Industrial Inspiration For a San Francisco Houseboat

Strapped into orange life jackets and clutching a bottle of Champagne, Kimo and Sarah Bertram were on tenterhooks as they watched the glowing Golden Gate Bridge and forbiddingly beautiful Alcatraz Island glide by their kitchen windows, hoping that their new home—a houseboat that had just been completed in a Sausalito boatyard—would make it safely to its slip on San Francisco’s Mission Creek. Having heard horror stories from their neighbors about rough crossings, the Bertrams had been understandably apprehensive when they boarded their 128-ton home for its maiden—and final—voyage. But as the floating house slid into its resting place, they popped a cork amid cheers from the waiting crowd, made up of their builders, architects and neighbors. “It was amazingly nerve-racking and exhilarating at the same time,” recalls Kimo.

Sarah Virginia White
  • Photo credit: Drew Kelly
    Home Sweet Home Mission Creek
    Designed by Robert Nebolon Architects

    Compared with the white-knuckled process of towing their home across the Bay, the story of how the Bertrams decided to live on the tranquil stretch of creek behind the bustling SoMa District is straightforward. In 2010, while looking for a rental, the couple spotted an ad for a fully furnished houseboat and, on a whim, decided to check it out. Before they even knocked on the front door, Kimo let Sarah know he intended to buy it. “I just rolled with it,” says Sarah. “Two hours later, we were sitting down with the owner and putting together an offer. We closed within a week.” 

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