Living Aboard

Published in the May 2013 Issue May 2013 News Janet Groene, with Gordon Groene

Since the golden days of royal yachts, floating palaces have always attracted the best designers, latest products and most luxurious materials. The race to the top continues as houseboaters personalize, improve and tweak out boats with new comforts that are not only attractive, but are also tough and practical in active, lighthearted houseboat life.

Here are some new—even unique—finds that might work for your houseboat.

* A designer piano.  There’s nothing more grand than a grand piano unless it’s one that is custom designed for your houseboat by one of the world’s leading stylists. Nothing makes for a livelier houseboat party than live music. Designer Justin Elliott of ResInno created this Yamaha DC3 Mark IV Disklavier piano for a boat named Armurula Sun. The piano model, named SolVas, is now available at

* Add an icemaker.  You can’t have too much ice onboard, especially when houseboating in the good ‘ol summertime. U-line, long a standard setter in marine appliances, offers this compact, marine grade, stainless steel icemaker. Add one to the wet bar on deck, one in the wet bar in the living room and put another on the flybridge or in the galley.

The company makes several models. Pictured is the SS1095 for use inside and outside. There are three flange options: a half-inch mounting flange flush to the front of the door, a half-inch mounting flange flush to the front of cabinet, or no flange for freestanding or built-in installations. This unit produces up to 23 pounds of ice per day, storing up to 12 pounds at a time. A newly designed positive-catch latch keeps the door securely closed and allows for one-handed opening. Hardware components are UV- and corrosion-resistant. The icemaker is front ventilated for built-in installation, so it requires no special venting on its top, sides or rear.

U-line products are available through marine and RV suppliers and at

* A feel for fabric. If you’re having houseboat furniture re-upholstered or are specifying fabric for custom pieces, look into Sensuede, a fabric with luxury feel yet high performance that can’t be equaled by leather, ordinary velours and other household materials. It’s available in more than 200 colors and it is stain resistant, child/pet-friendly, fade resistant, wrinkle resistant and isn’t subject to pulls. Sensuede can be washed or dry cleaned and it’s made from recycled materials. Your decorator will know where to get it and how to use it. Visit for more information.

* Custom Dinnerware. Something fishy is going on in this kiln-fired, digital decal dinnerware for your houseboat table. Order one of the marine-theme designs or design your own. It's made in the U.S. by a small company. For more information visit   

* Upgrade outdoor furniture. Almost always it’s the deck furniture that goes first. Harsh sun, sea spray, mildew and wet swim suits take their toll. So does everyday hard wear because these pieces are in the places on board  where everyone hangs out. If it’s time to replace exterior furniture on your houseboat, look into prestige patio furniture lines such as SifasR. Latest technological advances assure lighter weight, tougher wear, snazzier designs and trendier colors.

These pieces are made with strong, corrosion-resistant lacquered aluminum and electro-polished stainless steel. Resin extruded, dope-dyed high-density polyethylene fabrics have stable pigments and high UV resistance. Called Hilaro, the fibers are resistant to chemicals and salt water, temperature extremes, tension and tears. See for more details.

* A luxurious shower head and wand. Even if it didn’t save a shipload of water, a new shower system from Oxygenics would be worth adding to your houseboat bathrooms and the after-swim shower on deck. A patented design mixes air with water that showers down like a powerful waterfall.                                                                                               

Unlike other water-saving showers, there’s no feeling of skimpiness. The flow feels full and generous. Soap and shampoo lather more luxuriously, yet you use less. That means easier cleanup because there is less residue to collect in the shower pan and in the shower sump where stinky algae can get a foothold. Installation to existing shower plumbing is a snap. Available are shower heads, shower wands and a combination with an easy-to-use diverter valve. With the combinations available, you’ll have 32 different shower patterns. Visit for more details.

About the Authors

“Living Aboard” is a recurring column that focuses on living on your houseboat. Gordon and Janet Groene lived full-time on the go for ten years and they hold the NMMA Directors Award for boating journalism. Their books include Living Aboard and Creating Comfort Afloat. Janet posts new galley recipes weekly at 

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