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Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Ashland...
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Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Hello-

I have rented a 59' houseboat out of Wahweap for early August. We will have 8 people (4 older teens). 4 of us are very experienced boaters both on lakes and ocean with different vessels - sailboats, larger fishing boats, smaller powerboats - although we have never driven a house boat. We have experience docking, beaching and open water anchoring. Reading through many of the posts here it appears that finding a place to beach and anchoring takes a lot of effort and time. We are trying to decide if we should stay put in once place (due to the immense effort of beaching) and take the power boat out to site see or move around the lake and beach each evening (seems impossible due to the time and effort to beach). Would those of you that are experienced with the lake and experienced boaters please let me know if it really would be as is as difficult and challenging as it seems for people that are experienced boaters? Thanks in advance - this forum is awesome and packed with great information!

Carrie

25 replies to this topic
Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Beaching and anchoring a houseboat isn't necessarily hard, but it is work. Add the factor that you'll be doing it in heat, it's also a bit physically draining. It also takes time to scout out an appropriate beach. Doing the reverse is also a lot of work. You have to put everything away, bring in the lines, bring up the ramp, manage the power boat. etc, etc, Since you have just 8 in your party and a power boat, beach once and use the power boat to explore. You'll have greater range in a power boat and be able to get to the back of side canyons. That's part of the fun of exploring Lake Powell. Another reason to just beach once, is that there's no guarantee that if you move the houseboat you can find another beach. Just me, but I wouldn't want to spend hours cruising the lake looking for another spot and come up with nothing appropriate. Your teens are going to want to be in the water, exploring, etc., not spending hours riding in a slow, lumbering houseboat.

When we head out on our houseboat, we go directly to our favorite spot, beach the houseboat and then let the fun begin. We don't move it again. Our crew would revolt if we told them we were moving the houseboat again and again.

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2. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Take a small crew with supplies and use the speed boat to scout a location for the house boat. Drop off 2-3 people and some gear to stake your claim of the area. Then the speed boat can travel to find the houseboat and bring them, to what will be home for the next few nights.

The difficulty of docking, really comes down to a couple of factors. One, is the weather. If it's windy or storming, the stern can be pushed one direction and those setting anchors must be ready to quickly secure it. The second factor is where you actually choose to set up shop. Some beaches are very easy to set anchor. Others, can be a royal pain.

I look for places that have a beach or extremely gently graded rock slopes. You don't want to be next to a sheer cliff. Then, there must also be loose rocks of significant size to help secure anchors. Since the landscape is rocky, sometimes the anchors cannot be dug into the ground. You'll then need to find large rocks that can hold the boat in place if the winds increase. Usually the critical setting point, is the stern anchor on the windward side. Set that quickly and the other anchors can be set easily.

The good thing is that you have a full crew of people. Many hands on deck make the task easier. If you have experience boating, you'll be fine. Look for areas that aren't crowding other camp sites. It's poor form to dock in an area where others have already set up camp. There are miles of canyons to not be crowded, though early August will be peak season.

As to a philosophy of camping at different areas or not, it's really a personal preference. Moving really allows you to see much more of the lake on an intimate level. Every day can feel like a different adventure and trip, as you have a new canyon to hike or paddle, peak to scale or rock formation to climb. Sunrises and sunsets will have different vantage points. But it's also work to set up and break down and then scout for a new spot and set up again. You spend more time in transit on the houseboat. Which is also more expensive, as it burns fuel. So, just a couple of things to consider.

Just go and have fun and explore. Many things will be quite intuitive when you get there.

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3. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Good points from Shake. That's exactly how we scout for beaches. When we get in the general area of where we want to camp, we send a few people out in the power boat (with plenty of water/sun protection). When we find a spot, a couple of people stay on the beach while one takes the power boat back to guide the houseboat in. We also look for broad beaches with a gradual drop. We also like beaches that get early sun and early shade in the afternoon. There are different approaches to anchoring. We use sea anchors (my FIL was an old Navy guy) and bury them at the shore line. And we always anchor the windward side first. There's also always someone at the helm to keep the bow up on the beach while anchoring and to control the houseboat in windy conditions.

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4. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

My biggest gripe with moving the houseboat regularly is the time burn. Obviously, it depends on how far you want to travel for each move - and how adept your crew becomes. However, I plan on it taking half-a-day minimum. If we're up relatively early, have some breakfast, break down the existing camp, travel (~8 mph), scout, determine the location, beach, anchor, set up, etc., we're having a late lunch and some of the best parts of the day (cooler temps, calmer water) are history.

So, if you've got seven days, your first and last days are severely limited just by checking out and returning the boat. Then, if you move twice, for example, that's another two half-days. You've burned three of your seven days.

Now, some people consider the moving activity to be just as much of the Lake Powell experience as the hiking, paddle boarding, exploring, etc. I used to also. But now I'm squarely in the mindset of finding one spectacular spot and staying there all week. The money I save in houseboat gas let's us motor all around the lake in the speedboat. Just my two cents.

Hope you have a fantastic trip!

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5. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

I totally agree with bartsplace.

Atascadero...
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6. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Not much to add to what the others have said, except I would note that for an experienced group with teenage labor, anchoring and de-anchoring will be a piece of cake. I personally like moving the houseboat a couple of times, partly because different campsites provide different perspectives, but partly because O like to use the skiboat as a vehicle to hike into side canyons. Moving the houseboat base closer to these opportunities can make hiking or deep Canyon exploration more efficient...

...but it’s a trade off, as Bart and Connie note...

In a week, I tend to move 2 or 3 times...especially if I’ve got good help to provide the labor (teenagers!)

Edited: 17 October 2017, 07:28
Ashland...
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7. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Thank you all for your insight! Very much appreciated.

If we beach for the first two days, Sunday and Monday, then move Tuesday and stay put Tuesday and Wednesday and head back to marina on Thursday, what would happen if we can't find a place once we move? What options do we have? Is it just that it wouldn't be an ideal place due to location or seclusion? If we can't find a place to beach can you anchor in the open water?

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8. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

Here's what we would do....

As you are exploring the lake on Sunday and Monday, part of the process could be scouting for possible beaching sites for your Tuesday move. With those places in mind, send some people out in the power boat on Tuesday morning to check the possibilities again BEFORE you leave the beach that you're on. Even if a beach was vacant on Monday, someone could come in late Monday and take it. If a beach is available, then leave some people at the beach while someone goes back to the houseboat. Those people should understand that they could be there for a few hours before the houseboat shows up. They'll need food, water, sun protection. You do not want to "anchor" in open water. First of all, I don't think the rental houseboat have any kind of anchor that would keep the houseboat from drifting and the lake is on average 400' deep. You wouldn't have enough line on board to drop an anchor to the bottom. Secondly, if winds come up (which are common at Lake Powell, including microbursts), since a houseboat has so much freeboard, it will be buffeted, blown every which way. Thirdly, the houseboat will be constantly rocking from waves generated by boat traffic. For your safety and comfort, you want to be anchored on a beach.

JFR likes to change beaches. He may have a different approach.

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9. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

About those microburst winds,,, they can come up when there are no clouds in the sky. They can be fierce and whip up some pretty big waves. Just last summer, a significant microburst on the lake that damaged several houseboats, sank some smaller boats and PWCs. Even when beached, a microburst can blow hard enough to pull out anchorage. Once we were on a large beach where there was also a rental houseboat. A sustained microburst came up. All the stuff that the rental houseboat people had out on the beach was blown all over the place. It was chaotic. And then that houseboat lost it's moorings and was headed straight for our boat. The rental folks panicked and had no idea what to do. My husband ran over to the houseboat, boarded (with permission), started the engines and stayed at the helm keeping the houseboat under control until the wind stop. Then he and other of our crew re-set their moorings properly.

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10. Re: Beaching a house boat - really as hard as it comes across?

All good advice from Connie. That said, I’ve never had a problem finding a decent spot (though sometimes not ideal) as long as we snagged it by about 2 PM.., you will have options. You won’t be stranded floating in mid-channel..

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