My First Rum Run

Published in the January 2020 Issue January 2020 Feature By Brady L. Kay

I couldn’t help but reflect on my own experiences after being asked to help assemble this issue that was 30 years in the making. As a staff we dove into the normally locked archive closet to search back issues as we celebrate our 30th year as a publication – the only publication, I might add, that is dedicated to the houseboat industry.

Over the years I’ve met some truly wonderful people while out on assignment for Houseboat, but I think it was my first year in the summer of 2000 that I compare each current travel season to.

Fresh out of college and used to manual labor jobs that left me physically exhausted as well as filthy and dirty at the end of the day, my first editorial work trip had me pinching myself. I recall casually stretching out on a lounge chair on the top deck of Bacardi Breeze on Lake Barkley in Kentucky, a 79- by 18-foot Stardust houseboat named after the owner’s favorite rum. As I lay in the sun waiting for our photographer Kort Duce to finish up his shoot (using a film camera of course), I remember thinking, “Am I really getting paid to do this?”

I was collecting a paycheck to hang out on houseboats with my co-workers, while experiencing Kentucky hospitality at its finest. This is when things began to click and I realized I have to be one of the luckiest people in the world and I still feel this way all these years later.

As far as houseboating communities go, my trip to Michigan later that summer for a Vintage Houseboat Club feature on the Muskegon River Yacht Club was as memorable as any other adventure I’ve ever had. I came to do the story on one of the club’s members, but fell in love with all of them who instantly welcomed me in. Gene and Tana Nuoffer welcomed eight or nine couples from their club on board Playhouse, a 1969 Chris Craft previously owned by Hugh Hefner. For years I would tell people I had slept on Hefner’s houseboat, of course leaving out the small detail that it was no longer owned by him at the time.

A blues concert on the Mississippi River where Joel Johnson and his band performed on top of a houseboat is high on my list as well. Other houseboats rafted up together on the Minnesota section of the river and the band played all night to the delight of those enjoying the sound of live music ringing through the summer air. 

I could go on and on about that first year and those early adventures or even go into the other amazing couples, families and groups I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years. However, I’ll cut my trip down memory lane a little short and just say it’s been an amazing ride and I’m excited to have been apart of the adventure so far.

For our 30th anniversary I want to give thanks to all the friends I’ve made and hope to make in the near future as we continue to promote the benefits of the houseboating lifestyle. Thanks for the memories.  

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