Wanderful Stays

Wanderful Stays

Nestled amidst the serene waters of Berowra Waters, just an hour's journey from the bustling heart of Sydney, lies a floating oasis unlike any other. Oh Buoy isn’t your run-of-the-mill cabin or cottage; it’s a testament to the dreams and ingenuity of husband and wife duo, Laurie and Jess Rissman. Inspired by their nomadic life aboard a sailboat, this dynamic couple embarked on a remarkable journey of restoration and reinvention, transforming a dilapidated '70s houseboat into a retro-cool haven that exudes charm and character.

OH BOUY 1970’s Houseboat

As you step aboard Oh Buoy be prepared to be transported to a world where vintage flair meets modern comfort. The interior is a curated blend of second-hand treasures and personal mementos, each piece infused with its own story. From the perfectly placed back deck couch to a cosy orange gingham loveseat, every corner of this floating retreat beckons you to unwind and embrace the laid-back ambiance. Here, even the smallest details, like the vintage sailboat lamp, add to the eclectic charm that defines Oh Buoy.

We werent there for the sunrise, so while I stood there looking out over the water just imaging how peaceful it would be to wake up to the morning sun casting a warm glow over the timber-panelled walls, then taken in the panoramic views of the tranquil waters and just lay and take in the symphony of nature, serenaded by the laughter of kookaburras and the gentle lapping of the river against the hull - oh take me back, as seriously every moment aboard Oh Buoy promises adventure and relaxation in equal measure.

Here's a bit more about the beauty of Oh Bouy from the creative duo of Jess & Laurie…

1. Tell us the tale of Oh-Buoy's transformation from a dilapidated relic to a floating masterpiece. Could you regale us with the highs and lows of your journey aboard this beautiful space?

In the midst of lockdown's doldrums, Laurie's eagle eyes caught sight of a listing on a boat sales website that practically begged for adventure: "must sell this Sunday, open tender starting at $1." Well, you can imagine Laurie's excitement – like a kid in a candy shop! He just couldn't resist the allure of a bargain.

Now, there I was, knee-deep in the chaos of teaching at the local school when my phone rang. It was Laurie, bubbling over with excitement about a dilapidated houseboat he'd stumbled upon at the wharf. And before I knew it, funds were transferred, and with a few clicks of a button, we'd traded in our sailing dreams for the wild world of houseboating. Ahoy, adventure!

But let me tell ya, it wasn't smooth sailing from there. Oh no, far from it! Within a week of snagging our new vessel, I found myself nervously listing it for sale on Facebook, half-hoping someone would take it off our hands. But as luck would have it, inquiries poured in like waves crashing against the shore, and suddenly, the prospect of tackling this project head-on didn't seem so daunting, knowing we had a way out if need be.

So Laurie and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Out went the old furnishings, the tired carpet, and anything else that didn't belong. We battled rust like it was our sworn enemy, grinding it away and sanding down every surface in sight. But just when we thought we were making progress, disaster struck – the dreaded drive shaft seized up tighter than a barnacle on a ship's hull, leaving us stranded at sea. Or, well, at the dock, anyway.

But did we let that stop us? Not on your life! Laurie dove headfirst into the hull, armed with nothing but determination and a few gallons of hydrochloric acid. Weeks passed as he tinkered and toiled, until finally, success! The drive shaft was free, and we were back in business.

From there, the work continued – cutting out rusted metal, welding in new plates, and even re-fiberglassing the roof (trust me, folks, you haven't lived until you've spent a day covered in itchy fiberglass). But with each challenge came triumph, and slowly but surely, Oh-Buoy began to take shape.

We scavenged for materials like modern-day pirates, finding hardwood for the decks and aluminium planks from a guy we met on the side of the road at street chuck out. With the help of Laurie's sister and brother-in-law, who just so happened to be a fantastic welder, we tackled every obstacle that came our way.

And now, here we are. She may have started as a rust-bucket relic, but now, she's a floating masterpiece – a testament to the power of determination and the thrill of adventure.

2. Your story is truly inspiring! But what was the spark behind the dream? We're dying to know the juicy details of what ignited the vision for your tiny floating home.

The spark behind our dream of a tiny floating home was a mix of longing for warmer shores and the desire to break free from the shackles of debt. We took a leap into boat life by purchasing a 1960s timber ketch, Laurie hoping to escape the rental or mortgage weight and me hoping to escape Lithgow and get back a little closer to home. Living aboard in Newport, even briefly, opened our eyes to the simple joys of life on the water. But the harsh winters in Lithgow and the realization that our boat needed more work than expected prompted us to seek a new project. Inspired by a desire for financial freedom and the prospect of endless adventure, Laurie stumbled upon Oh-Buoy, our ticket to a life of warmth, sunshine, and boundless opportunity. And as we set sail on our tiny floating home, leaving the cold behind, we knew deep in our hearts that we were embarking on the journey of a lifetime, even if it was filled with a bit more work than I even knew I was capable of. 

3. All hands-on deck! Describe the wild adventure of redesigning and rebuilding Oh-Buoy. From salvaging the old to crafting the new, what were the most thrilling moments of your design/build process?

Well, it certainly was a wild adventure. Life with a Laurie is like sailing through uncharted waters – you never know when a project will set sail or dock at port.

Picture this: one day, Laurie's lounging around, diving deep into YouTube rabbit holes, his scientist's brain soaking up useless trivia like a sponge. But the next? He's back home with a truck full of free timber decking, picked up in the pouring rain, and he's ready to turn it into something magical, the front and back decks you see on board today. That's the beauty of living with a man like Laurie – every day is an adventure waiting to unfold.

We make quite the dynamic duo, if I do say so myself. While Laurie's busy dreaming up the next big project, I'm the one behind the scenes, snapping photos and making lists of what needs to be done. And when it's time to get our hands dirty, I'm right there beside him, sanding, grinding, or drilling away. It's not always easy to get started, but let me tell you, the thrill of pushing through those tough moments makes it all worthwhile.

And oh, the satisfaction of seeing our hard work pay off! After endless hours of sanding, grinding, fiberglassing, and decking, sleeping aboard for the first time was like a dream come true. As we lay beneath the stars, the gentle rocking of the boat lulling us to sleep, we knew that every moment of struggle and sweat had been worth it. It was the perfect ending to our wild adventure, and the beginning of a new chapter filled with endless possibilities on the open sea or the river in this case. 


4. Amidst the waves and wind, what's the crowning jewel of Oh-Buoy that never fails to steal your heart? We're all ears for the feature that makes your stay aboard truly unforgettable. 

I guess for us, it's the stillness in the morning, the quiet until you are woken with the laughs of the kookaburras' song. Slowly rising, wrapped in a robe, making coffee, and watching the thick morning mist rise from the river blanket it slept on all night. It's watching the passing of time, the light dancing in and making shapes of light and colour above on the shiplap ceilings. It's the dance parties we enjoy on our own in the evenings and the ability to be right in nature, literally floating on it.

5. Give us a perfect day at Oh-Buoy, how does it unfold? From sunrise to starlight, paint us a vivid portrait of the ideal day spent on your floating paradise.

Our perfect day would start with me waking up to a fresh coffee, lovingly made by Laurie and served in my favourite vintage cup and saucer. As I emerge from sleep, I'm greeted by the ever-changing view of the water and the shoreline outside our window – not your average vista by any means.

Breakfast is a leisurely affair, with pancakes drizzled in maple syrup and topped with fresh berries. My favourite tunes fill the air as I prepare breakfast, the morning light slowly filtering in. Another cup of coffee is enjoyed on the deck, where I watch the mist rise and life unfolds at a slow pace. There's a tranquillity in these moments, with no rush or the hustle of city life.

Now it's time to decide on our path for the day. We might choose to relax in the hammock with a good book, or pack some snacks and head out aboard Ginger. Cruising past riverfront houses, we daydream about which one we'll live in someday. Alternatively, we might untie the paddleboard and kayak and explore a tranquil river estuary, discovering ancient waterfalls with no one else around. If the sun is shining, we make sure to soak up the Vitamin D, lounging on the decks with an Aperol Spritz in hand, observing the natural beauty around us.

As the sun begins to set, casting a golden glow over the river and mountains, the atmosphere becomes magical. It's happy hour aboard, with a choice between a Gin and Tonic or cracking open our favourite chilled Pinot or Pet Nat. We nibble on olives, cheese, and freshly sliced prosciutto, or perhaps we dress up and dine out at one of the waterfront eateries nearby. Later, we gather for board games and nightcaps, watching the stars emerge in the evening sky. Whether observed from the roof or the cosiness of bed, it's a dreamy end to a perfect day.

Life on the river truly is a good life, filled with moments of serenity, adventure, and shared laughter. And as we drift off to sleep, we're grateful for another day spent in this beautiful floating paradise, with the promise of more to come.

6. What magnetic force drew you to this spot for Oh-Buoy's mooring? We're curious sailors eager to hear what makes this location so uniquely special.

It was the waterfall. The quiet bay, beside the jumprock where boats rarely venture and fish often do. The shore is far enough away not to get unwanted visitors but close enough to swim to. I like hearing the soft chatter of conversations from walkers on the track and when it pours with rain laurie and i love to clamber up the rocks to our very own gushing waterfall. A few weeks back I even saw a sea lion swim past. 

7. Every season has its charms, but which one casts the most enchantment over Oh-Buoy?

Oh, that's a tough one indeed! As someone who loves extremes, I often find myself torn between the allure of summer and the enchantment of winter. In summer, there's nothing quite like living in my bikini, soaking up the sun, baking, swimming, and exploring to my heart's content. But then there's winter, with its stillness and magic.

Those winter mornings are simply breathtaking - blanketed in white mist, with the river as calm and quiet as can be, it feels like stepping into a dream. It's the perfect time for gliding across the water in the kayak, with nothing but the sound of the paddle to break the silence.

And back on board, oh, the cosiness! The heater keeps everything warm and toasty, setting the stage for endless rounds of board games and glasses of mulled wine. It's moments like these that remind me of the simplicity of life, before technology and wifi.

As I'm reflecting on this, I realise that my true pick is indeed winter. It might not be the most obvious choice, but there's something undeniably enchanting about winter on the river. It's a time when nature slows down, inviting us to do the same, and revel in the quiet beauty all around us.

8. What nifty features does Oh-Buoy boast to help landlubbers disconnect from the hustle and bustle and immerse themselves in the serenity of the sea? Tell us all about the special touches that make getting off the land and onto the sea a breeze aboard your vessel?

Nature's beauty truly captivates you from every angle aboard Oh-Buoy. The expansive 360-degree vista and floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that even if the weather isn't cooperating, you still feel immersed in the natural world rather than confined to a room. It's like being enveloped in a cocoon of tranquillity, where relaxation washes over you effortlessly.

The absence of a big black screen in the centre of the room is a welcome change, allowing your attention to drift towards the treasures of yesteryear scattered throughout the space. Each piece tells a story, showcasing the timeless beauty of vintage design.

Simple tasks like making a cup of tea become moments of mindfulness, requiring a return to yesteryear's approach. Instead of the flick of a switch, you light the gas stove and patiently wait for the kettle to whistle, savouring each step of the process. It's a reminder to slow down and appreciate the little things, finding joy in the rituals of everyday life aboard Oh-Buoy.

And no matter where you choose to sit - whether it's on the plush leather couch, sinking into a cosy bean bag, or swaying gently in the hammock - your body naturally sinks back, inviting you to relax and unwind in the embrace of comfort and tranquillity.

9. Please repeat one of those hilarious moments on board  you told us at the shoot, our community needs to hear them…

Oh dear, you mean like the time we had some influencers staying aboard. They thought it would be a brilliant idea to draw inspiration from a 1960s playboy mag and publish shots of themselves, mostly naked, holding my guitar pressed close to their bulging chests. Talk about an unexpected twist on vintage vibes!

And then there was the time Laurie, poor lad, had indulged in a few too many beers. He decided it was a grand idea to battle with the paddleboard and attempt to stand up, all while fully clothed in his pristine white linen shirt. Let's just say his attempts were more comedic than successful, as he ended up falling into the water time and time again.

Oh, the memories we've made aboard Oh-Buoy! It's moments like these that remind us to never take ourselves too seriously and to always find the humour in life's little mishaps.

10. Now lastly tell us how much you fell in love with our Pony Rider gear - don't hold back Jess ;)

It's a full-on obsession, and I'm not holding back one bit!

From the moment I laid eyes on their collection, I knew I had found my soulmate in home decor. Their designs are like a breath of fresh air, blending rugged charm with modern elegance in the most delightful way.

And don't even get me started on the quality - it's top-notch! Every piece feels like it's been crafted with love and attention to detail, making it not just a purchase, but an investment in timeless style.

Whether it's their cozy blankets that make snuggling up on the deck a dream, or their stylish cushions that add the perfect pop of personality to our living space, Pony Rider gear has truly stolen my heart.

So, yeah, I'm head over heels in love with Pony Rider, and I'm not afraid to shout it from the rooftops! Trust me, once you experience the magic of their collection, you'll be just as smitten as I am.

Explore Winter 24

Book a Stay with Oh_Bouy
Designed by the dynamic duo Jess & Laurie

Photography by Chris Searl 

Location: Berowra Waters NSW / Dhurag and Guringai people

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