Below is a list of general questions. Not all marinas offer the same equipment, training, amenities, or boating experience. Please check with your marina of interest directly for specific information about the equipment and services available at each location.
The Experience of Houseboating
We provide a full list of what is aboard and what to bring on each individual website. Houseboats vary and can be equipped with hot tubs, water slides, surround-sound entertainment systems, fireplaces, and private staterooms with comfortable beds, generators, and much more. Full kitchen galleys include refrigerators with ice and water dispensers, trash compactors, dishwashers, ovens, microwaves, blenders, toasters, and coffee makers. Most people don’t realize just how luxurious houseboating can be!
What is the best time of year to go houseboating?
It is always a good time to go houseboating! Summer is the most popular and busiest season. Fall offers Indian Summer days and cooler nights. Springtime is good for viewing abundant wildflowers, waterfalls, and wildlife. Winter is favorable for the anglers, when fishing is at its best. And the rates are significantly lower between September and May. Many of our vessels are climate-controlled with air-conditioning and heaters-some even have a fireplace!
How long of a trip can I take?
You can choose between three nights (weekends), four nights (midweek) or seven nights (weekly). Extra nights can be added to your voyage at a prorated amount.
What time of day do we start our voyage and when do we return to the dock?
Each marina is different. Visit your marina’s website for details.
What should we bring?
We have provided a very extensive list of what is and is not included on each boat. Please refer to our "What to Bring" section.
Will my cell phone work at the lake?
We cannot guarantee that your cell phone will work out on the lake. We advise you contact the marina, as well as your service provider for a coverage map. You should give your family the marina’s office number in case of emergencies.
Are pets allowed?
Pets are welcome on most houseboats. Pets are part of the family and find houseboating and exploring the shoreline extremely fun. Besides your regular pet supplies, bring extra towels and a leash for walking on the docks. Marina stores carry a variety of pet products including dog life vests in all sizes. If your pet happens to cause damage and/or the need for extra cleaning, part of your deposit may be forfeited to cover this additional cost.
What about the weather and water temperatures?
Check the web site for the marina of your choice, and you will find a listing of the average air and water temperatures by month. Or, when calling the marina, you can ask the reservationist for the average historical temperatures.
Will I get seasick on a houseboat?
Houseboats are on pontoons and there is very little motion. Seasickness is basically unheard of on fresh water.
Operating the Houseboat & Safety
Once you’ve decided on a houseboat vacation, it’s time to appoint a captain and co-captain from your group. The person who places the reservation and uses his or her credit card for the rental is responsible for the vessel, but often wishes to have another person join in the operation of the houseboat.
Do I need a license to operate a houseboats, or is a skipper provided?
There is no special license needed to operate a houseboat. There are rules for operating houseboats on the waterways, and we will explain them to you upon your arrival. However, if you’d like to plan ahead and review the ABC’s of the California Boating Law, try this website: http://www.dbw.ca.gov/Pubs/Abc/.
Do we need experience to drive a houseboat?
We have many first time boaters. The Captain of the boat, as well as a few members of your party will receive a hands-on orientation. The amount of time spent depends on your boating experience and that amount of questions asked.
How old do you have to be to rent a boat?
Charter Captain and Co-Captain should be at least twenty-five (25) years old, but some exceptions may apply. Check with your marina for their rules and regulations.
Is there an orientation?
Your marina will hold an orientation to instruct the captain and co-captain. Orientations range from 1-2 hours, depending on how many questions you have and how much houseboating experience you have. Each marina is different. Visit your marina’s website for details.
How safe are the houseboats for children?
Choose your houseboat with kids in mind and check safety features with your marina operator.
Do your boats have any type of GPS units on them?
Some boats do have GPS units, and others do not. Visit the marina’s website for a detailed list of houseboat amenities.
Where do we ‘park’ at night, and how?
Houseboats are designed so that they may be secured to the shoreline using the two stakes you are provided, or simply tying to a large tree stump. Just choose a secluded cove and stay for as long as you like. Some may prefer to discover their own private spot; others can request a member of our staff to guide them to some of the more popular hideaways. During your orientation, we’ll show you how you’ll stake the houseboat to the shore at night and provide you with suggestions for good locations.
How fast do the boats go?
This depends upon the model you choose – generally, though, the houseboats travel at about 10 mph.
Do you allow customers to store gasoline-filled containers on board?
No. Because of our concern for the safety of our customers, we must require that no containers of fuel be brought aboard any type of boat. No exceptions.
What kind of fuel do the houseboats take?
The houseboats run on regular gas. If you need to fill-up mid-trip, marinas have gas pumps at the docks.
How much gas and oil will the houseboat consume?
The engine consumption of gas may range from 6-8 gallons per hour, depending on size of houseboat, traveling speed, weight and weather conditions. The 2 cycle houseboat engine consumes 3 to 4 gallons of oil for each 200 gallons of gasoline used. The generator consumption of gas can range more or less 2 gallons per hour depending on the size of houseboat, plug-ins, air conditioning and heater usage.
Activities & Services
Many vessels have all – and sometimes more – of the comforts of home. The photo opportunities of your loved ones enjoying nature and watersports and the picturesque landscape and breathtaking sunsets are endless. There is a multitude of recreational opportunities at each location. Choose from swimming, hiking the trails, fishing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, kayaking, Stand Up Paddle boarding, boating, visiting local caverns, dam tours and dining out. Many of the lakes offer mountain biking trails, so bring your bike for exploring the shore. There are nearby historic towns for shopping and sightseeing, and golf courses are near some locations. Sometimes there is an event taking place at the lake, or nearby, such as a fishing tournament, poker run, or concert. There’s something for everyone whether they want an adventure or to simply relax with a book, lounge in the sun, soak in the water, enjoy a board game, or watch a movie in the comfort of your houseboat.
Are Personal Water Craft allowed?
Yes, small boats and PWC's are allowed on the almost every lake, and if you don’t have one, they are available to rent. Check with your marina for prices, rules and regulations.
May we transport our personal watercraft on the deck of the houseboat?
No. PWC's are not permitted on the houseboats, as they damage the houseboat deck. Any damage caused by putting a PWC on the deck will be charged against the damage deposit.
Can I fish from the houseboat?
Yes! Fishing is a favorite activity for houseboaters. There are several species of fish at every location, including bass, salmon, crappie, trout, catfish, and even sturgeon! The type of fish that are ‘running’ will depend on the season, the weather, water temp, the moon, etc.
Where is the best place to wakeboard & water-ski?
The best location depends on each particular lake’s local conditions, so ask our marina personnel for the most up to date information.
Are bonfires permitted?
This answer depends on the lake that you are camping on. Most lakes allow camp fires, however some will require you to obtain a free fire permit issued by the Forest Service. Check with your marina.
Accommodations & Dining
Depending on the model you rent, and the location you choose, most houseboats comfortably sleep from six to twenty-two people. Or, if you would rather sleep under the stars, you can throw out a sleeping bag on the top deck. There is plenty of room inside and out for dining, dancing, fishing, sunbathing, and relaxing. You will be provided a life vest for each guest. Generally groups are made up of family, extended family, and friends. Family reunions, business and church group retreats, and “men only” or “ladies only” are all popular. Houseboating appeals to all ages and interests
What kind of refrigerators are on a houseboat?
Unlike the one in your home, refrigerators on board must be lightweight and operate on propane, not electricity. Because of this, the manufacturer uses less insulation; therefore, the refrigerators don't run as cold as your home unit. When temperatures reach 95° or higher, we recommend using ice chests with regular or dry ice for products that are perishable, such as meat and dairy products (dry ice not available at resorts). We recommend you use the refrigerator for other food products, such as fruit and vegetables.
What about bed linens and pillows?
You are responsible for bringing bed linens, pillows, sleeping bags, etc. Most marinas do not offer linen rental packages. Some marina stores do offer inexpensive bed rolls, pillows and towels for sale in our retail stores.
Yes. Some marinas have incorporated these costs into the houseboat rental while others may charge separately. Please contact your marina to inquire.
What charges can be taken from my deposit?
There are two types of deposits. One is made at the time of your reservation and is applied to your rental costs. The second type of deposit is to cover any damages, loss of inventory or late fees that may occur. Often times, the second deposit is an authorization only.
Is there insurance coverage?
Trip insurance can be purchased online but is generally not provided by marinas. Check with your insurance agent before your leave to find out about coverage.
Are there any fees or permits required by the National Park Service?
Some marinas are located within a national park and do require additional daily fees or permits. Check the website for more information.