At The Helm

Just Dock Walk’n

February 2014 Feature Brady L. Kay

“Do you wanna ride?” These were the words that came from a dock worker on a golf cart that on this 90-degree plus day figured he already knew my answer. But to his surprise I turned him down. Yep, despite the warm temperature, the blazing sun and the intimidating sight of docked houseboats that appeared to go on for miles, I was happy with the walk.

And this had nothing to do with exercise believe me, although it surely wouldn’t hurt. I’m a dock walker because I love to see other houseboats. Now of course this is far from a perfect science, but based on my own experiences, time in the field and just general observations, I’ve unofficially come to the following conclusions about owners, based on what I’ve seen from the dock as I pass by the bow of a houseboat.

  • If you have wicker furniture, you basically hate big people. Why else would you have chairs that could only support a 60-pound child? Hey I’m not judging, I’ll take the hint and keep moving down the line. No offense taken.
  • If you have fishing poles up front, you’re probably not a real diehard fisherman. Since it would be more secure to leave your rods in the stern, I’m guessing people who have their poles in the bow just want others to think they’re always ready to wet a line.
  • Those with swings hanging in the bow are the real boaters. They’ve earned their sea legs a long time ago and the gentle rocking of waves isn’t enough for them. Plus they like that home porch feel that it gives them.
  • Ah, who doesn’t love a good wind chime? But six of them? Are you kidding me? These may look harmless, but if your dock neighbor has a half a dozen or more of these little music makers, take the hint—they’re trying to get rid of you. They’ve probably already talked with the marina manager about changing slips and since none were available they’ve taken matters into their own hands.
  • Now a lounge chair might give you the first impression that the captain of this boat loves to stretch out and recline in the bow. But if you see a true lounge chair, chances are good it’s just there for the overflow. When the beds and carpet patches are filled up, guess where the son-in-law is going to be sleeping? Yep, this is just to give the crew sleeping options when the entire family comes to town for the weekend.
  • A pile of shoes can mean only one thing: the first-mate is tired of cleaning. Moms need downtime too so check those flip flops at the door if you’re coming aboard. Or it could be that no one dares tell Uncle Dave his shoes stink, so by making everyone leave their footwear at the door it creates a better place for everyone.
  • You might think those with a lot of glitz and shine are just looking for attention, but don’t be fooled. All that shiny metal and turning mechanisms mean only one thing: they’re tired of cleaning up after ducks. Bird droppings can be really annoying so sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do.
  • If you see a George Foreman or a dinky Walmart grill on the bow of a high-end houseboat it only means that there is probably a really nice stainless grill on the top deck but the chef is either too lazy or  just doesn’t want to deal with the sun. Don’t worry, when company comes they’ll ditch the Foreman and will be glad to show off their fancy grill up top.
  • And finally, if it’s not the off-season and the bow is completely cleared off with nothing on it, this could be a problem for the captain. This means the wife got a hold of a catalog and has new furniture and decorations on order so beware!


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