The Grand Opening

Castaway’s new clubhouse

Published in the November 2018 Issue December 2018 Feature By Heather Magda Serrano

The atmosphere at the Grand Opening party bubbled with laughter and playful banter as Castaways Marina unveiled its brand-new clubhouse this past July. This beautiful marina situated in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., had been anticipating this event for quite some time and all the houseboaters cheerfully gathered together to celebrate their new amenities.

At the forefront of this event was Tom Lind, the property manager of Castaways Marina. Lind oversaw the construction of the clubhouse right from the start and he went to great lengths to plan and organize the Grand Opening party. His hard work was evident at the gathering and all the Castaway houseboaters will continue to reap the benefits provided by the clubhouse for years to come.

Castaways Marina sits scenically on the Mississippi River, surrounded by nature, the chirping of birds and the gentle lapping of the river. It features 42 slips for boaters, and 16 of these slips are occupied by year-round liveaboard houseboaters. Needless to say, all of the houseboaters are thrilled about their new clubhouse.

The clubhouse comes complete with garages, storage units, bathrooms, showers, washers and dryers, and an open space to host gatherings. It took about a year and a half to build but it was definitely worth the wait.

A Smashing Party

The party started at noon on 14 July and didn’t end until nightfall. “If we bring beer, the party usually lasts a lot longer,” laughed Lind.

As it turned out, there was plenty of beer. Lind also organized for a pig roast which made for some delicious pulled pork sandwiches. The Castaway houseboaters brought different dishes too, all culminating in a fantastic potluck with food to spare. Almost everyone took leftovers home that night.

Along with great food was some great company. The Castaway boaters are a friendly lot and conversations were accented by laughter and big smiles. It was easy to see they all care about each other and are excited about their new clubhouse.

New Conveniences

Among the party goers were Chris and Tom Pulkrabek, two year-round liveaboards at Castaways Marina. They explained they used to run a Castaways Marina booth at the Minneapolis Boat Show in February and one of the number one questions they were asked was whether or not their marina had showers, restrooms or even a clubhouse.

“It really is a good up-sell for the marina,” explained Chris. “I think it’s wonderful.”

Another big question people would ask at the booth was whether Castaways Marina had garages or storage units. Now they can confidently tell them they have 11 garages on the first level of Castaway’s clubhouse and 22 storage units on the second. These new garage and storage units will make life a lot easier and more convenient for all the Castaway houseboaters.

The Pulkrabeks used to have to store their jet skis, little boat and their car in Farmington, Minn., where Lind has a business, which is about a 20-mile drive from the marina. It was always a bit of a hassle when winter came, but now they can put all their things in the garages for the winter instead.

There is also a plethora of cross-country skiing trails in the surrounding area, so a lot of the houseboaters will store skis in the units year-round while still having easy access to them whenever they want to go.

With all the new developments the clubhouse has to offer, it’s safe to say that the Castaway houseboaters are all thrilled about the new-found conveniences the storage spaces have to offer. Now when the boating season comes to a close, it’ll be as simple as loading all your summer stuff up into a unit that’s only a couple hundred yards from your houseboat. Plus, you can access it whenever you want. It doesn’t get much better than that.

“Other marinas have clubhouses,” mused Chris, “but garages and storage units? That’s pretty unique to have for a marina. I can’t think of anyone else who has storage units.”

Washers, Dryers & More

The new clubhouse also comes equipped with two coin-operated washers and dryers, which everyone was excited about. In the first month after opening, Lind said the washers and dryers were pretty much running constantly, and he was pleased to see the Castaway houseboaters taking advantage of this new amenity.

“Now people won’t have to go to laundromats either, which is great,” enthused Chris. “I mean, I hated going to laundromats, so I think it’s a wonderful amenity.”

The clubhouse also has two bathrooms with showers which a lot of people will take advantage of, especially houseboaters with smaller holding tanks. Castaways used to have an outhouse for people to use before the clubhouse, so this is quite an upgrade. Lind also pointed out that the showers will come in quite handy for a lot of the boaters.

“Even though a 30-footer might have a shower, it might not be a really comfortable shower,” described the property manager. “So it’ll be nice to go up there and have a good comfortable shower.”

It’s clear that having the laundry facility, along with the bathrooms and showers, has already made quite a difference for the boaters. Everyone is relishing their newfound conveniences.

Beautiful Gardens

A person can tell that the Castaway houseboaters take great pride in their marina. You can tangibly see it as you walk along the dock and breathe in the fragrance of all the beautiful flowers and plants the houseboaters cultivated to decorate the dock in front of their houseboats and along their slips.

It’s the little touches like these that make Castaways Marina a truly special place to be. Both the Linds and the Pulkrabeks, along with many of the other Castaway houseboaters, nurture some impressive vegetation in front of their boats.

A Close-Knit Marina

Living at Castaways Marina is like joining a large, extended family. Everyone is open and friendly, always happy to lend a hand or join in the fun. The Pulkrabeks mentioned that people usually congregate around the fire pit most nights in the summer to enjoy each other’s company.

Even in the winter, the year-round liveaboards like to keep the party rolling with a little something they like to call “boat hops.” This is where they all cook a different type of food on their individual houseboats, such as appetizers, entrees, desserts and so forth. Then the entire group hops from boat to boat experiencing each different level of food. The houseboaters like to choose a theme to go along with the party as well.

“There’s also a different cocktail on every boat,” laughed Chris.

Castaways Marina is also just across the channel from a private island which features an excellent space to host gatherings. Jeff Gillitzer owns this area and set up a pool table, gazebo and fire pit, and he frequently invites the Castaway houseboaters to come and enjoy themselves. Gillitzer also decorated the area with lights, so at night the place lights up quite magically.

Now with the new clubhouse, the Castaway houseboaters will have yet another option to choose from when it comes to a hang-out spot. Doubtless they’ll continue to appreciate and make the most of this wonderful new facility with its plenteous amenities.

Even when it seems like it couldn’t get any better, it does. This gorgeous year-round marina has even more to offer now, thanks to its new clubhouse.

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