Life's a boat on the Murray

January 2011 News David Jean -

Murray houseboat operators will continue to benefit from strong water flows into South Australia for at least the next four months.

The Houseboat Hirers Association is reporting a 15 per cent increase in bookings for March and April.

While strong currents had created some problems, association chief executive Peter Tucker said the industry was enjoying a renaissance directly linked to floodwaters.

More than 65 per cent of the 150 boats in the association are already booked for the normally quiet March-April period.

"The current situation with the flows has given us a few little headaches in a few areas, but once the peak is reached in a couple of weeks time the river conditions are going to be fantastic," Mr Tucker said.

River Murray houseboats have been booked solid since well before Christmas.

But the rising river levels have created a shortage of moorings in some areas and the strong currents have meant operators are spending more time helping their customers get in and out of moorings.

Foxtale Houseboats proprietor John Reynolds said the business was enjoying its best-ever season.

He said while the currents were keeping staff busy, customers were enjoying the revival of the river.

"We take the boat out for them and we spend a lot more time with them at the moment because of the current," Mr Reynolds said.

"We also offer to moor the boat for them."

"Some of them are very confident, but some aren't, so we do it for them."

Rising river levels have left all but four of Foxtale's moorings out of action, meaning they are parking the boats at nearby properties.

"It's creating more hassle than we want but we'll get by," Mr Reynolds said.

"We've changed our ways of doing hires at the moment because we want to look after the customer

"It's great to see the river up.

"We've got a creek flowing through the back of our property which we haven't seen for years."

Unforgettable Houseboats director Mark Flanagan said recreational conditions on the river were the best he had seen in 20 years.

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