Sprucing Up Your Boat

Let’s add some aftermarket products!

June 2015 Feature Katie Burke

Over the last four issues of Houseboat magazine, we’ve given the new houseboat owner an in-depth look at what it takes to buy a boat. We’ve covered every base from researching a potential buy, to getting financing, to picking a dock. Now that you own your houseboat, the accessories you purchase are a big factor in determining how much you’ll enjoy the ownership of your new home on the water. The small things can make a big difference.

So for the last piece in this series, we want to go over accessories that will help you out. While are not able to cover every available product, here is an idea of what to expect.


We all want our houseboats to be just like home. Usually that means all of the comforts that we enjoy, including multiple appliances. But you’ll need the power necessary to make all of them work.

Generators are a practical part of houseboating as they allow you to power all the things on your houseboat and are a symbol of independence and, more importantly, safety. One important factor to consider when purchasing a generator is the amount of power it produces measured in kilowatts (kW). The higher your electrical demands, the higher power production you will need.

We like both Kohler Marine Generators and Westerbeke. Kohler has a full line of gasoline generators ranging from 5 to 15 kilowatts. Westerbeke offers a full range of gasoline generators for houseboats ranging from 8 to 22.5 kilowatts. Head over to www.westerbeke.com or www.kohlergenerators.com to review your options. 


Let’s face it, houseboats are long and can act like giant billboards out on the water. The wind and the boxy feel can make it difficult to navigate into a slip or marina. You don’t need this frustration or headache. Thrusters to aid this will be a huge help.

Bow and stern thrusters make all the difference when navigating a houseboat. While it is clear that navigating a gargantuan houseboat is tough, thrusters can help move a boat in a way much like a vehicle with front-wheel steering. Depending on placement, the unit can move a boat laterally, or sideways, in an area with limited space.

One manufacturer that has always impressed us is HydraNautics. They have been in the business of thrusters for over 25 years. They offer a unit that can be added to the boat while it remains in a slip. You will save the expense of trucks, trailers, welders and ramp fees, as well as the inconvenience and potential damage that pulling a large houseboat from the water could cause. Visit www.thrusterman.com for more details.

Marine Sanitation

In a houseboat, there are not that many parts that receive less attention but are more important than the sanitation system. Proper care and maintenance of your boat’s sanitation system can help ensure that your houseboat experience is a legal and sanitary one. Several products from toilets to holding tank treatments are available to help with this.  We are big fans of the BacTANK T3 line of cleaning products. It was created by a long-time boater, Barbara Nolan, to combat the lack of effective products. The pro-biotics assist in the degradation of waste and help reduce waste, clogs and buildups in holding tanks, lines and drains. The BacTANK T3 product line has several other products that help address sanitation issues such as a grease trap treatment that reduces buildup caused by fats, oils and greases. See what they have to offer at www.nolanbiolabs.com.


When you are out on your favorite lake you are surrounded by a lot of fresh water. Unfortunately, it is not drinkable and that means filling up a tank full of fresh water before leaving the dock and then maintaining those levels as you start using it. Relatively new to the market are devices called watermakers that make access to clean water a whole lot more convenient. The WaterFixer Company is one such company. The system is designed to filter microorganisms from lake water by using a high-intensity ultraviolet light. The great aspect of this system is that it doesn’t use any chemicals and beats the standards set by the United States Public Health Service for UV water disinfection. This makes it perfect for boats in highly populated docks where there might be an excess of microorganisms in the water or if the dock water is question. It also does not require separate water tank or faucet. You can get more information at www.waterfixercompany.com.


Every day new electronic are released to the marketplace. Many of them can apply to your houseboat. Such as iPad apps that control every electrical component on your boat to electronics with features from simple maps to the ability to gauge the weather. If you have a need, there is most likely an electronic device that can assist you.

We have long enjoyed Garmin’s lineup of electronics for houseboats. The GPS 431 comes with an ultra-bright 4-inch touchscreen display and incredibly quick map drawing and panning speeds. Lowrance also offers a great lineup of electronics that are ideal. Lowrance expanded its HDS Gen2 line with the introduction of the wide-format HDS Gen2 Touch. The unit has all the same features of its HDS Gen2 line with the addition of 7-, 9- and 12-inch touchscreen displays. You can review all their products at www.garmin.com or www.lowrance.com.

Head Out

The most important part of owning a houseboat is getting out on the water and having a wonderful time in the presence of nature, friends and family. With the addition of these great products to your houseboat, you can ensure that the time you spend on the water is full of great memories instead of worrying about the small stuff.


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