There are a few famous houseboat communities across the country, but my favorite has always been Sausalito's. I've long dreamed of commuting from San Francisco on the ferry, watching the sunset with a glass of wine and stepping off to return home to one of those colorfully painted homes.
Unfortunately for us plebs, houseboat living in the bay isn't cheap these days -- many are going for upward of $1 million.
But you can't stop a girl from dreaming. So on a recent trip to Mendocino, we took a detour to wander the docks. After a wrong turn, we found something new -- Napa St. Galilee, another completely charming liveaboard community.
Galilee has been the site of boat homes for more than a hundred years, according to its community association. It's harbored everyone from dock workers to elite society looking to escape the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
These days, it functions as affordable artist housing-cum-co-op for a sliver of Sausalito's creative class.
If you're as lucky as we were, you'll be met at the entrance by a woman in costume playing a piano. And maybe some balloons. But the docks seem welcome to visitors any time. Small plaques in front of each boat describe their names and the histories of construction to minimize the number of questions homeowners receive, I'm sure.
Unlike other places I've visited, there's a pretty healthy mix between wild structures and normal boats.
Next to this sailboat, a little house floated at anchor. For a dog? A tiny seal? I am both enamored and confused with this, but I love the idea that someone's pet likes to chill so truly a-sea.
This boat was built for a university class project back in the '70s, and now has a full-time resident aboard.
There are two long piers of quirky boats to wander around, and an open bay area for boat launching and beach-going along its side. It also has a community garden.
Would you dig this way of life? Have you seen other communities that surprised you with their ingenuity or creativity? I'd love to hear about them.