SURFSIDE – If you’ve watched enough television, living on a boat and solving crimes is one of the possibilities of life in seafaring states like California and Florida. From Rockford to Crockett to Tubbs, life on a boat means a life of adventure and crimefighting.
One Long Island man took Florida houseboats to the next level and created a legend. He was Larry Vita, a Long Island builder who built a two-story houseboat called the Driftwood and brought it to Miami Beach on a vacation. He stayed.
If his firm, Surfside 6 Construction Co., sounds familiar, that`s because he built the boat used in the television series of the same name.
The rest was television history, as it was picked for the TV show Surfside 6, as the boat resided just outside the glam hotels like the Fontainebleu. Soon everyone across the nation knew the boat, which floated in a protected area near all the big hotels.
The story goes that Sinatra, performing at the hotel, saw and came on board.
What started as a vacation turned into a permanent stay. Vita settled in Fort Lauderdale and devoted his energies to building floating offices and other inventions and innovations.
Vita later created the Marina Bay Club, a marina of floating houses on 38 acres.
In the 70s, Marina Bay was the hot place to be, led by Alfred Bloomingdale and Bill McComas and other famous members and visitors such as Burt Reynolds, Bob Hope and Evel Knievel. The resort had 40 floating rooms and the giant restaurant New River Storehouse.
Today, you can still go to Marina Bay, and see a bit of the Vita vision.