Weathering the storm on houseboat in Providence

January 2011 News Richard Salit -

Much like Rhode Islanders across the state, Dan Gladstone and Zachary Weindel stepped out of their house on Wednesday morning and began shoveling.

But that's pretty much where the similarities ended. For starters, one nasty slip for either of them could have plunged them into the frigid waters of the Providence River. That's because the free-spirited, 20-somethings live in their homemade houseboat at the tip of Conley's Wharf, a desolate spot on a day when the falling snow obscured views and blanketed the pier and parking lot.

As gusts of wind rocked their floating home, Gladstone cleared snow off the wooden decking and gazed across the river toward East Providence.

"This is why we live here - because of the view," he said. "Winter in the city gets to be really ugly. But the water is beautiful all of the time."

The potent northeaster didn't faze either Gladstone, a 21-year-old ocean engineering major at the University of Rhode Island, or Weindel, 28, a self-employed builder. As they always do, they slept on the boat overnight in their bunks, snug inside sleeping bags with the warmth of their wood-burning stove.

Gurgy, Weindel's pet hybrid African raven, seemed in fine spirits, too, flitting about in the netting of his outdoor enclosure and cawing for Weindel when he went inside to warm up.


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