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Houseboat ambitions hit iceberg

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Joseph Schell/Special to The SF Examiner
Port of San Francisco workers prepare to tow a houseboat from India Basin on Tuesday; neighbors have been trying to get rid of the vessel for months.

A two-story houseboat that has been stuck in the mud in India Basin for the past four months was successfully lifted and towed to a nearby pier where Port officials expect it to sit until it can be destroyed.

The boat, and house, was built by Vincent “Ken” Lackey over the past 20 years. He had moved the boat from its original home in Richmond in mid-April before he literally became stuck in the mud in India Basin.

Lackey said he’s been searching for a location where he can redo the interior and turn it into a floating restaurant, the San Francisco Bay Sanctuary Restaurant. He hopes to park it at Pier 1 in time for the America’s Cup races in 2013. He’d also like to create a 3,000-square-foot dome on the pier to allow for concerts.

The Port of San Francisco, however, has a different idea.

On Tuesday, Port officials — with the help of a salvage company — removed the boat and slowly towed it to Pier 70, where it will be tied to an abandoned berth until the details of its salvage can be worked out.

Renee Dunn Martin, a Port spokeswoman, said the Port is still working with the owner, but the boat is being taken over as an abandoned vessel under the harbor and navigation code.

The entire process took more than four hours as the salvage company worked to get the boat out of the mud. The removal is expected to cost $25,000, which the Port is hoping will be reimbursed by the state-run Abandoned Water Craft Abatement Fund.

Michael Hamman, president of the India Basin Neighborhood Association, said the news of the houseboat removal was good, but he’d believe it when he saw it.

“I’ve been hearing it for the last two months,” Hamman said. “It was completely stuck in the mud and underwater; someone’s going to have to do a lot of work.”

Hamman and the members of the neighborhood association had been trying for months to get the boat out of their waters. Group members contacted city supervisors’ offices and spoke with the Port and even Recreation and Park Department officials to get it removed.

Lackey, however, said the boat was not abandoned and he plans to move it to a pier in Oakland.

“I’ve got a dream and I keep going for it,” he said.


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