Houseboat Magazine

September 2009

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Page 25 of 55

health 26 I hate moving. Just the other day my wife mentioned that maybe we should look at moving to a new place in a few months once our current lease is up and I reacted like she had just told me she wanted to rob a bank. Just thinking about all of that packing, cleaning, lifting, then more lifting and more cleaning makes my head spin. We moved into our current condo over six months ago and it was only within the past couple of weeks that my wife commented that the place finally felt like home. We still have a bunch of boxes piled willy-nilly in the base- ment storage area, but I always say close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and unpacking. However, I have to admit that moving a house can be a piece of cake compared to dealing with clutter on a houseboat. With a house, you only need to worry about wheth- er or not people have places to sit and if the aesthetics are pleasing. If your chi is flowing, you're good to go. But in houseboats, you have to worry about the weight of your furni- ture, hot tub, 62-inch flat-panel television, etc. and how they affect balance, gas mileage and the available space. Balance matters more than you might think. A first-year houseboater relates this cautionary tale: "I was experiencing a snowstorm on the water while I enjoyed the roaring fire and the Johnny Carson show in comfort and warmth. Unbeknownst to me, my neighbors on the water were out shoveling the snow from their boats' roofs. "When I awoke in the morning, I discov- ered his houseboat was listing badly, as the combined weight of my hot tub, water bed and snow on one section of the boat was enough to essentially sink it. "After spending the morning draining the hot tub and water bed, I made a sheepish call to my insurance agent and learned my lesson." Keep heavy items in separate sections of the boat, or compensate by using weights or many smaller items in other areas. Always be sure to put your boat in the water, especially smaller houseboats, before major work is done, to see where the weight can be distributed. Weight also matters when it comes to gas mileage. Everyone knows the heavier the houseboat the more gasoline is needed to move it the same distance. Simply put, an extra 100 pounds in your boat can nega- tively affect your miles per gallon by up to two percent. To help with this, many manufacturers build lightweight furniture that reduces weight while looking great. Another innova- tion to assist in this area has been the afore- mentioned flat panel television. Not only do these models generally weight less than a tube T.V., they also take up less space by at- taching directly to walls or even ceilings. You can also save space by limiting what you plan to do onboard your houseboat. You may have a desire to do some work while out on the lake, but in reality, an office probably isn't the best use of space. That said, today we have access to hydraulic technology that can hide a washer and dryer under the mas- ter bed when not in use, or tuck away a desk for use on rare occasions. Houseboat manufacturers notice that today, people want more amenities than ever, especially second- or third-time house- boat buyers. Companies like Sharpe end up installing everything from helicopter pads to grills to a full-service salon on their newest boats. But let's take a step back, shall we? Do we really need to bring everything with us when we're out on the water? Isn't part of the point of boating to enjoy nature's inher- ent beauty and spend quality time with our loved ones? If we're honest with ourselves, the mini- mum of what we really need on our boats is pretty, well, minimal. Sleeping quarters are really what set houseboats apart from other types of crafts, so we'll keep the state rooms and cuddies. The galley is arguably included due to the same factor. That said, maybe installing a 35-cubit-foot refrigerator and oxygen bar is going a little overboard, no? Do you really need a hot tub? Why not make use of the water just outside your door? Perhaps instead of placing a full-size stereo system on the roof, a couple of deck chairs and a card table would suffice. It's better to enjoy a sunset in silence than it is to try and coordinate it with Duran Duran, anyway. In short, this is a personal decision. Houseboaters like their stuff, and a leopard can't change its spots overnight. But con- sider the financial and human-interaction based benefits that can come from de-clut- tering your living space, whether on or off the water. And just think of how much less stuff there will be to move when you buy that new houseboat in a few years. Maximize Your Space De-clutter before it's too late By Brandon Barrus

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