With plenty of hours of daylight left, Edward and Karen Hyde slowly pull away from the Lee’s Ford Marina for an evening cruise on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky like they’ve done hundreds of times before. The couple live for summer nights like this one aboard their 2005 Fantasy houseboat where they can leave the stresses of life at the dock, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.
On this late afternoon cruise, Brayden—the couple’s youngest of four sons—can hardly sit still. Like all 7-year-old boys with high energy, he bounces from one seat to another, just excited to be out on the water again. Brayden has grown up houseboating; in fact, Karen was extremely close to her due date when the couple purchased their second houseboat.
“I was pregnant with Brayden when we bought the houseboat,” recalls Karen. “Ed had to push me in a wheelchair the day we closed on it. With all our kids, this has been a great investment to keep our family close. It seems like the only time our boys will spend with us is at the lake.”
The couple’s first houseboat was a 1991 Sumerset, but at 14x66 the family quickly outgrew it and that’s why they were once again in the market. With the help of Buyaboat.net, a houseboat brokerage firm based at Lee’s Ford Marina, the Hyde family jumped at the chance to upgrade to their current 18x90 Fantasy Yacht with twin MerCruiser engines.
The main reason for the purchase was to get a larger houseboat, but over the years the couple had learned what features are truly must-haves and so going into their second boat they made sure all their needs were met.
“Having a houseboat with bow and stern thrusters was my top priority,” recalls Ed. “This boat has Side-Power tunnel thrusters and I absolutely love the control.”
With the thruster remote on a lanyard around his neck, Ed can freely move around the top deck when approaching his slip and make sure every docking experience is a smooth one.
“I don’t even remember what it was like before I had this,” said Ed as he holds the Side-Power remote up. “I just know I don’t want to ever be without it.”
Typically you can find the Hydes at the lake every summer weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, as well as during the week at times too. The couple lives in London, Ky., which is roughly a 45-minute drive to the marina from their home.
“It’s closer to town than Burnside, so that was another reason we chose Lee’s Ford originally, which was nearly 10 years ago,” explains Ed. “Plus the marina staff here is great. They work really hard to make the decision to keep our houseboat here an easy one.”
Adds Karen, “We like to hang out with our dock neighbors, take evening cruises, plus the marina has so much going on that you just can’t wait to get back here. Plus at least once a month we’ll take the boat out and anchor it for the entire weekend.”
The Oar House
As part of Lee’s Ford Marina, The Oar House not only provides great pizza, wings and draft beer, the restaurant also has live music on Saturday nights in the summer. And on Saturday and Sunday mornings they serve breakfast at the marina, which is also something the Hydes enjoy doing.
“We order pizza from the marina all the time in the summer so we can just relax and not worry about cooking while we’re at the lake,” says Karen.
Harbor Restaurant & Tavern
Another perk to Lee’s Ford is the award-winning dishes served at the Harbor restaurant overlooking the water that include a unique variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, steaks and seafood. Plus the tavern features a full-service antique bar that was built in 1860 and has been meticulously restored. And because deliveries are available, the Hydes enjoying eating the high-end meal onboard their own houseboat on occasion as well.
Like many of us, the couple’s biggest escape when they come to the lake is from the stress of their careers. Ed and Karen co-own Legacy Nissan in London and have been running this dealership for over 15 years. Ed is the dealer principal, while Karen has served as the controller and has been managing the growth of the business since day one. Legacy Nissan is the flagship of their business umbrella, which also includes Legacy Auto Store, Legacy Detail and Tint, and Legacy Collision Center.
For those curious and looking for the story behind the houseboat’s name, get in line. The Fantasy was already named Just A Little Loopie when they bought it in 2008 and to be honest they’d like to change it since they’re not exactly sure what it means.
“We have always heard it’s bad luck to rename a boat unless you throw some kind of a party or something like that,” says Karen. “Our plan was to find out exactly how to rename it without stirring up any bad luck and call it Hyde Away, but we just never got around to it!”
Home Away From Home
Size was again the biggest factor for their upgrade, so having a king-size bed in the master stateroom along with three queen beds has really improved their comfort level. And since getting their Fantasy Houseboat, they can now appreciate the great storage space in the deep hull that is one of those things they didn’t really think about until they really started using their houseboat.
Of course everything wasn’t perfect from day one.
“It had white carpet and a white couch and that was okay…until we used it,” says Karen with a smile. “Within three weeks we had new flooring and a new couch and the next upgrade was for better televisions.”
For now the family is extremely happy with their 90-foot houseboat and the atmosphere offered at Lee’s Ford Marina. That’s not to say they couldn’t be persuaded to upgrade to a different houseboat some day, but for now they’re more than content. Of course if they did decide to purchase another boat, it’s clear who they’d call first.
“Buyaboat has stayed in touch with us over the years and if we did decide to do it again we’d go with them,” says Ed. “They have that personal touch that you only find in successful businesses that we appreciate.”
As for staying at Lee’s Ford Marina, as long as this family has a houseboat it will always be kept here.
“In my experience, attitudes are shaped by leadership,” says Karen. “We’ve seen it in our business, and we've seen it at Lee’s Ford. JD Hamilton had lots of reasons to despair when the water level at Lake Cumberland had to be lowered, hurting his business at Lee’s Ford. And the recession of 2008 certainly didn’t help. But he stuck with it and held onto his optimism to build something even better than before. Lots of people—not just Edward and I—were energized by JD's attitude and stuck with Lee’s Ford because of it. We’ve witness the progress he envisioned years ago, and it makes us feel good about being here. And gauging by the mood barometer of our neighbors each weekend, I’m pretty certain we’re not alone. Lee’s Ford is a festive, friendly place to call our second home.”
With the sky now gleaming with vibrant yellow and red colors, it’s time to head back into the marina as the evening cruise comes to an end. The family takes a moment to appreciate the view from the top deck before reaching their slip, even though they’ll have a chance to do it all again tomorrow.