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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/235

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Millionaire Vagabonds h of Florida's Waters

��The American millionaire finds a substitute for his trip to Europe

��By A. M. Jungmann

���The houseboat of a millionaire is really a kind of luxxirious river steamer. This one is a one hundred and thirty-foot craft which can carry two thousand five hundred gallons of gasoline

��WHEN we wish to think in the superlativ^e of luxury, our minds, curiously enough, hark back to the glories of the ancients — Xero fiddling to the accompaniment of burning Rome; Cleopatra wooing Mark Antony as they drifted down the Nile in her slave-driven silk-hung barge. Yet it is safe to assume that the most gorgeous queen of history would have paled with envy could she have compared her barge with that new- toy of wealthy America — the power house- boat. Yet these same houseboats may not be such an extravagance as they seem. It may be cheaper to move than to pay rent or taxes, when you can afford to live in a floating palace. A few years ago the general conception of a houseboat was a square, rather ugly structure, mounted on a number of barrels lashed together. Today the modern houseboat is a sort of glorified combination of a Fifth Avenue mansion and the latest cry in steam yachts.

Since the war broke out in Europe, many of our wealthy pleasure-seekers have been forced to forego their annual European pilgrimage. Our own resorts, especially in the South, do not afford the luxurious accommodations that the American million- aire has been accustomed to obtain on the other side. And so the war was followed by a boom in power-houseboat building. Larger than ever is the fieet of these boats that has gone to Florida this winter. Most of them are equipped with gasoline engines which enable them to make the trip under their own power.

The houseboat of a millionaire is really a kind of luxurious river steamer. She may be anywhere from fifty to one hundred and fifty feet in length, and she may

��accommodate from ten to forty wealthy vagabonds, depending on her size.

Do not confuse the houseboat with a yacht. A houseboat is not so much a ship as a home. Her living and dining rooms are commodious and bright. A number of the staterooms are sure to have private bath- rooms, with all the requirements of vanity.

Sudi a boat is lighted by electricity. She has a hot-water plant, a ventilating plant and an excellent refrigerating system. The fish caught by the guests are kept absolutely fresh in a special tank supplied with fresh sea water. Of course the guests want to talk to one another without screaming down the corridors, and so a telephone system is usually considered indispensable. Besides there is an alarm system, to be used in case of fire or accident, an electric bilge pump and a complete fire fighting apparatus.

A big houseboat, a one hundred and thirty footer, will carry 2500 gallons of gasoline, for which a type of tank has been devised with filling and vent pipe so arranged that no gasoline will get below deck when the tank is filled. Her large refrigerator will carry 7000 pounds of ice. Storerooms, pantries and lockers are so big and numerous that she can carry supplies enough for months. If her owner desires to escape civilization, all he has to do is to sail away for a year and a day and have all the comforts of life without any of the modern inconveniences.

There are numbers of these houseboats which have gone to Florida this winter. Some are wonderfully complete and com- fortable though only half the size of others. All are able to travel under their own power. The majority have gasoline motors.

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