Recap of 2013 On Water Expo

Kicking off the houseboating season

March 2014 Feature Katie Burke

As I reached my rental houseboat after arriving at the On Water Expo on Lake Cumberland, Ky., I heard a lady on the dock say to her husband, “If you can’t relax on a houseboat, you’re hopeless.”

He seemed to grudgingly agree, but she had me sold on the importance of relaxing. From that point on, that phrase became my motto for the trip. I’m sure my publisher won’t be thrilled to read this, but work took a back burner to touring brand new houseboats and relaxing on the dock with all of the people who had traveled hundreds of miles to join us at the 2013 On Water Expo.

Thank you!

Hands down, the best part of the Expo was meeting with all of you—the people who make the show a success year after year. I spoke with families who had traveled from Vermont, Florida, and even as far away as California to visit the biggest and only houseboat show in the world. 

Nathaniel and Allene Robertson came because they are starting to shop around for a boat once their sons graduate from high school. A young couple—Jeremy and Megan Hendricks—who just purchased their first houseboat, stopped by to look at some of the aftermarket products. The point is, no matter what your current needs are, if you love houseboats, you belong at the On Water Expo. And we would love to meet you there next year.

It Doesn’t Get Any Better

As far as I’m concerned, I would retire at State Dock tomorrow if my husband would let me. It’s a perfect dock community of houseboaters and they have everything you need to have a good time. We didn’t have to leave the dock one time in five days. I think we’ve all seen the rental boats at some marina and thought to ourselves, “Meh.” This isn’t the case at State Dock. The lineup of Thoroughbred rentals are in great condition and well stocked. I know the people who stayed on Boatel Row agree as well because they told me as I walked by. It’s so great that they make the rentals available for Expo attendees. Best news yet? You can get a discount for staying on Boatel Row during the Expo.

State Dock also set up entertainment for Friday and Saturday night. David Lee, Wynn Varble and Michael William are all entertainers/song writers from Nashville, Tenn., and they know how to keep a crowd excited. Between the three of them, they have penned songs such as, “Letters from Home”, “Have You Forgotten?”, “A Little More Country Than That” and “19 Somethin”.

Varble was having such a good time that he forgot the beginning of his number one hit, “Waiting on a Woman”. Luckily, his underage friend William was able to help him out. Houseboats

It’s time we get to the main attraction and most exciting part of the On Water Expo, the houseboats. There were 22 houseboats on site for full touring during the three-day event. Stardust, Thoroughbred and Summerset all came with beautiful new boats. The brokers brought out the best houseboats in their inventory for viewing. From the million-dollar price tags to the $37K custom one-bedroom boat, there was something for everyone.

Touring the boats is definitely a highlight of the show. It let’s customers see layouts, amenities and other great things in person. The dock was full of excited people looking at the houseboats, which we love to see. If you love houseboating, then the On Water Expo is the only place you will see all of the different boats in one place. 


Besides touring boats, seminars are an important part of the Expo as well. Bill Burke gave his talk on the “Seven Deadly Sins of Houseboating”. It was eye opening for all of us attendees when Burke listed off all of his deployments in the armed services and followed it up with the statement that the closest to death he’s been is on a houseboat with faulty wiring. Patty Loeser, from WakeAction in Somerset, Ky., provided some great information on water safety, standup paddle boarding and wakeboarding. Jake Pyzik, from Houseboats Buy Terry, provided great tips for setting up the perfect bar on a houseboat. My favorite part? When he shared a story about a customer using vodka instead of antifreeze for winterizing his boat. The next spring, he invited his friends over for a party while he drained the pipes. Don Hevener, from Dreams in Motion, taught a Captains Course where he took a houseboat out on the lake and gave some great information about always being in control of your boat.

Cook Off

A twist was added this year when we partnered with Two Brothers Grillin'  for our first annual Chicken Wing Cook-Off. There was no wingin' it this year as amazing cooks grilled up some of the tastiest wings we've ever had. Our publisher Greg Larsen, salesman Chris Searle and Barbara Hilton were the judges and tasted each entry. We begged for winner Chuck Craig’s recipe, but he's keeping it under lock and key. Knowing how good the wings tasted, we really can't blame him. Sisters Dakota and Skylar Musgrave took second and third place respectively.

Poker Run

One of the most exciting draws to the Expo is the Poker Run. The winner for the last four years has driven off in a brand new Apex pontoon and this year the competition was as tough as we’ve ever seen. The winner after the final card was dealt was Julie Gillespie from South Carolina who took the grand prize.

“My girls are going to love it and we are going to make great memories on this boat,” says Gillespie.


The 10X10 vendors do a great job of bringing out fun boating products and create an extra excitement on the dock. We had everyone from Amish furniture to marine insurance to boating shoes. For people who pre-registered for the event, they got to come to our booth to pick up their bag from Sinister Diesel, complete with an I love Houseboating t-shirt.

Let’s Do It Again

For those who attended this year, we’d love to see you again. For those who weren’t able to join us for the best three-day weekend that jump starts summer each year, it’s time you save the date on your calendar. Next year’s On Water Expo at State Dock kicks off on June 6 and promises to be even better. Watch for updates at as we get closer to the show.

 Poker Run Contestants

First Place

Julie Gillespie, Lyman, S.C.

Poker Hands: 7

Prize: 2013 Qwest Splash Pad pontoon with Yamaha 90hp engine and trailer ( and

Quote:  “I think I’m in shock. I have to figure out how to get the boat home because I flew here!”

Second Place

Joe Decker (Gayle’s husband), Harned, Ky.

Poker Hands: 6

Prize: Three Sportsstuff life jackets, an Airhead wakeboard, Sportsstuff Wake Yak towable, Sportsstuff Supercube and an Airhead U-tube.

Quote: “This is the second time I’ve made it to the final table and came in second. Now my wife’s says we’re buying a pontoon on our way home.”

Third Place

Ernest Long, North Augusta, S.C.

Poker Hands: 8

Prize: Two Sportsstuff life jackets, a Sportsstuff towable and an Airhead towable ( and

Quote: “I was excited to make it to the final table and I’m fine with third place.”

Fourth Place

Patti McCord, Lexington, Ky.

Poker Hands: 7

Prize: Two Airhead towables (

Quote: “I’m surprised I made it this far, but I wish I would have won the boat.”

Fifth Place

Abigail Loy, Jamestown, Ky.

Poker Hands: 6

Prize: Sportsstuff Wake Yak towable (

Quote: “This was fun, but a pontoon would have been perfect with our houseboat.”

Sixth Place

Kristie Anders, Pike County, Ky.

Poker Hands: 6

Prize: BoatFun Sports Basketball Hoop (

Quote: “I’m disappointed, but I’m leaving with more than I brought with me so it’s a good day.”

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