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From D-Day to Bohemian houseboat: life in WWII Normandy landing craft

World War II saw the quick development of amphibious boats capable of landing on shallow waters to allow quick deployments like Normandy’s D-Day. One of such plywood landing crafts survived to become a fine, cocoon-like bohemian houseboat in countercultural Sausalito, the picturesque old fishing town on the other side of San Francisco’s Golden Gate.

In the 1890s, they called themselves “Venetians of the West,” in the 1960s, they staged the “Houseboat Wars,” and today, Sausalito’s floating homeowners are suspended above carefully-planned watery streets and fully-legal parcels.

Gina Locurcio discovered this community when she visited by boat one afternoon and was sold on the floating lifestyle. When she discovered a friend was selling an old WWII-landing-craft turned houseboat, she bought it and updated the Bohemian home into a more modern trapezoidal home that preserves the history of this one-of-a-kind shelter.

It’s been home to Shel Silverstein, Alan Watts, Allen Ginsberg, and Stewart Brand (still is). Otis Redding wrote “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” here. Jennifer Garner’s floating home is located on the Liberty dock here for the Apple TV series “The Last Thing He Told Me” (based on the novel).

After WWII, when the Marinship shipyard closed down nearby (at one point 20,000 people built military ships there 24 hours a day), needing places to live, people began to turn leftover boats and craft into floating homes.

Locurcio’s 568-square-foot landing craft home is snug but has a storybook charm. She finds it a place of calm, but is now living in a larger spot on a nearby dock with a roommate, so is selling her unique home.