BOSTON – Michael Richard Smith is a man without a fixed address, someone who leaves it to the wind and tide in Boston Harbor to help decide where he’ll dream from night to night.
With his possessions packed in a 14-foot canoe, the wiry, mustachioed man paddles to small offshore docks after dark to pitch his tent and sleep. He wears his brown locks long and tucks a pink silk rose into the brim of his canvas explorer hat.
The 49-year-old’s salty lifestyle is a means of survival, but Smith detests the word “homeless” and describes himself as just another “fellow citizen.”
Smith said this week that he’s been bunking down in metro Boston waters for about two months now. Authorities said that they’re keeping an eye on the unconventional camper, but that he isn’t breaking any laws.
The Coast Guard spotted Smith a few days ago and said that while the mariner has been moving around, he hasn’t moored anyplace where he’s a threat to security or his own safety.
“What it really seems like is he’s trying to figure out whether it’s feasible to live out there,” Coast Guard Lt. Joe Klinker said Tuesday.
On Monday night, Smith tied up and slept on a floating dock about 100 yards offshore from the New England Aquarium.
The Boston Police Department’s harbor unit has offered him city services, but he declined, police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca said Tuesday. Smith did accept a new life vest with reflectors and a whistle, she said.