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Low-rent live aboard life in high-rent San Francisco Bay

Fiver Brown is a musician and the kind of guy who has worked as a rodeo clown, a sushi photographer and a pirate, so he couldn’t really afford to buy a home in his current hometown of Sausalito with an average home price of 2.2 million dollars. So he bought a boat.

Technically, he bought a floating home. It’s a former WWII lifeboat that had been converted into a small home and docked at one of the town’s historic houseboat communities.

It’s only 13 feet by 37 feet (481 square feet), but the views are unbeatable. He watches stingrays and birds from the galley/kitchen and from his lofted bed he can peer down at his floating neighbors and the hills of Sausalito above.

His home is paid off- though he still pays a monthly slip rental as part of the Galilee Harbor Coop– and he’s living right where he wants to be, in a town known for its arts scene.

He and his band- Fiver Brown and the Good Sinners- perform regular gigs in both Sausalito and across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Fiver also uses his small home as a place to write music and as headquarters for his local label, Floating Records.

The docks here have always been a sanctuary: first for refugees of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and later for beatniks and hippies. In 1967 Otis Redding wrote the first verse of “(Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay” while staying on a floating home here. Stewart Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog still lives here on a former tugboat.

In this video, Fiver shows us his digs, including a walk-in closet and bathroom renovation in-progress, and performs one of his recent songs aboard his gently rocking maritime crib.