The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

December 5, 2012

Man's home a 14-foot canoe in Boston Harbor

— BOSTON (AP) — They say no man is an island, but Michael Richard Smith has been creating his own floating homes in Boston Harbor.

The Coast Guard and Boston police are keeping an eye on the unconventional camper who has been tying his canoe to small offshore docks in the city's inner harbor and pitching his tent to sleep at night.

The 49-year-old Maine native said Tuesday he's been paddling the waters of metro Boston since October with all his possessions aboard a 14-foot, 40-year-old aluminum canoe he patches with duct tape when necessary.

Smith detests the term "homeless" and describes himself as just another "fellow citizen."

He said he feels most secure when he sleeps out in the harbor, and lists his biggest worries as the wakes of fast ferries and drunken boaters.

"It's about as safe as I could be," said Smith, who's also camped on at least one inner harbor island. "Anybody who would want to hurt me or take my things, they have to have a boat. And boat people stick together."

The Coast Guard spotted Smith a few days ago, and said while the mariner has been moving around, he hasn't moored anyplace where he's a threat to security or his own safety.

"What it really seems like is he's trying to figure out whether it's feasible to live out there," Coast Guard Lt. Joe Klinker said Tuesday.

The Coast Guard official said the agency would take action if Smith entered a security zone, but that he has stuck to recreational areas.

"It's not a major concern for the Coast Guard right now," Klinker said. "... A lot of people who don't have a place, live by the water. But on the water is unique."

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