‘This is my camp’: Carmel man moors houseboat at Bangor Waterfront

Posted July 31, 2014, at 12:20 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — In the middle of summer, some truly impressive boats can be moored at the Bangor Waterfront. Elegant sailboats and the occasional multimillion dollar yacht often provide a spectacle for the casual passerby.

This summer, Guy Armstrong’s boat is the talk of the dock.

The Carmel resident has moored his houseboat, Lily’s Pad, in the Penobscot River at Bangor Landing. Lily’s Pad gets its name from his 5-year-old granddaughter, Lily Wilcox, who has been enjoying the offshore “camp in the city” along with Armstrong and his wife, Tory.

“We basically did this for Lily, just to enjoy the summer down here. … We did this for the concerts and the folk festival, just to try it out.” Armstrong said, referring to the major entertainment attractions near the waterfront.

Armstrong purchased Lily’s Pad from a boatbuilder in Monmouth for $8,000 two years ago, and he regularly takes the boat out to various lakes and ponds in the region during the summer months.

“I have a friend down in Massachusetts. I lived in his boat all summer once. This friend, who I worked for, has a 55-foot houseboat. A big one. That thing was incredible. I said to myself, ‘I’ve gotta get one of these things,’” Armstrong said. “So I found [Lily’s Pad], and it was like fate.”

Armstrong was particularly fond of that summer spent on his friend’s boat in Oxboro Marina, where he found what he feels is the ultimate summer lifestyle.

“It’s like a high-tech RV park. Everyone’s so friendly. They’re all socializing, eating, drinking. … They’ve got the same thing in common,” Armstrong said of boaters.

Armstrong has worked as a pipe welder for 38 years and takes summers off to spend time with his family. With this being the first summer he has moored at the Bangor Waterfront, there has been a considerable amount of attention from the public.

“Oh I get maybe 15 to 20 people each day who come buy,” Armstrong said. “It’s unique. It catches everyone’s attention. No one usually stops down [at the other end] and looks at boats — they stop right here.”

Armstrong even has received offers from people wanting to purchase the boat.

“This woman came over once and said, ‘I want to buy that.’ I didn’t want to sell the boat, so I gave her an outrageous price. So she emails me and says, ‘I want to come see it.’ She wants to buy this thing. [She’s willing to pay] more than I paid for it. If she buys it for [that amount], I’d buy another one.” Armstrong said, declining to say what price he named.

It’s easy to see why people are interested. Floating on three pontoons, Lily’s Pad looks as though someone took a half-sized mobile home and stuck it out on the river. Each end of the boat features a wooden deck with a grill, as well as custom mounts for fishing polls. The roof of the boat features a lattice fence to keep passengers onboard, and a plastic slide runs from the roof off the rear of the boat.

Inside, the boat has the comforts of a home, with a full kitchen sink, a television, a small table and seats. The walls are adorned with several maps, a backpack guitar and a stuffed trout, among other trinkets gathered through Armstrong’s travels from Massachusetts to as far west as California.

The boat has no bed, so the family drives to the boat and back to their home in Carmel to sleep more often than not. It costs $975 in fees to moor the boat at the Waterfront from April until October, according to Armstrong, noting it provides his family a comfy home away from home right in downtown Bangor.

Greater than the sum of the boat’s parts is the freedom and enjoyment it has provided for the Armstrongs and their granddaughter, who looks at the boat as her own personal playground.

This year’s Fourth of July was particularly memorable for the Armstrongs, who packed the boat with about 13 family members for the Bangor fireworks show.

“While everyone was standing [on the waterfront] with their umbrellas, we were in here,” Tory Armstrong said.

According to Armstrong, a typical day might include a walk to one of the many restaurants downtown, followed by some grilled hot dogs and a few beers back on the boat. After a quick nap underneath the canopy on the roof, they might take a nice stroll along the waterfront, where Lily is learning to ride her bicycle.

“People from out of state are coming up and buying camps, and they drove the price up so high on them you can’t buy a camp in your own state. Well, this is my camp,” Armstrong said.