Location Hudson River, across from the World Trade Center
Price $20,000 ($750/mo. dockage fee)
Occupant Colin Stanfield (production manager, Independent Feature Project; saxophone player)
Hey sailor, got a match? Who would have thought that to board your apartment, I mean boat, one would have to pass through white marble halls with clapping tourists, 5000 gift shops—the World Trade Center—and then move outside to the vast stone plaza of the North Cove and get on the water taxi to your marina, where all you can hear is the lonely creaking of the boats in the gray soup of a fog. You’re not a spy or anything? No, you’re just in the film business, sigh. You’ve been living on the water, with the sea as your mistress, for almost a year. Is this a real estate alternative?
It’s not really cheaper than living in an apartment. You have to buy the boat. I have a mortgage. Dockage fees run $1500 to $5500 a season. I’m at Liberty Landing now. Chelsea Piers is more expensive—I was there in the summer, but they close in winter. I’ll be back at Chelsea April 15. One guy there, an actuary, has quite a livable boat, real couch, refrigerator. I moved to New York from Canada two years ago. I was sharing an apartment with a friend in Chelsea. I’d always toyed with getting a boat. I had friends living on boats in other cities. I bought one, took my stuff right down 22nd Street, most painless move ever. I just threw all my furniture in the garbage, which is where I got some of it in the first place.
It’s pretty intimate in your cabin, with its two-foot passageway. We’re squashed in the bunk with six portable heaters cooking. Do you, ah, have a girlfriend?
Yes, I do.
This cabin is like a really small studio. I wouldn’t advocate it for a lot of people. I did a seven-day trip with three friends to the East Hampton Film Festival. There’s so much work keeping an old boat together. It’s a commitment to becoming a handyman, which is exacerbated by living aboard. You become keenly aware of everything you’d like to fix.
Also, some marinas don’t encourage people to live aboard—there are all these issues, pro and con, about people living on the water. I participate in discussion groups online. The amount of information-sharing going on is extraordinary.
I skimmed through the live-aboard Web site. There were 99 entries under suggestions for upgrading the AC circuitry and 13 on the matter of installing tiles on a wooden boat. A man named Larry wrote in wondering why silicon adhesive didn’t work. I got so dozy, I could barely click the mouse. I thought people on boats would be talking about the soft wind off Woona Woona. You’ve got a Domino sugar package in the kitchen, some dish detergent. Let’s turn our heads around and look at the ship’s library. The Water In Between by Kevin Patterson. There he is on the book jacket with his beard.
He felt sorry for himself after he broke up with his girlfriend, and he sailed across the Atlantic by himself.
Seeking ruin and catastrophe! You have a book on Edie Sedgwick.
My mom gave me that. I grew up on a farm, hippie commune, Prince Edward Island.
Is that where you get your love for the sea?
From a very young age I considered myself a surfer guy. I used to teach windsurfing at a resort. I was in a band.
You must have been very popular with the guests, especially with your Viking looks.
I thought you’d be asking me more about the pros and cons of living on boats. You know, what’s dangerous is they sink from time to time. There are all these holes in boats. Now if water gets in and freezes, it can crack, and in spring, when it thaws, there’s a hole . . .
Can’t we just cut loose and go to South America?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 16, 2001