by Ramona Newman,
Just about all of us love being out on the water—until nightfall. The vessel that was so great for zipping around the lake earlier in the day now seems cramped. Even crafts with a galley and berth space down below can feel awfully snug over extended periods of time. More than one well-intentioned skipper and crew have been forced to cut their nautical adventure short on account of too little personal space. Besides getting a yacht, what can you do for an on-the-water adventure that doesn’t scrimp on the accommodations?
A houseboat is the answer. Today’s pleasure crafts offer room to walk around above and below decks, areas to cook and eat, and space to spend the night without banging your head in tight quarters. Houseboats aren’t going to be as zippy as a speedboat, but who cares? You’re not on a schedule, so sit back and enjoy your surroundings at a relaxing, slower pace.
Smaller vessels are great for families and larger models work for groups like family reunions, corporate retreats and churches. Any marine or lakefront community can give you information about houseboat rental options, which can be done for a day, a week or longer. In most cases, some basic nautical knowledge is required.
Canada requires an AAA Pleasure Craft Operator Card, which you can receive by passing a Transport Canada-approved boating safety course. Details on this certification are available at boatoperatorcard.ca.
In the U.S., you don’t necessarily need formal nautical certification to pilot a houseboat, but individual boat owners may require renters to be familiar with the controls or at least basic water safety procedures. Most also require some kind of security deposit.
3 Lakes for Houseboat Fun
- Shasta Lake. Start with the community that calls itself the houseboat capitol of the world. This northern California location in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest is home to more than 500 private houseboats and has about 450 available to rent. The scenic mountain lake spans 370 miles, with plenty of channels to explore and great opportunities for fishing and seeing wildlife.
- Lake Pend Oreille. If Cali is too far of a drive from Canada, consider Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, which is only an hour south of the British Columbia border. This fifth-deepest lake in the U.S. offers plenty of room for houseboats to ply the water, and the scenic countryside and the community of Sandpoint are enjoyable any time of year.
- Lake of the Woods. The communities of Kenora, Morson, Nestor Falls and Sioux Narrows in northwestern Ontario surround this impressive and dramatic lake. The 105,000 km-wide lake can be especially enjoyed by houseboat, as there is plenty to explore, including 14,000 tiny islands. Drop anchor near one and walk around. Watch wildlife or try to catch some. Or just take it easy.