Hi Gang, Rick here at Used Pontoon Boats.
FRENCH ISLAND, Ind. — Wayne Frantz finishes pulling his pontoon boat out of the rain-swollen Ohio River and onto his small dock.
"Man, I love it out here," the 60-year-old man says as he takes off his hip waders. "If you've ever ridden a Harley, it's that same kind of feeling, except you're sitting still."
The retired boilermaker has a house in Owensboro, Ky., but spends most of his time at this river camp about four miles from Hatfield in rural Spencer County.
"A lot of people don't know where French Island is, much less that we've got a marina," Frantz says. "It's like our little secret."
Some full-time residents, he notes, have lived here 30 years or longer. He settled in 1994.
"You've got all kinds. Doctors, lawyers, coal miners and construction workers."
Other more temporary types, he notes, rent lots in warm weather and bring their boats and jet skis.
"When I was a kid, everybody went to the courthouse on Saturday to spit, swap knives and chew tobacco — you know, just be common folks. You do that now and they'd probably lock you up. We've lost a lot of our freedom. You can get some of that natural life back out here."
Frantz talks about the retired couple who bought a boat in Key West, Fla., and passed by his place on their way to Cincinnati.
"It was an old wooden boat that had been in the Second World War. You talk about an attention-getter. They put in near me, and we had a great talk. I had to go to work, but I told them they could use my place for whatever they needed."
And then there was the fellow who canoed from Lake Erie to New Orleans and stopped at French Island to rest his arms.
"That canoe was packed with pots, pans, tents, fishing gear, you name it. I don't see how he fit himself in. A lot of us kicked in five bucks apiece to help him on his way."
It's common, says Frantz, who is single with two sons, for houseboat owners to call ahead so the marina's caretakers can prepare docking space so they can get fuel and other supplies.
"We're like a big family. Lots of barbecues. Lots of bonfires. Lots of sitting back and drinking a cold beer. We even have a group of ladies who bring their horses and ride the back trails. And our fireworks display on the Fourth of July is better than what you see in a lot of cities."
The stilts have kept the water out of his house trailer every spring except 1997.
"I had 2 feet of mud in my living room. But it's like I tell people — so what about the flooding. People in California have mudslides and fire problems. There's no safe haven on planet Earth. It's always gonna be something."
Frantz has two more payments on his house in Owensboro, but he says there's a good chance he'll become a full-time resident of French Island.
"A flock of geese came out of the cottonwoods the other day at sunset, and they honked at me. It was beautiful," he says. "You see the plumes of jet planes and all the hues of color on the river. There's a serenity to it all.
"In the city, there are loud cars and police sirens and ambulances going every which way and people throwing trash out of their windows. There's none of that on the river. Who wouldn't want to live here?" Thanks to Garret Mathews,CourierPress.
Used Pontoon Boats, By Cathy Henry and Rick Ostler
Used Pontoon Boats-North American Waterway
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