March 18, 2012
How a houseboat ended up in Alaska
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Charlie Summerville has owned Alaska Adventures since 1995.
For years, wildlife lovers with a taste for adventure came to Summerville for
fishing trips and bear-watching outings in
All of this changed one day in 2007, when Theresa Mazzoli of Elite Boat Sales received a call from Summerville.
“He had decided he wanted to buy a bed and breakfast/bear-watching houseboat,” Mazzoli explained.” It would be the first and only houseboat ever up there.”
Summerville further outlined what he had in mind.
“After offering tours from our land-based lodge, we decided we needed to have some access to more remote areas for our clients, and what a better way to do that than via a custom houseboat,” Summerville explained.
While this idea was very exciting up front, a lot of work
would have to go into making it a reality. For one, how do you get a houseboat
into such an inaccessible part of
Summerville’s vision was to provide a fully-staffed touring boat for his customers, and include a captain, cooks and a guide to make these fishing and sightseeing trips as comfortable and convenient as possible.
Finding The Boat
At first, Mazzoli wasn’t sure Summerville was serious about his plans.
“I didn’t believe this guy would actually fly out to
But Summerville did in fact make the long flight, and toured
many boats at
“I just happened to have listed a six-bedroom Stardust houseboat,” Mazzoli recalled. “The current owner bought it from someone who had used it as a bed and breakfast, and all the requirements for that purpose, i.e. three sinks in the kitchen, were all there.”
Summerville was very happy with the boat.
“After finding the three-year-old 82-foot Stardust for a reasonable price, in excellent condition, we were sold!” Summerville said.
As the boat was part of a trade-in deal with Thoroughbred
Houseboats, the company held onto it while Summerville waited for the right
season to bring it to
The houseboat is 16 feet wide and has five bedrooms, not
including the captain’s suite in the aft. He also added four extra holding
tanks, enough to contain the gray water and waste for up to two weeks, as the
tours take place in an area of
Mazzoli stressed just how well the whole process worked out.
“Six-bedroom houseboats are hard to find,” Mazzoli said. “Most of the time they are rentals.”
After the boat sale had been finalized, Summerville returned
Now began the hard part: getting the boat from
“Boy did it make a statement with the locals,” Summerville remembered. “They had never seen such a beast in this remote area.”
In addition to all the help Thoroughbred had supplied
before, they also flew up to
Summerville’s clients love the experience of houseboating in such a scenic wilderness. Others in the area are not quite as happy, however.
“The reaction from a few local outfitters has not been so
positive,” Summerville disclosed. “Some of them are very jealous, and others
say they don’t want
But Summerville is convinced that, due to the extreme expense of getting a houseboat up there and the legal difficulties, that’s not something to worry about.
“The only thing I can compare this undertaking to is putting [a houseboat] on the moon,” Summerville wryly said.
While Summerville loves the boat and what it adds to his company, he is not planning on doing it all again and adding another houseboat to the fleet anytime soon.
“The houseboat theme is so novel in
So if you’re interested in taking a one-of-a-kind cruise
that is like nothing else in all of
The cruise takes visitors away from the crowds, and gets
Summerville is confident the word will get out.
“In our opinion, this is the perfect family vacation getaway for groups of up to eight, if you’re looking for a wilderness vacation in a pristine area,” he added with satisfaction.
For more information on Alaska Adventures or to book a trip, visit www.alaska-wildlife-cruises.com or call 877-801-2289. To contact Theresa Mazzoli at Elite Boat Sales, call 502-905-7319 or visit www.eliteboatsales.net. Mazzoli is also available by email at email@example.com. Thoroughbred’s website is www.thoroughbredhouseboats.com.