Vanessa Valentine had lived in her houseboat on Grants Landing, a North Langley marina situated along the Fraser River and Derby Reach, for just shy of four years.
It was a way for her to live small and inside a caring, quiet community.
On Jan. 13, the pipes began to freeze, snow began to melt into pooling water, and the houseboat starting listing to one side.
The weight and sudden weather changes of it all caused the boat to submerge into the Fraser several days, eventually leaning it against the dock.
Efforts to salvage the houseboat and Valentine’s belongings proved to be largely unsuccessful, with only some articles of clothing and a few personal items pulled out before it sank.
“The boat has gone to boat heaven,” Valentine laughed, relying on humour to keep her spirits up.
She said it was quite the chore to finally get the houseboat onto land, utilizing a tow-truck and chains that tugged it inch-by-inch to the parking lot.
After a troublesome journey trying to find a place that would take it, Valentine found Captain Crunch Recycling in Abbotsford where she looked on as it got squashed into a cube of junk.
“It was tough to watch,” she admitted.
A GoFundMe account had been set up by Valentine’s family to help her replace some of the possessions she lost; it still remains active.
$7,595 was raised, given by 97 donors, some Valentine did not even personally know.
Valentine said the bulk of donations came from her son’s workplace that pushed for fundraising efforts, fittingly around Valentine’s Day.
Without a home of her own, she is staying with her brother in Maple Ridge; he had an extra room and was heading out on a lengthy vacation at the time of the sinking.
Valentine said she is making due, bu she is keeping busy by taking stock of the items she needs to replace.
“It’s the little things like replacing my hair dryer,” Valentine said. “Every day, I think of something like certain utensils I used to have that I don’t anymore – I’ll be cooking at my brother’s and it’s all different.”
On top of the replacements, the cost of hauling the boat out of the marina was around $5,000; while a few other expenses are still currently outstanding.
“I haven’t had a chance to go back, but it’s weird going there and my boat not being parked there,” Valentine said. “I’d have to win the lottery to move back there. It’s all up in the air for right now.”
With these unexpected bills eating up her savings and no insurance to help cover the tab, Valentine said hopes to raise more funds to help pay her outstanding marina clean-up costs.
“I’m grateful to everyone who has reached out and helped. When I think of the circumstances, I have a place to stay, which is amazing,” she explained. “I’ve come to grips with it. I put up the fridge magnets that I was able to save, so in a way, I am making my brother’s house my own.”
People can visit www.gofundme.com if they wish to donate.
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