In celebration of the sixth Annual “Liveaboard Boater Day” Southwest’s colorful Liveaboard community will open its doors to visitors on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The self-guided tour at Gangplank Marina takes visitors inside 15 of the most fun and unique homes (and offices) in Washington, D.C. Owners and docents will be available to answer questions about the boat-homes and the liveaboard and workaboard lifestyles. The homes of Gangplank Marina, located at 600 Water St., SW, have never before been open to the public.
A resident, Laneyse Hooks, says that she gets one of two responses when she tells people she lives on a boat: “Wow, how cool!” or “On a boat? Are you nuts?”
“Both responses are absolutely, simultaneously, completely valid and pretty accurate,” said Hooks, who lives on a barge that will be on tour during the event. “[It] is a fun lifestyle, but there are some sacrifices, like space. The Houseboat Tour will let people see close up that although we live in quite cozy spaces, we have lots of amenities.”
The tour is located on D.C.’s active Southwest waterfront along the Washington Channel. Historically, the waterfront was the portal for newcomers and visitors to the nation’s capital as well as a busy center for maritime trade and fishing. Gangplank Marina is a 309-slip marina that has been home to a diverse liveaboard community including professionals, families, artists, retirees, scientists, congressmembers, members of the military and many more for more than 30 years.
Homeowner and tour participant Debbie Christianson said the people living in the community are what’s best.
“All you need do is ask, and you’ll find someone there to help,” Christianston said. “Need something fixed? Volunteers are there. Your boat is being fixed and need a place to stay? People open their boats and floating homes to you. Need your fix of social activities? We’re always doing something — barbeque or happy hour every Thursday, Captain’s Coffee every Sunday, bingo, movie night, cruising and dinghy rides.”
Many restaurants, businesses, historical buildings and other attractions are located on the Southwest Waterfront which is currently poised to undergo a multi-million dollar redevelopment.
“The Home Tour is an opportunity for me to open my home to people in the community so they can see what a wonderful place it is to live!” Christianson said. “I want them to see that the marina isn’t made up of boaters. It’s made up of a very unique group of individuals who call the marina ‘home.’”
Tickets are $11 per person and advance purchase is recommended because the tour is expected to sell out. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time via www.dchouseboat.org. Tickets on the day of the tour will be $18.
Proceeds from the tour ticket sales will benefit the Alice Ferguson Foundation and Southwest’s own Earth Conservation Corps.
Visitors who would like to get out on the water can take advantage of a special offer from tour partner D.C. Harbor Cruises, also located at Gangplank Marina. Tickets for a 60-minute Potomac cruise are available together with a Boat-Home Tour ticket for only $25 combined, also available from the tour website www.dchouseboat.org. Cruise tickets alone are usually priced at $30. Available cruise departure times are 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.. Combination tour and cruise tickets will be $32 on the day of the tour.
Several of Gangplank Marina’s other neighbors will also be participating. Cantina Marina, a waterfront bar and grill, will offer a 10 percent discount to tour-goers, and local organizations such as DC Sail and the Southwest DC Arts Festival will also be present.
The Southwest DC Boat-Home Tour is sponsored by the Gangplank Slipholders Association, a nonprofit volunteer organization representing the boaters of Gangplank Marina and the Port of Washington Yacht Club, a nonprofit social club promoting boating and Potomac stewardship.
Christianson, who moved to the live-aboard community two and a half years ago, said she often overhears visitors to the waterfront asking each other if people live on those boats.
“I always take the time to stop and tell them yes we do and tell them what a wonderful place it is to live,” said Christianson, whose home will be open for the tour. “I wake up to the sun coming up over the boats in the marina. The sunsets are beautiful because they includes boats, birds, water and even the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. I get rocked to sleep at night.”