Great Food, Friendship And Family

What houseboating is all about

December 2019 Feature Gini McKain

It’s heartening to find people who still value the very basics of life while embracing modern technology. That is, actually talking to each other and breaking bread with one another. In the case with Otto and Carolyn Lienhart, their daughter Ashley and their silver lab Gauge, it is a lot of food for the body and soul, and a tremendous amount of joy and laughter. It is being together while telling or sharing stories, trials, and tribulations with their family of houseboaters, not far from Hot Springs, Ark.

It all happens on the Lienharts’ new 106- by 20-foot Sumerset houseboat named Another 3 Beers, docked at the Iron Mountain Marina on DeGray Lake. The journey to having and staying on this beautiful home has been a long one. Between remodeling their own home in Morrilton, Ark., and outfitting the custom-built Sumerset “abode,” multiple options presented themselves along the way in the effort to make the houseboat a true home.

Atmosphere Of Unity

The Lienharts’ priority to embrace that feeling of friendship and family (blood-related or otherwise) involved floor plans that enhanced communal seating while enjoying an array of great food with nearby friends. Those nearby friends included the owners of adjacent houseboats at the marina like Jimmy and Lori Howeth, who bought the Lienharts’ previous houseboat, and Stan and Donna Griffin.

As a matter of fact, the three couples also went to the Houseboat magazine Expo together several years ago and got a lot of houseboat ideas while having a great time. It was a 21-foot-wide houseboat at the event that gave them the idea of having their own 21-foot-wide boat.

Unfortunately, no legal 21-foot wide transportation load was permissible over Arkansas roads, so the couple went back to the drawing board for a 20-foot wide one. That did not deter them from making use of the space they were then allotted for a very large C-shaped top deck bar that measures a little over 17 feet across and about 14 feet wide with a large pull-out grilling station at its head.

Gathering Together

The bar on their houseboat can sit as many as 10 people while observing chefs grilling or Carolyn putting together one of her famous tasty pizzas. They also have sit-down dining on the deck area for a dozen more people.

The other option on the top deck is their EVO circular grill to cook sausage, bacon, and blueberry pancakes for a Sunday brunch with Grandmosas as the special accompanying beverage. The men all help in this task while the women help combine savory scrambled farm fresh eggs with heavy cream, spinach, diced red pepper and purple onion in the spacious kitchen.

In that galley area downstairs where stories are told and more food is eaten among friends, a large 42- by 90-inch leathered granite island top with space for eight people acts as dining table, prep area, or work space. In other words, a kitchen table most of us grew up with that was used when family and friends got together.

The family gathering is accompanied by a few beverages that the Lienharts are known for since Otto’s father (also named Otto) started an Anheuser-Busch Inc., exclusive distributorship back in 1945 before selling out in 2015. That association and subsequent teasing gave the Lienharts the reason to name their first houseboat Just 3 Beers.

Fruitful Collaborations

From their first houseboat to the new one, changes have been made to accommodate current amenities that dictate a longer boat length. Challenges and issues encountered have been resolved by Trifecta, the parent company of Sumerset Houseboats.

The original length of 100 feet was extended when it was decided to have three king size beds in the staterooms and larger showers with intricately laid tiles in the five bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom layout. The two cuddy cabins have queen size beds.

Trifecta’s interior designer, Debbie Sharpe Tapp worked with Carolyn extensively over fabric swatches, colors, paneling, graphics, and tiles during the entire process. Materials were chosen from both women’s extensive inventory of ideas, samples and resources.

Another invaluable member of the Trifecta team was James Stinson, who presided over the cabinetry. Carolyn had a specific design in mind for the galley cabinets as well as placement in the other rooms at dressers and armoires. The deep profile, custom raised glazed panels created by Carolyn and Stinson working together have made the galley a striking central meeting place. The grey mimicked wood floor design from ceramic tile also balances everything together.

Luxurious Touches

The deep rich dark walnut paneling in the salon and bedrooms give an elegant welcoming feeling, while the kitchen has a lighter exclusive look, adding plenty of cabinet storage with pull-out drawers. The high table chairs were backed with a soft blue and gray geometric pattern of circles and squares. That pattern gave germination to curved sconces and circles throughout the rooms.

The showers to the staterooms are more than striking, especially at the master suite and the one adjacent to Ashley’s room when on board. The master shower has three shower heads of Brizo Co. fixtures. The central fixture is a rancan, along with a wall mount, and another wall mount with slide bar hand shower at the other end.

But it is the middle shower area that is most striking with ceramic gloss metallic tiles in slate grey with visuals of deep blue waves surrounding you as you stand on accented hexagon-shaped multi-colored tiles creating the impression of being underwater.

Back in the master stateroom, the Lienharts can also enjoy the patented LED flame Demplex technology with an allusion of real flames rising from a base of embedded diamond like acrylic ice available in revolving multi-colors to give a relaxing atmosphere.

Loving Every Minute

The constant in their lives though, on the houseboats through the years, is friendship within the dock community. “The people are why we stay here,” shared Carolyn. “We have become a big family. As soon as you turn off the highway you are away from everything—away from business, all the drama or whatever it may be at home you need to get away from. You recharge your own batteries. Egos are left in the parking lot, and everyone is on a level playing field here. We can relax and just socialize.”

Socialize they do, especially on the top deck. Another option for the couple is to cruise around in their Bennington pontoon boat, or take their daughter Ashley surfing behind their MasterCraft boat.

Watersports are a natural way of life to Ashley. She was recently fortunate enough to experience six months at Disney World in their Disney College Program at the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom, showcasing an extension of her love of the water.

The marina is just a short distance from the dam, and not much farther from where Another 3 Beers was christened and launched on its maiden journey to its slip. Even then there was plenty of food and friends to welcome them once they docked for the first time, just as there is now. So far, they’ve loved every minute on their Sumerset houseboat.

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