I don't think it's that bad.  I mentioned we had found some water damage and wasn't really too concerned, but I have found more.  I am pretty sure at this point all of the walls in the salon are coming out.  Maybe the ceiling too.  I really chalk this up to inexperience (I believe I said somewhere that I was going to get a lot of experience).  Its not like everything is shot, it's just when you start to take out a thing or two you can really start to see what is going on.  The paneling looked really good except for one small area about a foot wide.  I knew this and the the wall seemed solid on both sides of the area.  The wall was solid.  The problem is that on the Port side, at the ends of the windows it has been ever so slowly leaking for probably a long time.  It was absolutely the worst under the front cabinet and under the built in settee.  We had agreed that we were going to at least paint the walls (after repairing the small area) and maybe re-panel (redo the walls somehow), but now we are going to have to.  In all seriousness I am looking forward to it.  We just need to figure out the windows.  I am hoping that the owner of the Kingscraft from the linked blog A Boat Reborn will get in touch with me.  I saw pictures on her sight of the tracks I need and I want to see if they work well and are perhaps less expensive than others I have found.  Speaking of window tracks, I received samples today of a 2 track sliding glass door track I found online.  The samples turned out to be too wide (track wise) and I will be requesting more (different) samples tomorrow.  I will post how these turn out.

I know I am a little long winded, so unless you just want the nitty gritty details from tonight's visit to the boat that's about it.  Click "Read More" below if you are a glutton for punishment..

Still Smilin' , after all I was aboard "Empty Nestin' " today.  Were you on a houseboat today?

So anyway, the Mother-Lode.  I have seen numerous boats, pictures of Kingscraft Houseboats, and been aboard (and looked in the windows) of numerous Kingscrafts.  The next boat I want to tell you about rivals any boat I've seen and cannot be beat when it comes to craftsmanship of construction.  We were traveling up and down the Ohio River (I told you) and we were on the Indiana side above the Markland Lock (I want to preserve these folks privacy) and we decided to stop at what we thought was a nice little Marina.  It was nice and we approached the management and told them our story, non-owners, interested in houseboats, we will be respectful, and could we look around?  You would have thought we were long lost cousins.  The manager introduced us to a group of people having a late season cook-out.  They were great and invited my wife and myself to look around all we wanted (even offered us food and drinks).  We went up and down the dock and saw some boats way over our head but we really enjoyed it.  As we were walking back toward the group of folks the manager said we should go over to the next dock and look at a boat.  It wasn't for sale but he thought the owner might be open to talking.  As we walked over, the realization that we had found a beautiful 55' Kingscraft was upon us.  I want to tell you now, this is not the boat we bought.  To make a long story barely shorter, we were able to get in touch with the owners and meet them the next day.  The interior had been completely redone.  Completely.  Everything I looked at and I looked closely was done with the highest level of craftsmanship and obvious care.  The layout was different, but useful and efficient.  The flooring, walls, and decorations were just beautiful.  The mechanicals were topnotch (engine bay you could eat off of) and gorgeous replacement windows.  Wood floors and carpet, wood walls and trim.  It was awesome.  We talked and they made us an offer, one I truly wish we could have gone with but it was out of our range. I will just say, as we redo our boat, my minds eye will have a standard to look up to.  I am hopeful the owners will consent to a picture spread here one day, time will tell.  Needless to say, our fire was stoked to an even higher degree to find our own baby.  Closing this part, I just want to say we met two of the finest, hospitable and friendly people you could hope to meet when we met these folks.

Man, boat shopping is FUN!

Back to the Minnesota boats.  I had spoken to the owners of both of the 55' Kingscraft Houseboats in Minnesota, just to talk and to hear things about their boats and I guess maybe to see if they had any room in their prices :)  As I talked more and more to one of the owners (let's call him Captain) I became more interested in the boat.  It had been a twin to the boat of the gentleman who owned Redwing Boots.  As a matter of fact my boat had been owned by a guy that owned the leather tanning business that supplied the leather to Redwing Boots.  It turns out these guys were buddies and bought the boats together,  One day I mentioned to my wife that I was seriously thinking about taking the short drive to Minnesota (12Hr non stop one way).  I was surprised to hear her say, I think you should, but that's too far for me to ride in one day.  The adventure was on.  It turns out there was a current survey and I am crazy.  Having no experience with boats, I drove up and met the "Captain".  I could tell you stories about this guy, but I hope this is a little bit more family friendly site than most on the internet.  They are good stories, but the Captain has lived a colorful life.  We went out for a 3 hour sea trial on the Mississippi River and I found our boat.  I wish I had taken more pictures.  It was about as bone stock original as you could hope to find a 1974 boat.  It ran true and strong.  It was a cool and sunny day and we went up to the nearest lock and then back down to the the St.Paul riverfront.  Three solid hours of joy.  He knew every boat we passed and gave me the best tour of that stretch of the river you could get.  He taught me navigation and showed me a few tricks.  He also showed me he could handle the boat, turning it around in its own length between the dock and another houseboat docked about 75' from our slip. 

We sat aboard after we finished and talked.  I didn't realize it at the time but I think he was having a hard time letting her go after 25 years.  He had lost his wife of many years after owning the boat with her and had many memories aboard her.  He let me crawl anywhere I wanted and answered all my questions.  At the end of the day he asked where I was staying and ended up offering to let me use his spare bedroom.  I took him up on the offer and stayed there 2 nights.  The next day he had the boat hauled out, power-washed, and blocked.  I was able to inspect the bottom thoroughly and go aboard her some more,  We spent the whole day checking things out and then we winterized her that afternoon/evening.  I finalized my insurance by phone ( I had made preparations beforehand) and we shook hands and finalized the deal.  I stayed the second nite so we could go to the bank and do the transfer and get all of the paperwork lined out.  About 3 O'clock the next afternoon we were the official owners.  Captain is a great guy and he even called me day before yesterday to see how things were going.  I hope someday when we have finished putting our touch on her that the "Captain" will be able to come and visit and see her.  I know he would love to take her out again, he just won't like that we changed some of the interior.  Wow, we are the third owners of a 38 year old boat.  And I am still tickled to this minute.

The only down side to this story is the hauler.  He is a nice enough guy, I will just say initially the boat was to be picked up no later than Nov. 1st and ended up getting picked up Tuesday, Dec. 4.  It was delivered unharmed (as far as I can tell) and blocked Saturday, Dec. 8.  At least he didn't deliver it on Dec. 7th.

This may not have been as long of a search or as far afield as some others, but my wife and I had fun, are learning, and have met some really great people (some that may remain friends for a long time).  She was very happy when she finally saw her.  This is saying a lot as she can be a little particular sometimes.  The wife that is, not our boat, "Empty Nestin' "

Fair winds and smooth sailing....

The road to a boat


One of the largest boats I've ever owned. Overall Length 10' Beam 4' Notice the good overall condition, dry!
I mentioned in one of my previous posts I would tell the story of how we came to own "Empty Nestin' ", our 55' Kingscraft. As I mentioned in the previous posting, We went for a boat ride and the next morning my wife said, "I want a boat"  Well, we had never owned a boat much less three.  I jokingly tell people who are looking at our houseboat that if we had bought the 10' dinghy that came with it, that would have been the biggest boat we had ever owned.  I spent a lot of time the first two or three weeks researching boats and particularly houseboats since that is what we decided we wanted.  After coming across Houseboat Magazine and reading the Old forum ( a new one had recently been started) I narrowed down the search to either aluminum or fiberglass.  We had gone out the very first week and looked at a 54' steel hulled boat that was advertised for $15k and we thought that if we could get into the boat for $10k to $12k we would have plenty of budget to get it in top shape.  Wrong. Let's just say that after a few calls checking on insurance and the cost of redoing the bottom we continued our search.  There was our first two hours of travel time and gas.  The search for a boat then led us to Lake Monroe in Indiana. Two 4 hour round trips later we had learned that boating people are some of the funnest, kindest, and friendliest people we had ever met.  A couple my wife knows have a boat there and the husband was kind enough to give us an extensive tour, introduce us to dozens of people and actually show us several boats (inside and out) that folks were trying to sell or were just being friendly and showing us their "babies".  We had a blast and got several good ideas from the boats we were on.  It was a great introduction to houseboating.  Lake Monroe is a fantastic place, I highly suggest you visit there if you have the opportunity. (Go IU)

After having seen everything from late model $1,000,000 aluminum hulled houseboats to 1960's era fiberglass TLC cases, we started thinking aluminum in a serious way.  One thing became quickly evident.  The least expensive late 70's to early 80's aluminum houseboats were in the $65k -$100K neighborhood.  We don't have an address in that neighborhood.  That is something to shoot for in the future.  Then we started to notice Kingscraft and read more about them on the HB Mag forum.  I looked on Craigslist and eBay and came across a 44' in Hockingsport, Ohio.  A late 4 1/2 hour drive one way with a sick and vomiting Maltipoo dog and we were there.  We drove over and got a hotel and went to see the boat first thing in the morning.  When I crawled under the salon and saw the aluminum floor joists I knew this was the boat for me.  My wife liked the way it looked.  We were serious about the boat and went out for a test drive on a beautiful sunny day.  It was my first time driving a houseboat.  It was fantastic, the only problem was a hesitation and surging from the Starboard engine at near full throttle.  I now believe this was just water in the bottom of the tank.  I later learned she had sat in dry dock for somewhere around 2 years.  We made a serious offer but were turned down.  We stopped 3 times and pulled over to the side of the road when we left to try to talk ourselves into going back and buying it.  We didn't, but my heart was set on Kingscraft.  The people that had the boat were about as friendly as could be and if we lived closer I would like to think we could socialize with them.  If your are reading this Hockingsport, thank-you.

About this time I noticed 2 55' Kingscraft in the Minneapolis, Minn. area. I dismissed any boats almost 700 miles away, but I will get back to that in a while.

Next was a 55' on a lake in southern Kentucky.  At only 3 hours one way, we thought if this works out we could keep her there.  There had been a lot of upgrades and work done on the boat (gorgeous huge galley) and we test drove and made an offer on this boat.  We agreed on a price pending a thorough inspection.  I thickness tested the hull with a fancy device I had borrowed and it showed some potential hull thinning or pitting.  We parted ways when I asked to split the cost of an out of water survey.  I would have been happy with this boat but things happen for a reason.  My wife will miss that galley and so will I.  Just a note, this boat had twin 454's and could really move.  My taste buds had been whetted for a fifty-five footer.

We next were briefly lured away from Kingscraft.  A 52' (I think) WaterCraft came up on Craigslist and it was beautiful.  It had an all aluminum hull and the topside had been COMPLETELY removed and professionally redone.  The price was right because the twin 351 engines had not run for 8-9 years.  They looked good but I wanted to give a little less than the owner was willing to take to make sure we had the budget for the mechanicals.  This guy knew a bunch of people in the Louisville, Ky boating scene and treated us like royalty.  My wife couldn't believe I had looked at something other than a KC, but I will say, I was impressed with the hull construction on the WaterCraft. I hope to see more of those in the future, I would like to see one in the factory configuration.

We ended up talking to 4 or 5 other 37' to 44' owners all over the Midwest and going to look at a 55' Kingscraft in Cincinnati, Ohio.  None of those would work due to condition and/or pricing. During this whole time we had been going on our free weekends driving up and down the Ohio river (literally) looking for Marinas and boatyards hoping to find a good candidate.  We found several old Kingscraft (and Marinette) houseboats during that time.  None for sale.  We found a Kingscraft in an old guys backyard that had obviously been sitting there for years.  I knocked on his door and he told me it was not for sale and he was going to put it in next spring.  I don't think so.  But, I hope I am wrong and we will see him while we are out and about on the Ohio.  Either way, I know I met a fellow Kingscraft lover that day.  The connection with his boat was one he could not bear to break.  As long as he has it he can dream and make plans for the future.

Enough for now.  My wife says I am a little long winded, what do you think :)

Next time, The Mother-Lode.  See you then.
Well, we had never owned a boat and the thought wasn't even on our radar.  Some friends of our asked us to go boating with them and go out for dinner.  We took their 19' runabout (a sweet boat) out on the Ohio River about 4 months ago.  We went up a little creek past Captains Quarters to a really neat little water-side restaurant for dinner.  It was really fun and very different than what we were used to.  After the meal we went back out and went all the way down river to the Louisville, KY waterfront.  Going beneath the Kennedy bridge and seeing Louisville lit up at night from the water really made an impression on us.  It was a memorable evening, even more so than I realized at the time.

The next morning when my wife woke up the first thing she said to me was, "I want a boat".  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  For a guy, this is like your wife or girlfriend saying, "We need a motorcycle" or "I think you should get a new chainsaw" or even, "Wouldn't you like to get a new Jeep Rubicon?"  I was excited but I didn't waste any time locking her in :)  We talked about it and decided we wanted a Houseboat since our boys were grown and it would mainly just be us and maybe some guests.  Little did I know, that boat ride would start us on an odyssey that has lasted 4 months so far.

Needless to say, we zeroed in on Kingscraft.  I will tell you the whole story, but I suggest you go to Houseboat Magazine forums Vintage boats section and read "Kingscraft owners and fans" (button on Home page).  I started that thread before we bought our boat.  All I can say is that after extensive research and comparison shopping I have fallen in love with Kingscraft.  I have even communicated with Tommy Gentle, he was a VP for Kingscraft back in the day.  He is a great guy and very knowledgeable and helpful.  Hopefully I will get him to contribute some content here.  I also want to quickly mention the folks at the Houseboats forum (especially OHB), they have been a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

Just a word of warning, I am heavily biased towards aluminum hulled boats.  This is my preference and what suits us best.  I have found that boating people are genuinely the nicest people you will hope to meet and I am not down on any other type of boat.  You'll just have to bear with me on the whole "aluminum" deal ;) , other than that I think I can be reasonable.  I will say this, if you have been boating for longer than 4 months you are obviously smarter than me.

One more quick point.  My wife.  She has been wonderful through this whole deal.  She is excited about redecorating and all the "pretty" stuff, but she has been a great adviser and supporter while we discussed, planned, picked-out, negotiated, transported and now own our boat "Empty Nestin' ".  There is no other person in the world I would rather be doing this with than her.

More to come...