The ability to tame dry lands and raging waters is a super power trait you’d expect to find in an Avengers movie. While Doug Bagby would freely admit he’s no super hero, his latest boat purchase might suggest differently. The Missouri resident has a beaming smile on his face as we drive up and meet him for the first time at Piedmont Park Campground on Clearwater Lake. The proud new boat owner has been camping here for a couple of days, but now that we’ve arrived he’s ready to put his unique vessel on the water.
Clearwater Lake in Missouri is small by most accounts with a surface area of approximately 2.5 square miles. It’s not nearly as popular as the nationally-known lakes in the state, such as the Lake of the Ozarks or Table Rock Lake, and that’s the way the locals prefer it. The obscurity of this lake – located in the southeast corner of the state and clearly well off the beaten path – only helps add to the suspicions that Doug might really be some type of a superhero after all.
Conquering land and sea has made him more popular than he would ever have imagined prior to taking delivery of his new 25-foot houseboat that doubles as an RV campground camper. The two-for-one design is what initially led Doug to Land And Sea RV since he doesn’t believe in forming a train of trailers behind his RAM diesel truck.
“We love to camp, we love to be on the water, so it’s the perfect combination,” explains Doug. Have you ever tried to get a pontoon and a camper to the lake at the same time? It’s not that easy.”
Embracing The Spotlight
It doesn’t matter which lake Doug and his girlfriend Linda Casey visit, the crowds always seem to find them. Simply put, this houseboat stands out like a haystack in a pile of needles. We’re here as a staff on a beautiful summer day to feature this houseboat from a new manufacturer in the industry, but before we’re able to really get our first good look at the Freedom 25 from Land And Sea RV, a fellow camper does a slow pass in his truck as he tries not to get caught taking a quick picture with his cell phone. The driver is too shy to stop, but this won’t be the last time during our visit that he’ll circle the campsite.
“It’s like that all the time,” says Linda with a smile. “People drive by slowly just to take a look.”
In all fairness to the onlookers, the Land And Sea RV is quite different than any other trailerable houseboat you’ve ever seen before. It truly functions as an RV camper, complete with full hookups and a friendly staircase that is built into the triple axle purpose-built trailer to help make boarding easy. Unlike most trailer stairs, this one is easier on the knees, heart and your self-esteem. When you’re ready to go out on the water, the houseboat slides smoothly off the 36-foot trailer and you’re off and boating. It really is as simple as that.
As we make our way up the stairs we’re eager to do what some onlookers have failed to be able to do: take a look inside. With a towing-friendly beam width of eight and a half feet it’s a little cozy, but the tall ceiling helps make the space inside feel bigger than you might expect. We know better than to sit in the swiveling captain’s chair unless given permission, but Doug freely obliges. From the comfy helm chair the real captain has complete access to all the instrumentation including the ability at raise and lower the bow anchor as well as the Lowrance depth finder. If you’re concerned about the possible drain those electronics might have on the battery, you shouldn’t be. The solar panels on top help power the instrumentation and other features so you don’t have to worry about your batteries. There is also a 3,000 watt Honda generator on the back deck that is tied into the 72-gallon fuel tank that Doug especially loves since he can run the air conditioning all night long.
Located just behind the helm chair are amenity comforts that can be appreciated on land or on sea including a television, small fridge, microwave, propane cooking top and a surprisingly deep galley sink. Two couches on each end double as pullout queen-size beds that we found emininently lounge-able, and in the stern is a full head that includes a spacious shower. The biggest takeaway from our impressions of the interior was not only the amenities, but the storage capabilities. The engineers did a great job making sure you always have a place to store your gear.
As we make our way back towards the rear deck on our guided tour we come across one of Doug’s favorite features, the grill. “We use the daylights out of that barbecue grill,” says the owner. “I love to just sit on the back deck and watch the sunset or sunrise. It’s my favorite place to be on the boat, while Linda prefers to suntan on the top deck.”
We eventually make our way over to the launch ramp, and even in this secluded campground we feel like we are part of the Paparazzi since we aren’t the only ones taking photos. After launching the catamaran-style hull houseboat, Doug is ready to throw down the throttle to give us a glimpse of what his boat can do. Someone sitting behind me whoops when the number comes up and I don’t blame him. This is a sight not many houseboaters have ever seen.
Powered with twin Suzuki 90hp four-strokes, the boat is capable of reaching speeds in the low 30’s but Doug just laughs when we ask him if he runs it wide open all the time. “This boat can easily pull a skier, but most of the time we just putt around at 12 or so miles per hour and just cruise. We’re never in such a hurry that we’d need to be going that fast all the time.”
With the enclosed head in the stern limiting the captain’s full view on the portside, Doug relies heavily on the smartly-placed cameras on the side as well as in the aft of the boat.
“People will run right beside me at times as they try to get a closer look, so that side camera really comes in handy,” adds Doug. “She runs smooth and handles great and we can’t say enough good things about it.”
Roads Are Optional
The boat weighs in at around 10,000 pounds, yet surprisingly offers up a smooth ride, even in a tight, pound-your-teeth-out kind of chop. We take our time as we cruise around the lake and wrap up our interview. The sun is slowing starting to drop on the day and it’s now time for us to depart so the couple can get on with their RV camper vacation that no longer requires any use of roads.
We bid farewell to our new houseboating friends as they reverse and pull away from the dock. We click a couple more photos of the houseboat streaking across the water as Doug and Linda chase the sunset. As we turn we’re greeted by a couple with disappointed looks on their faces as they just missed seeing the boat.
“We heard the camper boat was back on Clearwater and we were hoping to get a look,” says the stranger. Just like a vanishing superhero, Doug and his Land And Sea RV have now disappeared and if this couple is going to catch a glimpse, it will have to be on another day.
For More Information
Also check out their website at www.landandsearv.com