated."
He and his family had enjoyed houseboating for years. However, in 2010 they had to part ways with their previous houseboat to combat the trials of the weakened economy. With the economy looking a little better for Franklin and his family, he made his way into the Sumerset with a new determination to get back to his passion for houseboating. As he continued on with the interior repairs, he happened across the news that LRT Graphics was running its graphics package contest. Already invested heavily in the interior, Franklin saw his opportunity for a full renovation. So with crossed fingers and a lot of patience, he submitted his entry on LRT's Houseboatgraphics.com Facebook page and waited for the results.
"A lot of the interior work was done, and it was starting to look really good on the inside, but the outside definitely needed the help," recalls Franklin. "I posted my picture and told LRT Graphics why I needed to win. There were quite a few people who entered, so I wasn't sure what would happen."
In October, Franklin was pleased to learn that he won. Facebook voters loved his houseboat and LRT Graphics got in touch with him to get started on the design.
"Winning was great. The new decals and exterior work will make my boat brand new," says the owner. "I spent so much time working on the inside that I wasn't sure when I would ever be able to get to the outside. I started working with LRT to get the designs put together and they went right to work on it. Winning couldn't have come at a better time."
LRT Graphics teamed up with Franklin to come up with a new name for his Sumerset, as well as the decals that would signify a new start for the houseboat and for the Franklin family. Over the next few weeks, Franklin and his family mulled over the perfect name and decided to go with Reentry, which symbolized their reentry into houseboating.
When the graphics have been installed, Franklin plans to take his boat out of the slip and spend the warmer months with his family on Green River Lake, just like he has in years past. Without his dedication to revitalize his '96 Sumerset, the support of his family, and the help of LRT Graphics, he may not have been able to get back on the water like he had planned. But like all good stories, the Franklins will once again find themselves relaxing aboard Reentry and watching the orange sun slowly fade away behind the horizon.