Byline: Taylor Hill
SAN DIEGO — Finding a waterfront home for sale on San Diego Bay is a rarity in itself, but the recent listing of a floating home in the bay is an even rarer occurrence.
Located in America’s Cup Harbor, the two-story floating home sits on an end-tie at Pier 7 of Driscoll’s Wharf, and it is one of only three such residences in all of San Diego.
The 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home was constructed in 1999, and it has caught the eye of visitors to Driscoll’s Wharf ever since.
“People come into America’s Cup Harbor, and they’re always waving at us,” said Russ Cornelius, who owns the floating home and is president of the San Diego-based brokerage Ensign International Yachts. Cornelius bought the floating home about three years ago when it went on sale, knowing the opportunity to live right on the bay — not simply near it — was something he didn’t want to pass up.
“I saw it in an ad in The Log, and I knew I had to get it,” Cornelius said. “Whenever I would go by these homes on my boat, I would always wish I could get my hands on one.”
Cornelius and his wife named the house Edgewater, using it as a second home, in addition to their Point Loma condominium.
“The views from the home are really some of the best in the bay, because it’s on an end-tie — and you have a 180-degree view stretching from Point Loma to downtown San Diego,” Cornelius said.
While the thought of living on the water was immediately enticing, life at the Driscoll’s Wharf end-tie proved to be a unique experience. In addition to the gentle sounds of the harbor, the area is filled with commercial fishing boats and other working vessels nearby.
“The fishermen are crusty, but they couldn’t be nicer,” Cornelius said.
He reaches his floating home by a walk down the gangway. The front door opens directly into the master bedroom (the first or second oddity, depending on whether you consider taking a gangway to your front door an oddity).
The first level includes a full bathroom and a storage area with a washer and dryer. Upstairs, there is a living room, a galley-style kitchen and a half bathroom.
The home’s bay doors open to the deck, where Cornelius said he spends the majority of his time aboard.
“We tore out the old dock and put in a brand-new dock that the house now floats on,” Cornelius said. “We also added a toy dock — and that’s where we keep the dinghy, kayaks and things like that.”
The couple also installed new appliances three months ago — including a refrigerator and a microwave oven — and a new 500-gallon holding tank.
Currently listed at $152,500, the floating home must be a cash purchase, as obtaining a loan for a floating home is not a regular practice — and there is no guarantee the home will be allowed to stay in the same spot, as the lease is month-to-month with Driscoll’s Wharf.
“The home’s been there for 12 years, and Cathy (Driscoll, the marina manager) says she loves having the homes in the harbor,” Cornelius said.
Owning a floating home is not something most Southern Californians even think about. Areas famous for their floating homes include Sausalito in Northern California and Seattle — but in San Diego, floating homes haven’t caught on. Most marinas here have rules against such structures, stipulating that all vessels must be capable of leaving the docks under their own power.
“Houseboats in some locales are enjoyed as nice thing to have on the water and, in other places, they are shunned,” said Ensign International Yachts’ manager Jack Buckley. “If there were more places that allowed it in the area, I could see a lot of people start building nice homes on the water.”
For now, the three floating homes in Driscoll’s Wharf appear safe. And Cornelius’ Edgewater could be someone else’s future floating dream.
“We’re getting some interest in it — and it just takes the right person,” Cornelius said. “If someone is really interested in having the best view in San Diego, this is the home to get.”