Marvin Evatt remembers the first time he ever laid eyes on a houseboat. He was around 12 years old when he walked through a marina for the first time with his mother and said to her, “Gosh, I would love to have one of these someday and be able to come out here.”
Throughout his life, Evatt continued to cultivate his love for houseboats and the water. All of his friends growing up had fishing boats and he’d always go with them, not because he was a particularly avid fisherman, but because he just enjoyed being on the boat. Now that he lives on his 1981 Carlcraft on Keowee Lake in Seneca, S.C., he can’t help but feel like his boat has changed his life for the better.
Evatt has known his fair share of excitement, having toured the nation with his country band Carolina Rain and worked closely with country legend Clint Black. However, life presented him with some trials as well.
Right before Evatt bought his houseboat he went through a lot of stress and heartache with his mother passing away, a relationship ending and his family having to sell the house he grew up in. He wasn’t sure what to do since he didn’t really want to buy a house right then. That’s when his good friend Paul Nodine suggested he look into buying a houseboat since Evatt had always talked about getting one.
A light immediately clicked on in Evatt’s head and he knew a houseboat would be the way to go. Now that he has his Carlcraft, he can’t imagine life without it.
“It changed my life unbelievably,” shared Evatt. “It’s so much better. I went through a bad time and as soon as I got this boat, it just made me almost forget about everything.”
It didn’t take Evatt long to find his houseboat. Nodine helped him in his search and the 1981 Carlcraft was the third boat they looked at together.
“One of the funniest things is when I came out here to the marina in Seneca to look at it, I immediately loved it,” recalled Evatt. “It just needed some TLC.”
The night after Evatt and Nodine looked at the boat, Evatt snuck back to the marina and spent a night on it before he bought it. He confessed to the owners at the marina and now they all laugh about it together, but the reason Evatt felt compelled to do that was because he wanted to learn how he’d like spending his nights on the boat and what things worked and what things didn’t.
Satisfied after his night aboard, the next morning he made an offer on the boat and now he lives on his Carlcraft full-time.
Tender Loving Care
Since it’s a bit of an older boat, Evatt has had to roll up his sleeves and make some necessary renovations. It didn’t need a full restoration or anything too drastic, but the boat was in need of some lovin’.
Evatt put in a new head, all new flooring and replaced some of the windows. He didn’t have to do anything structural which he felt was amazing considering the age of this vintage boat. “The bones were good, the walls were good, and there are lots of good things about this Carlcraft,” smiled Evatt.
His main concern was the aesthetics, so he’s painted it to make it look nice and welcoming. He also cut away some of the interior to make more room on the main deck. So far, Evatt is almost to the point where he’s satisfied with how his boat looks.
Country Singin’ Trio
“There’s something to be said for getting up every morning and having breakfast on the back of the houseboat, watching the sun come up or just getting out in the evenings and taking the guitar on the back deck,” explained Evatt.
Evatt spends a lot of his time hanging out on his houseboat and strumming away at his guitar. He’s often invited to neighbors’ houseboats to sing and play his music which he enjoys immensely. It’s no surprise since he has highly developed musical talents, having spent his time touring from 2003 to 2010 with his country trio group Carolina Rain.
The band first got started when Evatt moved to Nashville, Tenn., after studying opera in college so that he could pursue a career in the music business. He took a job working security at Belmont University and his boss Rhean Boyer found out he played music so he told him to bring his guitar one night. It turned out Boyer was a singer and a songwriter as well.
That night they wrote a song called Carolina Rain which got the ball rolling and just a few weeks later Boyer met their third and final band member, Jeremy Baxter, at church. Two weeks later they were signed to a management deal as a trio.
“That part happened fast,” added Evatt, “but the record deal took a long time. We had multiple record deals fall through. It wasn’t until we met Clint Black that we knew it was for real.”
Carolina Rain finally secured a major label deal with Black’s Equity Records and they immediately started with a national radio tour. Evatt remembers it especially well because he had never flown in an airplane before and in the first six months they had 168 flights booked. It’s safe to say by the end of the tour he was a seasoned flier.
Since that time, Evatt still keeps in touch with his old band mate Baxter. Just two weeks after he bought the Carlcraft, Baxter came to visit on the houseboat and also fell in love with it. They live quite far apart since Baxter’s still in the Nashville area, so he’s only been able to visit a couple times since.
“He loved it but also thought I was a little bit crazy,” laughed Evatt. “You know, some people can’t picture it. They can’t imagine living on a boat, but man! They don’t know what they’re missing!”
Living aboard his houseboat has far exceeded Evatt’s expectations. Since he was a boy of 12 years old he’s always known he’d love to one day live on a houseboat, and so far he’s been nothing but pleased with the entire experience. It also helps that everyone in Keowee Marina is super friendly.
“My neighbors, the deck hands at the docks and the Keowee Marina staff are some of the greatest people I've ever run across in my life,” described Evatt. “It seems like if I ever need anything, they are so willing and happy to help me.”
Evatt knows his houseboat helped him through a difficult part of his life which gave them a special bond. In fact, some interested buyers have offered Evatt four times the amount he paid for his houseboat, but plain and simple, his 1981 Carlcraft isn’t for sale.
The houseboat holds a special place in his heart and he couldn’t be happier with his chosen lifestyle. Evatt feels it’s almost impossible to be sad when he’s following his dreams and doing something that’s always been on his bucket list.
“There is something calming and relaxing and enduring about all aspects of a houseboat,” mused Evatt with a smile.