A FAMILY who bought a former US Coast Guard tugboat made the ship their home and haven’t looked back since.
Taryn Collins, 36, of Benicia, California, USA, bought the boat with her husband Jason Loger, 37, at a government auction in June 2019 for $35,000 (£28,205).
The couple live on the 150-ton, 65-foot ship in northern California with their two-year-old son Russell.
Jason, a railroad engineer, is obsessed with maritime history and big locomotives, so combining the two was a natural fit for him.
Taryn, a stay-at-home mom, said she didn’t need any convincing to “literally agree with the idea.”
With the average rent for two-bedroom homes in California being $2,405 (£1,938), the family is saving over $1,000 (£805) a month.
The cost of running the vessel is US$1,300 (£1,047) including mooring fee, liveaboard fee and electricity.
Taryn said, “Our total cost for mooring fee, liveaboard fee and electricity is about $1,300.”
“The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Northern California is $2,500 (£2,014), including utilities.
“Of course we are careful to ensure that we set aside money each month for the annual maintenance that is mandatory to maintain the integrity and reliability of life on board, but this is still a significant cost saving in this area.”
“Not to mention the water view!”
The former US Coast Guard boat was named the USCGC Bitt and entered service in 1962 and was decommissioned 16 years later in 1982.
From 1982 to 2019, the ship was used in oceanographic research for the National Science Foundation.
The couple bought the Bitt after it was decommissioned and have not looked back since.
The family has sailed over 2,000 nautical miles, but the cost of the renovation isn’t helping them stay afloat.
They’ve spent over US$50,000 (£40,293) refurbishing and maintaining the 57-year-old boat.
Taryn said: “We removed the sleeping arrangements in the crew quarters and replaced them with a queen-size bedstead, stairs and a sleeping area for our dogs, including storage under the bedstead.”
“We’ve kept the military service lockers until we replace them with custom woodwork in the next phase of our renovation.”
“We converted the other side of the crew’s quarters, which originally housed six berths, into a nursery for our baby. We added a changing table and rocking chair and created extra storage space.”
“The Commander-in-Chief’s room is our current office and nursery, with a cot in place of the bunk and shelves full of children’s books.”
“The head – aka the country folk bathroom – has been sanded down and repainted to a more neutral shade, a shower door has been fitted and a teak floor has been laid in the shower.
“The galley and wheelhouse remained intact, no refurbishment was required as it gave a homely feel to everyone who already lived and worked on board.
“The biggest renovation was our back room, which was converted into a drawing room.
“Aquariums and marine research equipment used to be located there. Today there is a full size sofa, large TV, carpets and rugs for comfort, as well as a mini fridge and air conditioning.”
“The boat underwent a complete refit in the first year that she was purchased, painting her top to bottom and christening her back to her original Coast Guard name, ‘Bitt’.”
Despite the expense, the family reaps the benefits of the non-traditional home and “tugboat life.”
Taryn said, “We have easy access to rapid mobility. We can cast off our lines and watch the sunset without even having to pack or finish dinner.”
“It’s value for money when your husband is also a captain and engineer and is very adept at maintenance that would otherwise require very costly repairs.”
“We also have an incredible liveaboard neighborhood full of drinks on the back deck and lots of camaraderie.”