When thinking of the perfect getaway for 13 women, all looking for fun, spending the weekend on a houseboat may not immediately spring to mind. Well, maybe for you it would, since you are a Houseboat magazine reader. But in general, some women might suggest a weekend at a spa or shopping on Rodeo Drive.
But for Lisa Merlo and her 12 friends, all from Algonac, Mich., a weekend last summer turned into an adventure on the water, one they'll be talking about for years to come.
Merlo has been to Lake Cumberland in Kentucky on a houseboat vacation three years running, and is an old pro at the process. In fact, she had earned a Captain's Club membership with the State Dock Marina, giving her a 5 to 10 percent discount on the rental.
It was agreed upon early that assignments for food and other supplies would be given to each participant, and allowances for personal items were accounted for. By the time everyone arrived at the dock, there were 13 carts full of supplies, plus coolers, to load onto the 81-foot behemoth, and with that kind of size, there was plenty of room for all.
Marie Eaves, one of the vacationers, also had a previous houseboating experience, and actually booked three houseboats for a large family gathering two years earlier.
"We definitely over packed on that trip and had so much left over because we packed everything!" Eaves said. "The pictures are kind of funny with all that was packed that year."
This experience was shared with the Algonac group, and everyone worked hard to bring only what they truly needed.
"Do not over pack the food," Melanie Leuffgen, fellow traveler, shared. With limited space in the refrigerator and cupboard storage for non-perishable goods, there will not be enough room for everyone to bring everything they could ever possibly need, but if planned well, no one need go hungry or without.
Eaves added, "You need just enough to get through the amount of days on the boat without over packing." Eaves suggested that since you'll be in a bathing suit most of the time anyway, there's no need to put together the perfect clothing ensemble for every day of the trip either.
In the end, the four-day weekend was all about having a great time and bonding.
"Just being able to kick back and enjoy ourselves in our own private world was great," Merlo said.
Eaves commented that even with 13 people aboard, the boat felt wide open.
"There is enough room on the boats that you don't run into people and still have a great time," she said.
"We all loved how houseboating combines finding your own private corner of the globe with the feeling that you're at a nice hotel."
One thing that is important to have is someone who can pilot the houseboat. This group had several women who could get the boat from place to place, which is good. But having prior houseboating experience is not required. With some instruction and experience, anyone can make a good houseboat captain. In fact, before you set out, an experienced captain at State Dock will give you a lesson on the operation of the boat. They drive everyone in and out of the marina, and while on the lake, all you need to do is ease into the bank and tie off. If you have any questions along the way, help is just a radio call away.
In interviewing the women, one aspect of the vacation that came back time and time again was the amenities. Leuffgen gushed about all that was included on the boat.
"Six bedrooms, two baths, two slides and a hot tub with a bar on the top deck!" she boasted.
Add in the party top, and anyone could have a great time in those circumstances!
The houseboat also included TV's with DVD players in all the bedrooms, central air conditioning, GPS navigation unit, stove, microwave, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer and a satellite tracking unit for access to satellite television anywhere.
"I would absolutely recommend this type of trip for all ages," Eaves said, "Why? Because it is a great way to be together, relax and just kick back doing what you want, when you want."
Merlo also expressed her appreciation for this type of vacation.
"It is by far the best vacation ever," she said. "You can go with friends, family, or whoever. There is so much to do on the boat that you never get bored. Swimming, hot tub, slides, time to read or play cards, or do nothing at all, it is your choice."
"Your normal life just slowly escapes you,"
For anyone interested in having a houseboat vacation at State Dock on Lake Cumberland, know you'll be right at the heart of the world capital for houseboating, so you're in good hands.