Houseboat Tips & Tricks

Here are a few houseboat tips and tricks that will help enhance your houseboat experience.

The Prime Directive

Of all the houseboat tips we will talk about, this one is the most important. Make sure you bring enough of everything you need. If you run out of something you are in trouble. If you have extra you can always take it home (or sell it at exorbitant prices to those not as smart as you).

Beaching The Boat

You probably do not have a spare dock in your back pocket. So when the sun sets you will need to beach the boat and tie it down.

Different people seem to have different notions of the best way to do this. The important thing to remember here is that you will need to get enough pontoon on the beach so that your boat is not floating free in the water.

But you better not ram it half way up the beach either because you will need to get it off in the morning.

First, do a drive by your landing spot to be sure there are no hidden objects in the water.

Then ease gently up to the beach and just before you touch the shoreline give the engine a quick shot up to about 1500 rpm. Make sure you back off the rpm’s as soon as you touch. Then tie down and that should be more than enough for most conditions.

So now let’s talk a little about the tie down. It is not that big a deal. You punch a couple of stakes into the sand and tie the rope provided around them. Or if you are paying attention when you are looking for your landing spot maybe you can find a good strong tree or two and save yourself a little elbow grease.

For tie down we prefer the quick release campers knot. It’s easy to make and easy to undo in the morning. And for the record it has held our boat steady through all kinds of nasty weather.

Drinking Water

Take lots of drinking water. We find that we use a quite a bit for coffee and cooking. And as I said above if you take too little you are in trouble. If you take too much you can always return it. Plus if you chose to sample a few adult beverages water will help you stay hydrated.

Hot Tubs

If you can afford a boat with a hot tub go for it. You will not regret it. It is another activity and it helps you stay warm if the nights get cool or rainy.

Also, be aware that you will be getting the water in the tub all mucky with sand and suntan oil and other neat stuff. So pay attention when you are having the discussion on the dock about how to drain and clean it.

Because you should clean it often. We find that we can drain it, clean it, fill it, heat it and have it functional in about an hour. So no big deal to clean often.

Houseboating On A Budget

If you are houseboating on a budget you probably will not have a hot tub which means you will probably not have AC power. If that is the case, rent a generator and pack a hundred foot extension cord.

And bring a toaster. You cannot truly appreciate the fact that toast is a food group all by itself until you try to heat bread on a stove or barbecue.


If you own your own boat you do not have a choice. You have to bring the kids. If it is a family outing you still do not have a choice. For all other scenarios you will have a choice.

If you chose to bring the kids be aware that they will have periods of inactivity. Make sure you bring stuff to keep them amused. Plan activities that will keep them busy and occupied. Most boats now have a tv so video games may be an option.


If you own your own boat you do not have a choice. For the rest of us we do have a choice.

We recommend not taking your pets on a houseboat.

And we do not make that statement lightly. We are all pet lovers. In fact if we took our critters we would have more dogs than people on our boat.

But we can still remember seeing the fellow who had to take his dog off his boat with a broken leg. Not pretty!

On the other hand we have a friend who brought her little dogs one year and they were fine.

Ultimately the choice is yours. If you have the smaller breeds, you may get away with it. If you have the larger breeds like us, we think you are headed into dangerous territory.

If you do chose to take your pets you will pay a little extra for the privilege.


We like fireworks. They are fun. They are also expensive. Our cost on the last trip was two hundred and fifty bucks Canadian for a decent show.

Be aware that there are places where you can set them off and places where you can’t. Make sure you know the specific rules for your area before you spend the big money.


We like to fly our colors off the back of our boat. Most respectable flag stores will be more than happy to make you your own personal flag if you can give them an idea or a picture of what you want. I bought mine in 2004 for a hundred bucks.

Most houseboats now have a flag holder. If there is no holder, make sure you have some cable ties.


Simply stated, there is no such thing as too much music on a houseboat trip. So find out which media (cd, mp3, etc) your boat uses and bring as many tunes as you can carry.


Plan your meals!!!

Make sure you know what you are going to have for supper each day and make sure you have thought about what you will include with each supper. Life is so much simpler if you have done your homework going in. It also has the added advantage that everyone knows what the menu will be and you can settle any differences or allergy issues or whatever before it becomes a problem.

You do not have to be quite as anal over breakfast. Just make sure you have enough of what you need to have a good breakfast every morning. Alternating bacon and sausages each day seems to work for us. And if you have really planned well maybe you have some leftover stuff from the night before to add some variety.

As you have probably already figured out we tend to have two big meals each day. Breakfast and supper. We also bring lots of pre made hamburgers and hotdogs because we will probably get a little peckish during the day. And we also bring plenty of snacks like peanuts, chips, spits and so on.

So the trick here folks is to make sure you have a solid plan for your two big meals and just keep things loose for lunch. I think you will be pleased with how well your day goes doing it this way.

Meat Storage

If you are on a rental or timeshare you probably will not have enough room in the fridge freezer for all your meat.

So what we do is buy the meat ahead of time and freeze it at home. Then we put it in our best cooler. And you put only the meat in that one cooler. That way you've got a cooler you are only opening it once or twice a day and that helps keep your meat snappy cold.

We use dry ice to keep the meat frozen. And we bring extra dry ice to toss in the freezer. That way you can rotate the dry ice between the freezer and the cooler and your meat will pretty much stay frozen.

And keep in mind that beef will keep better for longer than chicken or some of your other choices. So as I say above plan your meals ahead of time and think about having your steaks later in the trip. Unless of course all you brought was steaks.

Adult Beverages

How much booze do I take?

That is probably the single biggest question we get asked!

The answer is ultimately beautiful in it’s simplicity.

You already know how much you can consume on a good day Multiply that by the number of days you will be on the water. Then add ten percent.

Remember the Prime Directive! If you take too much you can always take it home. If you take too little you will not be happy.

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Houseboat Tips & Tricks