Looking At Rental Vacations Differently

Published in the May 2018 Issue June 2018 Feature By Brady L. Kay

Ask any 7-year-old why he loves to play dress-up and you’re sure to get a wide variety of answers. Kids are known to say some crazy things at times, but I’m betting the general response from the wannabe cowboy, police officer or maybe even Jedi Knight would be the idea of being someone different, even if just for a short time.

Now stay with me on this as I attempt to make the connection, but couldn’t you argue that a houseboat rental vacation for someone who already owns a houseboat is similar? Doesn’t it give you the freedom to be somewhere different and be a different type of houseboater, even if just for a short time?

I used to see rental houseboats as a logical stepping stone to eventual ownership. You know, kind of like, “Don’t love it until you try it,” kind of philosophy. I figured the best way for a new family to get into houseboating was to rent one first to see how they like it. Then once the captain gets comfortable behind the helm and the family figures out their roles – especially when it comes to docking – they could begin planning a custom build or at the very least talking with a houseboat broker about what used boats might be available. This of course is still a proven formula of how to grow houseboating, but why would you ever rent if you already own a houseboat?

This is where the dress-up analogy comes in. Unless you have some serious commitment issues, I’m guessing most if not all houseboat owners who boat on land-locked lakes don’t do a lot of lake hopping like trailer boat owners do. It’s not like you can just park your 80-foot houseboat on the side of the house and then each weekend decide where you’d like to take the family boating. Houseboats were meant to stay put and I see it as nothing but an advantage to owners that we’re able to keep our houseboats docked at the same marina so the only decision we need to make each weekend is how soon can we leave and get to our house on the water?

But if you’re a regular houseboater on let’s say, Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, this is a background you’re very familiar with. This lake is surrounded by miles and miles of thick green trees and beautiful rolling hills, but haven’t you ever wondered what it might be like to change the scenery? Lake Powell in Utah for example, offers a unique red rock desert landscape and a different kind of houseboating that is similar in a lot of ways, but has its own challenges too.

What if you and your closest friends left your own houseboats tied up for the week and flew to a different part of the country just for fun this summer? On a couples retreat you and your friends could rent a houseboat on a lake that none of you have ever visited before. It would kind of be like dress-up for kids as you’d get to be and do something different, but as an added bonus you’d be packing along your houseboating skills and your experience.

How long has it been since you had to really study a map and scan the shores for mile marker signs—and we’re not talking about that embarrassing time you got turned around while visiting a different marina on your home waters (you know that lake you’ve been boating on for years) and had to ask for help? I’m talking about some serious navigation as well as exploration as you discover new coves, marinas and landmarks like you first did when you started houseboating.

Renting before you own is still a great idea, but renting even though you already own might just be the summer vacation you’ve been needing but just didn’t realize it.

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