View Full Version : runabout give me the runaround

11-06-2012, 08:01 AM
My wife and I have determined we need a runabout in order to run back and forth to the dock when the HB is anchored out in order to bring friends and family aboard. This presents a lot of unknowns for us and Iím curious to have everyone elseís feedback on this issue.

How do we get both boats out to the anchor spot? Do we tie the runabout to the side of the houseboat? Do we drag it behind? Will this create a maneuvering issue for the HB?

How do we get both boats back to the dock? Our HB is not on the end of the dock, so I must be able to pull the HB into the slip and canít do this with the runabout tied to the side.

My neighbor had a boat lift custom built for his HB so he can load his 15.5í SeaDoo jet boat onto the back and doesnít need to tie it up to the side any more. Problem is, 7í of the SeaDoo boat is hanging off the back of his HB. Iím no physics expert, but 7í of boat is a lot of weight to just be hanging off the back of a HB. If I bought the same boat and they made the same lift for my HB, it would hang 8' off the back of mine..... :confused:

11-06-2012, 08:11 AM
I tie my 18 foot ski boat on the side sometimes when I head out for a cove, only if the water is fairly flat. If it is bumpy, I will tow the ski boat behind me. When I get to the dock or my favorite cove, I have the first mate bring the boat back to the houseboat and tie it up before we land or dock the boat. There are commercially-available bridles which are essentially 10 foot stiff arms that attach to the back of the houseboat and come together on your runabout, keeping it from running into your houseboat when you slow or turn. I made my own one time out of 3/4 inch PVC pipe. It worked reasonably well, until I stepped on one of the pipes and broke it. I would love to hear from other what they do. This is always a problem, how to get your stuff all out there at one time. I have a PWC on my back deck that I roll into the water. That has solved most of my problems. It is always handy.

11-06-2012, 10:56 AM
Unless I am just going to my houseboat for a quick "work trip," I pretty much always take a ski boat along. I tow the ski boat behind the houseboat on a 3/4 inch poly rope that is marketed to pull a tube behind a ski boat. Here is a link to the one I bought: http://www.marine-products.com/accurate-tube-rope-6k-60ft.html The advantage of poly over nylon is that the poly has some "spring" to it. The floats on the end make it easy to grab the end of the rope if you drop it in the water. The 60 foot length seems to work well.

Hooking up the towed boat is easy enough to do with one person. You loop the tow line through the bow eye on the towed boat, hook the other end to a dock cleat on the houseboat, and give the towed boat a shove out with your foot. It is nice to have someone watch as you pull away from the towed boat with the houseboat at an idle. When the tow rope is taught, you can bring the houseboat up to speed.

When I get to where I want to anchor the houseboat, I either put someone out in the runabout or nose it up on the beach while I deal with anchoring the houseboat. Once the houseboat is anchored on the beach, I bring the ski boat alongside the houseboat. Sometimes that's a simple tie up with fenders between the two boats. Usually, though, I anchor the houseboat to be prepared for high winds. That includes anchor lines coming off the rear corners of the houseboat going to on-shore anchors. The rear anchor lines come off the back houseboat corners at 45 degree angles. When I have those anchor lines in place, I have to tie the ski boat to the anchor lines rather than tying directly to the houseboat. That is no big deal if you know how to tie a Prusik hitch. Here is a tutorial if you're interested: http://www.animatedknots.com/prusik/index.php

That is how I am doing it now. I have plans to buy a Boat Hitch. They make the whole process easier in that you leave the ski boat tied to the back of the houseboat while you're backing, docking, and anchoring onto a beach. Here is a link to the Boat Hitch: http://theboathitch.com/ I have seen the pvc pipe things that stiffen a rope for towing, but I haven't seen very good results with them.

Good luck. Having a small boat along is what adds the most fun to my houseboat trips.

11-06-2012, 12:18 PM
We use our ski boat as a runabout. We side tie ours to the bouseboat (we are on a lake, not a river). But, we use a tow bar that I made. It is a made of tube steel that slides in/out sideways from under the deck of the boat and had hitch pins like a trailer draw bar set up to hold it in either the in or the out position. On the end of the towbar I have a ring welded where I connect a line with a dock line snubber to ease the tension on the line that then connects to the bow eye. I made the tow bar just the right length so it holds the side of the ski boat about 12" clear of the houseboat so when wakes, etc. go by the ski boat still stays clear of the houseboat. I keep a stern line connected to the ski boat as well to help it to track properly and it holds it from running forward when I stop/ slow down the houseboat. This way we can keep it in place when we go into marinas, coves, etc.unlike when towed behind and it has to be brought in tight.

11-06-2012, 12:48 PM
Endurance - That Boathitch product is the absolute best thing I've seen yet! I believe that's the best solution for my problem.

The next issue I have is the ~$850 price tag! A good fabricator with some spare time can whip-up something like that in a couple hours for a couple hundred bucks.

11-06-2012, 01:31 PM
The swim platform on our Kingscraft is a very heavy duty solid aluminum design. I plan on welding on a V-roller bracket made from 1/4" aluminum while we are in dry-dock this winter. This will create an attachment point very similar to the boathitch. I am mainly concerned with the height of the swim platform above the water. I will have to calculate where the front of our runabout will line up height wise with the platform. We are fortunate in that I believe the swim platform will easily handle the stresses that it will be subjected to.


11-06-2012, 02:41 PM
There are two kinds of houseboats, A Floater and a Boater.
That Hitch would not work on a boating HB, such as a Gibson on a plane.
Running at 25 MPH.

But a floater I can see it is great.

11-06-2012, 04:32 PM
I have a Towdster and it works quite well. I've towed a ski boat, wave runner and a dingy and it has done a fine job on all.


Frantically Relaxing
11-06-2012, 08:26 PM
Back in '07 we bought a new Bayliner 175br, at the time it was perfect for us. I have a pair of mooring whips that mount to the diving deck, and we tied the Bayliner to them, parallel to the deck...


The nifty thing about mooring whips is they keep the boat about 3' from the deck, at all times. We used to tow the thing out just like that, never had an issue in 4 seasons. I'm on the end of our dock which makes it easy, but I would think you could do this with a pull-in slip as long as the boat's LONGER than the slip...

Then we outgrew the Bayliner (half of our 16 grandkids grew into teenagers) so in '11 we sold it and bought our Chaparral 260ssi-- Needless to say, it won't fit so good behind a 14' wide boat, so I tie it up to the port side...


We've towed it out & back about 4 times like that with no problems. Hit some rough water once that had me worried, but I have about 8 fenders between the 2 and they do their job...

Since we have the only houseboat on our lake, and our harbor outlet is only about 30' wide and curved, and some people freak out when they see us, towing with rope won't cut it. I too have thought about making my own boat hitch, it would work much better than side towing...

11-07-2012, 05:29 AM
I just tow it like Endurance with a high strength poly rope. Been doing it that way for 25 years and never really had a problem. Just make sure to use a rope that floats. I am not sure I would over-complicate it with all of the other ideas.

11-07-2012, 06:55 AM
I was towing my 18 ft ski boat across slightly bumpy water one day, when the front rope broke, spinning the ski boat around backward, and towards the houseboat. Fortunately, I always tow it on the starboard side, so I can see it while I drive. I was able to stop the houseboat before the ski boat hit. Nowadays, I always use TWO ropes on the bow! LOTS of fenders is a good thing.

11-07-2012, 08:04 AM
I have a Towdster and it works quite well. I've towed a ski boat, wave runner and a dingy and it has done a fine job on all.


Dan, can you go in reverse while towing another boat with the Towdster?