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Encinitas’ boathouses — two houses built in the shape of boats, are beginning to drift from their foundations. Not bad, really, for having been built in 1928.

Easily one of the most photographed spots in town, an ahead-of-his-time recycler named Miles Kellogg built the boathouses out of scrap lumber from the old Moonlight Beach bathhouse. Originally known as “The Arks,” the S.S. Encinitas and the S.S. Moonlight were constructed onsite, so have never touched water other than rain. But many a local child has been fibbed to, with dads telling wide-eyed kids that a huge wave washed them up onto the property.

The owner of the boathouses, the Encinitas Preservation Association, was out last week looking for money to restore the two houses. The association’s assessment recently found the boats were listing, leaking, and has old cast-iron plumbing that needs to be replaced.

Tom Cozen, chairman of the association’s preservation committee and a third-generation Encinitas resident, met with the city and District 3 county supervisor Dave Roberts. The group is seeking restoration funds in the name of historical preservation. Both the city and the county seemed to be open to the idea of helping out.

It was rumored in 2008 that the then-owner wanted to give the boats away — free — under one condition: the boats had to be moved from the property; that meant bluff-top condos would probably occupy the site in the 700 block of Third Street.

The association purchased the boats, along with a four-unit apartment complex on the property with a $1.55 million loan. With donations and rents collected, the group has been able to pay down the loan to around $900,000. The boats are still private residences. The additional four-unit complex is part of the city’s low-income-housing program.

Cozen, a home remodeler by trade, says, “Older structures are very quirky. There’s a lot more involved than in an average home.” Perhaps the boathouses aren’t that far away from ownership of the real thing. It’s often been said, ‘A boat is a hole in the water into which one throws money.’”

After the estimated $250,000 restoration effort, the group plans to begin working on a five-year plan to turn the boathouses into a museum or other public use that will fit into the neighborhood very well.

Just one block away is the historic 1883 Encinitas School House. The museum sits on the 2.8 acre, ocean-view property of the former Pacific View Elementary School. The Pacific View property was recently saved from condo development with a $10 million dollar purchase by the City of Encinitas, where residents are hopeful an arts center will be planned.

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