A Different Kind Of Houseboat

Published in the May 2013 Issue May 2013

When a father and son team up, it can be an unstoppable force. Robert Brncich, president of Harborside Marina near Wilmington, Ill., and his son Brett Brncich, vice president, have used this dynamic to grow their boat and marina business for the last 28 years. Their marina sits on the Illinois River, 60 miles southwest of Chicago, and offers a full-service department. Transients up to 110 feet long are welcome year-round. If this wasn’t enough, they also are authorized dealers for Premier Pontoons, Yacht Club Trailers and Evinrude outboards.

But the team wasn’t satisfied with all of that. They wanted to come up with something that would get the next generation of boaters excited about buying a houseboat.

“We decided to manufacture a boat under our supervision. In order to do this, we invited our current customers and employees to voice their opinions, so we could capitalize on what they thought buyers were looking for,” said Robert. “We discussed the size, equipment, ergonomics, performance and a price point.”

All of this research led them to design what is now known as the HarborCraft Coastal Cruiser, a custom-built 40-foot houseboat with a 12-foot beam.

“After designing the boat, we wanted to find a company here in the United States that would build this boat to our specs,” said Brett. “We partnered up with a company called American Redi-Bilt, which has been building and designing fiberglass products including boats for decades.”

This boat is truly a beauty. The front deck has a 15- by 12-foot area that has safety rails with three access gates to form a great entertainment area. The unique offset 10- by 18-foot cabin allows for a wide 20-inch walkway down the starboard side.

The top sun deck is perfect for laying out in the sun or hosting a casual get together. This boat can sleep up to four and comes standard with air conditioning. A larger than average head has a full shower with a 150-gallon black holding tank, a direct drop toilet and a vanity.

The HarborCraft Coastal Cruiser was designed with a value price point. Ergonomics were very high on the design priorities, such as the ability to entertain many guests at once, ease of movement, wide walkways and large expansive forward and upper deck and it comes standard with twin 115hp E-TEC engines.

Every aspect of the boat has been extremely well thought out, including the small details.

“We have a couple of different options when it comes to the furniture. Currently we have a wicker patio set which really compliments the deck space and makes you feel at home and relaxed, but it does tend to take up a lot of space,” said Robert. “It’s 50/50 on using a wicker set or a typical boat seating set. The choice is the customers.”

Next time you’re making the Great Loop from the Chicago side of Lake Michigan on the Illinois River, stop at Harborside Marina and check out the HarborCraft Coastal Cruiser.

You may decide to just stay put at Harborside, especially because Robert and Brett’s philosophy is to continue to give Harborside customers more than a dock to tie up to, but a second home where you can bond with marina neighbors, relatives and friends. This is a place people can barely wait to get to when their work week ends.

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