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    The Happypants occupies an extra-wide rented slip at the RiverPark Place Marina, just outside downtown on River Road, docked between a craft named Sweet Adeline and another named Knot Fore Sail. Carolyn Gordon, who lives in The Happypants with husband Brian and their three gray cats, says she knows of people who live on boats (mostly at Captain’s Quarters) but that The Happypants is the only floating home in the area.

    She got the idea for a floating house on a trip to Key West, Florida, with her first husband. “I was just riding around on my bicycle one day at the marina. I said, ‘You have got to come and look at what I found,’” the 67-year-old says. At Jeffersonville marina Admirals Anchor, they built the 1,200-square-foot house — shingled roof and all — on a steel hull salvaged from an old Devoe Paint Co. warehouse. They launched The Happypants, named after a band from Lexington, in 1981.

    Step inside and it takes a minute to get used to the house rocking with the waves. (Carolyn says she still gets seasick occasionally.) In case you’re wondering, on the inside The Happypants looks like a normal house: kitchen, two bathrooms, spiral staircase leading to two bedrooms. It’s connected to power and water lines like a normal house, though for their water supply during the winter, when pipes are more susceptible to freezing, Brian loads a tank into his truck bed and fills it at a hydrant up the hill. The two-story deck boasts a view of Towhead Island and downtown. If you look toward Indiana, you’ll see giant barges at Jeffboat.

    One big difference between a house on land and a house on water: the effects of big weather events. They have to tie The Happypants down to the dock with extra ropes when a storm’s coming. “Most people don’t have to worry about their house sinking,” Brian says. Brian, who is 49 and has lived in the house since 1994, says he and Carolyn have seen a lot over the years. They have photos from the 1997 flood, when their house was floating among the tops of trees and telephone poles. When the marina road is submerged, they have to get in their rowboat and paddle to shore. The worst, Brian says, was the 70-mile-per-hour wind that came with Hurricane Ike in 2008. “Boats were sinking left and right,” Carolyn says. “Five feet dropped out of the river, from 12 feet to seven feet. We were on the bottom.”

    Carolyn, a semi-retired hairstylist, says she wouldn’t live anywhere else, though. And people have actually knocked on the door wanting to buy the house. “We’re just thankful every day that we get to be here,” she says. “I’m always telling people to sell their house and live on a boat.”

    This article is courtesy of the May 2016 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here.

     

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    About Amy Talbott

    Piscean. INFJ. Cat person. Runner. Mediocre housekeeper. Excellent cook. Scours the sleaze on Craigslist so you don't have to.

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