NEWS

Houseboat rentals offer unique perspective

JENNIE MCKEON
Jan Usman inside Livin’ on the Edge, which she bought three months ago.

New Yorker Jan Usman has two houses in Destin that aren’t just waterfront — they’re on the water.

Right along the docks behind Fisherman’s Wharf are Usman’s two houseboats offering a unique perspective on vacationing along the Emerald Coast.

"It was accidental," Usman said of going into the houseboat business. "I travel a lot and would come down to Florida to stay in Pensacola and Panama City Beach. I didn’t know anything about Destin."

During one of her visits last year, Usman decided to make a stop in Destin and booked a night at the Inn on Destin Harbor and "fell in love," she said.

While walking the harbor one night she came across a for sale sign on the Butterfly Goddess, a 2006 custom-made houseboat. Usman wasted no time making it her own.

"I went back to New York, wired the down payment and came back and paid for it with cash," she said.

About three months ago, she added another houseboat – a 1995 model manufactured named Livin on the Edge.

Usman stays in one of the boats during vacations to Destin, and rents them the rest of the year.

"In the wintertime, I’ll wake up and come up here (on the roof) and it will look so empty. I just pretend I own the whole island," she said with a laugh.

Each can accommodate up to five guests and offers amenities such as satellite television, wireless internet, a fully-functioning kitchen and jet-ski rentals.

Only a licensed captain can move the boats, but Usman doesn’t allow her floating homes to go any farther than Crab Island.

There’s no need, she said.

"You can walk to AJ’s, The Boathouse Oyster Bar or Fisherman’s Wharf," she said. "Most nights you can hear music from The Boathouse. All you need is to BYOB."

WANT TO GO? For more information, visit destinhouseboat.com. To book either Butterfly Goddess or Livin’ on the Edge, visit airbnb.com and search Destin Harbor.