Where To Dock A Houseboat?

Houseboats have become increasingly popular over the years. Most people love the ideas of houseboats and the idea that they provide a far less than traditional means of living. 

While a houseboat might seem exceptionally cool to have, it should not be a spur of the moment purchase choice as there are many things to consider before purchasing. The first question you will have to answer is where do you dock your houseboat at? If you are purchasing a houseboat or just seeking general knowledge about it, this is the first place to start. 

Houseboats are normally docked in a marina or at a dock on private land depending on what you have access to. Houseboat owners will have to pay a monthly fee to dock their boats at a marina so a private location is much better since no payment is required. 

Not only do marina’s offer docks for houseboats but they also offer places for small boats or elaborate yachts to dock or moor as well. Marinas will also generally offer other services such as fuel, water, and even sewage disposal. Larger marinas will even have laundry facilities and some will also have grocery stores or at least minimal groceries for sale in the general store areas. 

The service that each marina offers varies however, if you are looking to buy a houseboat these services can be a deciding factor into which specific marina you choose to dock your houseboat at. 

What can you expect when you dock your houseboat?

First and foremost you should expect that the marina will be in charge of making sure your houseboat and dock is secure. That means you will want to choose a marina with good security or at least a decent security plan to protect your houseboat when you aren’t there. 

As mentioned before, each marina offers different services that can help to secure your boat but they can also help with the maintenance or needed repairs (at a price of course). 

You can choose the perfect marina to dock your houseboat at based on the services you prefer for your houseboat. As a result of this, you can have high expectations when finding somewhere to dock your boat.

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Basic Information about docking your houseboat

Here is some basic information about docking your houseboat at a marina that you should consider.

Dock and slip prices

It should come as no surprise that you will have to pay marina fees and even specifically slip fees. A boat slip is the portion of the marina in which a boat is berthed or moored, or used for embarking or disembarking. This is the specific space that your boat will be and as such you have to pay for the service.

Prices will vary depending on what city and state or even country that you are located in. The more obscure or off the beaten path the marina is the cheaper your dock and slip fee will be per month. 

Dock and slip sizes

The size of the slip you get will be determined by the size of the boat. So in looking for a marina to dock your boat, you will have to ensure that all the marinas that you are considering have slip sizes to accommodate the size of your houseboat. 

River or lake

A marina for your houseboat can be on either a lake or a river. If you are a traveler and looking to move away from a specific place then a river might be better for you. Before docking your boat this is something you will want to decide on as if you put your boat in a lake you are stuck there (unless it connects to a river or other waterways).

Some houseboat owners don’t care for whether the marina is located on a river or lake but for most people it makes quite a big difference. 

Marina services offered 

Services at the marina can range from services to fix and service your houseboat along with services for all of the inhabitants of the boat. These services can add to the experience especially if you live onboard the boat. Some marinas can even act as a small community with all your needs met so you don’t have to leave the marina when you don’t want to. 

Here are some of the services that some marinas will offer. 

Covered Slips

Now that we have discovered the importance of a slip let’s look at a service marinas tend to offer in regards to slips which are covered slips. Covered slips as the name suggests are covered to protect your boat from any inclement weather that you might experience. 

There are pros and cons to both covered and uncovered slips. Covered slips can keep out the elements such as rain and snow that can destroy your boat prematurely. However, when the slip is covered small rodents can often destroy the boat from the inside as they also want to come in to get out of the bad weather. 

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With uncovered slips your boat will show more signs of wear and tear but you will often save some money as uncovered slips are cheaper and you don’t have to worry about rodents that way either. 

Launching and haul out

Houseboats are generally left in the water year around in most places if they aren’t small enough to be put on a trailer however if you want it to be launched and hauled out regularly it is important to look into if your marina can facilitate this. 

Often underwater repairs for the houseboat will have to be done so if this is required it is certainly helpful to have the marina be able to do this.

Winter Storage

This is an important service especially for houseboat owners living in a region that is prone to snow and extreme weather conditions. This allows for your boat to be safe and still functional after the winter season has passed.

Some marinas will even offer services to winterize your boat as well so that can be especially helpful if you are new to houseboats. 

Repair services

Some marinas offer this service but it really depends on the size and the demand. Even if you are at a smaller marina and they don’t offer repairs they will normally be able to point you in the right direction to someone who can help. 

No matter whether the repairs are done by the marina or someone they recommend it can be helpful to have the number of someone trustworthy that won’t gauge you but will also do a good job. 

Fuel and pump-out

This is essential for the movement of the boat. If this service is not offered you will have to travel to get fuel and water as well as pump out waste. Some marinas even have a boat that can come to your slip and fuel you up or pump out the waste without you ever having to untie! 

Activities for kids

Houseboat owners are not always solo; some tend to bring the whole family. This is especially true for vacations when school is not in progress. To keep children entertained some marina’s offer recreational activities for children who are living on the boat.

Of course this service isn’t something everyone needs but if you have children on board it can certainly be helpful. 

Site security

Most marinas have an established security team or plan in place to protect everyone’s boats whether they are there or not.. This service protects both the boat and the residents from any unwanted activities such as theft. This also gives the residents peace of mind as afterall no one wants to come back from a trip to find their boat robbed or vandalized. 

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Short term living

Not all states and marinas permit actual living on houseboats while they are docked. It is important to know the laws and regulations in your area and also the marina’s rules to determine if short term living can be accommodated on your houseboat.

Laundry and groceries

If you are living on your houseboat some services you would probably appreciate is laundry and groceries. This eliminates the residents from having to leave the marina constantly to simply survive. Having to drive a long ways away from the water can take away from the experience of living or even vacationing on a boat. 

While larger boats may have washers and dryers on board many boats don’t have this so finding a marina that does can be extremely helpful. 

Internet and cellular access

In the 21st Century, it’s almost hard to believe that all marinas do not have this service. Nonetheless, it is still something to check in to. For the person who is looking to live in the moment and get away from the real world, this might not be an issue. However, if you will be conducting work from the boat or need to contact family, this is something you will have to ensure is accessible at your marina.

What have we learned?

There is a lot to consider about houseboats especially when looking into purchasing one. Since you cannot just pick it up and take it home you will first have to figure out where to dock a houseboat. Houseboats are normally docked in a marina that can either be on a lake or river. 

Where exactly you choose to dock your houseboat is a bit more intricate. 

Basic information about slip fees and sizes are important in figuring out what you can afford and the different marinas that are accommodating to the size of the boat you would like to purchase. Along with this, you will need to find a marina that has additional services and amenities offered that will suit your needs. 

Each marina is different and not all services are offered everywhere. If you are trying to find a place to dock your boat, check out what each marina in your area offers and how much they charge so you can make the best possible decision. 

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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