First Liveaboard Boat Tour of the Wharf Era

By Margaret L. Johnson

From the waterfront along the Washington Channel, you’ve probably seen the liveaboard boats and barges of the Wharf Gangplank Marina, south of the District Wharf’s recreational pier.  Maybe you’ve wondered what it’s like to live in such unusual spaces. This fall, you’ll have the chance to see inside some of those homes and find out.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, the residents of the marina will hold their sixth-ever home tour of the floating neighborhood. It’s the first time the homes have been open to the public since the District Wharf opened in 2017. The marina has gone through dramatic changes—including moving about 200 yards downriver—and many new faces have arrived around the docks.

The marina dates back more than 35 years, however since the earliest days of the capital, Southwest waterfront has been home to people who lived and worked on boats. Comprising the largest liveaboard population on the East Coast, “Gangplankers” are a tight-knit and diverse community. The marina has evolved over the years, and many people have been attracted by the unique lifestyle. From the famous (or infamous) residents such as scandalous senators, to the everyday families just making a life on the water, throughout its history the marina has seen all stripes of residents on its docks.

Twenty-three of the homes will open their doors—or in some cases, hatches—to visitors for self-guided touring. The boat owners and hosts will be on hand to answer questions. The homes are as singular as the people who live aboard them. Check out a renovated barge with a beautiful and spacious open-plan kitchen. Step aboard a 54-foot cruiser that’s home to a family with two young kids. Inside the largest houseboat in the marina, you may even forget you’re on the water…until you catch the beautiful views out the window. No two floating homes are alike!

Can you garden on a boat? Have dogs and cats? Take your home out on the water for a weekend getaway? Find out all the answers on Oct. 5.

The Boat-Home Tour will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 (rain or shine), at Gangplank Marina, 600 Water St., SW (entrance near Waterfront Park). Tickets and more information are available at www.dchouseboat.org

The liveaboards especially enjoy welcoming their Southwest neighbors, so residents of the 20024 zip code get a discounted ticket price of $20 (the usual ticket price is $25). Proceeds from the tour go to organizations doing great work in Southwest: recipients of funds raised from the tour include Friends of the Southwest Library, Amidon-Bowen Elementary School PTA, St. Augustine’s neighborhood initiatives, DC Sail’s local youth programs, and Potomac Riverkeeper’s work keeping the waterways clean.

See you on Oct. 5!

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