by Marty Brown
Northern News Services
NNSL (NOV 20/96) - Have you ever wanted to rent a houseboat and float around Great Slave Lake for a week or two?
This summer you'll have that chance. Sail North is building two recreational houseboats, and they'll be for rent.
"There seemed to be a need for houseboat rental," says Barb O'Neill of Sail North. "Some people wanted a little more comfort. We've always rented to sailors and people who wanted power boats but there's always people with families. So we're in the business."
O'Neill said that people have been more cautious with their dollars in the last few years. It used to be people left Yellowknife during the summer but not any more. The information gleaned at trade shows indicated houseboats are where it's at.
Sail North already offers sailboat rental, sailing lessons, power-boat rental, and boat tours. Houseboats are the next logical extension.
The houseboats are a roomy 15 metres by five metres and will sleep from 10 to 12. They were designed in Yellowknife by the engineering firm of Girvan and Associates Ltd.
The frames are Northern too. They are former Hay River and Inuvik tour boats that have been stripped of their old structures and rebuilt from the floats up.
Boat builder Jerry Brown and Pier One Marine owner Brett Wolfe are hard at work building a summer's delight in the -25 degree weather.
The solid core foam with steel sheeting comes approved by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
"It's as strong as a stick-built unit but lighter in weight," O'Neill says.
One model has a master cabin -- that's master bedroom in boating language, on the second floor. The deck area is on the roof on both units.
While the bathrooms aboard many boats are minuscule and tucked away in the head, the Sail North variety certainly aren't. Their bathrooms have roomy showers, in fact parents and small children can fit in with no trouble.
The kitchen or galley will be as roomy as some apartments.
The houseboats will be powered with Volvo inboard outboard engines allowing renters to move them about.
O'Neill says they will be as easy to propel as a boat and motor. Another possibility is that Sail North will shuttle the floating cabins by boat or plane to bay areas in the East Arm.
"We'll be offering floating cabins in the wilderness," O'Neill says.