Alternative Habitat

Alex Smith's dry-docked abode on the North Shore

| posted on January 09, 2013

Captain Alex Smith makes himself at home on the bow of The Brainstorm. Photo: Coots

For the handful of professional surfers fortunate enough to score a room in a plush team house, a winter on the North Shore is paired with private chefs, beachfront bedrooms overlooking some of the most sought-after real estate in the country, and rumored team masseuses. But this is a far cry from reality for most surfers on the North Shore. For the unsung masses, the surfers trying to make a name for themselves or those with sponsors unable to own or rent a home for the season, finding a place to lay their head is a battle in and of itself. For Kauai’s Alex Smith, who doesn’t have a main sponsor, an open mind and a little creativity found him with some of the most interesting digs of the season. Alex spent his winter on a boat, a dry-docked vessel in the mountains.

“I’m a bit of procrastinator. I always have been. So when it came to finding a place to stay on the North Shore this winter, I waited until the day before I flew over from Kauai to start looking,” recalls Alex with a laugh. “Lucky for me, my mom helped me find an old river boat that had been converted into a house and dry-docked up in the mountains at Pupukea. I was worried at first, but it turned out to be one of the sickest places I’ve ever stayed. Who needs a team house when I’ve got a boat?”

As Alex alluded, the boat, dubbed The Brainstorm, was initially crafted as a riverboat and lived a short life in Honolulu’s Ala Moana harbor. Unfortunately, the rough seas that frequent the harbor proved to be too much for the vessel. The Brainstorm’s tender disposition left the owners little choice and they listed the boat for sale. Where the previous owners had seen only a boat’s slow demise, the new owners saw an opportunity and parked the boat in the mountains above Pupukea, retrofitting The Brainstorm with Wi-Fi and a fresh water supply. For Smith, it was love at first sight.

“I could not have been more stoked to live on that boat. We had electricity, the Internet, TV, three beds…pretty much everything you could ask for. I loved being away from the scene a bit too. If I wanted to, I could spend the day cruising at the Nike house with my brother Koa, but I like to have some quiet time too, which was epic living on the boat.”

Looking back on the experience, Alex is adamant that he wouldn’t change a thing. “It was incredible living up there. It was always a trip to see people’s reactions when they saw the place for the first time. Girls really seemed to get into it and we had a few great nights. All things considered, I’d take the boat in the mountains over a team house on the beach any day.”

Alex still takes his slippers off before going inside. He lived on a boat, but he wasn't born in a barn. Photo: Coots

Wi-Fi, freshwater, and the security of a mosquito net, all with great views and a helluva yard. Photo: Coots

There's no place like this home. Brother Koa and Alex a long way from the circus at Pipe. Photo: Coots

  • Adam

    This is so sick. Surfer should write a full story about this in the printed mag.

  • Gabe

    Super Bitchin’! I just figured out what my new office will be. I want more photos of this!

  • Stick

    I concur. This thing is fascinating and I would love to see more pics of it. WAYYYY cool.

  • Quinn

    This is sick! You guys definitely need to do a follow up on this because I want to see more.

  • Jay

    that’s sooooo sick! people need to do things like that more often and an article should definitely be written about this in the next mag.

  • Pablo

    Sold. I’ll take it!

  • http://SurferMag. Rickey Lopez

    I’ve been surfing for 45yrs. 13 of them I was a merchant marine and I’ve lived on many boats, some in the water some on dry-dock. Keeping boats in water or on land cost money so there’s is always a possablity of renting one to stay on. So always check marina’s talk to the dock master owners whom ever. You might not find one as nice as this but you can find shelter from the rain. Ask the dock master to talk to owner and ask him if he would like to rent his boat for a short stay, you might get lucky and doen’t stop at one try them all. Remember to keep a low profile as these places do not like alot of people or noise, you really want to respect this and make sure the person you ask knows you intend to keep the amount of people and noise down, it’s just a place to stay, do not party in the marina and when you come back late at night keep the noise down. Also make sure to let them know you do not have alot of money try to keep the price down, ask how much it cost to keep a boat at the place per month and mabey you can get it for that price, some of them are about $7.00 per foot. Good Luck.

  • Batman

    Cheers Rickey, something I had never considered, good tips! As for the chorus of calls to have this in the magazine – don’t do it! I find it a little suspicious that Jay, Guinn, Gabe, Adam and Stick all write very similarly, hmm…

  • Joe

    Sick!! We have got to see more pics –

  • Batman

    I concor, this is so WAYYY super bitchin cool, Surfer definity should do a full article of this in the printed mag…