The redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront is well underway, bringing lots of changes to the neighborhood… but Southwest’s live-aboard boats continue to float contentedly on the Washington Channel amid the noise and cranes. And this October 10, the community will hold its fourth home tour and welcome visitors to experience life on the water!

Historically, the waterfront was a portal for newcomers and visitors to the nation’s capital, as well as a busy center for maritime trade and fishing. Few realize that Washington is home to the east coast’s largest community of “liveaboards,” people who live full- or part-time on boats and barges. For several decades, Gangplank Marina counted more than 300 “slips” (like parking space for boats) in the Washington Channel, but for the duration of the redevelopment its size has been considerably reduced. What remains are 90-some boats that are home to a varied community of folks united by a common love for life on the water.

“Winters can be a little bit rough sometimes, but most of the time this is like an oasis in the center of the city,” says Joe Henderson, a chiropractor who has lived aboard for six years. Many residents are drawn by the unique lifestyle, close-knit community, and convenient location with a relatively low cost of living.

People of all ages and professions live on all types of houseboats, trawlers, tugs, barges, sailboats, and more at Gangplank. The community holds regular events, including Thursday happy hours and Sunday morning coffee get togethers.

This marks only the fourth time the marina has opened its doors for a home tour, and a limited number of tickets are available due to the tight quarters at sea. This year’s tour will feature approximately 19 floating homes. Although tickets are listed at $20, the tour offers a “neighbor appreciation rate” of $15 for residents of the 20024 zip code.

Additionally, all profits from the tour go to local charities, reinvesting in the neighborhood. In past years, these have included Earth Conservation Corps, the Southwest Scholarship Fund, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, St. Augustine’s programs for those in need, the Southwest Playground Project, and others.

Hours for the boat-home tour are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 10. More information and tickets can be found at See you on the water!

By: Travis Johnson

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