Just as with their landlocked home, the couple embraced the history of their seagoing residence. The bulk of its classic features remain, from the portholes to the radiators. Yankee (first called Machigonne) is docked in Hoboken right across from New York City’s majestic skyline, and Richard and Victoria have lived aboard her rocking cradle for more than 10 years. Built in 1907, she first ferried vacationers in Maine from Portland to the Calendar Islands. She then did a stint in World War I, patrolling Boston Harbor, before ferrying immigrants in the 1920s on the last leg of their journey, from the harbor to Ellis Island.
The last remaining Ellis Island ferry, Yankee is on the National Register of Historic Places. Later known as the beloved “Daddy boat,” she carried fathers to Block Island on the weekends, to join their families summering there. To make the cherished vessel a comfortable houseboat, Richard and Victoria added a new kitchen (in the old galley where hotdogs and clam chowder were served), bathroom and two bedrooms on the main deck, but preserved the “bones” and original history as much as possible – from the iron bunk bed suspended from the wall in the crew quarters in 1907 to the worn wooden benches on the passenger deck, benches that held immigrants who arrived with gold-dusted dreams. “What this boat represented to immigrants was hope,” says Richard. The couple added clever new twists, too, beyond WiFi and electric lines: The aft deck houses a coop for six chickens and the mahogany dining room tabletop can be hoisted up to the ceiling to clear the floor for parties or performances. Yankee’s beauty drifts on. “I love to feel the energy, the excitement of the immigrants who rode her and first saw the Statue of Liberty,” says first mate Jacques Rasp, who mans the pilot house and helps manage and maintain the ferry.
See more of the MacKenzie-Childs Yankee Ferry at MackenzieChildsYankeeFerry.com
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