After years of dreaming about owning their own houseboat, Trey and Jessie Kitchens finally purchased one in 2020. With their newborn daughter Clare and pup Dory in tow, they jumped into part-time houseboat life without hesitation. While working remotely, Trey and Jessie love spending as much time as they can at their home on the water.
Meet Trey and Jessie Kitchens
Although Trey Kitchens was born in Jacksonville, FL, he moved to Atlanta, GA at a young age and considers himself a native of the area. Many of his fondest childhood memories were the summers he spent in southern Georgia with his family. While he loved Georgia, Trey went off to Mississippi for college, following an opportunity to play football at Ole Miss. Five incredible football seasons later, Trey graduated, got a job, and ended up moving back to Georgia.
In addition to his love of football, Trey enjoys learning new things and going to new places. He is very adventurous and has already checked many things off his bucket list including sky diving, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, and setting foot on all seven continents. Despite enjoying the IT work, he does, if Trey could have any job in the world, he would be a Safari driver in Africa or a marine biologist, as animals and sea life are some of his favorite things to learn about.
Similar to Trey, Jessie Kitchens also grew up in Georgia. While Trey spent most of his life growing up in and around the city, Jessie grew up on a farm near Athens, GA. A lot of her childhood was spent helping out around the farm, doing various manual labor projects, and helping raise animals, including bottle feeding her own calf.
For her undergraduate studies, Jessie attended GCSU in Milledgeville, GA and then moved to Atlanta for Business Graduate school. Following her time in college, Jessie briefly lived in Chicago and Costa Rica, but ended up moving back to Georgia shortly after. Jessie hopes to one day own her own business and have the flexibility to do what she loves without having a typical 9-5 job.
From First Meeting to Dreaming of Life on a Houseboat
Both Trey and Jessie are avid runners and were spending their free time training for Ironman triathlons in 2013. At the time, even though both of them were living in Atlanta, they ended up meeting in Florida while spectating an Ironman race. They spent the rest of that day together and quickly formed a connection over shared interests and a love for music. The following week, they went on a date back in Atlanta, and the rest was history.
As Trey and Jessie got to know each other, they also connected over a love of the water. Jessie grew up fishing with her dad and was intrigued by the lifestyle of those who lived on the water. Trey spent his summers on his family’s houseboat and always dreamed of having his own one day. Trey and Jessie even began going on Catamaran sailing trips with a group of friends and fell more in love with the idea of life on the water.
It didn’t take long for Trey to get Jessie on board with buying a houseboat and they began saving for one very early in their relationship. They had dreams of living “a more adventurous life as digital nomads, living part time on a houseboat, on Lake Lanier, Georgia.” Finally, in late summer of 2020, Trey and Jessie were able to make their dream come true when they purchased their houseboat. While there’s and old saying that “the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy their boat and the day they sell it,” Trey and Jessie are committed to making the days in-between the happiest. “Boating is in our soul, and we know it will be integral to the rest of our lives.”
Powering Deep Houseboat Life with Battle Born Batteries
When Trey and Jessie purchased their houseboat, it had eight lead acid batteries that were 6 years old, dead, and needed to be replaced. While determining what to replace the batteries with they were temporarily using a gas generator to power the houseboat when they were away from shore power. This led to anxiety about running out of gas and not being able to return to the dock, in addition to worrying about the deadly carbon monoxide emissions.
“Trey was particularly passionate about wanting to upgrade the houseboat from lead acid batteries to lithium-ion batteries” for more efficient power. During his research Trey determined that lithium-ion batteries offered more power, less maintenance, and more safety than lead acid batteries and knew it was time to upgrade. Battle Born Batteries clearly stood out over competitors due to the ten-year warranty, incredible, US-based customer service, and higher performance ratings.
With 2 – 12V 270Ah Deep Cycle LiFePO4 GC3 Battle Born Batteries, a Victron MultiPlus, solar, and additional components, Trey and Jessie have more than enough power for their off-grid adventures without having to use the gas generator. They can now power the electrical outlets, use all of their lights, listen to music, cook, and utilize their ceiling fans. This has significantly improved Trey and Jessie’s quality of life on the boat during both warm and cool months and has allowed them the peace of mind to stay off grid for longer amounts of time.
The Best of Both Worlds: Part-Time Houseboat Life
In addition to already being located on Lake Lanier, Trey and Jessie’s houseboat had everything they were looking for. “It’s complete with three sleeping cabins, two toilet heads, two helms, a galley, a salon, a swim platform with a slide, and a top deck that will knock your socks off!” This layout gives them plenty of room to spread out and work during the week or entertain guests for weekends on the water. Trey and Jessie absolutely love spending time on the top deck relaxing in the sun, hanging out with guests, and watching the sunset. The water slide was also the perfect addition to the houseboat and is always a hit with their guests.
While it may be surprising, the essentials for life on a houseboat are typically similar to essentials for life on land, in a regular house. Things such as cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and bedding are all important for life on a houseboat, just like in regular life. Although they may need more swimsuits, sunscreen, and water toys than in a typical house, many of the other items are the same.
Over the last two years, Trey and Jessie have collected duplicates of most of their things so that they can leave a set on the houseboat and not have to worry about taking everything back and forth. This has been especially important with their two-year-old daughter Clare. Having less things to worry about bringing, helps Trey and Jessie truly enjoy their time on the houseboat with their daughter. They’ve gotten to watch Clare fall in love with the water and experience so many of her firsts while aboard the houseboat.
Enjoying Deep Houseboat Life
One of Trey and Jessie’s favorite memories on the houseboat was a winter weekend this past January. They were in the process of listing their house in Atlanta and had to leave for a weekend showing. Coincidently, a big snowstorm blew in that weekend, and they rode it out on the boat. Despite strong winds and unknown weather, Trey and Jessie ended up having an incredible weekend and got to experience Clare seeing her first snow! While it wasn’t a perfect weekend on the boat, they made memories that will last a lifetime.
In addition to spending time with their daughter on the houseboat, Trey and Jessie also love that their dog Dory can tag along. She’s a six-year-old Welsh Springer Spaniel who truly loves life on the water. From walking around the marina, to swimming off the back of the boat, and enjoying the top deck breeze, Dory is truly living her best life on the water. More than anything, Dory simply loves being close to her family and getting to partake in their adventures.
When it comes to finding activities to do as a family, on or off the water, Trey and Jessie are always looking to try new things that both Clare and Dory can enjoy. They love spending time on the houseboat and going to parks and restaurants that are dog and kid friendly. Jessie still loves road running and has recently gotten into ultra-trail running. Trey is an avid cook and he and Jessie cook together almost every night of the week, on or off the houseboat.
A Home Office on the Water
A key reason the Kitchens are able to spend so much time aboard their houseboat is by becoming digital nomads. Trey works in IT and following the Covid-19 pandemic, his job became fully remote, allowing him to work from anywhere in the world. Although Jessie left her job in Product Marketing to be at home with Clare, she spends time working on their YouTube and other social media channels. They love being able to split their time on the lake and at home close to family, giving Clare and themselves the best of both worlds.
Even though many things about life on the houseboat are similar to their life on land, working remotely can be a bit of a challenge. Steady internet is essential to life successfully work remotely, but it’s hard to come by on the houseboat. Even at the dock, the marina’s Wi-Fi is spotty at best, and Trey and Jessie often have to supplement it with their mobile hot spots. Trey and Jessie hope to one day be able to use a satellite internet service in their area to simplify the process of working from the houseboat.
Another challenge is creating a schedule that allows them to get work done while still being able to enjoy their time on the boat with their daughter. With Clare’s nap schedule, it tends to be easiest for Trey and Jessie to work around a typical 9-5 work schedule. This gives them time to spend as a family before work, during lunch, and in the evening. Additionally, Trey and Jessie like to spread out on the boat and find their own space to work, allowing them to maximize their productivity during work time so that they can truly relax during their time off.
What’s Up Next for Trey and Jessie?
After recently moving to Athens, GA, Trey, and Jessie are looking forward to settling into their new community and home. They can’t wait to spend more time exploring downtown and enjoying the vibrant music scene. Clare is starting preschool and Trey and Jessie are looking forward to building more friendships in the area and getting to spend more time with family.
The Kitchens are also looking forward to heading out to the houseboat as often as they can, especially during the spring, summer, and fall. They’re hoping to enjoy more weekends with friends and family on the boat in addition to spending quality time with Clare and Dory.
In the future, Trey and Jessie would love to rent out houseboats on different lakes around the U.S. to experience different types of houseboat life. They also hope to continue to travel and go on more sailing trips in different areas around the world.