To boldly go: Green living on the blue when Snoqualmie’s Travis Boothe creates a minimized, floating hi-tech home
By SETH TRUSCOTT
Snoqualmie Valley Record Editor
June 26, 2012 · 5:18 PM
Twenty years ago, Travis Boothe’s home was his sailboat. He never forgot the freedom and adventure of that lifestyle.
Now, with life at a crossroads, the Snoqualmie resident is taking stock of what’s really important. For him, that’s an interesting, meaningful existence. He’s about to bring his home evironment into line with that ideal, in a dramatic way. Recalling his boating days, he’s about to set sail, trading his home and much of his belongings for a houseboat on Lake Washington.
Boothe, a nine-year Valley and longtime trainer at Mount Si Sports + Fitness, watched his daughter Journie Kirdain graduate from Mount Si High School earlier this month. Now, with a house to himself, more than he can handle, he knew it was time for a change.
“I’m on my own,” he said. “I can choose what I want to do.”
Reading the book “At Home: A Short History of Private Life” by Bill Bryson, Boothe realized that “What you need is heat, light, a place to restore yourself. A place to have a little bit of privacy.”
Enter “The Enterprise,” a 270-square-foot boat moored near Seattle’s Seward Park. Boothe has been working on an extensive remodel since February. He’s nearly finished, and is ready to move in.
Boothe found that with today’s technology, and a slimmed-down way of thinking, he can make a fine home on the waves.
“I don’t have to use any more resources than are necessary,” he said. “I saw freedom in terms of not just being able to go wherever I want, but also the amount of possessions I have to carry with me.”
Boothe’s new journey not only connects back to the adventures of his 20s, but to childhood.
“When I was a kid, I was all about pirates, Star Trek,” he said. “I just wanted to get on that ship, whether it was a spaceship or a sailboat, and go to that place where you didn’t know what was going to happen. Where you made your own way.”
His new home gives him the chance to try new things. He’s also interested in offering it as an interesting place for a global vacation home-trading network.
When he found the 1974 KingsCraft boat, Boothe knew he’d have some work to do to reach his vision.
“Everything had to go,” including the 1970s-era wood panelling everywhere and the purple-tinted windows. He gutted the craft.
“It was basically an aluminum hull. There was nothing in it but glass and metal.”
Working every weekend, Boothe replaced the old wood with marine-grade plywood covered with cedar for the walls and laminate flooring, insulating everything with modern materials. The appliances were replaced with modern, low-energy units. The water heater is a green, instant model. A solar panel the size of a dinner table generates power. Light comes from small, low-power units.
“I kind of made it up as I went along,” Boothe said. “I was familiar enough with alternative building materials and equipment, so I wasn’t going in blind,” he said. “I had an idea of what needed to be done, and I knew I could hire people if I needed help.”
He hired a plumber from Falls Plumbing, and went through four different mechanics before he found one that didn’t want to upsell him and understood his vision. Now, with a fixed-up engine, the craft draws only four inches of water, unloaded.
Stripping down his belongings to fit aboard the boat has been a bittersweet process.
“I’m going through everything from old bank statements to artwork my daughter did,” he said. “It makes you remember how things were and the hopes and dreams you had at that point. Some played out and some didn’t. This is an opportunity to reconsider my life.
“I realize that I want to offer something to people,” Boothe added. “What I can offer Journie right now is an opportunity to look at how we live differently instead of assuming you have to live in a house and have a typical lifestyle. You can make your day-to-day life more interesting. You can make it an adventure. You can have an interesting, full life without a lot of possessions.”
Boothe emphasizes a more efficient lifestyle because he’s realized that today’s easy resources, like power or water, may not always last forever.
“We live in a window of time when resources are very easy to come by,” he said. “I don’t think people really appreciate that.”
Contact Snoqualmie Valley Record Editor Seth Truscott at email@example.com or 1-425-888-2311.