10 Tips For Operating a Houseboat Safely

Date: July 8, 2020
Category: Houseboat Tips


For many, the idea of a houseboat vacation is alluring. It’s a unique and distinct experience and one that many vacationers have never enjoyed before. They imagine themselves lounging on the deck while soaking up the 360-degree waterfront views. They picture themselves taking advantage of the luxurious amenities onboard the boat, and they think about all of the memories they will make as a family. 

However, it’s important for anyone who rents a houseboat to think about the logistics of the vacation as well. Any person who is renting a houseboat should understand the dos and don’ts of houseboat safety. It’s critical that anyone who rents a houseboat knows how to captain and how to anchor the boat. They should even be able to answer the question, “How fast is a houseboat?”

At Callville Bay Resort and Marina, we believe that these 10 tips will help our clients use their houseboat safely and fully enjoy their vacation on Lake Mead:

  1. Work with marina staff to learn more about how the houseboat operates.

It is particularly important that first-time houseboaters learn more about the houseboat before they embark on their voyage. Marina staff members can provide information about where the engines are located and how to get the boat started. It’s important to remember that you can receive assistance at any time during your experience. All you have to do is contact the marina and ask for help. They will do their best to guide you and provide you with the help that you need.

  1. Take part in a houseboat driving lesson.

For most people, driving a houseboat comes naturally. This is because driving a houseboat is very similar to driving a car. However, there are a few important differences to note. First and foremost, boaters should be aware that there are two sets of gauges on the dashboard. There is one set of gauges for each of the two engines. In addition, there are levers that are used as gas pedals. These levers control the speed of the boat. 

  1. Remember that it might feel a bit different to steer a houseboat.

Steering a houseboat is slightly different than steering a car or another watercraft. For the most part, basic steering is the same. The steering wheel can be controlled to make the boat turn. However, in order to back the boat up, a lever is used in order to reverse the course. Some new houseboat drivers often are surprised that there’s more of a lag when steering a houseboat compared to a car or another watercraft. This is because these boats are significantly larger than most other vehicles that a person has operated previously.

  1. Create community rules for everyone to follow while onboard the boat.

On the first day of your houseboat vacation, you should create a set of rules and display them in a prominent area on the houseboat. It’s important that everyone is aware of the behaviors that are expected of them. It’s particularly important to establish rules and boundaries for young children. Simple rules can easily be enforced, such as:

  • No running on the boat. 
  • No one on deck by themselves. 
  • Everyone must wear a life vest when the boat is in motion.
  1. Establish a schedule for adults to monitor any minor passengers.

A houseboat vacation should be both fun and relaxing, but it’s important for adults to actively work to protect any minor children who are on board the boat. One adult should always be on watch duty at all times. Creating a consistent schedule at the beginning of the vacation will ensure that children are being adequately monitored throughout the entire trip.

  1. Make sure that everyone wears a life jacket while the houseboat is in motion.

Every houseboat is equipped with enough life jackets for each member, but some travelers may feel more comfortable bringing their own life preserving equipment. Children, in particular, should have a life vest that is the appropriate size and style for their age. To stay as safe as possible on a houseboat vacation, all people on the boat should wear their life jackets when the boat is in motion.

  1. Only swim off of the houseboat when it is properly docked or anchored.

Many people who are embarking on their first houseboat adventure wonder whether it is safe to swim off of the deck of their houseboat. The answer is yes! Of course, it’s important to swim as safely as possible. The boat should be properly docked or anchored in an area where it is safe to swim. The engine needs to be turned off before anyone gets into the water. Once it is safe, it is recommended that swimmers enter the water off the back deck of the boat or by sliding down the slide.

  1. Know where it is safe to anchor your houseboat.

There are a few things to keep in mind when anchoring your houseboat:

  • The depth of the water in that area. 
  • The current wind direction and speed.
  • Any restrictions that may be in place by the municipality. 

Marina staff members can provide you with more information about the best places to anchor your houseboat during your vacation.

  1. Understand the safe speed limits on Lake Mead.

Just like on the highway, there are speed limits on the water. As your houseboat is entering or leaving the marina, you need to coast at a wakeless speed of just 5 miles per hour or less. When you are on the open water on your speedboat, you can go as fast as 50 miles per hour, but you should be mindful of the weather conditions and any other boaters who are around you. Use common sense when it comes to the speed of your boat.

  1. Be vigilant while enjoying your time on the water.

Ultimately, you will want to spend most of your energy on vacation having fun on the waters of Lake Mead. While enjoying this unique sense of fun and freedom, always make safety your top priority. When you remain vigilant, you will be able to enjoy a successful and fulfilling vacation that you won’t soon forget.

Whether you are booking a houseboat vacation for the first time, or you make it a point to enjoy a week on Lake Mead each and every year, it’s always a good idea to review the proper safety precautions.

For more information on operating a houseboat safely and enjoying your Lake Mead vacation to the fullest, contact Callville Bay Resort and Marina today.