Sailing Zip Code

Published 12:47 pm Monday, August 1, 2011

House boat offers couple comfort of home on the waters of the Ohio

What would make a couple trade their 2,800 square feet of living space for the space of a 47-foot houseboat? For Joe Bainer, the answer is simple.

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“There’s no place you’d rather be.”

For Joe and his wife, Teresa, boating has been a large part of their life together. For 18 of the 23 years they’ve been married, they have owned a boat of some kind.

“We used to have a deck boat when our kids were little and we would look around and dream of the day when we could afford a bigger boat,” Teresa said.

The couple started with a runabout, then moved up to the deck boat, and then moved on to two different houseboats before getting the 47-foot Harbor Master they now call home at the Holiday Point Marina in Franklin Furnace, Ohio.

“Every boat is for sale, because you’re always looking for a bigger one. That’s what every boater will tell you,” Teresa said.

Inside the boat, aka Joe Daddy, is the salon, or the great room of the boat, complete with a comfy white couch and flat screen television. To the right is one of the helms, with the wheel, gear shifters and throttle controlling the twin 350 Crusaders.

To the left is the galley, aka the kitchen, with everything you would find in your own home. There is a full-sized refrigerator, an oven, a microwave and sink and a dinette set.

Just past that is the head, or the bathroom, with a shower and bathtub, right next to the master bedroom.

The bedroom has a queen-sized bed, a dresser and windows all around, offering a full view of the water.

A few steps down below the galley is the cuddy, or sleeping quarters below deck, which has two beds and a half bath, and a television there too, where Teresa likes to go if Joe is watching sports. It’s also the place where their 3-year-old grandson likes to play when he visits.

But the inside of the boat is the least important part.

“We go in when we have to,” Joe said.

Outside of the boat, and up a few stairs is the upper deck, perfect for relaxing or sunbathing. It offers a great view and all the sunshine that’s available. Up a few more stairs is the fly bridge, with a few seats and the other helm.

Between Joe Daddy and a neighboring boat is what’s called the finger, used nicely as an outside den, with a covering, chairs, flowers and, of course, party lights.

The Bainers say each section of the marina has its own personality, with their section named The Dark Side. There is also a section of late-night partiers and a quieter side of the marina. They say it’s important to figure out where you fit best.

“We usually run them off if they don’t fit in,” Teresa laughed.

“Everyone down here is one big family,” Joe added.

From the sounds of it, he couldn’t be more right. Every night, there are at least seven or eight people gathered around their boat talking about the day or other boats that have came in, just spending time together and not going in until dark.

On Fridays, most everyone eats at the Holiday Point Café, to support the restaurant. On Saturday nights, The Dark Side usually share a meal together, with one family cooking the main course, like ribs or a casserole, and everyone else pitching in with a salad, side dish or dessert.

They often do things together, from drinking to sunbathing, swimming and taking short trips. They also enjoy the activities organized by the Holiday Point Yacht Club. Just about every month, there will be something going on, with outdoor concerts, derby parties, poker runs and beach trips.

“It’s like being on vacation all the time,” Teresa said. “We always say we live like we’re dying.”

It does take some work to keep the boat in tip-top shape, with Joe, retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, taking care of the outside by washing and waxing it weekly, and providing preventive maintenance, and Debbie, a sales rep, keeping up with cleaning the inside of the boat.

“It’s just like you’d take care of your house, but on the water,” Joe said.

Joe and Teresa also own a condo a few minutes away from the marina, to do laundry and have a place to stay during the winter months when there is no running water at the marina. For the two of them, boating has been a perfect match.

“I just think it’s a great hobby for us to share,” Joe said. “Some people golf together or RV. I don’t golf.”