We polluted more skies (see previous post) flying from San Francisco to Seattle to see my son, his wife, and their year-old son. They are all doing fine, thank you very much, but this isn’t about them. It’s about domiciles. Let’s start with theirs.
A few years ago, before Jason and Robin got married, they bought a house boat on Lake Union. The price was right, in part because it was small, in part because the housing market was down, and also because it needed work. Jason looks good with a tool belt on. He started by taking out the wall facing the water and putting in large windows and glass doors. Light is good, especially when reflected off the water. That was it for quite a while, but when Robin became pregnant it was clear that the interior needed to be reorganized to make good use of what little space they had(about 700 square feet, the size, or a little smaller, of many New York apartments). It was a rule in the house boat community that the footprint of the existing house could not be expanded.
A friend down the dock drew up some plans, Jason and Robin moved into a another friend’s place, and Jason started gutting his house—walls, ceilings, floors, all the way down to the logs that floated the whole thing. The floor had to be reinstalled and leveled (it hadn’t been level). Then he bought seven closets from Ikea and installed them at strategic locations. He then framed in the interior walls and installed new plumbing and wiring. Sheetrock, appliances, kitchen counters and cabinets, book shelves, bathroom fixtures, flooring, lighting fixtures and outlets and switches. Paint.
All this work had to be done when he wasn’t at his full time job (more on that later), and they had to move to different friends’ places in the community as people came and went. It took a while, but when they moved in they had two bedrooms with adjoining bath, a functional kitchen, and a large living area facing the water. A sleek sailboat was moored to their deck. We took it out for an evening sail, the first really warm evening in Seattle’s spring. A happy family snug in their new home. In time, a second story may be desired.
The other domicile is at the other end of the scale. As it happens, Jason’s current job is as a project manager for a company that makes mega-yachts, mega- as in the 100 to 250 foot range. He took us on a tour of the yard, and one has to conclude that there has been a lot of trickle up in the economy.
One boat in particular, a 210-footer, was near completion, and we had a look around. It would take pages, chapters even, to give a fair description, but even a cursory glance would tell you that no expense was spared. I can’t remember how many staterooms there were for the guests (the owner and his wife had separate accommodations on the upper deck) but somewhere between ten and twenty I would guess. Each had exquisite Italian marble tiling in the bathrooms and lots of inlaid woodwork (from rare hard woods) on the walls. Each guest was to be provided with an iPad that would control room temperature, lighting, music or other entertainment, and would open and lock doors and summon servants with drink or food. As I recall there were six or so decks above the main deck, so there was lots of room for cabins and dining rooms and lounging rooms and recreation rooms. Let your imagination run wild, and you probably won’t be far off the mark. Except that your desires, if they are anything like mine, seem rather paltry compared to those of this captain of the seas.
My understanding is that for most of the year the boat will not be in use, somewhat like many of the houses at fly-in ski areas or Caribbean beaches. But when you want it, there it is with a crew of twenty waiting to take you on a relaxing cruise to take your mind off your troubles at work, ready for a week or so with friends of a feather who will be able to measure your true worth by the length of your . . . yacht.