Drive-in boathouses, a luxury option
By Beth Anne Piehl
Photography by G. Randall Goss
You know how wet and cold it can get tying up the boat back at the dock when the weather turns inclement, or how bugs and spider webs stick bow-to-stern while she’s rocking against the pilings between jaunts?
Tommy Mannausa doesn’t. And neither do several of his neighbors along the Harborside stretch of Bay Harbor Lake, where luxury boathouses shelter investments of Luhrs and Tiaras like garages to Ferraris and Hummers.
And when we say they’re fly, we’re not talking about mosquitoes.
Mannausa, a Florida real estate developer and Michigan native, built two of the neighboring boathouses at mid-point on the yacht-club side of the lake, sharing pilings and landscaping with the “guy next door” (who happened to have invented the spin toothbrush and sold it to Procter & Gamble for $475 million).
Mannausa owns the second one he built two years ago, a sprawling 9,000-square-foot home that has a five car garage (one spot is a clever little space for his GEM, those golf-cart type vehicles Bay Harbor residents drive around) and a water-side boathouse that shelters his 39-foot Luhrs Sportfisherman.
The entire home is inspired by British West Indies décor – black, white, cream, brown, various textures, woods and materials like wispy bed canopies — with private balconies and guest rooms floor after floor, and the galley on the second level. From the inside of the main-floor living room, across from a well-planned bar and entertainment area, a wall of windows offers views out into the cypress-shelled boathouse that is as cavernous as it is cool.
“Cypress wood is one of the rarest woods, and bugs and spiders can’t stand it,” said Mannausa. “It grows in bogs and swampland, so it doesn’t warp and it accepts these rigorous conditions.”
Wooba Gooba, weighing in at 22,000 pounds, cuts through the lake “like butter” at a top speed of about 30 knots. Named after a college nickname Mannausa’s friends gave him from a song by the J. Giles Band, Wooba Gooba’s home port is Longboat Key, Fla, from where Mannausa recently had it shipped north.
The boathouse where she’s kept is beautifully crafted, huge and simple. It’s about 22 feet wide by 70 feet long and 27 feet tall, and the water is 8 1/2 feet deep, with two underwater lights. Between excursions, Mannausa uses the structure – with radiant heat, sitting areas and game table — like a poolhouse, and he enjoys swimming nearly daily starting each June. “It’s like a three-sided bathtub of steel in here,” he said.
While he’s run an award-winning real estate company, Mannausa Development Co., in Florida for years, Northern Michigan is now his full-time home. This summer, Wooba Gooba will escort Mannausa and his fiancé, local artist Valerie, to ports along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, and perhaps on a cross-lake venture to Wisconsin. “My mission now is to explore the neat waterfront communities of Northern Michigan,” Mannausa said.
And of course, enjoying the ease of the return trip as well.
“The best thing about (the boathouse) is the boat is right here at your house, and the second thing,” Mannausa said, “is there are no bugs.” HL