Love sinks boat dreams
By Fay Knight
JORIS DE BOER hates to part with his houseboat home, but it's for a romantic reason. Joris and his girlfriend are buying a house together in Ballina and he won't need the boat. "I've lived here nearly three years," said Joris. "I first bought the house (on the Wilsons River where the boat is anchored) and when I got the houseboat I rented out the house." Now the house has sold and the boat needs to go. Joris, who is Dutch by birth, arrived on the Northern Rivers in the late 1970s. After travelling he returned to Holland and found he didn't fit in. However, it started him thinking about houseboats, which are very common in Amsterdam. Years later, when he saw a houseboat advertised in Ballina he jumped at the opportunity. "I'd never had a boat before and had to learn to drive it to get it to Lismore!" explained Joris. (No licence is required.) "The first thing I did was to get it stuck going around a buoy, but you learn pretty quickly!" The houseboat has solar panels for power and a kitchen, dining/living area, bathroom and bedroom plus deck areas. Joris says people don't realise how beautiful the Wilsons River is. "There are so many turtles and fish," says Joris. "The fish come to the surface to be fed. Drop a line when you've got visitors and you can have a barbecue!" Floods didn't worry Joris. "If it gets high enough you can just about park your boat in the garage!" he joked. "But seriously, I don't understand why more people don't make use of the river. In historic photos everyone has jetties and boats. My kids don't want me to sell the boat. ; it's handy when they want to crash after a party. We're in the centre of town but it's like being in the country on the river."