Joe Manchin’s boat, Almost Heaven, has drawn a lot of attention in the media in recent weeks. The Washington boat of the Democratic senator from West Virginia is said to be a rustic political getaway where you’ll find beer and pizza but no pretensions. You’re more likely to see shirts and shorts in the laid-back atmosphere of Almost Heaven than suits and ties. So, when did the senator buy the vessel? How much did it cost for insurance? Was the boat always like it is now?
Technically, Joe Manchin’s Almost Heaven is a yacht
While Manchin’s craft doesn’t sound like a yacht, it very much is. According to a 2004 article in the Washington Post, the vessel is a custom-built 65-by-20-foot, three-story hull. There are 1,500 square feet of air-conditioned interior living space with more amenities than you’d find in most condos.
The craft features an open, light-filled living room and dining area with a granite dining table. There’s enough space to entertain as many as 50 people on the vessel. Meanwhile, its kitchen was described as having a full-size electric stove, granite countertops, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, two dishwashers, and a trash compactor. It also boasts a good amount of cabinet and drawer storage space.
The house boat/yacht is insured for $700,000
The media describes it these days as a rustic houseboat. Once touted as a $700,000 luxury yacht in a 2018 Republican attack ad, Manchin’s own office reported that the used vessel was acquired for $220,000, according to the Daily Poster.
According to PolitiFact, the documentation was a 2014 memorandum of sale that listed the sale price for the boat as $220,000. The document showed that the boat was purchased from M&T Bank and National Liquidators brokered the deal.
When independent experts were asked to account for the difference between the two dollar amounts, they could not provide an explanation. It was likely the result of someone eager to sell the craft, and it was later insured at the boat’s original market value of $700,000.
Docked as a home on the Potomac River
Manchin’s home on the Potomac River has become a popular and critical destination in Washington lately. It’s reportedly been the site of core group negotiations on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was just signed into law by President Biden in November.
Manchin, according to TIME, wasn’t enthusiastic about buying real estate in Washington with its higher cost of living. The boat, which is anchored about eight miles south of the Capitol, is where he stays three nights or so a week when the Senate is in session. Manchin thinks the craft provides a setting to foster bipartisanship among lawmakers who arrive and don’t know anyone else there.
Manchin regularly invites Senators from both sides of the aisle out for cruises in the evening. Manchin told TIME that it’s surprising what people find they have in common. He named current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York a fan of the boat, claiming he likes the boat’s ambiance.
With his self-appointed task of trying to restore civility in a time of growing political division in Washington, Manchin’s yacht likely can’t carry enough beer or Merlot to get that job done. The conservative senator is a practitioner of an older form of politics. Manchin is admittedly frustrated at times but not ready to give up just yet. Manchin is a fan of results that aren’t easy to come by in Washington. Almost Heaven then serves as a means of escape for the senator when things get particularly stressful as they so often do.