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7th February 2013

Book Early For That Summer Houseboat Trip

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posted in Travel Tips, California, US West Coast, Getaways, Vacation, weekend getaway, holiday, Accommodation |

By: Cary Ordway

If you’re going to be a houseboater, you have to be a planner as well - and that means you need to get your houseboat booked early in the year for your summer adventures. California has many lakes that are ideal for houseboating.

These big boats are for rent on lakes like Shasta, Berryessa, New Melones and other good sized bodies of water. The good news is you don’t need to be an expert boater to rent one. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need to be a boater. It helps of course. But if you are new to boating, rest assured the houseboat rental companies will teach you - and then rent you - all that you need.

The main thing about operating big boats is they can run into things, and generally the damage is not slight when you have something so heavy scraping on another boat or dock. That’s why most rental companies in California will actually drive your boat away from the main dock and then bring it back in when you’re finished. In between, you’ll be “beaching” the boat, not docking, which just involves slowly gliding the bow onto a beach and tying up to a couple of stakes. Out on the open lake, navigation is easy.

There’s just enough work involved that, if you’re new to boating, it’s generally better to have another couple along if it’s just you and your Significant Other. Or maybe you have kids - if they’re middle school and above they qualify. You now can go with just your family. Not that you CAN’T go houseboating as a couple - it’s do-able and, if you’ve been around boats, it shouldn’t give you any problems. But if you’re new to boating, it’s good to have the extra help.

Okay, what’s the appeal of houseboating? It’s basically an RV on water so a lot of the same things that RV’ers like are what houseboaters like. It’s being able to find a beautiful place and stay there for the night. It’s about being fully self-contained - your bed is right there, and there’s a kitchen to fix whatever you want to eat. It’s about wanderlust, just going from cove to cove looking for new sights, new experiences, new trails, new wildlife.

As we mentioned, if you’re planning on renting a houseboat for some time in the summer - which is when most people in California houseboat - be sure and make your reservations early in the year. Usually houseboats are rented by the week, although weekend rentals are offered as well. But from a practical standpoint, you move enough stuff on and off a houseboat that a weekend just won’t seem long enough to make it worthwhile.

Not all houseboats are the same. You’ll find that when you get ready to rent you’ll be offered a number of different sizes with the amenities getting bigger and better the larger the boat. We’ve been renting boats in the 50-foot range and find that with that size you get everything you need including state of the art sound systems and entertainment centers, complete kitchens and living rooms, and even waterslides.

If you’re concerned about cost, houseboating can be a bit pricey if you have a large boat at the peak of the season but a lot of people mitigate that by sharing a boat with another family or couple. Generally there’s enough sleeping area for 10 to 12 people on one of the larger boats so there is still room for some privacy. And you’ll really appreciate your boat-mates when it comes time to pay up for the week. Voila, your gas just cost you half as much as it would have - not a bad idea to have someone along after all.

About the Author:

Cary Ordway is President of Getaway Media Corp, publisher of and

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