[StBernard] With marina views from every window and a boat slip out back, a St. Bernard home makes the most of waterfront living

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Feb 20 06:43:34 EST 2014

With marina views from every window and a boat slip out back, a St. Bernard
home makes the most of waterfront living

Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune
Print Susan Langenhennig, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Susan
Langenhennig, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on February 19, 2014 at 2:45 PM, updated February 19, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Bob Berthelot has owned the Gulf Outlet Marina in Chalmette since the late
1970s. In his office, in a raised building just off the marina's curving
roadway, a map of Bayou Bienvenue hangs on the wall, while the real thing is
just outside his window.

What you can't see from the window, but Berthelot is quick to point out by
tracing his finger along the map, is the massive surge barrier that now
protects St. Bernard Parish and parts of metro New Orleans from floods like
the one that laid waste to the area after Hurricane Katrina.

The great wall, as some locals call it, is visible from atop the Green
Bridge near the New Orleans-St. Bernard border. The Inner Harbor Navigation
Canal-Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, the more official name, is 1.8 miles long,
26 feet high and built of 1,271 concrete piles.

"I watched how this thing was constructed," Berthelot said. "The engineering
was unreal."

Berthelot believes so strongly in the wall -- and other flood-prevention
measures taken in recent years -- he built his new home right on the water.
And it's not one of these structures perched on pilings way up in the sky.

The house is raised 3 feet off the road. From his back patio, the bayou is
about 7 feet below.

"Since we're inside the protected levee, at 3 feet off the street, we're at
flood elevation," Berthelot said. "After seeing how they built that levee
system, I don't worry about floods."

A lifelong resident of St. Bernard, Berthelot vividly recalls the times when
floods were a definite front-of-mind worry. He rode out Hurricane Katrina on
the second floor of a motel he and his family own on the marina property.
Days after the storm, he escaped by boat to his condo in Orange Beach, Ala.

But nowadays, he wishes the parish would get more attention for its
tough-fought recovery, and not just with flood-prevention improvements.
"It's a shame we're not getting more people back in here to appreciate what
St. Bernard has to offer," he said. "Everything in the parish is brand new
-- schools, roads -- and it's one of the most affordable places to buy a

Berthelot and his girlfriend, Lindy Barbor, moved into their new home last
summer. Painted with a sunny palette of muted tropical colors, the place
feels like a vacation getaway that the couple gets to enjoy everyday.

Nearly every room in the house has a marina view, and, on a clear day, from
a second-floor bedroom, the New Orleans skyline pokes above the far horizon.

A boat ride to end every day

Barbor describes Berthelot as less of a fisherman and more of a "mariner."

He concurs: "When I go fishing, I find the furthest spot so I get to enjoy a
long boat ride."

Last year, the couple moved from a townhouse on the marina property into the
new contemporary home Berthelot designed and built on a peninsula of
residential home sites called Gulf Outlet Marina Estates.

"When Bob gets bored, he goes and builds a house," said Barbor, an artist
whose cubist-style paintings hang throughout their new home. "Here, we
really feel like we're living on an island."

Berthelot's commute to work is by golf cart. And his daily routine, at least
when the weather cooperates, includes an early evening boat ride. "In the
evenings," he said, "we'll run out in the boat for hours."

Island life

Though he used traditional wood-frame construction, Berthelot built the
3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom house to stand up to future storms. The
garage door is 18 feet wide, 2-1/2 inches thick and can withstand winds of
up to 130 miles per hour. The ceramic tile floors on the first floor are low
maintenance in case wind-blown water ever gets in.

The house is designed for easy entertaining, with three bedrooms and three
full baths upstairs, a half bath downstairs in the living area and another
half bath on the covered patio/boat dock.

The living room, kitchen and dining room share one open space surrounded by
windows and circled by views of pelicans, boats and sky.

The couple chose concrete countertops in the kitchen for easy maintenance
and a contemporary look. A bar in the corner also is topped with concrete
and paneled with stainless steel.

For the kitchen and bar, Barbor found colorful hand-blown glass pendant
lights in California, where she grew up.

Upstairs, a balcony off the master bedroom catches the harbor breeze. It's
one of the couple's favorite spots to enjoy their morning coffee and soak up
the scenery. "On New Year's," she said, "we could watch the fireworks over
the city from right here."

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