The Life Aquatic
Home can be a fluid concept.
I love waking up to seabirds
outside my window and being tied
into the planet via tides.
PUTTING TOGETHER another home- related issue brings to mind the joys of creating one’s own per- sonal castle. Reading our feature story, I learned the term “oculus”
as it described a peekaboo kitchen window
shaped like an eye. This detail was just one
stroke of brilliance in designer Fu-Tung
Cheng’s work on a hillside Tiburon home. If
you’d care to step into our shoes a moment,
consider creating an enticing cover headline
to evoke that decidedly unique project. My
first thought was maybe something sensa-tionalistic like “Calling All Design Geeks:
Finally a Chance to See a One-of-a-Kind
Home Designed by World-Famous Concrete
Master Right Here in Marin.” But as you may
have noticed, a cover blurb is usually two to
five words tops. So we went at it as a team and
wrangled it into a more poetic rendition.
The last time we did an edition about homes,
I had just sold ours, and my daughter and I were
adjusting to life on a floating rental. Now, three
months into our adventure, I’m hooked. I love
waking up to seabirds outside my window and
being tied into the planet via tides, and most of
all, I love the community. Besides living next to
one of my best friends, who often hosts movie
nights, I’ve found my neighbors are friendly,
eclectic and protective.
The dock gardens are a pleasure to walk
through. At least on our dock, the plants and
artwork change often. When I moved in, I
walked down to the Sausalito Ferry Company to
buy an array of character-inspired rubber ducks
to add to the mélange. Right now there’s a duck
chef, a duck surfer, a duck devil, a duck flower
child and a duck princess. I like to rearrange
them depending on my mood. A neighbor who’s
in her 90s makes it her duty to rearrange them
to her liking. This means they are often in odd
poses or scattered amid the various planters.
I first discovered these floating homes
when I met Diane and Jerry Jampolsky,
who live on Issaquah Dock. Theirs is truly
a home that just so happens to be floating:
stucco walls, three floors and a roof deck that
screams “write that book.” For my daughter,
that scream would be “tanning station, do not
disturb.” Here in Sausalito there are about
450 homes in five fully permitted floating-home marinas — Commodore, Kappas
Marina, Yellow Ferry Harbor, Waldo Point
Harbor and Varda Landing. Seattle and
Portland are the only other two U. S. cities
with official floating home communities,
which is surprising to me, because it seems
like the ultimate answer to rising tides.
Floating homes are not for everyone. When
the storms come through, there is some rocking
and rolling. If you follow me on Instagram, you
would have seen lots of swaying light fixtures
this winter. Bringing in groceries is an effort
that calls for one of the dock-assigned shopping
carts. And, for us at least, storage is a challenge.
It seems such challenges are not a deterrent for many, as floating homes have gotten
more and more expensive. When I first fantasized about living this way, there were some
livable options listed at $500,000 or below;
today $300,000 just buys you a tear-down, or
a float-away, which means you purchase the
space, tow away the decrepit structure, build
your own home and float it back into the space.
I asked Paul Bergeron, a realtor selling a float-away opportunity on Gate 6½, what it would
cost to haul out the tear-down and build a new
one. He smiled. He’s been doing that kind of
thing for 25 years, and he simply said I would
need a flexible schedule and a passionate
interest in check-writing. Got it.
So I guess I’m not the only one who imagines
I can build my own aquatic safe harbor. But I’m
not giving up on the dream and, in the meantime, Diane has promised to keep an eye out for
any lease-to-buys that don’t need a complete
overhaul. Hey Universe, I’m talking to you.
Mimi Towle, Editor