Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 6:32 am | Fair 50º


Judy Crowell: Vacationing on Houseboat in Sausalito Is Smooth Sailing

The waterfront community is a family friendly paradise, and it's only a hop, skip and a ferry ride to San Francisco

In the late 1800s, a colony of “arks” developed across the San Francisco Bay — summer houseboats, which were pressed into service as year-round dwellings for the homeless after the devastating earthquake of 1906.

Lured by the natural beauty and close proximity to San Francisco, artists, philosophers and free spirits converged upon Sausalito in the 1950s, inhabiting the colorful “floating homes” (so called because they float as they displace their weight in water).

Today, 400 of these riotously unique houseboats line both sides of flower bedecked docks, not going anywhere, occasionally swaying back and forth. And for those, like us, lucky enough to experience a simultaneous full moon and high tide, a listing, tilting sensation for several hours. Imagine a tub full of angled water, a sliding trip down a slanted kitchen floor and a firm hold onto the mattress edge to keep from rolling out of bed. Available to rent, ours turned out to be one of the most luxurious.

Designed in 1975 as an architect’s office, the current owners, a widely traveled couple, are founders of the Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation and the Quest For Global Healing. They renovated and furnished it with African and Asian art, gifts from the Dalai Lama and a framed Japanese lag captured by the Chinese during World War II.

As intriguing as this Marinship area is, Sausalito offers much more. It’s a family friendly, tourist paradise where dozens of foreign languages can be heard while strolling down Princess Street. Lodging options include The Inn Above Tide, true to its name; Hotel Sausalito, for old world Mediterranean ambiance; and Casa Madrona, accommodating visitors since 1885. Horizons serves up quality casual dining and spectacular views of the sunset, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline — assuming the fog cooperates.

There’s Fish, for the freshest seafood al fresco; Venice Gourmet Deli, a mainstay; and the No Name Bar, for just plain fun, especially on open mic nights. Art galleries and funky shops such as Dis & Dat are everywhere, but for serious shopping, hop on one of the ferries for a breathtaking 30-minute ride into San Francisco.

Sausalito is best experienced while staying on a houseboat.
Sausalito is best experienced while staying on a houseboat. (Judy Crowell / Noozhawk photo)

For a trip down memory lane, head to Caledonia Street for eight blocks of eclectic shopping. Its Five Star Station will make you long for the days of gasoline at 20-cents a gallon. Reminisce about 10-cent double feature movies at the old Marin Theater and 75-cent haircuts at the Norman Rockwell-style barbershop. The Michelin starred Sushi Ran will bring you back to the present with its rave reviewed sushi.

Reservations well in advance are a must. Sausalito is best experienced while staying on a houseboat. Cary Grant and Sophia Loren did it in 1958. Luciano Pavarotti, on our very own rented houseboat, did it a few years ago while performing in San Francisco.

It should be listed in those exhausting books of 1,000 things to do before you die, right alongside the Running of the Bulls in Spain and nude night surfing at the Sydney Fringe Festival.

Noozhawk contributing writer Judy Crowell is an author, freelance travel writer and part-time Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >