Credit: The Washington Post
It's a shore dweller's dream: Work a good job in a thriving city, live on a boat. And for about 140 lucky residents, it's reality, reports the Washington Post Sunday magazine (digital subscription required): A boat moored at the Gangplank Marina, within view of the Washington Monument, is their home ("Houseboat neighbors enjoy views, commutes, camaraderie," by Maggie Fazeli Fard).
The Post reports: "The view from David Murray's home in Southwest is among the best in the city, a panorama of the Washington Channel bookended by Fort McNair and the Washington Monument. 'What more could I ask for?' asks Murray, surveying his surroundings as his shirt flutters in a breeze city dwellers would envy. Murray, 30, is one of about 140 waterborne householders who live in Gangplank Marina, a vibrant, tightknit and quirky community of folks who have given up life on land — 'on the hard,' as they say — and maintain year-round homes on the ebb and flow of a waterway."
It's not quiet. One resident commented on the Washington Post website reader board, "Pentagon helicopters are constant and the Presidential helicopters are regular." And it's not always peaceful, either: another resident noted, "The previous owner of The Golden Princess and I were standing between our boats on G and H docks when the plane hit the Pentagon. Straight line of sight and several of our neighbors were in the building when the plane hit. It was a very somber day...."
Nevertheless, members of the boat-dwelling community love their watery lifestyle — but there's a fly in the soup. The landward side of this idyllic docking site is slated for big changes, and life on the edge of the water may be only temporary. Almost three years ago now, the Post was reporting on plans by developers PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette to completely re-develop the shore where Gangplank Marina lies ("Murky waters for D.C.'s 'boat people' on Southwest waterfront," by Derek Kravitz).
The final result will be an upscale mixed-use urban center called "The Wharf" — "a magnificent opportunity," Madison Marquette says, "to undo the urban renewal legacy of the past and recreate the Southwest Waterfront as a great world class destination. At the crossroads of monumental and local Washington, our vision is to create vital, thriving, activated spaces catering to visitors and residents alike."
But the boat people are worried. "The first part of construction is going to be around here, near our boats, and we have a life here," schoolteacher Laura Cox told the Post. Cox and her family live on a 52-foot houseboat.