Your houseboating adventures shouldn’t be overwhelming. This is the time to make some good memories, and that doesn’t mean there won’t be any work involved in getting and staying on the water. If you’re thinking about this, it may be that you are in fact the “Ship Steward.” However, hopefully you’re not a one-man or woman show when it comes to preparation and onboard duties.
The first thing to do is remember to delegate the responsibilities and involve your crew. They are one of your greatest resources for having a fun trip and hopefully alleviating chaos. Probably the most chaos you really want to experience is the frenzied water fight if you’re into water games.
Here are a few ideas for preparation, to be done at least several days in advance if possible.
You may want to designate a specific location at home as sort of a “pre-boarding area.” This would be where those asked to bring things can put them so they can be organized for loading. Make a list of all the things you are going to need for your trip. You can then even designate specific crew members to be responsible for making sure these items make it to your vehicle or to a designated area before you load. If your list to transport isn’t that long, you may not need to delegate that part.
If you’re not into the pre-boarding area type of organization, you may just want to have a list and give everyone the responsibility of locating and loading things in an organized fashion. Teach your crew to pack effectively so you’re not doing it alone. Speaking as someone who has successfully loaded enough food and drink for 75 people, a coffee maker, coolers and ice, and three kids in a Chevy Corsica for weekend picnic catering gigs, I know this can be done. We went to the grocery store the morning of each event, and the shopping list was divided into four parts. I then sent three kids off on a “treasure hunt” for needed items. They had no idea this was “work,” and doing this made for a quicker trip through the grocery store. We then carefully packed the car with supplies and kids, and we were off. Of course packing for the ride home was much easier since we had used most everything taken, but again there was a system as to how things needed to be packed so all would fit going in both directions. You just have to decide how that best works for you.
Think about how long your trip will be, and then make sure you have plenty of activities planned. You may even want to put each crew member in charge of a game or activity so that you have a variety of things to do when things get slow. Have them put together the necessary items for that activity, and let them be in charge of getting these to the proper location. You may even want to have them bring something to do for when they want a little “me” time. Don’t forget your own items for this time as well. You may want to catch up on that book you have been putting off reading. Allow yourself this time, and turn the duties over to capable crew members for a bit.
Consider meal times. Who says you have to be the one cooking and cleaning all the time? Invoke the “Little Red Hen” rule, and put each crew member in charge of planning and cooking a meal. Those who want to eat should help out, right? You’ll want to consider age and ability on this as far as having the prep work and cooking done. One thing to also remember is that even your younger crew members can help out. Get their input on meal preference, and have them participate when possible in preparation. Also involve everyone in cleanup. Gone are the days of the pirate’s wench who did all the cooking and cleaning. There’s no reason for anyone to slave over everything alone. Since houseboating is a great group activity; bring that concept into everything you do on your adventure. Some of the best memories are made in group efforts.
Make sure your crew is well versed as far as giving first aid goes as well. The more you train your crew to help out in emergencies as well as the day to day activities, the better your chances of smooth sailing.
If you have to go as far as to make a chart with all of the duties and activities listed on it so everyone knows what is going on and when, that’s a great way to get all involved and help them remember what needs to happen so everyone can enjoy the trip. You may want a section for each day, including the last day when you’re packing up to go home.
The more systematic you are about your houseboating adventure, the less possibility of chaos. That’s not to say that nothing can ever go wrong, but being prepared and organized makes a lot of difference on or off the water.