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Old     (ixfe)      Join Date: Aug 2008       01-07-2010, 2:24 PM Reply   
My extended family is considering a 4-night houseboat trip at Lake Shasta for a reunion this summer.

There are 21 people total:

10 adults
9 kids (16,13,13,10,10,10,8,6,4)
2 newborn twins

We are considering the Queen 1 from Silverthorn or the Titan from Jones Valley.

Besides the rental fee... what are some of the other hidden costs associated with the houseboat itself to take into account?

How much for gas assuming we find a resting spot nearby the marina and only run the generator during the day?

Do they charge you for propane? How much does that end up costing?

Is there sales tax? Resort fees? Other weird hotel-like taxes?

Am I going to get my deposit back, or will they trump up make-believe charges to keep it.

Do you have to bring your own bed sheets?

What other tips and tricks should we know about. I'm looking for anything from money tips (like the above questions) to what fun things to do (besides the obvious wakeboarding). I am so afraid that I'll either forget to bring something or feel like I got screwed by some hidden cost/charge. I'm even looking for tips on these two boats from those who might have used them.

So let the tips fly!


Old     (ss1234)      Join Date: Jul 2005       01-07-2010, 6:06 PM Reply   
Shasta is awesome, you will have a blast. Silverthorne and Jones are nice marinas. I have more recent experience with Holiday Harbor, and have not had an issue recouping the deposit. Years back we rented from Jones and Silverthorne. I don't recall deposit issues, except the one time we were clearly in the wrong. I would remember that stuff because that's the crap that really sets me off. Because of that I always roll with a video camera on during the pre-board walk through with the marina guy. I just film everything to show the condition of the boat. Never had to refer to it, but I like having it. I do have to put up with my wife calling me an idiot for doing it, but oh well.

I don't recall ever paying for propane, but that could have changed. Gas....depends on what you do. The geni's don't take much, but I would plan on a couple hundred even if you are primarily "parking it". A couple hundred is a round off error compared to the price tag of the Titan anyway. Call the marina and they will tell you all the other "taxes and adders". They provide a list of what the boat is equipped with. Other costs....gas is the big one for the toys and boats, especially since you pay shasta water prices ($5-$6 last time I was there).

I haven't stayed on the nice pimp boats...only the cheap ghetto boats. On those we go through tons of ice. Buying anything on the water (booze / food) is crazy expensive compared to a regular store.

As far as what else to do for (4) days? Never really thought of it since I was good with hanging on the boat and boarding. I did have one trip (patio boat) with a bunch of guys that fished. On a couple evenings we drove up along the U-sac to fly fish....pretty good trout water up there. Also depending on the time of year and water condition, there are a couple of water falls to hike to from the lake.

It's a great trip.
Old     (wakedad33)      Join Date: Oct 2005       01-07-2010, 7:33 PM Reply   
DBC, It's been years since I've done a house boat trip, but like Steve said we had no problem getting our deposit back as long as you don't trash the boat. Shasta is the best, you will have a great time

There are some waterfalls to hike to and a natural water slide, I think it is up little or big Backbone, over by the dam. Here is a link to a houseboat trip my son took last year with some friends that show the water slide.

Have fun.

Old     (rio_sanger)      Join Date: Apr 2007       01-07-2010, 9:28 PM Reply   
DBC, we houseboated with several families for 11 years while our boys were growing up. The best memories we all have, even better than Hawaii and Costa Rica! Always got our deposit back, and don't remember any additional charges except once at Lake Powell, they counted the silverware when we returned,and charged us a couple bucks for a missing fork!
When our kids were that age we would bring along our inflatable dinghy and the kids had a blast out on their own exploring and fishing while the adults had time to chill. Jet skis or wave runners are also fun to bring along for the non wakeboard riders. Beach games like horseshoes and Bocce ball are a great at cocktail hour. My wife organized a talent show once on the beach for the kids and it was a hit! Bring firewood if they allow it on the beach, and plenty of liquid libations for all!

Old     (packrat)      Join Date: Mar 2005       01-07-2010, 9:49 PM Reply   
Consider a Danby Ice n Easy portable ice maker or something similar. They work great and make a lot of ice quickly. Just use bottled water. We tried but were unable to "outdrink" it with Margaritas. We quit buying Ice at the store as it makes ice in about 10 minutes.
Old     (rio_sanger)      Join Date: Apr 2007       01-07-2010, 10:04 PM Reply   
I just noticed you said 4 nights. If you can swing a week, it would be much better. You are just getting settled in in 4 nights! ...hardly worth the trouble and drive.
Old     (bstroop)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-08-2010, 6:52 AM Reply   
Divide everyone in to groups and establish a dinner & breakfast schedule. Each group is responsible for making one dinner and one breakfast for the boat. That way everyone will only have to cook twice and have a chance to relax and be served the rest of the time. Groups can plan ahead and make something "special" for everyone. No Swanson dinners allowed. I did it in the past and everyone enjoyed it. Fend for yourselves for lunch. There's plenty of good spots to stay at right around the corner from both places in the Pit & Squaw arms. When we came up with a cost per person we also factored in some extra $$ for wake boat and houseboat gas.

Good times for sure.
Old     (kikitlo)      Join Date: Jul 2005       01-08-2010, 8:08 AM Reply   
Something I would recommend if you can find it is some 12V fans, or battery powered. We would run the generator and AC up until we went to bed but after turning off the AC the boat would warm up quickly. I was sweating all night.

When we went (2008) you had to purchase a burn permit to have a fire. Can't remember how much but we opted not to. Propane was included. We took along several gas cans for boat fuel. You just can't store them on the boat so put them on shore. At the end of the week whatever was left in the cans I dumped into the houseboat. You are not suppose to but when they ask, just say you put in some fuel at another marina. We would move our boat every day and after adding i believe 10 gallons from cans I think our fuel bill was about $120. We left out of Sugerloaf, made it to the dam, then back.

The kids will definitely have fun with the slide. It seemed as though thatís all our children wanted to do.

The waterfalls were fun but it was a bit of a hike. Water level was low for us so young kids were out as the terrain was rough. It was well worth it though.
Here is a thread that discusses the falls.
Old     (supraride)      Join Date: Jun 2007       01-08-2010, 9:40 AM Reply   
DBC, You will have an awesome time at Shasta. That Titan boat is pretty awesome if you want a real nice boat for the kids and family, you cant go wrong with that one. I went by that resort last year and they were happy to make deals on those type of rides since their business is way down. Try to work out a deal if possible. You just need to find a sheriff at a marina to get a burn permit and they are free. If you can get one of those ice makers that would be nice. We were spending 30-40 dollars a day on ice yikes! I am gonna look into one of those for sure. For 4 days you probably just want to go to the squaw or the pit and do a day trip to the falls (see our link above). the kids will love it but its a little bit of a hike. They might like the caverns also on the mccloud. If the lake is high (doubtful) you can take them up to the end of squaw and walk up to the pools at the end, theres some big fish in those deep pools. Bring your own bedding for everyone I think. Bring lots of beer and drinks and all the gas you can, its real expensive. Bring lots of inflatables for the water as it gets hot up there and you will spend alot of time in the water. Have fun and good luck.
Old     (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004       01-08-2010, 10:23 AM Reply   
Brian's got it on the food.
Gas will depend on how much running around you do. We moored the HB and just used the towboat for running around the lake.

Pack a couple coolers that are dedicated to ice. Wrap them up w/ duct tape or keep them secure somehow. When you've got a bunch of coolers, people tend to open several of them looking for one drink. If you keep them closed your ice should last several days.
Old     (stuey)      Join Date: Dec 2004       01-08-2010, 10:30 AM Reply   
I've organized a houseboat trip for the last 7 years.. one thing that always works out good is adding an extra $5 each person to the cost of the trip so the captain can go buy 'boat supplies' With the boat supply money, I usually buy the standard fridge items - a large milk, butter, ketchup/relish/mustard/bbq sauce, windex & allpurpose cleaners, straws, plastic cups and cutlery, and paper plates.

We take all cutlery and hide it in one of the staterooms when we first get on board, then we put all the glass plates and cups in one cupboard and tell everyone not to go in there. We use plastic cutlery, paper plates, and red beer cups all weekend. May not be the most 'green' way to do things, but its so much easier than trying to get everyone to clean up, not break anything, and not lose anything that you may have to pay for. Usually you only have 25-40 knives/forks/etc on board and its such a hassle to have to do dishes every meal. And we always go through tons of cups, so bring more than you need.

Granted, my trip is always a crew of 20-something year olds, so we probably go through more cups than a family would. But in general, everybody wants to relax, suntan, drink, board, whatever... less time cleaning up the better!
Old     (wakebrdmom)      Join Date: Mar 2006       01-08-2010, 11:06 AM Reply   
The best thing we have done in the past few years is bring a portable generator. We put it on shore with an extension cord to the houseboat. This works great for charging phones, coffee pots etc. This saves so much gas.
Old     (ixfe)      Join Date: Aug 2008       01-09-2010, 7:21 PM Reply   
First, I want to thank everybody for all the GREAT advice. There are a lot of tips in here that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

I booked the houseboat today! We went with the Queen 1. I convinced the family to stretch it out to 7 nights. The best part is that Silverthorn is offering 25% off on 7 night trips. So instead of paying $8K, it only cost us $6K. That turned out to be cheaper than even a 4 night trip on the Titan (even after Jones Valley offered me 30% off list).

We are also planning to rent two wave runners. The best quote I've gotten so far is $2k for the week for both. Anybody know of any cheaper off water options?

I confirmed that propane is included. The marina thought houseboat gas would be aprox. $400 assuming we don't cruise too much.

I love the ice machine idea. I'll think seriously about buying one. My only concern is that those things only make about 35 lbs. in a 24 hour period (equivalent to 5 bags). I assume to get that you have to be constantly monitoring it, feeding it water, storing the ice, etc. even through the night. My boat cooler easily swallows 3 bags of ice a day. I guess it beats buying overpriced bags at the marina. Maybe I'll put one of the 13 year old boys on ice duty.

I also like the idea of using paper plates, plastic cups, etc. My only question is... where does all the trash go? 20 people will generate a lot of garbage (incl. diapers). Yuck! Am I going to be running my wake boat to the marina constantly on trash runs?

My plan for meals is the following:

One HUGE Costco run in Redding the morning we get the boat. Then...

Breakfast - Fend for yourself. Cereal, muffins, toast, etc.

Lunch - Fend for yourself. PB&J, cold cuts, tuna, chips, string cheese, etc.

Dinner - Each couple (5) are in charge of a night. Different themes each night: Italian, Mexican, BBQ, etc. The two remaining nights will be "eat out." It might be nice to get off the boat a couple of times to go into Redding for dinner, movie, etc.

Other fun ideas I had were: water balloon launcher, football & frisbee, fishing poles...

Any thing else???
Old    kaligirl            01-09-2010, 11:46 PM Reply   
If you're planning on going onto land for food a couple of times, there's a family friendly bar in Lakehead called the B******* that has "Taco Tuesdays", tacos for a dollar. We usually bring the whole family, load the kids up with quarters for the juke box, eat tacos, and play pool. They're also a great source of info. if anyone in your group is fishing. Have a great time!


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