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New(er) Houseboats vs. Older Houseboats

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Longtime Wayne's Words reader (sometimes poster) here.

My family has been going to Powell since the early 80s. They rented the ARAMARK boats until 1999, when they bought into a Sunrise Peak boat. It's a 60-foot Stardust, which I'm pretty sure that's the smallest houseboat that Sunrise Peak ever sold. In any case, that boat is still in service today, and in fact, I was just on it in mid-July. Despite quality maintenance and good money being invested into the boat by the group of owners, it's understandably not what it was 18 years later. That said, it's still a great boat that delivers everything it should.

While we have no immediate plans to upgrade, I bet an upgrade is in our future. My folks are in great shape, but they are in their 60s now. I know they will want to keep coming to Powell until I have to spread their ashes there, so it would be nice if we had a more capable and comfortable boat for them as they age. Furthermore, my sister and I collectively have four kids now, so a bigger, newer boat would probably help our new generation, too. I'm also guessing that newer boat is arguably safer, if for any reason because of the generator stacks I've seen on newer boats.

Anyway, enough background. I know that Wayne's Word-ers come from many backgrounds and enjoy Powell in many different ways and methods. That's part of what makes this website so great. If you're one of the more hearty, self-reliant folks that essentially brings only a big cooler, your ski boat, and a tent, and you're reading this thinking, "alright spoiled houseboat brat that doesn't think a 60-footer is enough, why don't you play your violin elsewhere..." that's ok, I was called many worse things when I used to pitch. (But for the record, I've done the cooler, ski boat, and tent trip a couple times and loved it).

But I would love to hear stories from folks who have gone down this road, or one similar to it, already. Are the newer boats that much nicer? Has someone made this jump and later thought, "geez we blew a bunch of money on the newer boat, we should have just stuck with what was working!" Or has someone done it and thought, "my God, Powell is spectacular no matter what, by why did we wait so long to make the jump to the new boat?" For a little more clarity, we are interested in the smaller Bravada boats that Sunrise Peak is offering now (not the double-decked monsters). An example would be: http://www.sunrisepeak.com/infinity/

Like I said, knowing my family, we will (over)analyze the crap out of this decision for years, I know we did in the late-90s before we pulled the trigger on the boat we still have. But part of the analysis will be testimony from good folks who've already been to this rodeo.

Thanks much,

Jeff
 

BartsPlace

Moderator
Staff member
I look forward to the responses! I have many of the same thoughts/questions. I'm happy where I'm at, but the newer stuff seems to have some meaningful improvements in design/form/function/etc. I guess this happens with everything. When we upgraded to a newer bowrider, 5 or so years ago, I remember being blown away by the improvements in layout, storage, general comfort, even maneuverability. I guess it's the natural progression of things.

Having said all that, I regularly point out (to myself, my kids, my guests) some of the "lesser" houseboats we see on our trips where the occupants are usually having every bit as much fun at Lake Powell as we are. It's not the boat that makes the trip worthwhile. And I'm sure you know that. :D
 

Ryan

Well-Known Member
I am interested in the responses as well.

We are currently partners on a small, older monohull. I'd love a newer, bigger boat, no question. But there are a lot of tradeoffs that I am not currently willing to make. There are only 4 partners on our current boat, and I can't see myself ever going back to a large ownership group. Which pretty much prices me out of the market.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
Mr. Gilmore, always remember that (over)analyzing the crap out of your decision is a huge part of the adventure and fun of your decision. Btw, It is not difficult to change most gen exhausts to a stack system with a hydro hush muffler. Older technology, but effective to get the carbon monoxide away from the water and diluted into the atmosphere. Enjoy your journey and screw those who think you're a brat.
 

Powelldreamer

Well-Known Member
I spent years doing the boat, cooler and tent thing. Some great times were had to be sure. I "upgraded" to an old Aramark(1978)50' Kayot pontoon shared-ownership boat on a buoy. This made life a bit easier while on the lake and let us bring less gear as the boat already had things we did not now need to pack. We had a great time on this boat. In fact we still have it after 8 years. I recently "upgraded" again. This time I am in a 1996 Lakeview 68' monohull in a slip. I needed this upgrade for 1 reason only. It had AC. I needed the AC so my oldest sun could bring his family. After a 7 year hiatus from being with us at the lake, he and his family are with us again. His son, my grandson, has a heart condition from birth. This disease has put him through the ringer since he was born. He had 1 open heart surgery within the first 2 days of being born, followed by another one 5 months later. The protocol is for 3 surgeries but the doctors will not do the third due to complications his body has produced. The bottom line is he does not oxygenate very well. His prognosis is that he may make it to his mid-twenties. The heat also affects him very badly, hence the reason for the AC. This was the first year in the last 7 that all my kids and grandkids were with us at Lake Powell. The "upgrade" was well worth it! The little guy did very well.

To upgrade or not to upgrade? That is the question. The answer is for me, it was well worth it. The boats are night and day different for us . Our needs changed though. The questions is do you want or need more out of your houseboat? If the answer to either of these questions is yes then upgrade. You will find joy in being at the lake either way.

IMHO other factors also weigh in as far as the reliability and owners' group. These 2 things make the biggest difference in what your experience will be in your old boat or an upgrade.
 
Great responses so far, thank you. Our current boat has AC, but it isn't terribly effective. Plus my family is very careful about the generator running, so it kind of shuts down everything else if we run it.

Powelldreamer, God bless you and your grandson, I am glad all three generations of your family got to spend time together at Powell. When it comes down to it, there just isn't much that can beat that. I certainly look forward to having my boys, my sister, and my nephews there one day with my folks.

Anyway, are any Wayne's Worders on any of the new Bravada boats (or maybe have been invited on a friend's)? Every time we go by one on the lake we all playfully say something like, "maybe one day!" as if they are a million dollars to get a week on them. But the example I cited above, Infinity, has a late-August week now available for $20k. That's certainly a lot of cash, and I get that the discount is partially attributable to the late-August week and because the boat is now 3 years old...but that's substantially less money than we had always guessed.
 
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Cookie

Well-Known Member
I started going to Powell in 1983 and rented the Aramark boats all the way thru 2000, then took some time off the lake. Then in 2003 bought into one of Laketime's boat Moonshadow, 65' boat similar to yours. Loved it, had everything we ever wanted. Then we got teased in 2010 and saw a new Laketime boat for sale, and made the jump. The only reason we wanted to upgrade was the upstairs full kitchen. Nobody likes being inside on a houseboat, so why not bring everything upstairs and outside. In the morning we are cooking breakfast outside while people can still sleep inside, and in the evening you are cooking with everyone around you. Upstairs has every comfort thing you can ask for, Full refrigerator, oven, micro, stove, sink, bathroom, TV with Satellite, stereo and so forth. We pretty much don't need a kitchen inside. It has been the best decision we have every made, the wife loved it..............and you know what they say, happy wife happy life.
 

Endurance

Well-Known Member
I try to keep sight of the end goal -- to have fun. That seems to make some other decisions easier.

Before I went in with some neighbors and bought our 65' X 18' boat, all of us had been to Powell on a wide range of boats. Some were kind of old and beat. That limited fun: You couldn't count on things working all the time. Spoiled food from RV-type fridges. Venturing out too far caused a "worry gnat" to fly around my head the whole trip about what we would do if the boat had trouble (again) and we weren't able to get back before it got dark. Even though we were in a houseboat, we were packing ice, moving coolers, and carrying gas cans as if we were camping. Speaking of camping, we often needed to tent in front of the boats if they were that small.

At the other end of the spectrum, most of us had been out on some really fancy boats. Some were just plain impractical given what we liked to do at Powell. I'm talking white carpet, leather furniture that would be ruined by a we swimsuit. A big tall profile that made a big sail out of the smallest wind gust.

We noticed something about the captains of the really fancy boats. They were a nervous wreck from the time the boat left its slip to the time it returned. Things like snapping at their wife and others and obsessing about weather changes when being aware of the weather would have sufficed. Hammering on the throttle to limit exposure to the main channel. Having someone drive ski and fishing boats rather than towing the little boats to keep the group together for meals and fun during the hours it took to move the houseboat from the slip to a beach and back. Spending an inordinate amount of time digging in more anchors than even my anal nature would have called for. Anchoring ski and fishing boats out separately rather than let them touch the side of the anchored houseboat.

Against that backdrop, we took a hard look at what we wanted in a boat. High on the list was a full sized residential fridge. That took solar panels and a good sized battery bank to feed an inverter. A good-sized toy tank since so much of the fun at Powell is gas-powered. Wide enough to be spacious but not so tall as to be as much of a wind target. Pontoons seemed more stable when the wind did come up, but we wanted aluminum pontoons because we would rather spend money on fun stuff than having pontoons refinished every few years. Slide was a must. Enough holding tank capacity to not have to ask guests to leave pee in the toilet use after use. We run the AC for a few hours some afternoons to watch a movie and get everyone out of the sun -- sunburns and heat stroke cut into the fun. We moved our generator to to the top deck since nothing crimps fun quite like worrying about generator exhaust. We couldn't find a boat without all these things that wasn't pretty fancy, so we bought more of a plain Jane and added amenities as time went on.

When this boat gets too old, we will probably get another one about like it. I would probably spring for 75 feet rather than 65 and would probably delete the upper helm because it is one of those things that seemed better than it is.

Lake Powell is the greatest place on earth because it is fun. Everything in a boat should support that goal of fun.
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
We made the jump from 12 owners to 2 owners a few years ago (buying out a 60' mono hull) and will never go back. Even though we don't collectively use the boat much more than when we owned individual weeks, we never worry about whether the boat will be running, or what got broken and not reported.

That said, with age we aren't as interested in large groups, or the effort it takes to get 4-6 people to commit to dates, and we are finding it a bit challenging to be sure have enough crew to actually take the boat out. It's kind of like skiing, you need at least 3 so you have an observer, and can usually only find 2 or you find 10 to go out with. That 60' HB boat, plus a small runabout needs 3 or 4 skilled hands to get it anchored. We'd be reluctant to try anchoring with just the 2 of us as you never know when the winds will kick up and cause havoc
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
I try to keep sight of the end goal -- to have fun. That seems to make some other decisions easier.

Before I went in with some neighbors and bought our 65' X 18' boat, all of us had been to Powell on a wide range of boats. Some were kind of old and beat. That limited fun: You couldn't count on things working all the time. Spoiled food from RV-type fridges. Venturing out too far caused a "worry gnat" to fly around my head the whole trip about what we would do if the boat had trouble (again) and we weren't able to get back before it got dark. Even though we were in a houseboat, we were packing ice, moving coolers, and carrying gas cans as if we were camping. Speaking of camping, we often needed to tent in front of the boats if they were that small.

At the other end of the spectrum, most of us had been out on some really fancy boats. Some were just plain impractical given what we liked to do at Powell. I'm talking white carpet, leather furniture that would be ruined by a we swimsuit. A big tall profile that made a big sail out of the smallest wind gust.

We noticed something about the captains of the really fancy boats. They were a nervous wreck from the time the boat left its slip to the time it returned. Things like snapping at their wife and others and obsessing about weather changes when being aware of the weather would have sufficed. Hammering on the throttle to limit exposure to the main channel. Having someone drive ski and fishing boats rather than towing the little boats to keep the group together for meals and fun during the hours it took to move the houseboat from the slip to a beach and back. Spending an inordinate amount of time digging in more anchors than even my anal nature would have called for. Anchoring ski and fishing boats out separately rather than let them touch the side of the anchored houseboat.

Against that backdrop, we took a hard look at what we wanted in a boat. High on the list was a full sized residential fridge. That took solar panels and a good sized battery bank to feed an inverter. A good-sized toy tank since so much of the fun at Powell is gas-powered. Wide enough to be spacious but not so tall as to be as much of a wind target. Pontoons seemed more stable when the wind did come up, but we wanted aluminum pontoons because we would rather spend money on fun stuff than having pontoons refinished every few years. Slide was a must. Enough holding tank capacity to not have to ask guests to leave pee in the toilet use after use. We run the AC for a few hours some afternoons to watch a movie and get everyone out of the sun -- sunburns and heat stroke cut into the fun. We moved our generator to to the top deck since nothing crimps fun quite like worrying about generator exhaust. We couldn't find a boat without all these things that wasn't pretty fancy, so we bought more of a plain Jane and added amenities as time went on.

When this boat gets too old, we will probably get another one about like it. I would probably spring for 75 feet rather than 65 and would probably delete the upper helm because it is one of those things that seemed better than it is.

Lake Powell is the greatest place on earth because it is fun. Everything in a boat should support that goal of fun.

The upper helm is on our must have list. When you spend 7 to 8 hours cruising to the SJ, and it's a beautiful day no one wants to be stuck inside, and definitely not right to leave the captain downstairs alone while everyone else enjoys the top deck
 

Ryan

Well-Known Member
We made the jump from 12 owners to 2 owners a few years ago (buying out a 60' mono hull) and will never go back. Even though we don't collectively use the boat much more than when we owned individual weeks, we never worry about whether the boat will be running, or what got broken and not reported.

That said, with age we aren't as interested in large groups, or the effort it takes to get 4-6 people to commit to dates, and we are finding it a bit challenging to be sure have enough crew to actually take the boat out. It's kind of like skiing, you need at least 3 so you have an observer, and can usually only find 2 or you find 10 to go out with. That 60' HB boat, plus a small runabout needs 3 or 4 skilled hands to get it anchored. We'd be reluctant to try anchoring with just the 2 of us as you never know when the winds will kick up and cause havoc
Sheri, you should really look at getting a slip. Powell isn't nearly the same staying around the marinas (which I am sure you know), but it is better than staying home.

Since we bought into our current boat, I think I have averaged 5 or 6 trips per year. Maybe two of them we get a group big enough to take the boat out without worry.

But I am very happy going those other times with small groups (sometimes just the two of us), and staying in the slip. I don't have to worry about the anchors breaking lose. In summer, it is always cool with the AC running in the evenings. In the shoulder seasons I have enough power to run electric heaters. And I can always find an empty slip to leave my little boat. And the social aspect is kind of fun as well - talking to the other boaters in the evening.

I doubt the houseboat we are on will be our last. But I know that I always want a boat that is in the slips.
 

Bill Sampson

Well-Known Member
I presently have been on a 14' x 65' Laketime boat since 2001. I have had a few run ins with Laketime, specifically the changing our our launch date, but other than that have had great trips on the lake. One thing I can say based on a launch and retrieve boat is that if you go with a wider boat, you cannot launch on the weekends due to an Arizona law regarding trailer widths. I was at Wahweap in July last year an they had a big boat they were puling out on a Thursday and they needed Arizona Highway Patrol for the escort. That did not appear to be a cheap situation. I do admit that I do get tempted by the bigger boats. The upstairs kitchen is really nice.
 

motomadd

Member
Good food for thought endurance. We (my wife and myself) have been renting for 6 years for our weekly trip we take (Aug. 26th through Sept 1st this year,,,,,woo hoo, getting close)(going to increase that to 2 or 3 weeks per year as of next year). We had been coming to Powell for many years before that and were having the times of our lives just sleeping in our 21' Chaparral cuddy cabin and kicking the kids out in the tents on the beach. Older, wiser, and a little better off financially we have started thinking very hard about getting into something from Laketime or Sunrise. You have definitely given us a lot to think about before we go and invest in something. I was very impressed with some of the "fancy" boats, but your mention of the finishes being practical for use without the worry of getting damaged by wet swimsuits and such struck a cord with me. Good point on the "sail effect" as well. The first year we rented a houseboat I did a lot of research (here on this site mainly) about anchoring and general houseboating need to do's. We beached the houseboat and set the anchors in the sand the way everybody said to do it, and of course the wind started to blow that night and continued to blow pretty hard all night long and into the morning. I did not sleep a wink that night as I sat there with a flashlight on the anchors just waiting for them to let loose. Thanks to the information that I was provided by the awesome wealth of knowledge on this site the anchors never budged, but I was ruined for the next few days for lack of sleep. That was not fun and as you said, fun is the name of the game at Powell. The next year I buried the anchors a little deeper and when the squalls came through we just sat back, relaxed, and played cards and board games with the family. There is nothing more nerve racking as worrying about losing anchor. Thank you for your input and I am very interested to hear more from the experienced among the wordlings.
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
Sheri, you should really look at getting a slip. Powell isn't nearly the same staying around the marinas (which I am sure you know), but it is better than staying home.

Since we bought into our current boat, I think I have averaged 5 or 6 trips per year. Maybe two of them we get a group big enough to take the boat out without worry.

But I am very happy going those other times with small groups (sometimes just the two of us), and staying in the slip. I don't have to worry about the anchors breaking lose. In summer, it is always cool with the AC running in the evenings. In the shoulder seasons I have enough power to run electric heaters. And I can always find an empty slip to leave my little boat. And the social aspect is kind of fun as well - talking to the other boaters in the evening.

I doubt the houseboat we are on will be our last. But I know that I always want a boat that is in the slips.

We do go down occasionally and stay on the buoy, which we are fine with. We actually like sleeping under the stars! We have never used the boats AC, and have solar for the 12v systems, so we don't need shore power. We also like that we can swim in the buoy field. The social aspect of a slip is missing and would be fun, but we aren't totally bereft. We've had nearby owners swim over for cocktails, and after meeting Squirrel at a Denver wordlings get together, he's boated over for an evening beverage.

Regardless, with only 2 owners the buoy is plenty pricey, not sure either of us wants to spend more for the slip. It's really the 8 hour drive than staying in the buoy field that keeps our owners from using the boat for shorter trips, and not the buoy field.

We are actually headed down on Sunday morning for a few days in the buoy field- back home on Thursday. Just a little teaser before our Sept. SJ trip. Another 10 days planned on the Juan
 

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
I spent years doing the boat, cooler and tent thing. Some great times were had to be sure. I "upgraded" to an old Aramark(1978)50' Kayot pontoon shared-ownership boat on a buoy. This made life a bit easier while on the lake and let us bring less gear as the boat already had things we did not now need to pack. We had a great time on this boat. In fact we still have it after 8 years. I recently "upgraded" again. This time I am in a 1996 Lakeview 68' monohull in a slip. I needed this upgrade for 1 reason only. It had AC. I needed the AC so my oldest sun could bring his family. After a 7 year hiatus from being with us at the lake, he and his family are with us again. His son, my grandson, has a heart condition from birth. This disease has put him through the ringer since he was born. He had 1 open heart surgery within the first 2 days of being born, followed by another one 5 months later. The protocol is for 3 surgeries but the doctors will not do the third due to complications his body has produced. The bottom line is he does not oxygenate very well. His prognosis is that he may make it to his mid-twenties. The heat also affects him very badly, hence the reason for the AC. This was the first year in the last 7 that all my kids and grandkids were with us at Lake Powell. The "upgrade" was well worth it! The little guy did very well.

To upgrade or not to upgrade? That is the question. The answer is for me, it was well worth it. The boats are night and day different for us . Our needs changed though. The questions is do you want or need more out of your houseboat? If the answer to either of these questions is yes then upgrade. You will find joy in being at the lake either way.

IMHO other factors also weigh in as far as the reliability and owners' group. These 2 things make the biggest difference in what your experience will be in your old boat or an upgrade.


I know off topic, but your post about your grandchild not oxygenating well made me ask, what altitude does he live at currently? Will the increased altitude of Lake Powell affect him negatively?
 

Dale

Well-Known Member
We made the jump from 12 owners to 2 owners a few years ago (buying out a 60' mono hull) and will never go back. Even though we don't collectively use the boat much more than when we owned individual weeks, we never worry about whether the boat will be running, or what got broken and not reported.

That said, with age we aren't as interested in large groups, or the effort it takes to get 4-6 people to commit to dates, and we are finding it a bit challenging to be sure have enough crew to actually take the boat out. It's kind of like skiing, you need at least 3 so you have an observer, and can usually only find 2 or you find 10 to go out with. That 60' HB boat, plus a small runabout needs 3 or 4 skilled hands to get it anchored. We'd be reluctant to try anchoring with just the 2 of us as you never know when the winds will kick up and cause havoc

Powell Bride, You just hit the nail on the head for us. I now live vicariously on this site, and look forward to everyone's adventures, as we are no longer physically able to be on the Lake on our own boat, If you can do the work, I can drive the boat!
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
Powell Bride, You just hit the nail on the head for us. I now live vicariously on this site, and look forward to everyone's adventures, as we are no longer physically able to be on the Lake on our own boat, If you can do the work, I can drive the boat!
Dale,
I think there are a few folks who can no longer do it on their own. Maybe I can talk my husband into hosting a few folks like you for a few days on our boat next summer. He's not quite as social as I am, but he has a good heart. I'll have to give it some thought
 

Powelldreamer

Well-Known Member
I know off topic, but your post about your grandchild not oxygenating well made me ask, what altitude does he live at currently? Will the increased altitude of Lake Powell affect him negatively?
He lives in Saratoga Springs Utah. It is a higher elevation. They have contemplated moving to lower elevation but it hasn't been needed yet. The little guy has been on O2. But is currently not supplementing. He does tire quickly though. He very much enjoyed our time on the lake last week and noww looks forward to next year.
 

Powelldreamer

Well-Known Member
Great responses so far, thank you. Our current boat has AC, but it isn't terribly effective. Plus my family is very careful about the generator running, so it kind of shuts down everything else if we run it.

Powelldreamer, God bless you and your grandson, I am glad all three generations of your family got to spend time together at Powell. When it comes down to it, there just isn't much that can beat that. I certainly look forward to having my boys, my sister, and my nephews there one day with my folks.

Anyway, are any Wayne's Worders on any of the new Bravada boats (or maybe have been invited on a friend's)? Every time we go by one on the lake we all playfully say something like, "maybe one day!" as if they are a million dollars to get a week on them. But the example I cited above, Infinity, has a late-August week now available for $20k. That's certainly a lot of cash, and I get that the discount is partially attributable to the late-August week and because the boat is now 3 years old...but that's substantially less money than we had always guessed.
Thanks for the thoughts Jeff. It is very much appreciated.
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the thoughts Jeff. It is very much appreciated.
He lives in Saratoga Springs Utah. It is a higher elevation. They have contemplated moving to lower elevation but it hasn't been needed yet. The little guy has been on O2. But is currently not supplementing. He does tire quickly though. He very much enjoyed our time on the lake last week and noww looks forward to next year.
My heart goes out to your grandson and family. Glad you are able to find joy while dealing with such a sad and devastating illness.
 
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