Offbeat

BY NICOLAS FERNANDES


This floating house that was once a famous wedding chapel could be yours for $425,000 (£308,000).

Previously known as the only structure of its kind in America, the Chapel on the Bay, docked on the Manatee River in Palmetto, Florida, USA, was bought by Sam Cribbs, 67, and his wife Linda in 2015.

PIC BY SAM CRIBBS / CATERS NEWS

Sam, a retired contractor, spent $240,000 transforming the houseboat into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house.

It is now operated as a vacation home that goes for $345 a night.

Sam’s conversion of the 30×60-foot (9×18-meter) vessel involved the addition of homily features including a kitchen with granite countertops and a spiral staircase that leads to the upstairs bedroom.

Many of its original characteristics remain, such as the exterior church design, 19-foot ceilings, stained glass windows and heavy wooden doors.

Even the podium that was used for weddings is still in the living room.

PIC BY SAM CRIBBS / CATERS NEWS

Sam said: “I basically took it all apart and put it back together so that it could actually be lived in.

“I didn’t buy it to keep. I bought it as a project. It’s really cool and it’s in perfect shape for someone to move in.

“It’s a real unique property and it can be used for anything – a vacation home, converting it back to a chapel, or someone could live in it for the rest of their life.

“I rent it out for $345 a night it stays very full throughout the year.

“Every compliment you can think of, the visitors have said. I’ve had people who stayed in it three times. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a rating that was less than five stars.”

PIC BY SAM CRIBBS / CATERS NEWS

Brenda Thompson, the property marketing expert for the home, said: “The house is beautifully open and airy. It’s a stunning structure.

“He really turned it into something incredibly beautiful.”

Built with a fiberglass exterior strong enough to withstand a hurricane and carry a wedding party of 100, more than $1 million (£724,000) went into its original construction in 2004.

While about $1.3 million (£941,000) has been spent on it in total, houseboats of this size do not sell for that much.

Sam said: “The people that built this thing used materials much stronger than you would use for a standard house.

“I’m just trying to sell it so that I can move back to the west coast.”

PIC BY SAM CRIBBS / CATERS NEWS

Cribbs has had a number of potential buyers since originally listing it for $600,000 (£434,000) last year.

Some have shown interest in living in it, while others have considered transforming it back into a floating chapel.

Brenda said: “We’ve had a bit of a response. Everything from retired veterans to people who wanted to rent it out as a charter boat.

“Some were even looking to convert it back into a chapel. It can easily be done.

“It is difficult to find someone who is serious though. It’s not considered a house and it has no address. It’s more like a yacht.”

To view the property’s listing, visit http://specialfinds.com/listings/houseboat-for-sale/.