It’s no secret that the core of the “contemporary” houseboat market runs through the inland South. Between lakes Cumberland and Lanier alone, we could fill this magazine for years without repeating ourselves.
It’s also no secret, however, that the world of house boating has reached far beyond the lake and river communities that have done so much to popularize it. One such extension is Florida.
Our Coverage of the Sunshine State has been more-or-less limited in recent years to the St. Johns River (which we will rediscover in the very near future) and a few exotic forays to the protected waters near Sanibel and Marco Island. We present such excursions as rarities—perhaps even as cautionary stretch for house boating applications. This is probably the right approach since most conventional houseboat hulls—particularly the mono-hulls—are designed for tame, inland waters.
But thanks to a little vision and ingenuity, the old paradigm is about to change.
First, the vision.
Meet Mr. Victor Bupp, a houseboat rental pioneer who has his sights set on an exclusive niche for coastal houseboat charters. The launch pad for his dream is western Florida’s Charlotte Harbor, one of the nation’s most exclusive hotbeds for maritime recreation.
“You look at the territory down here, and it has more to offer—more scenery, more shoreline, more square miles than anywhere,” Bupp told us as we set course for a day trip south of Burnt Store marina in Punta Gorda.
Bupp’s enthusiasm is barely contained, and it’s easy to understand why. He is standing at the helm of far more than just a pipe dream.
And that brings us to the ingenuity.
Meet Destination Yachts, a noted twin-hull houseboat builder that has definitely broken new ground in intracoastal houseboat applications. “This boat has just the right style for these waters,” Bupp said, referring to the deep catamaran hull slicing through the shallow harbor waters below us. “It’s exactly what you need our here for a calm, smooth ride, and because it’s a houseboat cabin, you get all the room and accommodations, too…”
A Look Inside
Although the boat’s exterior is awaiting a few final touches (including the addition of a custom T-Top over the fly bridge), the interior has been fully outfitted for a comfortable stay on the harbor. Honey maple woodwork dominates the cabin, providing a warm and light atmosphere from the aft stateroom all the way through the galley-salon and helm areas.
For more information contact Coastal Houseboat Charters POB 27 Matlacha, FL 33993. 239-677-8822. Or www.coastalhouseboats.com.
About the Builder
Destination Yachts builds high-end custom twin hull houseboats that offer a surprisingly elegant lifestyle at a price that is comfortable. Quality, in the tradition of old-style Amish skill and craftsmanship, is found in all Destination Yacht models. Floor plans start at 37x10 and of to 75x17, or the manufacturer can custom build what you desire.
The Destination plant is located in Southern Indiana’s Amish Heartland on seven acres in Montgomery Ind., where it employees 26 full-time employees. It is a privately owned company under president Sheldon Graber and Vice President Delmer Graber. Sheldon Graber (along with his brother Terry Graber and a group of investors) set a new standard in entry level houseboats with the development of MYACHT houseboats almost 14 years ago. After Selling Yacht, Sheldon felt the need for a houseboat that was built on a twin hull but with the next level of quality and design. As a result the Grabers developed Destination Yachts.
Destination Yachts are very affordable but have no shortcuts. Sheldon’s background comes from the recreation vehicle industry with his last position being Director of Quality Assurance and member of the senior management team at Jayco RV’s. Sheldon is also currently a leading player in the Houseboat Industry Association. This group is being formed to bring all manufacturers, rental operators and vendors in the houseboat industry to work on common situations. Together Sheldon and Delmer drive the company in a down home fashion that achieves the highest quality and makes the customer the number one priority.