Home, Home on the Sea

Grad shares tales from life on his Baltimore houseboat

By Brigid Hamilton, '06  |  Photos courtesy of Ryan Rabidou, '07

This summer marks another season Ryan Rabidou, ’07, and his dog, Oso, will spend afloat.

After three summers living on a 36-foot cabin cruiser that he bought from Craigslist, Rabidou, who works as a marketing manager for Inside Lacrosse, was looking to upgrade.

Ryan Rabidou, '07, and his "first mate," dog Oso, hanging out in the marina on a neighboring vessel.

“I entertained everything from sailboats to old motor-yachts to floating barges before a 1968 houseboat fixer-upper fell into my lap, courtesy of a slip purchase and an old houseboat deemed derelict.”

Rabidou and Oso moved to a neighboring slip at Anchorage Marina, in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, in March. He spent the spring restoring the old houseboat.

“To say everything from purchasing to actual boating to rehabbing has been a learning process is a gross understatement,” he said. “Lucky for me, I am surrounded by friendly retired boaters who are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge.”

How does someone with no sailing experience—and no vessel—find himself restoring and living on a boat?

Rabidou upgraded from this cabin cruiser, named for his Siberian Husky, to a houseboat this year, which he spent the spring restoring.

“I wish I could say I came from a long line of heavy seas battling captains and was searching to get back to my roots,” Rabidou laughed.

The truth, he said, is he was looking for something to give his life a sense of adventure. “I figured, hey, a boat is adventurous—mainly because I don’t know anything about boats—and living on one would be even more so.”

He has found both adventure and happiness on the water.

Rabidou's new houseboat, which he docks in Anchorage Marina in the Baltimore Harbor.

“I never get tired of it. I think I’d always like to have a boat to get away to. Down the road, I would likely just use the boat for weekend getaways. For now, though, there is no land in sight.”

Loyola magazine asked Rabidou to share a day in the life of a liveaboard.

How do you go about naming a boat?

My first boat, Oso Dreams, was named for my loyal 8.5-year-old Siberian Husky, and we are both dreamers. The name of my new houseboat, Float About, was inspired by my grandmother.

Oso taking in the sea breeze.

How does your dog like living on a boat?

Oso turns nine on July 5 (and yes, we throw him a party with his k9 friends at the marina). There are some challenges with having a pup at the marina. I’m working on making a grassy bathroom area on one of the finger piers for him, but until then, he stays in shape by running 100 yards back to land.

Luckily for me, I have a bicycle.

The interior of the houseboat is divided up into areas for home, office, and play.

How do you make a houseboat feel like a home?

Put a 50-inch TV and a couch in it. Kidding, but they certainly don’t hurt.

My goal is not only to make the boat feel like a home, but also my office and vacation spot. I’ve broken the boat up into those three areas: home, office, and play.

And I want to make the space a reflection of who I am. I’ve decorated with things I’ve acquired while traveling—lights, instruments, carvings, paintings—and I’m a big outdoors person, so I’ve brought a little bit of Mother Nature inside with terrariums and plants. And as long as I have Internet, phone service, and a laptop charger, I am good to go.

The top deck has been turned into outdoor space for reading, sunning, eating, and enjoying the view.

How does your Loyola education help you?

I wish Loyola had a boating 101 course, would have saved me plenty of time and money! The well-rounded Jesuit approach to education has helped me be successful achieving my business goals.

The galley kitchen on Float About offers more space for cooking.

What’s it like making meals in a galley?

Cooking on the old boat was pretty difficult, given the tight quarters. So I would either cook on the grills on the dock, or eat at local restaurants. My girlfriend is a stellar cook, and the new houseboat has plenty more room for her to quench her culinary thirst.

Her go-to dish is called Drunken Sailor Shrimp Tacos. They’re so delicious (and perfect for warm weather grilling), I am willing to share her recipe…

Ingredients

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
4 tbsp tequila
2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 lbs peeled shrimp
2 tbsp chicken broth, reduced from ½ cup
3 tbsp mayo
1 avocado, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 package corn of flour tortillas
fresh tomato salsa (can be purchased in your local grocery store)
chopped fresh cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese and shredded cabbage for topping

Preparation and Cooking Instructions

1. Create a marinade with the tequila, cumin, paprika, garlic, lime, and cilantro; marinade the shrimp overnight.

2. Grill the shrimp on a skewer until they begin to brown slightly, about two minutes on each side.

3. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a pan and fry corn tortillas, about 30 seconds each side.

4. Combine Sriracha, mayo, and chicken broth reduction. Mix well.

5. To assemble the tacos, slather the Sriracha mayo on the tortilla shells. Place shrimp on a skewer and place in the center of the tortilla. Top with cabbage, tomato salsa, avocado, and cheddar cheese. Fold over tortilla shell and remove skewer to line up the shrimp inside the taco.

What’s a houseboat owner’s worst nightmare?

Coming back after the winter break and finding your boat full of water. I’ve seen other boats at the marina go to the underwater disco.

The marina offers liveaboards a close-knit community.

Do you get to know your “neighbors”?

We have a really great group of boat owners and liveaboards. There is typically a weekly themed dinner party out on the docks.

I think if you decide to live on a boat, you probably have a similar mindset as your fellow floating neighbors. Some of my closest friends in Baltimore are from the marina. Everyone looks out for each other and each other’s boats.

Check out that view...

Read other stories from Loyola’s home issue here.

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