Don Pedro Lake Houseboats Relocating

Published online: Mar 14, 2014 Industry
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The drought currently going on in California is heartbreaking for all and will have a major impact on the houseboating community. Don Pedro Reservoir is an artificial lake formed by the construction of the New Don Pedro Dam across the Tuolumne River in the Stanislaus National Forest of Tuolumne County, California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. This lake welcomes more than a half-million visitors annually.

The Don Pedro Recreation Agency permits 257 privately owned houseboats to be kept on Don Pedro Lake. In addition to this, there are many rentals available.

Within the next few days, 60 houseboats are expected to begin snaking from their typical home at Don Pedro Reservoir’s north end because it will be too shallow for big watercraft. These boats will be moved to the reservoir’s south end, joining 200 others for what could easily turn into a cramped mess. Hopefully, it ends up being more like a huge get together for houseboats enthusiasts.

The space isn’t the only thing that is in question, the rates are as well. A group of consultants is set to unveil an official study comparing houseboat mooring rates to those charged at other marines. Dornbusch Associates is expected to suggest an eventual fee hike of up to 68 percent, depending on location and boat.

As you can imagine, previous proposals to increase rates have been opposed by owners. Forever Resorts, which operates the lake’s two marinas, says it spent $2.2 million on improvements with no additional income added to the bottom line.

Dornbusch studied rates charged at eight comparable marinas: five in the Valley, including those at nearby McClure and New Melones and also Lake Camanche plus one in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and two at Lake Shasta. The company noted that Don Pedro is unique because it accommodates larger houseboats than most of those marinas and based recommendations on square footage comparisons rather than more common linear measurements.

The company suggests that Forever Resorts should boost Don Pedro’s monthly rates from:

• $258 to $434 for buoys at the Don Pedro Reservoir southern marina near Fleming Meadows, and to $370 at the northern Moccasin Point marina

• $298 to $448 for slips accommodating houseboats up to 20 feet at Moccasin Point

• $391 to $529 for houseboat slips larger than 20 feet at Moccasin Point

• $525 to $646 for slips at the southern marina

While the rate issue will have to be addressed at some point, the most immediate issue is the relocation of Moccasin Point’s houseboats and marina. They haven’t had to take such drastic action, owners say, since 1992, when low water forced a move of a couple of miles to the emergency Harney Lane mooring site off Jacksonville Road.

But today Harney Lane isn’t deep enough. Neither is the next designated spot at Six Bit Gulch. These houseboats will head Fleming Meadows, about 26 miles away. The marina is  too big to fit under bridges required to make the trip so it will be split in at least two pieces and towed away, but will not be reassembled this year.

Let’s keep our California houseboating family in our thoughts as they go through this transition. Here’s to more rain during the upcoming season.


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