A short while ago I noticed a new job title on a friends LinkedIn account. My friend Ben Jackson had become VP of Sales at Houseboats.com. I knew right away that I would be calling him eventually because the idea of renting a houseboat to share an experience on the water with friends and family was very appealing to me. Two weeks ago I finally made that call, and I am glad that I did. Houseboats.com has rentals at Lake McClure and New Melones Lake, they also have impressive rental inventory at Jones Valley resort at Lake Shasta including a massive 65’ Houseboat “Titan” that sleeps 22 passengers.
The unit that we rented was the Eclipse model “Capicornus” a boat with many great amenities including a roof top hot-tub, full kitchen, 1.5 bathrooms, 2 state rooms and lots of other great goodies. The highlight feature for my family and our friends was the roof top hot-tub. We arrived Thursday morning and departed on Sunday. It ended up being a very relaxing and enjoyable trip with some surprises along the way.
When we arrived at Lake McClure we checked in at the store. The store manager I believe his name was Jim greeted us. The staff was friendly and helpful from the time we arrived until our departure, it left a very good impression with our family and guests. Jim pointed us in the right direction and told us where to unload our luggage and supplies. Once we had loaded the boat and parked our car we were ready for our orientation process. The detail that was covered was impressive but operating a houseboat and all the related systems is not difficult but it is extensive. After orientation the staff offered to bring us to a good spot for the first day/night that was relatively close to the marina. It was really helpful to see how to properly beach and tie off the boat before attempting it ourselves.
On Friday my wife Laura and I were both ready to operate the boat ourselves so we followed the procedures that we’d been given and cast off. Our first destination was just outside the marina to have the sun shade installed. We hailed the marina “Capicornus to Barret 1, Over” feeling a bit like a pilot calling the tower. The day before they had suggested we wait to have the sun shade installed due to the winds on the lake, so we drove close to the marina and two guys came out to install the shade, we were officially moving now.
The resort manager Jim had suggested drifting in the channel and occasionally powering the motor on to avoid the banks as needed. This was actually a great tip and we had a very peaceful day largely drifting to the Southern portion of the lake, close to the dam. Under power we scouted around for a good place to land. While searching we spotted some wild Donkey’s, a waterfall (albeit a small one!) and noted at least one very nice cabin on the East side of the lake. Eventually we found a great sheltered cove on Mack Island. We were able to land successfully and tie the boat down for the remainder of the day and night. While tied off to Mack Island our family had a lot of fun. The area is probably a geologists dream with some very interesting rock structures and rocks strewn throughout including quartz. There is also a lot of interesting driftwood, more stuff for our 4 year old to enjoy.
Saturday our friends were coming, so after a leisurely morning we went back to the marina. They drove our houseboat in, probably a good thing. We’d gotten pretty good at piloting the boat, in fact my Laura did most of the driving Saturday. She is a natural. Before long our friends and their 2 kids arrived. We had a lot of fun tooling around the lake Saturday and eventually we found a extremely sheltered location on the West Side of the lake, it was like threading a needle. After Laura brought the boat into that spot, I figure she could probably drive it anywhere. Saturday night through Sunday morning were really extremely fun. We fired up the BBQ and enjoyed some cold beverages. The kids really had a blast in the hot tub especially and Sunday morning the oldest boy did some fishing. He didn’t catch anything but I think it was more about the experience to him anyway.
Departure time Sunday came too soon. We all could have spent a week out on that Lake. What a blast! Definitely have some ideas for future trips:
- Birthday trip in August aboard the “Titan” at Shasta with some friends and family.
- “Annual” trip with the friends that came with us this time to McClure.
If you get a chance to rent a houseboat in Northern California I recommend my buddy Ben Jackson’s company Houseboats.com. You can check them out on Facebook, On the web or at “Captain Jackson’s” blog.
Here are a few more of my favorite photos from the trip: