I Have A Boat House Crush!

Cockrell's Creek, Reedville VA

Every morning when I am at our home in Reedville I wake up and walk out on the dock and just bask in the simple pleasures of nature and a place that understands that life is for living, not working. One of the magical treasures of the area is that its not all caught up in the frenzy of today’s dog eat dog world. BUT! With all that said.. I have to look at the scene above.. And that beautiful white glorious simple boat house.. AND IT HAS YET TO HAVE A BOAT IN IT! FOR YEARS!!!! The owner has a huge beautiful sailboat, and no boat for the boat house.. In our area, you can not build a boathouse anymore.  Not sure why, beautiful boat houses in populated areas add to the look and feel. You can build a car port type thing here, but it aint the same thing. This boat house is PERFECT.. It screams old wood boat.. And yet.. Empty.. I suppose in a way its the emptiness that makes it all that better. The promise of what could be.. Like finding a barn find boat.. Is there such a thing as a barn find boat house? So if you are one of the lucky few that has a boat house. USE IT..Buy a old wood boat just to park it in there. Anything, just dont leave it empty. Ugh, Is it kosher to covet another mans boat house? And yes I just blended two religions.. bad spelling is just part of my ignorance!

30 replies
  1. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    Amen. I’m lucky enough to have a cabin a short distance from Minneapolis in Western Wisconsin, where boathouses (unlike Minnesota) are still fairly plentiful. My one requirement when looking for my woody was that it fit in the boathouse. I would have preferred a bigger utility, but my little Gar Wood Ensign fit with three inches to spare. In exchange, thanks to an electric track system, it’s out of the sun and water with a push of button. And after winterizing it, she sleeps there all winter long. If only I had followed the advice of fellow woody boater JFK on a beautiful fall Saturday in late September when he advised me to get a small (safe) space heater and wait to winterize it until the point of no return. With the late warm fall we had up here I could have had seven more perfect weekends of boating. Next year, John.

  2. matt
    matt says:

    Comment from Dave!
    Here is a photo of my all-time fav. I believe it is in Coeur D’alene,
    Idaho. A cruiser AND a runabout ! Woody dilemma . How sweet.

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      I knew the fellow that built this absolutely gorgeous house on Lake Coeur d’Alene, along with a dock. He told me there was a restriction on the lake that no more boat houses could be built, but you could buy an existing boat house and move to your dock — which he did. He then did a complete remodel of the boathouse to match his new house and this is what it turned into. On our way back from Atlanta in 2007 (from picking up my newly restored Aristo Craft) my wife and I stopped by to visit. The cruiser, Spirit, is a beautiful 1931 30′ custom, plus he also had a 28′ gentleman’s racer in there.

      Unfortunately Ted passed away about 4 years ago, only being able to enjoy the finished project for about two years. But boy, he had a grand time creating this stunning get-away!

  3. WoodenRookie
    WoodenRookie says:

    I believe there is a boat in that white boat house but Matt needs a bit more Kool-Aid to be able to see it!!! Look closer, “if you build it they will come”!!

  4. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    I know the feeling as you can no longer build boat houses in Michigan either. If you have one, it is “grandfathered” as long as it is structurally maintained. There are two such grandfathered boat houses on the lake our cottage is on that do not any longer have boats in them, and are falling apart. Everytime I cruise by them I feel angry and frustrated that I can’t have one, and they don’t care enough to keep thiers. Sometimes the WoodyBoater life is not fair!

  5. ranger
    ranger says:

    dang, we’d settle for just living on a lake or river (our trailer would grow rusty, i swear!)

    …but fullly understand the wishes for more boathouses, they are beautiful. folks in florida, i don’t believe can build them anymore either…also grandfathered in…

    one of the trips we would like to take with our boat is to a show in an area where the boathouses are plentiful…i just want to gawk…and dream…and maybe be invited in for cocktails!!!

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      Ranger I feel your pain. Although I live close to the water I also need to maintain the trailer. Matt covets his neighbors boathouse while I covet his boatport.

      • ranger
        ranger says:

        we’ve been planning a camping trip to fort lauderdale, taking the boat with us, still looking for the right campground…

        it’s my plan to cruise the canals of “little venice” until someone in one of those gorgeous mansions invites us to pull in and enjoy a libation!

        i figure i might have to make a few passes before they get the hint…or pull up to their dock and feign engine trouble…but i’ll betcha i get my foot inside at least one them!

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        We are lucky to have boat lifts with a canvas canopy, but we need to haul them out every winter and put them back in every spring. Put me in the group that covets Matt’s permanent covered lift and dock.

        I also notice he has an empty lift there. People with an empty lift probably shouldn’t throw stones at neighbors with empty boat houses. After Matt gets more boats than he has space for, I think I would be more open to hearing his coveting.

        • matt
          matt says:

          HA, I wondered if someone would pick that up.. I can add to that. I have an extra dock! Thats right, its like a small marina at my home. I can park aprox 8 boats at my home.. And yes, it pisses off some since I could loan it out. but we have a fenced in yard, and dont want to create a situation were folks have to come into our yard.. I have parked large boats at the docks for pals though.. HAs power and is deep..

          • m-fine
            m-fine says:

            If you have room for 8 boats, I think that means you have an obligation to buy 7 more. Well maybe 6 more if you still have that 11 inch crab skiff.

          • ranger
            ranger says:

            oh, i caught it, too…but since i was already grappling with a severe case of dock envy, i decided it was best to ignore it…
            my health insurance only allows for so many visits with a mental health professional…and this wooden boat syndrome is a tough enough addiction to cope with…

    • Jerri
      Jerri says:

      Ranger my dear friends, come up to Lake Sinclair in Georgia for the Boating Bonanza and you’ll see some boat houses. Maybe we could figure out a way to buy a lake house together there… with a boathouse built for two!

  6. Rick
    Rick says:

    They are still building some beautiful boathouses down in TN. I love to just cruise by them fantasizing about being able to pull into one.

  7. Alex
    Alex says:

    Greg, you can still build them on the Great Lakes. I’m in Hessel, Michigan, where they can be permitted. They are restricted in various ways by various government agencies and local ordinances. On the smaller local lakes, they are not allowed at all.

    I looked very carefully at building one with my new crib docks. However, it was cost prohibitive (at least for me) because of the boat house structure AND the extra dredging and crib work required to support it.

    The DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) in Michigan prefers these be dug back into the land these days — hence the dredging I would have needed to do. Quite a reversal from the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) in past, which did not want shoreline (wetlands) disturbed.

    Why else did I not build one? 1) I’m not sure which agency restricts this, but no sleeping accommodations or even upstairs deck is allowed, thereby restricting the structure to boat cover/storage use exclusively. Without the ability to add sleeping quarters, this would have added much less value for the cost incurred. 2) No plumbing (ie bathroom) is allowed with the structure unless that plumbing is located above the 100 year flood mark (which, again, meant digging back into the shoreline at significant cost).

    I wholly agree with Matt that boathouses add great character to an area. Just look at ours Hessel / Cedarville to see that. Or the Muskokas, where boathouses MAKE the lakes.

  8. brian t
    brian t says:

    What possible reason could be given by any legislative jackass for not allowing the construction of a new boathouse ???

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Neighbors get pissed about the blocked view of the water.

      Around here you need a variance to get a permit to build one and they are very rarely granted, but if you own a ton of frontage and can build it out of your neighbors site lines, it is possible.

  9. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Matt, I think you need to step up and talk to the neighbor. Tell them you pitty their empty boat house and that you would be willing to keep a boat in it to help them out.

    Or, you could take the passive aggressive approach and print out boat adds from Katz, Antique Boat Center, ABA and the other site sponsors, and stick them in their mail box from time to time.

  10. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    The main reason boat houses are being phased out in most states, as I’ve been told, is that the more packed the shoreline is with structures, the more difficult it is for wildlife to access the shore. It’s the same reason that the DNR discourages too much landscaping. On my lake in Wisconsin new boathouses are constantly being built… they just need to be on existing boathouse footprint. They don’t allow you to build ones with guest quarters anymore, but mine was grandfathered in.

  11. Tom Carter
    Tom Carter says:

    I feel your pain. Jane and I are are in the throes of whether or not to jump through the hoops necessary to build a simple roof-type boathouse and cover our slip and bring Bay Lady home to Ball Creek. Overhead protection alone will probably protect her mostly, and I wonder if I’d be allowed some kind of a roll-up shade screen to protect her from the south sunshine. It would mean a reduction of $3,000 a year for Ingram Bay Marina, but we would have our girl right there in the front yard.


    • Jim Frechette
      Jim Frechette says:

      Yes, do whatever you have to to get your boat in front of your house. Early morning sunrise cruises are the best as well as sunset trips. Our dock is similar to Matt’s but with 2 covered slips with lifts. Moxie and Old Paint currently reside within. I just ordered sun shades for the sides because the Texas sunset, and sunrise as well, as pretty as it is, is brutal on the paint and varnish.

      • matt
        matt says:

        Mine has to be covered over the week, but there is nothing like having the boat at your house. And as resale goes. That dumb car port may be the trigger that makes your house sellable later.

  12. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Wow, I had no idea how lucky I am! Grand Lake in OK allows new docks to be built, with many requirements & permits. There is a wildlife zone around the edge of the lake where nothing can be trimmed or cut. Most of the docks here are enclosed, because they are also used for fishing, year round. Nothing better than fresh Crappie! My dock is wooden & is now probably one of the oldest on the lake. It gets upgraded as needed. The bad part is that one of the two boatwells is only 6′ wide. Plenty big for a small outboard, but not much else!

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      Or……………. you could put a nice 1950 Chris-Craft Sportsman in there with inboard power and a 5’10” beam.

  13. matt
    matt says:

    Yes, but arnt you in the same state as Toby Keith? There is a ballence to all in this world!

  14. boatwise
    boatwise says:

    As a dock builder in the central Florida area, I am constantly building, fixing, inspecting boathouses of various shapes and styles.

    When my grandfather, Robert, left the Wise Boat Works in 1954 to build docks, you could construct houses out over the water, with air conditioners and toilets. Now all of the regulations have been tightened, you can still have covered slips but not with the sides enclosed.

    Why would someone have such a great place, the perfect place to moor a boat and yet, not even consider it. I don’t even have a place on the lake!

    I think that my favorite boathouses are the ones that get used day in, day out, season after season, fulfilling their intended use- providing their owners safe place to keep and use their boats.

    The feeling you have, Woody Boater, to fill the void of an empty, functional, beckoning boat slip is not lost on me. While it might be wrong to covet another man’s boathouse, it’s not wrong to wish that, well, someone use it.

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