Scott and Karen Keller have been blessed in many ways and have always tried to share their good fortune with others. Houseboating has been a positive avenue for the couple to entertain family and friends, as well as introduce others to the joys of boating. They are now on their fifth houseboat, and each has been a little bigger than the one before as their family continues to grow. As life-long houseboaters, their efforts to share their love of the water is now extending to the next generation of Kellers as their children are returning to the lake with their own kids.
Growing up, the Keller family traveled all over the world, but their favorite way to spend their hard-earned vacation time has always been on Lake Powell. Today, four of the couple's five children are married with families of their own and that tradition of visiting the Utah lake continues.
"Where else can you bring everyone together, including a 7-week-old baby, and still be able to enjoy the views, the great food and the company in one location?" asks Scott as he looks at his family relaxing in the sun on the back deck of his new Bravada houseboat. "Houseboating has been a wonderful bonding experience and Lake Powell is as good as any place we've ever gone as a family."
The Kellers love to entertain and have friends come along on most trips, but on this particular vacation they're enjoying just having their immediate family onboard. All but two of their sons were able to make the trip, bringing the onboard total to 18. For work reasons Cub Keller wasn't able to make it, but his wife Emily and their two sons weren't about to pass on the opportunity. Scott and Karen's youngest child, Jaxon Keller, is currently serving an LDS church mission in London, England, but the rest of the family was able to be there for the week.
Plenty Of Room For All
The 22- by 80-foot houseboat includes five bedrooms and one small cuddy, two and a half bathrooms or heads and a reverse floor plan that turns the salon and galley into a larger than normal living space.
"This boat is significantly larger than our last houseboat that was 18 and a half by 72 feet and the extra width really makes a difference," says Scott. "With the extra room we were able to pack in more features as well as a lot of electronics."
Most houseboats today have a large big screen TV on the main level salon, but what makes this Bravada unique is there is also an outdoor theatre room on the second level that can be enjoyed even in the middle of day because of the sunshades throughout the perimeter. Plus, when you head up top to the third level, it truly is a whole different experience.
"A lot of the features that we have on this boat are becoming the standard for the industry, but having a helm on the third level with a removable top is really unique and different from what I've seen," adds Scott. "Plus if we wanted to we could all sleep on the top deck with the pull-out mats that nicely store away when not needed."
Other key features onboard include a water system that allows the family to drink from the lake-which saves on the need of holding tanks for their drinking water. Plus the two ice makers save them money as well as the hassle of not having to buy ice and transport it from the marina. From top to bottom the boat is loaded with a lot of great features designed to make the experience truly relaxing and worry-free. The list of features is endless, but is only half of the reason why Scott is glad he went with Bravada.
"No offense to the Kentucky builders, but we picked Bravada because of the higher quality of boat offered," says Scott. "We love the yacht-feel and I don't believe there is a houseboat that can match the quality or the service of Bravada."
The Kellers are one of the four owners of the houseboat, which makes it more practical for everyone involved since being on the boat every weekend is not realistic. Scott is the CEO of Keller Investment Properties, LLC, that focuses on multi-family apartment dwellings, student housing, assisted living centers and some retail properties throughout several states. His home is in Bountiful, Utah, on the opposite end of the state, so he's partnered with three other families on the Bravada houseboat.
Steve and Susi Samuelian from Laguna Beach, Calif.; Joe and Tari Rokus from Sierra Madre, Calif.; and Todd and Andie Pedersen from Provo, Utah, are all equal partners with the Kellers on the houseboat.
"Joe was a partner on our last houseboat and I got to know Todd and Steve last year when we were campaigning together to get Mitt Romney in the White House," says Scott. "We held the largest fundraiser in the state of Utah for Romney in our home last year."
The decision of which manufacturer to go with was an easy one for everyone involved; together the group loves the yacht-look and style of the Bravada line of houseboats. Compass North Industries first opened its doors in 2009 when they moved into their 65,000-square-foot plant, and has thrived during a time when other builders are going out of business.
Owners Jim and Tracey Goettl thrive on building high-end boats and feel that's been the key to their early success as a houseboat manufacturer.
"There is no need to try and chase the old cheese," says Jim. "There is no reason to go back to the old styles in houseboats because we feel it takes high-end products to work and sell in today's market."
When it came to working with three other partners, it could have been a challenge to make sure it was the right fit for everyone. But the group put their faith in Bravada as well as their partner Steve who worked directly with the manufacturer during the entire build process from start to finish.
"It was really a team effort. Dave Taylor and I had been designing and talking about what systems we wanted for two years," explains Steve. "Bravada was great to work with. Dave really knows the systems and design, Jim really knows quality construction and Tracey and I worked very well together on the interior design."
"We went with Bravada because they were local for the most part and could service our immediate needs," adds Scott. "Dave Taylor from Bravada has already been out to check on us during our maiden voyage just to make sure we don't have any questions."
The Kellers' first trip on the houseboat proved to be a success as the family enjoyed a week of fun on the water. When Scott wasn't busy smoking ribs on the second deck, he was rounding up family members for a game he says he invented where you throw a Frisbee off the top of the houseboat out over the water while someone on the PWC heads out to catch it. This is one activity they never get tired of and is just one way the family continues to make memories together. This active family keeps busy and it's obvious why this is their favorite way to vacation as activities for everyone of any age are available at any given time.
The Bravada houseboat is only a few months old, but will see plenty of use over the next few years as the Kellers and others continue to enjoy it. Even though other Bravada houseboats can be seen all over the lake, Scott plans on seeing even more in the near future and is happy to let everyone know how happy he his with his.
"I recommend this manufacturer to anyone who asks," says Scott. "I couldn't be more pleased."
And considering how close the family remains today, it appears everyone is happy with the decision as well.
For More Information
Bravada Yachts are manufactured in Phoenix, Ariz., by Compass North Industries. Their in-house transport department delivers its high-end houseboats all over North America. For more information visit www.bravadayachts.com or call 602-278-3536.