Frequently Asked Questions
Is a houseboat difficult to operate?
Our state-of-the-art houseboats are surprisingly easy to operate. Our professional staff will explain the operation of your rental “from bow to stern" before you leave the docking area.
Do I need a license to operate your houseboats, or is a skipper provided?
There is no special license needed to operate our houseboats. 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
All charter parties receive a personal orientation, so please plan your guest’s arrival accordingly. In addition, we will drive your houseboat out of the marina and then dock it for your upon your return. Once you are on the wide open lake, you’ll find driving a houseboat quite easy. Most of our boats have a flying bridge, so you may pilot the vessel from the top deck or main cabin. We provide you a safety and orientation DVD of the training you receive, so you can brush up once you are out on the lake. And you can call us via cell phone with any questions while on your trip.
How long of a trip can I take?
You can choose between three nights (weekends), four nights (midweek) or seven nights (weekly). Also, if available, ‘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?
Our typical departure time is between 2 – 5 pm. Vessels return to the marina in the morning around 9 am on the last day of your trip.
How old do you have to be to rent a boat?
Charter Captain and Co-Captain must be at least twenty-one (21) years old.
How many people can a houseboat sleep?
Depending on the model you rent, our houseboats comfortably sleep from ten 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 waterways are offered, and which is the most popular?
We rent houseboats and small boats on Shasta Lake.
Shasta Lake was recently deemed the ‘houseboating capital of the world’ and is the largest and most popular California destination.
How many houseboats are available?
We have twelve (12) houseboat models to choose from, and over (100) houseboats in our fleet.
How safe are the houseboats for children?
Our vessels were designed with kids in mind. Our boats have safety latches on all gates, and sliding glass doors. Most of our houseboats are equipped with a 3 foot railing around both the upper and lower decks for both safety and privacy. We have child-sized PFD’s (personal flotation devices) available at all marinas.
Are pets allowed?
We welcome pets on most of our 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. Our 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. Please note: the dock and parking area can be extremely hot for pets’ paws in peak season, please plan accordingly.
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.
Do you rent other boats in addition to houseboats?
We rent all types of boats to tow along on your houseboat vacation. See our watercraft rates webpage for information and rates. Most guests take a small boat of some sort, it increases everyone’s fun. And with so much area to explore, you’ll find a ski boat or waverunner comes in handy.
We also rent water-skis, wakeboards, kneeboards, stand up paddle boards and a multitude of other ‘water toys’ at each of our marinas.
Do you offer discount rates?
We offer two different ‘seasons’ with 3, 4 and 7 night trips to choose from to provide a selection for every budget and schedule. View rate information.
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 late 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!
If I reserve a houseboat, how do I collect from the other people in my houseboating group? (And some of them want to pay me with credit cards!)
Once you reserve your houseboat, we will email you a link to securely pay online. You can simply forward that link to your group and they each will have the ability to pay their portion directly to us, online, via credit card. It’s that simple! Keep in mind that there are certain dates by which we require payment, and you will still be the person responsible for timely payment to Central Reservations, or risk cancellation.
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.
All marina stores sell a good variety of bait and tackle for optimizing your chances of catching fish, whether you’re a novice or expert. Check our links to up-to-date fishing reports.
What equipment is on board?
We provide a full list of what is aboard and what to bring, view it here. You will see many of our houseboats are equipped with hot tubs, water slides, surround sound entertainment systems, fireplaces, private staterooms with comfortable beds, generators, and much 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 is!
Do your boats have any type of GPS units on them?
Not as of yet, but handheld devices work well if you’d like to bring one along.
Where is the best place to wakeboard & water-ski?
The best location depends on Lake Shata’s local conditions, so ask our marinas personnel for the most up to date information.
What should we bring?
We have provided a very extensive list of what is and is not included on each boat. Please refer to “What to Bring/Items Aboard“.
Where do we ‘park’ at night, and how?
Our 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. 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.
What kind of fuel do the houseboats take?
The houseboats run on regular gas. You will be provided with a full tank upon departure, and you will be charged just for the fuel you use on your trip. If you need to fill-up mid-trip, we have gas pumps at our docks. Remember, we’ll drive you in and out of the marina, and get you on your way as fast as possible.
How fast do the boats go?
This depends upon the model you choose – generally, though, the houseboats travel at about 10 mph.
How far in advance do I have to make reservations?
So that you are assured the boat model and time you desire, you should make your reservations as far in advance as possible. If you are flexible, and can depart from any one of our marinas, you may find a houseboat available just about anytime. The summer months are the most popular, so if you have a particular date and boat in mind, then booking early (3-4 months in advance) is recommended. There is always the possibility of a cancellation that may open up a time frame or houseboat model that you desire so don’t hesitate to call at the last minute.
What about the weather and water temperatures?
Check the Weather Reports page 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.
What is there to do?
Our luxurious vessels have all – and sometimes more – of the comforts of home. With tracking satellite and state-of-the-art sound systems, you can watch your favorite sporting event or movie. The fully equipped gourmet galleys provide the perfect venue for preparing memorable feasts – a definite highlight of houseboating!
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. 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. The lake offers mountain biking trails, so bring your bike for exploring the shore. There are nearby historic towns for shopping and site-seeing, and golf courses are near to each of our locations.
Sometimes there is an event taking place at the lake, or nearby, such as a fishing tournament, poker run, or concert.
Or simply relax with a book, lounge in the sun, soak in the hot tub, enjoy a board game, or watch a movie in the comfort of your houseboat.
What is the best thing about houseboating?
The utter and complete relaxation. Being with friends and family enjoying watersports, sharing sumptuous food, and luxury surroundings plus magnificent scenery!
Is there insurance coverage?
Property Damage Insurance
Our rental boats are insured for their replacement cost in the event of an accident. As the renter (or driver with permission) of our boat you are insured by our policy. You are responsible for a $50,000 deductible. We offer to waive your responsibility for the deductible for a charge of $20 a day. If you pay the $20 per day charge you will not be responsible for any deductible. We do not offer to waive the deductible on small boats. This insurance and deductible waiver does not cover any damage to a propeller and does not cover the damage resulting from your beaching the boat in a manner that causes the flooding of the engine compartment. Damage that occurs to the interior of the boat caused by inappropriate or negligent behavior is not covered by insurance.