When I went to the Dominican Republic for a vacation last winter, I went on a whale cruise and got so seasick that other passengers and the people who worked on the boat were openly pointing and laughing at me. My initial spell of hurling was so forceful that as I flung my upper body over the rail of the boat, my $150 sunglasses flew a good ten feet before they landed and immediately sunk to the bottom of the ocean. And yet – and yet! – I would still live in this houseboat, even if I had to endure the occasional (or everyday) spell of seasickness. That’s how much I liked this houseboat. Also keep in mind that there are only 86 houseboats in DC; living in one of them puts you in a pretty exclusive club. I mean, there are a hundred seats in the Senate, so according to simple math, living here would be a bigger deal than being a US Senator. Go ahead, try and argue with math.
This charming houseboat is moored at the Washington Gangplank Marina, which is a beautiful little houseboat community that only vaguely smells like spilled fuel and dead fish. Inside, it’s surprisingly large. The main living room area is about the size of a large-ish studio apartment, and has plenty of windows. There’s a (literal) galley kitchen along one wall that’s furnished with fine cabinetry and stainless steel appliances. Along the center of the area is an island, and at the very front of the boat (the bow? the stern? one of the two), is a console of switches and a steering wheel that look like a toy but are the actual functional controls of the boat. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted to take it out for a joyride. There’s an outside deck where you can sit and look out over the water, which is awesome. You don’t realize how much of the summer heat is reflected and trapped by all the concrete of the city until you go out to the water; there’s a steady breeze coming off the river that immediately dissipated 90% of the heat and humidity. That alone is a reason to live on a houseboat. There’s a surprisingly large bedroom with plenty of closet space and room for a vanity and a queen size bed, and another fantastic deck on the very crown of the boat, perfect for taking in a sunset, or spying on your fellow houseboaters through ye olde spyglass.
And besides the obvious lifestyle advantages, there are a lot of fringe benefits that come from living in a houseboat. First, you don’t have to pay property taxes, since you live in a boat. (There are marina fees, though; you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?) Also – no small thing in a summer of never-ending horrible 95-degree days – you could go swimming whenever you wanted to! I mean, these waters probably aren’t 100% safe, but they could be worse. (It could be the Anacostia.) I asked someone at the marina what would happen if I just cannonballed right into the Potomac and the guy, a grizzled old boat guy, thought for a moment and then said, “it probably wouldn’t kill you.” Ha ha! What a great endorsement. I hope the Potomac River Tourism Board is reading this, and uses that line on next year’s brochures. “Come visit the Potomac River! It won’t kill you! (Probably.)”
And don’t underestimate the fact that you’ll live in a house that can transform, at the turn of a key, into a PARTY CRUISER. You will literally become the most popular person in your friend group, at least between the months of May and September. Living on a houseboat is the attractiveness equivalent of being really hilarious or having great hair. It’s that powerful. And just think how convenient it would be to deal with unwanted guests. If your in-laws or annoying neighbors drop in unannounced, you won’t have to slouch way down on the sofa and stay perfectly still until they leave, now you can just rev up the old motor and make waves out of there, leaving them standing puzzled on the dock. (I would pay upwards of a hundred dollars to watch a video of someone actually doing this.) You’d also become a part of a close-knit, unique community. I was skeptical about this at first, but after the open house, my girlfriend and I rented a small boat, and way out on the river we crossed paths with a big obnoxious boat that was blasting Katy Perry. I began to mutter something cranky about them, but when they pulled alongside us, they slowed down, tossed over two beers, and then went on their way. So I guess living on the river could be cool.
600 Water Street SW B11
2 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom