Everyone has his favorite body of water. Whether it's a
lake, a reservoir, a river or what can be classified as a pond, familiar areas
are comforting. And part of that familiarity is knowing the ins and outs of
your marina. What are the hours? What fees do you deal with? Is the food at the
restaurant any good? Are there areas of the lake that are off-limits? All of
these things are second nature to us, and that's why we keep coming back to the
But sometimes, the itch for adventure can strike and propel
us toward another lake, another reservoir, another pond. And with that
adventure comes uncertainty and the fear of the unknown. Maybe you've spent 30
minutes getting tied up to a slip in a new marina, only to be told later it was
reserved for someone else. Or maybe the fried pickles weren't as good as
advertised on the menu. Regardless, going in blind can be a tough spot to find
one's self in, and here at Houseboat, we'd like to help you with that.
Announce Your Arrival
For some insight on how to avoid blunders when arriving at a
new marina, I interviewed Mark Wood, the manager of picturesque Moors Resort
and Marina on Kentucky
Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky.
Wood was quick to note that the harbor is very large and gets very busy during
the peak months of June, July and August.
"Larger houseboats and rental houseboats should call on
channel 16 for instructions before entering the harbor," Wood explained.
This can be a tricky point for novices who are unfamiliar
with the radio, but if you fail to notify the marina of your approach, you may
create a logjam of boats and chaos could ensue.
One look at an aerial view of the harbor (www.moorsresort.com)
and you'll see how a very busy July Fourth weekend could lead to problems
unless everyone is on the same page. Similar issues exist at every marina, so
be sure to radio ahead on posted channels to be sure you're part of the
solution and not adding to potential chaos.
Wood also suggested paying attention to the weather
conditions upon arrival at Moors Resort and Marina.
"The only thing that boaters should be aware of is the
direction of the wind," Wood said.
"Rarely, but occasionally, boats have been known to blow
into the first large covered dock because of a strong northerly wind. However,
there is plenty of room to compensate and stay safe."
Otherwise, entering the harbor is as easy as 1-2-3. As soon
as you enter through the breakwater, everything is in view and it is fairly
obvious where to go from there.
Like many marinas, Carolina Marina, on Belews
Lake in North Carolina, offers pontoon boat rentals on a half-day or full-day basis. Be
aware of this option, as it may be cheaper just to rent a 'toon for a day once
you arrive rather than tow your own personal runabout with you. The marina also
offers cottage rentals, in case you can't comfortably accommodate your entire
extended family on your houseboat during the family reunion. The name "cottage"
is a bit misleading here, as the living quarters include two bedrooms, two
bathrooms and central air, so be sure to make your reservations early (www.carolinamarina.com),
as they go fast.
Windjammer Marina on Crooked Lake
is a popular destination for houseboaters, and the website www.houseboating.org
includes a list of frequently asked questions and answers for new arrivals. The
FAQ explains that pets are allowed on rental houseboats, though an extra $15
fee per pet is charged. The information includes a month-by-month list of
temperatures at the marina, which allows smart packing as to what types of
clothing to bring along for the weekend.
When in doubt, pick up the phone and call. Every marina has
a staff of people willing to answer your questions and make sure your trip to
their little slice of heaven is as smooth and worry-free as possible. If no one
is available at the time you call, give the Internet a try. It seems every
little store on every lake has a website these days, and what better
information to put on there than tips for new boaters?
So there you have it: be sure a new marina knows you're
coming, be aware of the amenities available and call ahead to be aware of any
little quirks you should know about. Complete these three steps and your
adventure to a new lake should go off without a hitch!