The great Shasta Debate. When a lake isn’t a lake, what do we call it? When I’ve asked some of my colleagues and neighbors here in Redding, the response is almost always emphatically stated, “SHASTA LAKE!” When we see someone refer to the reservoir (more on that in a moment) as ‘Lake Shasta’ most of us don’t bother to correct the person, instead permitting them to continue in their ignorance.
The following is an email from a former houseboats.com employee that explains this further, “Several years ago when the boom town communities of Central Valley, Project City and Summit City consolidated to form the city of Shasta Lake, our local newspaper, the Record Searchlight, found it all too confusing. Their ingenious solution? Unilateral lake name dyslexia.
While I believed Shasta Lake was correct, I had never proven it to myself. This time, I could not let a sleeping houseboating lake lie. So off I went to Google which lead me to the holy grail of geographical place names: the United States Geographical Survey (USGS), or more specifically, the US Board on Geographic Names, established to maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government.
So, what does the Board have to say? SHASTA LAKE! The interesting rationale? The body of water is a Reservoir. The word “lake” is just part of the name – it’s not a classification. In the same way the word Bally in the nearby mountain range named Shasta Bally is just part of the name. So if you were to include a class when referring to it we should say ‘Shasta Lake Reservoir’. The term reservoir is optional (and no one exercises the option). Just as City of is optional for Redding or (city of) Shasta Lake.
So next time someone asks you, is it Lake Shasta or Shasta Lake? Look them dead in the eye, smile and confidently say: SHASTA LAKE!”
By Ron Tackitt
Outword Magazine, July 14, 2011
Happily, that has changed.
Several of my friends and coworkers and I have been talking with the folks at Houseboats.com for almost two years trying to find a time that we could get away from the office long enough between Outword’s deadlines, to drive up to Shasta Lake and be on the water for longer than two days. Recently, that opportunity came about and we were able to spend four full days on the lake.
We arranged to have a mid-line houseboat, that could sleep 12, and had, pretty much, all the comforts of home. We had no desire to fill the boat to capacity but we did end up with a great group of eight and that seemed just-right for us.
Our boat had four sleeping rooms in the main cabin, and two “penthouses” up on the top deck that accommodated all of us, without having to make the couches out into beds. That turned out to be really nice because if someone got up early and started mulling around in the kitchen, they were not right on top of someone sleeping on the couch.
Before our trip we held a planning meeting and assigned each person with a main meal, and left lunch open for each person to fend for themselves. In hindsight, we should have taken those meals into our plan, as everyone, not wanting to run out of food, brought way more than necessary.
We had eight containers of sour cream, seven salsas, two hummus, ten bags of chips, nine containers of sliced lunch meat, six or seven loaves of bread and an entire cooler full of various bags of lettuce. Along with the stuff that was specifically earmarked for the main meals! When we all realized the gravity of how much food was on board, we quickly dubbed our weekend, “Fat Camp.”
We thought we were going to have to walk all our stuff from our cars to the dock, but upon arrival were very pleasantly surprised that the Houseboats crew was more than ready and able to help. Their “QuadSquad” mounted on ATVs with trailers pulled up to our cars, unloaded all of our stuff and drove it to the boat. Once we were cleared to board, the squad even loaded the goods onto our boat for us. They were wonderful. In fact the quality of service was pretty amazing. Think of a relaxed Ritz Carlton…
After a short tour of the boat and a tutorial of how to drive it, one of the dock hands pulled our houseboat out of the marina and headed us out for open water. Once there, another dock hand picked him up, and we were free to navigate.
We could not have picked a better weekend to be on the lake as far as weather was concerned. Ours was perfect. It had been over 100 just days before we got there, but then dipped down to the mid 80s to low 90s. (The day after we left, it rained all day.)
We had great cruising/floating weather. The water had been warmed up and there was usually a slight breeze that helped cool the boat and keep us from having to use up precious gasoline to run the air.
Each night we pulled the boat up to land and tied up to a couple of trees. There are wonderful nooks and coves all up and down the lake, just picking the best one was our only challenge.
Our first evening we were greeted by a small flock of Canadian geese that swam around the back of the boat. Watching them, against the backdrop of calm water, catching the last of the evening’s light and hill after hill covered with trees, made for a pretty magical first impression.
The next day a friend joined us, and brought a ski boat with him. That increased the fun factor! When not being used to fling folks around on an inner-tube, or fetch ice, it was quite easily pulled behind the houseboat.
One evening we were parked in a spot where we did not have cell phone reception and it led to a great ski boat trip out onto the lake to find bars. (Can you hear me now?) I couldn’t have cared less, so I sat in the front and enjoyed the last sunlight of the day, dangling my hand over the side in the cool water and waves breaking off the bow. Heaven.
Bedtime came early each night. The darkness and the silence worked together to naturally tell our bodies that we’d had enough. Of course, eating and drinking all day might have also added to our sleepiness, but that’s another story.
Mornings brought about a familiar routine, brew some fresh coffee, mull around trying to wake up, then someone would make breakfast. After all, we had five dozen eggs to go through. Once satisfied, it was off to find another spot on the lake to hang out, stop the engine and float around in the water on a couple of styrofoam noodles.
We did this for four wonderful days. The houseboat was very comfortable, if not particularly well insulated for noise, and with just eight of us aboard, we all had plenty of room to ourselves. Some of us worshipped the sun on the top deck, others read books on their iPads or took naps, and there was almost always someone foraging in the kitchen.
All in all, this was a great trip, and there were only two things we would do differently; bring less food and get the bigger houseboat, AKA the Titan.
When we did have to return to the real world, we brought the houseboat back to the marina and once again, a dock hand came and moored the boat back in its place. The same great service that we experienced upon our arrival, we experienced again upon our return. The checkout process was quick and efficient, and it seemed almost too quick that we were in our cars and on our way home.
By Jim Dyer
Enjoy Magazine, June 2011
The experiences one can find on a houseboating trip can be as vast as the big blue bodies of water on which the vessels are designed to cruise.
One person could be napping on the sundeck, while another skims across the lake on a jet ski. Someone else could be fishing off the stern, while a buddy cooks a gourmet meal inside as music plays on a pristine stereo system.
For a long stretch of the 1980s, there was a chance you could cruise past a houseboat and hear Merle Haggard music drifting across the water and it was actually Merle himself. the country music legend lived on a houseboat on Shasta Lake for a long stretch.
“The coolest thing about houseboating is it’s so universally appealing,” says Chris Han, marketingcoordinator for Shasta Lake Resorts, which rents six models of houseboats (46 total) out of Jones Valley Resort on Shasta Lake. “Any lifestyle or age group can find something they really enjoy.”
In the North State, there’s an abundance of liquid terrain to explore.
With 365 miles of shoreline when full, Shasta Lake is California’s largest reservoir and features three major sections – the Sacramento, McCloud and Pit River arms. Brilliantly beautiful trinity Lake and sprawling Lake Oroville are also excellent options for houseboat trips in the region. “(trinity Lake) is more of a family lake,” explains Shannon Smith, manager of trinity Lake Resort and Marina. “It’s peaceful and quiet. It’s definitely scenic. you can see the trinity Alps from the lake and there’s a lot wildlife – eagles, deer, occasionally you’ll see bear.” At Shasta Lake’s Jones Valley Resort, all houseboats include hot tubs and waterslides. they also feature options like temperature-controlled wine storage, flat-screen tVs and satellite radio with surround-sound speaker systems. In other words, houseboat vacationers sail out with enough creature comforts to tempt them to never return home. And speaking of creatures, Jones Valley Resort’s Han says don’t leave them at home. “We encourage you to bring your dog,” she says. “Dogs love houseboating.” After a series of summers when lake levels were down significantly, Shasta Lake is full for a second season. trinity Lake is also brimming near the top. Han says the bountiful water should translate to increased business even over last summer’s boost. The view of a full lake simply tends to pull in more houseboaters, adds trinity Lake Resort’s Smith. “Even when the lake was down, there was nothing you couldn’t do out there,” says Smith. “When you’re on the lake, it’s basically the same experience even if it might not look as pretty. But right now it’s 10 feet from the top and the highest it’s been in four years.” As of late April, Lake Oroville was also close to capacity. One of the lake’s prime houseboat rental companies is Lake Oroville Marina, which features five houseboat options, including the 70-foot Silver Millennium Houseboat with four bedrooms and a six-person hot tub on the top deck. Houseboat rental rates vary greatly based on the type of boat, duration on the lake and season. A smaller houseboat can be rented for under $1,000 for a non-summer weekend trip. A weeklong summer trip in a deluxe houseboat can run as high as $15,000. No matter what houseboat you take out, safety is always a prime consideration. Houseboaters are advised to never swim while the boat is in operation. Law enforcement offers can issue DUIs for boat drivers impaired by alcohol. Rental companies conduct extensive safety orientations prior to the beginning of trips. “It’s a great bonding experience and a great tradition year after year,” says Han. “Now we have the kids coming back that used to do houseboats trips in ‘80s. they continue on because they love it so much. There’s always a different arm of the lake they can explore, or they can pick a different model of houseboat. every time they come back it’s a different trip.”
By Peter Ottesen [view original article]
Stockton Record Staff Writer
JONES VALLEY – There’s a magical quality at the sight of massive Shasta Lake this summer, where there is so much water, the impoundment offers recreationists more than 365 miles of shoreline. To put it in perspective, that’s much larger than all of San Francisco Bay.
Finding your way around Shasta Lake, set 20 minutes north of Redding and bisected by Interstate 5, is as intriguing as it is daunting. Once on the water, which way do you go? There are so many dead-end coves and bays and four major tributaries to explore – the Sacramento, Pit and McCloud river arms and Squaw Creek. Logistics can be tricky. Having a navigational chart is essential as directional signs are virtually nonexistent.
Perhaps, the unknown posed by the immense lake and a yearning for discovery are the allure of spending a number of days at Shasta, with no better way than aboard a houseboat. So, with absolutely no houseboating experience, five of us hearty seniors took the challenge and rented a 56-foot, two-story floating castle, that included everything from satellite television to dishwashers, two restrooms with showers and staterooms for everyone, even with power for sleep-apnea machines. We also towed two fishing boats.
“Don’t worry about a thing,” said Michael Han at Jones Valley Resort, who also rents houseboats at New Melones Lake. “We’ve got the ‘Quad Squad’ to unload your gear and food, and will give you a thorough briefing on how to operate the houseboat before you embark on your adventure.”
He must have sensed my trepidation. What I really wanted to know was how to steer and stop a flat-bottomed boat that weighs upwards of 60,000 pounds.
“Where are the brakes on this thing?” I asked.
Following an hour-long, onboard briefing, a resort employee guided the houseboat away from the dock and beyond the log jam. At that point the fellow hopped onto a pick-up boat and we were suddenly on our own, with me at the helm.
Instead of pandemonium, there was relative calm. The heavily forested hills surrounding the lake provided solace and a glimpse of 14,165-foot Mount Shasta seemed to tell us that we’d be just fine. After all, Shasta Lake is known as the “houseboat capital of the world,” with eight resorts renting approximately 350 houseboats, the largest 65 feet long and capable of sleeping 22 people.
Soon, we motored up the Pit River arm and tucked into secluded Clickapudi Cove, location of the last Pit River Indian battle in the 1920s, where wilderness still abounds. This would be home base.
We were met the next day by Gary Miralles of Shasta Tackle, inventor of the Cripplure, Koke-A-Nut and Hum-Dinger lures, Sling Blade dodger and devices for downriggers, who showed us where to find trout and how to catch them.
Miralles has spent more than 1,000 days on the lake and has the distinction of being skunked only twice.
“There is so much water, you could literally spend a lifetime searching the entire lake,” said Miralles, who recommended trolling the Pit River and Squaw Creek arms, quite close to the rocky shore at speeds of 2 to 2 1/2 miles per hour, and at a magic depth of 10 to 12 feet because the surface temperature was a chilly 54 degrees.
We hooked an amazing variety of trout – 13- to 18-inch Kamloops, Pit River-strain rainbow and browns – with an occasional spotted bass in the mix. The bite was so strong, we didn’t even try for much larger salmon that weigh 5 to 10 pounds.
“This is simply the best fishery in California,” Miralles said.
At night, we cleaned fish, barbecued dinner and enjoyed a relaxing libation. Overcast skies, a pesky south wind and a chill in the air only added to the ambiance. Our group retired early, only to awaken at about sunrise to start the next adventure. Fortunately, the notion of a member of our group climbing to a balcony and jumping down a water slide into the lake was not part of the agenda. That’s a sight none of us wished to contemplate.
Instead we witnessed dive-bombing bald eagles and osprey, foraging black-tailed deer and flocks of waterfowl, framed by snow-capped peaks that towered above the magnificent lake. With every turn, unexpected vistas just kept coming.
Contact outdoors columnist Peter Ottesen at (209) 546-8269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: The state’s largest impoundment, located 20 miles north of Redding, about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Stockton.
Facilities: Approximately 1,200 campsites, 11 marinas, 350 houseboat rentals and 35 resorts on 365 miles of shoreline.
Fishing: 22 species of gamefish.
Houseboat information: (877) 468-7326; houseboats.com.
Vacation planner: Request a free copy of the Shasta-Cascade Visitors Guide that covers eight counties in Northern California, (800) 326-6944; shastacascade.com.
Undoubtedly, if you’ve been houseboating on any lake, you notice that the water level changes on a regular basis. On Shasta Lake, the water level is determined by the Bureau of Relclamation via the Central Valley Water Project, a waterway that stretches four hundred miles and includes twenty dams and reservoirs between Redding and Bakersfield. Shasta Dam is one of eleven hydropower plants in the plan and with this past year’s increased rainfall, it reached 99 percent capacity, leaving only a few feet at the top for flood control. With potential for late season rainstorms, the project cannot allow the water level to exceed dam’s 100 percent capacity, so it is safe to say, that this year, we “topped out.”
The challenge to the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Water project is and always will be conflicting water needs. After my conversation with Larry Ball, director of Shasta Dam, I began to understand the complexities of keeping ‘the Dam’ full and why we so often see it below ‘full pool’.
Consistency in water inflow is difficult to predict as the rainfall we have in the north state is a poor indicator of the lake level. As the ground changes in saturation, the water may drop in levels combined with the potential for flooding, a complicated issue at best. Transportation and evaporation of water are also large factors in water retention. Flood control is mandated by a formula that takes into account annual timing and specific dates allowed for water elevation. For example, on December 23rd, the height allowed on Shasta Lake is 1018.5 feet, nearly 50 feet below our capacity to allow for future rainfall and upstream water releases from other reservoirs, like the McCloud and Pit.
|Shasta Lake is the largest California lake based on shoreline mileage. At full pool, Shasta Lake has 365 miles of shoreline.
Even at its lowest, Shasta Lake still retained 124 miles of shoreline
(California’s second biggest reservoir, Oroville’s capacity is 167 miles of shoreline at full pool)
Lake level is allowed to rise to 1037 feet by March 20th, allowing only another 2o feet of water. The potential for flooding downstream for other areas is the reason for conservative water releases (dumping water). Consistency in precipitation is the key. Too much water too early in the season and poor rainfall later can keep the lake level down. Larry Ball explains, “If we have a wet December and a wet January, but a dry February, March and April, we are going to have a hard time filling the reservoir.” He continued, “We can have good years in terms of inflow, but if we have to dump a bunch of it, it can result in not as good of storage as some years.”
Forecasting for flood control is done through the National Weather Service, but projections don’t protect from flooding if sudden storms don’t keep allow water to be released. Because reservoirs downstream also receive rainfall, releasing water upstream to an already full reservoir could be catastrophic. “Releases are more governed by releases downstream, in other words, there are some restrictions on how fast and how high our releases can go.” High releases in the winter are slowly reduced during their release due to environmental demands. Only ten percent every 24 hours can be cut back to allow salmon fry to return to the main stream.
Water is one of our most precious global resources, particularly throughout California. This year, we’ve been blessed with nearly sixty-nine inches of rain on Shasta Lake, allowing us to have a wonderful summer season. With the Water Project and Shasta Dam Bureau’s oversight, we are sure that next year will be just as magnificent.
What does a full lake mean to you? Well, consider the amount of shoreline that is exposed with high water. Three hundred and sixty five feet of shoreline means that houseboats can shore in near the trees, creating easy access to hiking trails and historic sites situated throughout the Shasta-Trinity Forest. The water storage remaining on the lake also means that crops downstream (Central and Southern California) will have the water they need if and when they need it. Don’t tell them that, they always want more water. We love you SoCal, but please conserve; our water has to be shared far and wide.
For houseboating, a full lake is a more enjoyable experience as Shasta Lake’s beauty comes from it’s majestic mountain views and craggy outcroppings, further enhanced when the water meets the treeline. “We love the masterpiece that was created by the dam but also fear the potential for low water.” According to Larry, this past year’s carryover of water should help next summer’s water level and make for another superb houseboating year on Shasta Lake.
Elevation when article was written (1/26/2011) : 1027.33 feet
(Elevation above sea level – Full lake elevation and dam crest is 1067)
Distance from dam crest – 39.67 feet
Facts about Shasta Dam: 602 feet high
4.27 million acre feet of water (1 foot deep by 1 acre wide)
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Here is a picture of Shasta Dam with water flowing through spillway tunnels on March 19th. The Bureau of Reclamation allowed releases in an attempt to get the water level down for flood control. The water level hasn’t been this high at this time of year since 1995.
Congratulations to our 2010 Clean Houseboat Contest Winner, Vince Petrites. He took out our Royal Star in June and brought our classic houseboat back as clean as when it left our dock. Next year, Vince and a group of his closest friends and/or family will be enjoying a nice upgrade, to our Odyssey on Lake Shasta. Nice work Vince!
Past Shasta Lake Winners Include(Jones Valley):
So, for the past couple of weeks, we’ve been picking and choosing days when the weather has been cooperative, meaning limited wind and rain, to pull some of our houseboats out of the water, off the marinas and into winter storage areas so that we can prepare them for next season. The process is quite impressive, from the precision of driving a houseboat onto a 50 foot trailer (houseboat hangs off by about 8 feet), to taking it down the windy roads, to mounting these majestic beasts onto 2x4s on our parking surfaces. The pictures and video are worth watching.
First, a houseboat is pulled onto a custom trailer that can withstand the massive weight of a houseboat, which weighs about 36,000 pounds.
Then, the truck driver, Dave, our magician of the driving arts, hauls it down the windiest roads in the world (or so it seemed when I was on it) I guess I didn’t even notice how windy the road was until this adventure. He finds creative ways to maneuver around trees, light poles and even nearly missing drop offs and cliffs. I almost lost my lunch a few times.
Finally, and maybe the most mind-boggling part, we lift the houseboat off the trailer and set it on ‘cribs,’ square 2x4s that are built to withstand the weight of the boat. Metal crib caps hold the pontoons in place and allow the trailer to drive away.
Preparing for moving our houseboats off the water to our boat yard here at Jones Valley Resort. Pictures coming soon, but you have got to watch the magic of moving a 56 foot houseboat down a windy road, not to mention out of the water off the marina. Awesome. Props to the shop guys. I couldn’t do it. Pictures to come… http://amplify.com/u/ckte
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