Dan McAthie built a double-duty boathouse on his property along Gull Lake near Nisswa, Minn.

The structure stores his boats below, and is comfortably equipped for sleeping, lounging and preparing meals above.

But the best part is, when he’s done cruising the lake, he doesn’t have to struggle with docking. Instead, he guides the boat onto a trolley, and a cable transports it along rails into the boathouse — or back onto the lake. “It works like a railroad track,” he said.

Dan and his wife, Judy, bought the property in 2007. It included an older house that couldn’t be salvaged, but was only 20 feet from the lake shoreline.

In 2010, Dan tore down the house and was able to rebuild within the same footprint close to the lake. It made sense to construct the heated boathouse-cabin on the northern tip of Holman Point on Gull Lake, which is the Lake Minnetonka of northern Minnesota.

The cabin’s half-log and timber design was inspired by rustic residences the couple had admired in Colorado and Montana. The vaulted great room includes a stone fireplace — with gas and wood-burning capabilities — and an adjacent eating area and kitchen.

A wall of glass in the great room faces Hole in the Day Bay, delivering vistas of birds and boaters. “The way the house is positioned, we can see the sunrise and the sunset,” said Dan.

The cabin, which also has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, is 2,800 square feet, which includes the heated boathouse.

Having a sheltered area minimizes the chores of boat ownership, such as cleaning, storing and winterizing — and also prevents storm damage, said Dan.

The McAthies lived in the boathouse-cabin until they built a much bigger vacation retreat on the property, which had a total of 540 feet of shoreline on close to 4 acres.

They recently sold the house and readjusted the lot lines. Now the boathouse-cabin sits on 200 feet of hard-sand shoreline on 1.1 wooded acres, said Kurilla Real Estate agent Sandy Smith, who has the listing.

The couple initially bought the property to create a family vacation compound. But now that they’re retired, “It’s become too large for us, and we spend the winters where it’s warmer,” said Dan. 

Sandy Smith of Kurilla Real Estate, 218-838-9309, has the listing.