“I love how the scenery is so interactive,” says Paul, a Frenchman who’s lived and worked in the harbor since he came to Santa Barbara in 1993. “There’s always something going on-a sailboat coming in, a charter heading out, people playing on the beach.”
Paul and Dawn purchased Grand Times three years ago with plans to live aboard the boat year-round, and also use it for charters. Now they head out on several trips a month, ranging from sunset and dinner cruises to weekend getaways, Paul driving the boat and Dawn supervising activities on deck. “We always say the engine room is Paul’s and the galley mine,” Dawn says, smiling.
The Nourys also frequently take the boat out on private rides-in a few weeks they’ll head out to Santa Cruz island with a large group of friends to dive for lobster, an annual event.
“When we got the boat we decided it was going to be a working boat and that we wouldn’t buy anything that would keep us from leaving the harbor in 10 minutes,”
explains Dawn. This means all the furniture, appointments and other belongings need to be either built-in, mountable, heavy enough to stay put or easily tied down during a voyage. “Everything has to be functional,” says Dawn, pointing to such details as wall lights with swing arms, a magnetized kitchen knife holder, spices and wine bottles in baskets and a collapsible home office. A “wine cellar” hides beneath a seat by the lower helm, while compartments under steps and foot rests hold linens, kitchen utensils and various tools.
Nonetheless, the couple lacks few, if any, of the modern conveniences conventional homeowners are used to.
“We have a dishwasher, trash compactor, gas range stove and washer and dryer. We even have a bathtub and two home offices with wireless Internet,” says Paul, whose foldable workspace is set in the main salon on mid-deck, where the galley, aft deck and lower helm are also located.
Downstairs are the crew quarters and two guest staterooms, complete with private bathrooms and a shared shower, and the spacious master stateroom, also boasting its own master bath (with a tub) and plenty of closet space. This is where Dawn keeps her home office. On the sundeck, behind the upper helm, the Nourys have set up several lounge chairs along with padded, built-in sofas and tables to take full advantage of the scenery.
Says Paul, “We may not have the same amenities as most people, but we live just as well.”
If not better, one could argue, especially considering the pair can up and leave anytime they please. Still, just like owning a house, running a 100,000-pound boat in solid mahogany and teak requires a lot of work. Paul guesses about 20 hours a week are spent just on the upkeep. “You’ll have to be a woodworker, carpenter, plumber, electrician, diesel mechanic and painter all in one,” he reveals.
Dawn confesses that she does enjoy working with the wood, varnishing and sanding.
“It’s therapeutic to me after spending all day in an office.” She continues, “You don’t buy a vintage boat like this unless you like working on wood.”
The only thing Paul says he misses is a garage to store some of the couple’s gear. Though, on the plus side, the Nourys don’t really need to use their car to go anywhere. Dawn walks to her office on lower State Street and Paul, who works on several other boats in the harbor, gets around in a dinghy. The couple also mostly walks or takes the dinghy to go to dinner.
“If we go to the Harbor restaurant, we just pull up and tie the dinghy to the wharf,” Paul says. Leaving the car parked as much as possible is one of the many ways in which the Nourys contribute to the environment, living by the philosophy that to be treated well by Mother Nature, they have to pay her the respect she deserves.
“You do live more conscientiously because you are so connected with your natural surroundings,” admits Dawn, describing how the other morning when she was brushing her teeth a big heron stared back at her through the bathroom porthole.
Some of the couple’s favorite pastimes these days include sitting on upper deck with a glass of wine, taking in the vistas and listening to the sounds of water gently lapping the boat, a seal barking from a buoy or the deep toot of the foghorn at night.
“Being here makes you feel like you’re on vacation all the time,” Dawn says. “Isn’t that the way life should be?”
If you are interested in having your home featured in “Our House” please call The Santa Barbara News-Press at 805-564-5160 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos: Isabelle Gullö