Despite what one may think operating a houseboat is not at all like driving a car. These large vessels are powered by engines that push them from the rear. Not only that, boats have no brakes, or at least not the kind to which you are accustomed. Families should be worry-free while on vacation. That means preparing ahead of time and taking care while out on those adventures. The following tips will ensure that your family is ready for an enjoyable houseboat stay.
1. Read Everything
Houseboats, especially rentals, have a host of manuals available to the operators and warnings posted throughout. These instructions and postings are meant to assist those new to boating in having a safe journey. Before operating anything, from the boat itself to generators and appliances, be sure to read not just the instruction manual, but any and all warnings you may find throughout the vessel.
2. Listen Carefully
If you are renting a houseboat, the marina will supply you with a crash-course in its operation. An experienced houseboat operator will give you a small tour that will include all of the amenities, useful switches, and important gauges. He or she will then explain the rules of boat operation and how to do safely. Missing just one piece of this information could be disastrous so both the captain and co-captain need to pay extra attention to this instruction.
3. Locate Safety Equipment
Without proper attention, boating can be a dangerous activity, but with proper care your family can have a safe vacation. Firstly, everyone must remember that houseboats carry quite a bit of fuel on board. There is not simply gasoline for powering the engines, there will also be at least one propane tank aboard. Additionally, shoreline activities and the potential for slippery surfaces can lead to the need for a first-aid kit. Knowing where all of the emergency supplies, such as fire extinguishers, are located will better protect everyone in the event of a catastrophe.
4. Learn Boating Rules
While not all locations require boat operators to obtain any kind of license, many still choose to complete the course. As mentioned, boats do not navigate in the same ways as cars. The same is true for the rules of the “road”. Encountering other vessels, entering and exiting marinas, the use of lights and many other aspects of lake navigation are governed by the agency that owns the waterway. These rules may differ from one place to another, so it’s important to familiarize yourself and your co-captain with the rules for operating a houseboat in your intended area.
5. Purchase Insurance
Most marinas include a small insurance policy with their boat rentals, but they are limited and rarely cover the kind of damage a large vessel is capable of causing. Those new to houseboating are at a higher risk of causing damage and injury during its operation and use than those who own their own vessels. Paying a little extra to upgrade the insurance policies on houseboat rentals will still cost a lot less than the price of damages one can cause.
So the next time you and your family are looking for a vacation aboard a boat of any kind just remember the tips above and everyone will surely love the time spent together, free from worry.