This past July, the Magda family and their friends and relatives experienced renting a houseboat for the first time at Pleasure Cove Marina in Napa, Calif., and they were completely blown away. By the end of their three-day trip on Lake Berryessa, the group was entirely converted to the houseboating lifestyle, praising the family time, freedom and relaxation they enjoyed together on the lake.
From the moment they stepped on the boat, they were astounded by all the space and luxury Pleasure Cove’s 60 Silver houseboat had to offer. Everything from the four bedrooms to the hot tub up top exceeded their expectations, and when it was over, all they could talk about was when they would come back again.
The group consisted of Julius and Colleen Magda along with their daughters Deleste, Tessa, and Kathrine. Their family friends Larry and Cindy Au with their son Mac joined them on their first day of houseboating, and on the second day they were joined by their relatives Cassie Henrich, her father Steve Kane and her two young children Zoe, age 5, and Ashlyn, age 3. Lastly, they were joined by their relative Ashleigh Magda on their final day.
The entire trip was filled with smiles and laughter, and the family and friends created memories they will cherish forever.
Love At First Sight
Since nobody in the group had ever stayed on a houseboat before, they weren’t sure what to expect and they all had varied ideas of what a houseboat was. Deleste pictured a sort of floating platform and their family friend Larry said he imagined something narrow and boxy. Needless to say, when they clapped eyes on the houseboat, they were taken aback by the generous living space and ample amenities on the 60-foot vessel.
“I thought it was going to be small—but it wasn’t,” recalled Kathrine. “It was very nice and I was pleasantly surprised at the luxury.”
“When you walk in, the ceilings are high and it’s really big and wide,” agreed Larry. “It has a really nice feel and the design on it is just right.”
The group was also stunned to find four state rooms on board with two bathrooms and a full kitchen that included everything from a dishwasher to a trash compactor. The fact that there was a hot tub on top and a water slide off the back was frosting on the cake. They had everything they needed and more than enough room to relax and enjoy themselves.
“Dearly beloved, it was enormous!” exclaimed Mac.
A Great Atmosphere To Bond
Since the Magda kids are all young adults now and leading independent lives in different locations across the United States and even overseas, they expressed how lucky they felt that they could all be together, and the houseboat on Lake Berryessa was the perfect atmosphere to get in some quality time with each other.
“My favorite part was that I was with my family all in one place—they couldn’t get away,” laughed Colleen. “They were all right there with no distractions.”
The trip was the ultimate opportunity for the family to unplug. Once they took the houseboat out and found a nice little cove, they soon realized that none of them had cell phone service except for one person. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it meant they could be truly present. Plus, if they needed to communicate with the outside world, they could borrow the one working cell phone.
“It felt like a real vacation,” added Tessa, “especially because we didn’t have Wi-Fi. It made it so you were connected with the people around you and disconnected with the nonsense—you could really just be there.”
The lake offered an endless list of things to do. Days passed in the blink of an eye because of all the fun they were having. Aside from the usual swimming and sunbathing, they’d also go out in pairs and explore other coves in the kayak or go fishing.
Julius saw some big fish jumping in the lake one day and immediately got his fishing pole only to realize he’d forgotten bait. Not to be deterred, he improvised with pieces of cheese and salami and had some success by catching two catfish. They weren’t the large ones he saw jumping in the lake, but he was still happy at his success.
The houseboat included Direct TV; however, the family and friends never used it. Instead, they favored each other’s company and making use of the lake. They popped in and out of the water all day with the help of the water slide and spent hours floating around in tubes. The Au family also brought their ski boat along on the first day and the young adults took turns tubing and knee boarding.
“We never got bored,” recounted Julius. “It was always a good laugh, good food, good conversation, good hot tubbing, and good swimming. There are so many parts of the boating experience I enjoyed, but of course the best part of it was that my family and friends were together. There’s no substitute for family or friends to get together on a houseboat and just shoot the breeze.”
Even after the sun went down, they would jump in the hot tub up and continue to hang out, watching the stars and taking in the peaceful lake views. “It was all just really special,” shared Colleen. “One of my favorite moments was sitting in the hot tub listening to the kids talking, visiting, and enjoying each other’s company.”
Soaking It In
The Magdas left all their worries at the shore once they boarded the houseboat, and they basked in their total freedom from regular cares. They were endlessly surprised at how much space they had and how relaxing it was to do whatever they wanted when they wanted.
“Still having freedom while being with everyone that I love in a smaller space was awesome,” noted Tessa. “It was almost like you’re in your own little world, but all together.”
“Also, you’re not forced to stay in one spot,” added Julius. “If you don’t like it, we can always move to another cove.”
The family planned out their meals beforehand, so they didn’t have to go through the hassle of deciding what they wanted to eat on the boat. Even Kathrine, a notoriously picky eater, was delighted with the menu and there weren’t any complaints… especially when they broke out the watermelon on the second day.
Since all their meals were in order, all the family and friends had to do was relax and enjoy the gorgeous lake. Nestled amidst golden, rolling hills accented by green trees, the lake was absolutely stunning. Plus, with a water temperature around 80 to 85 degrees, it was never a pain getting in and out of the water.
“I loved swimming,” emphasized Kathrine. “It was so easy because it was the perfect temperature and it was right there. Even if you didn’t want to be in the lake, you could be in the hot tub—you could either warm it up or have it cool like the lake.”
A Child’s Paradise
Cassie’s young kids Zoe and Ashlyn also had the time of their lives. The houseboat was a dream come true for the 3- and 5-year-old. They loved swimming in the lake with everybody, but what they liked most of all was the hot tub.
The hot tub functioned perfectly as a kiddie pool for when Cassie didn’t want to be in the lake with them. They’d leave the hot tub off and just let the kids frolic and play right where everyone could keep an eye on them while they relaxed on the top deck.
Having the amenities of a regular home was also a huge plus for Cassie and the kids. “It makes it easy when they’re hungry or when they need a nap or need to go to the bathroom,” explained Cassie. “It just makes it a lot more convenient than just being on a regular boat for the day.”
Pleasure Cove Marina is one of the 64 marinas Suntex Marinas owns in the United States. The marina offers six rental houseboats in four different sizes ranging from 59 to 70 feet. They boast year-round houseboat rentals, and have introduced countless people like the Magdas and their friends to the houseboat lifestyle
“We’ve got some beautiful boats and they’re very user-friendly,” shared Amber Walters-Garcia, the assistant general manager of Pleasure Cove Marina. “Almost every single houseboater who rents from us becomes a lifetime houseboater.”
After staying on Pleasure Cove Marina’s 60 Silver houseboat for three days, the Magdas and their friends can attest to the truth of this statement. The team at the marina walked them through the in’s and out’s of working, maneuvering, and anchoring the houseboat, and they never had any problems.
“I’d love to rent with Pleasure Cove Marina again,” added Colleen. “The boat was easy to use and had everything we needed. I don’t think I’ve been that relaxed in a long time and you feel relaxed from that very first day. Then after that, you just bask in it.”
Three days went by too fast for the Magda family and they’re already looking forward to when they can rent a houseboat again. They enjoyed every aspect of the experience and were very happy to have been able to do it together as family and friends.
“You’re making memories all the time,” explained Julius. “It’s not a passing picture—it’s something you experience together. There’s no substitute for family and friends.”
“Houseboats are wonderful,” chimed in Tessa. “Everybody should do this, it’s just a really great place to bond. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
For more information, check out Pleasure Cove Marina and Suntex Marinas.