Imagine moving 76 homes to a newly created neighborhood where everyone has new neighbors, new front yards and new infrastructure. That’s exactly what happened at Wharf Gangplank Marina from Feb. 3-6, when new docks were opened for the Gangplank community that lives on their vessels. Over three full days the floating homes were motored and towed from the historic A, B and C docks located near the riverside location of the now razed Channel Inn, to the new X and Y docks located near the riverside location of Southwest Waterfront Park.
The vessels include traditional yacht style boats, houseboats, sailboats and barges ranging from 35 feet in length to 80 feet. Many vessels do not have operating engines and thus were towed to their new location with the assistance of BoatUS under the supervision of Oasis Marinas, which manages the Wharf Gangplank Marina.
The moves officially began on Sunday morning, Feb. 3, for those boats that could motor to the new slips without the assistance of being towed. The first boat to move was Digger, a 44-foot Carver captained by Bob Rose, who also serves as Commodore of the Port of Washington Yacht Club (www.powyc.clubexpress.com). The conditions were not perfect, to say the least. While the sun shone bright and temperatures were on the rise, sheets of ice remained on the channel. Captain Rose assessed the situation and navigated a safe path about a quarter mile from C dock to his new slip on Y. The move had begun.
Digger was joined on Y dock by Anathor, captained by Joe Wasiak and Kathrin Kjos. Wasiak and Kjos followed the path through the icy channel plowed by Digger. Next, Sojourner, captained by the author and assisted by First Mate Ava Poston, made the short trip from C dock to become the first residents of X dock. Over the course of the day a few more boats filled empty slips. These moves were just the beginning.
On Monday, Feb. 4 the temperature again rose into the 60s and it was time for BoatUS and Oasis Marina to begin towing boats to their new locations. The first boat to get moved was Tycho Brahe a WWII era tugboat measuring 64 feet and made of heavy steel. Despite its massive size and weight the BoatUS team made moving the classic tugboat look easy.
Soon after Tycho Brahe was in place it was time to move one of Gangplank’s ten barges. The barges are floating houses and have layouts of a traditional home with living areas, kitchens and bedrooms, and no engines. It was quite a site to see the barges plowing down the Washington Channel with the Washington Monument in the background.
At the completion of day one, 30 vessels were moved. On day two, 22 more were moved and the rest relocated on day three. Suddenly, the Gangplank community was reunited albeit on new docks and with new neighbors. As the sun set, the sound of bottles of champagne being opened could be heard in the new neighborhood. Somewhere in the marina, Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” played on into the night:
“It’s those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane”
By Ramsey Poston