Waking each day with breathtaking views of the channel, resort-like atmosphere and your getaway vessel close by makes waterfront locale seem like a never ending vacation.
It's been said, "If you're lucky enough to live by the water, you're lucky enough." Even luckier if you have a boat dock in your backyard, say a growing number of coastal enthusiasts who want to keep their floating assets close to home. With the emerging shortage of boat slips in California, not to mention the rising monthly fees, a house on the water with an attached private boat dock is an added value that homebuyers are starting to recognize.
The term "mixed use" in real estate refers to the combining of commercial property with residential. "Boat Dock Home" might be the new coin-phrase used to describe the "mixing" of residential and recreation on a single property.
Recent headlines in the Log Newspaper, a So-Cal boating publication declared, "Solution to Slip Shortage Not So Simple," and cited the need to build dry stack storage units for the "Orwellian" future.
A 60-foot slip in a Southern California marina would cost an average $1,500 per month and that's if you can find one.
Boaters are realizing that if they could dock their boat in their backyard for free, that's an extra $1,500 a month they could plow into their mortgage. Factor in utility costs that most marinas charge, the added insurance required and commuting costs, and boat dock homeownership starts to look more attractive. Weigh in the fact that a child's single Saturday soccer match or one spouse's work commitment could be the excuse for not visiting the boat at all for another week, the value of having one's favorite pastime in one's own backyard is, as they say, "priceless."
Welcome to Ventura County — home to not one but two pleasure boat marinas within five miles of each other. Oxnard and Ventura's back bays are the only waterfront communities between San Francisco and Long Beach that offer homes with private attached docks that are deeded to the homeowner. In other words, you own the slip and the house, together, forever. No dock master, no leases and no rising slip fees.
While Oxnard offers both zero-lot-line attached homes (Mandalay Bay) and single-family homes (Leeward Estates), the Ventura Keys are reserved for detached homes on inland canals. Westport and SeaBridge are two more exciting planned communities in Oxnard that combine dockside living with public marinas, parks, recreation facilities and retail establishments designed primarily to cater to the pedestrian and boating community. How many places in Southern California are you able to grocery-shop by dingy?
Randy Render, owner of a waterfront home in Westport, said, "I moved my family here from North Carolina two years ago and I couldn't be happier.
"On an average Saturday morning I might wake up, look out my window, check my boat, pinch myself to be sure I'm not dreaming, go for a run on the beach with my wife and daughter, maybe surf a few swells and hurry back in time to meet my father-in-law, John, down on my dock for a half-day of fishing at the islands. If we're lucky, we'll barbecue our catch on the patio grill with the family, toast a few rounds and retreat into the house to watch a movie."
To some, this scenario might bring thoughts of a faraway resort vacation; but for those who live on the water, it's all in a days work ? er, play.
"Come Sunday, we might kayak over to the Fisherman's/Farmer's market, get some fresh shrimp and the week's veggies, then paddle back home in time to jump aboard our electric boat to join friends from the yacht club for an organized dinghy dine-around," Render said.
Steve and Brooke Giannetti of Santa Monica got the bug in August. Steve said they'd been saving for years and thinking of ways they could share quality time with their three children. Young Charlie was showing a fondness for the water and had excelled at wake boarding during the family's recent trip to San Diego. Leila loves to build sandcastles and be pulled in an innertube while Nick is mesmerized with fishing.
"Rather than take a once-a-year week's vacation, we decided to buy a second home within an hour and a half's driving distance from our primary residence," Steve said. "Here we could enjoy water sports for Charlie, a backyard where Nick could hang his hook, and the beach within biking distance where the girls could do their thing.
"At day's end, rather than test restaurant patrons with three tired kids, we could cook at home, relax by the fire and send the kids off to their own beds."
Thus, the Giannettis happily closed escrow on a beautifully-remodeled boat dock home in Mandalay Bay on Oct. 13 and their new 28-foot express cruiser was delivered dockside a few days later.
Bob and Dianna Thorniley sat in steaming Las Vegas at summer's end. Bob, an adventurer for life, already had a place in the mountains for winter sports, a ranch in the desert big enough to appease a zoo keeper and now yearned for a getaway on the coast. He originally considered purchasing a mega yacht that would double as a floating condominium. But after realizing that a boat that size requires a minimum crew of two, just the employee nightmare they were trying to get away from, he arrived at the idea of a home on the water with a smaller boat in the backyard.
Diana, originally a native of the central coast, introduced Bob to the area. Recently they closed escrow on a new home in the Westport community and parked a fully-loaded 38-foot convertible sport yacht in the backyard.
"It cost me the same to get a house and a boat than it would have to buy and maintain a big boat slip and crew in Orange County," Bob said.
As for the Rehders, their life changes now require a downstairs master bedroom for a family member, so they're moving to another waterfront home nearby to accommodate their new needs. "I wouldn't give up this lifestyle for the world," Randy said.
They've put their 3,447 square-foot home on the market with Susan O'Brien of Sotheby's International Realty. The four-bedroom, three and one-half bath home sits on one of the best lots in the new Westport community.
One of the first buyers in the Sea Side phase, Randy did his homework and chose one of the rare lots that feature a south-facing orientation with views straight down the main channel. Its best feature, Randy says, is the 60-foot boat slip in the private marina outside his back door. Although the slip is now occupied by their 45-footer and an electric boat, the slip can accommodate up to a 65-foot motor yacht. There's even a small basin to tie up a dinghy and mount a few kayaks. "A privately-owned slip this large is a rarity in Southern California," Randy said.
The home itself is an upgraded masterpiece. Its beautifully landscaped front yard establishes a "California-tropics" mood. The flagstone entry, a gurgling fountain and seating on the front porch invite friendly conversation with arriving guests and neighbors. The custom-made mahogany and glass door is one of wife Teri's favorite features.
Once inside, a blonde-capped wooden staircase beckons to the second floor while other paths lead to the live and work areas. A den, natural for a home office, affords a street view so its occupant can keep tabs on the neighborhood. "A marina view would just be too distracting," Randy said.
Huge floor-to-ceiling windows abound in the living room, kitchen and great room capitalizing on the water view. Complementing the elegant living room and dining areas is a fireplace and a pair of 12-foot-high French doors that open to the waterside patio.
The kitchen is an experiment in family living gone right. A granite-topped island stands in the middle of the great room and offers what modern cooks dream of. A centrally placed Wolf stove is flanked by a handy stainless steel sink and expansive storage and counter space that could easily accommodate a half-dozen "assistants" that seem forever drawn to hover in the kitchen no matter what other seating is offered. More Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances including a trendy wine cooler are recessed into the white wainscoted cabinetry.
Within easy reach of the chef's omelet pan is a breakfast nook with sliding-door access to the side courtyard — an easy reach to excuse the family pet while still maintaining a hand on the coffee cup and newspaper.
The southern end of the great room is the hub of the family room and is flooded with sunshine and a view of the backyard — in this case a straight shot of the harbor and boats bobbing in the marina. A large-screened TV and stereo with surround sound are subtly hidden behind custom mahogany paneling.
Four bedrooms are upstairs and, yes, the master overlooks the owner's yacht. The adjoining master bathroom is an impressive travertine and marble masterpiece, a showplace really, that the thoughtful builder didn't ignore.
A smaller suite with attached bath and two other bright bedrooms are down the hall. The fourth bathroom's rich granite, travertine and tile's design exude expense, seemingly generous for a guest bathroom, rounding out the elegant air that no expense was spared in this home.
The household's tour ends back in the foyer where the family's key decisions might be made. Take out the big boat and head to the islands, paddle around the neighborhood in the kayaks; cruise the harbor in the electric boat; or heed the advice from Otis Redding and just sit by the dock on the bay and watch time pass away.
The only one who might feel out of place in this boat dock home is the family's SUV who yearns for a long run on a city-clogged freeway, a fading memory to most waterfront homeowners.
For more information, call O'Brien at 207-9579 or visit the Web site http://www.BeachandMarina.com.