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Are Houseboats Seaworthy?

Houseboats were first built to be used around the countries’ rivers and lakes. They were not built to go into the deep seas and oceans or withstand massive waves without causing serious havoc. If you are on the market for such boats, it’s imperative that you learn how they work before making any investments.


Are they seaworthy?

Boats and ships are designed to float on water through buoyancy. On the other hand, houseboats were designed to stay on top of flat water with no significant winds. That means it’s a “mission impossible” to think that you can take a houseboat to the deep sea and expect to cruise without hitches.


Why aren’t houseboats seaworthy?

Houseboats are built with large windows and low freeboards. Of course, low-free boards generally prohibit operations in areas with high waves. Large windows, on the other hand, particularly the residential type of windows and sliding doors, cannot withstand the impact of waves. They equally won’t keep the water out if there are any strong winds or forces.

Houseboats were not designed for the big waters. In the olden days, people would create their own houseboats from scratch. They were simple cubicles or huts placed on a raft for people to sit, sleep and eat from. After several years, the intricate multi-million dollar homes on the water came into the market.

Today, you can choose to go for:

  • Cruising “bluewater” houseboats: They allow you to move around on the water. These houseboats definitely need engines to move and will rely on fuel for mobility.
  • Non-cruising houseboats: The most common types of houseboats we know cannot cruise. They have limited or no mobility at all. They may have a small engine, but most of the time require to be tied to a designated spot in a dock or marina.


How can I make my houseboat seaworthy?

Theoretically, it’s possible to create or modify your houseboat to cope with tough sea conditions, which means that you can physically adjust your houseboat to become seaworthy. However, what you create may alter many aspects of a houseboat, making it look and function differently from what it was intended for.

It’s also expensive to buy or modify such houseboats.

Making your houseboat seaworthy is not a simple task as the house needs to be stable, shed water quickly, and reserve buoyancy. Anything is seaworthy if it doesn’t sink, and high ocean waves are the main threat.

That means if you were to take your houseboat in an ocean free of winds and waves, then it would do just fine. But if there are winds around, it can easily become swamped and start to sink.

Similarly, just because you bought a saltwater houseboat doesn’t mean it is made for the ocean. If the houseboat can go in salty water means exactly that, and the salty water has nothing to do with the sea.

If you want to make your boat seaworthy, think about buoyancy, stability, and sinkability. A houseboat that won’t sink can sail, and a houseboat that is stable can move. Depending on the size of your houseboat, you also must consider agility and speed, scantlings and hardware, helm station, and weight distribution.


If I can’t take my houseboat to the sea, where can I take it?

Unfortunately, you can’t take your boat into the deep seas and take on a long voyage on your weeklong vacation. But there will always be exceptional places to take your houseboat and have fun. In the US, for instance, there are tons of lakes that host hundreds of houseboats.

With so many rivers and lakes interconnecting, you are geared for some exciting adventures exploring the new locals, wildlife, and marine life without touching the sea.

There is plenty to explore before you even think about going to the sea. For instance, the Mississippi River, which stretches 2,300 miles to the Gulf of Mexico from Northern Minnesota, offers a great opportunity for exploration.

Many people enjoy cruising through the great lakes at an average of 7 miles per hour; you have plenty of places you can go, especially if you have enough boating hours. Remember, the waters can sometimes be hostile, and that’s why you must observe the weather every few hours.

Additionally, you didn’t buy a boat to get anywhere faster. Even an inexperienced boater knows that boats are not the fastest vessels to use if you are in a hurry. Therefore, houseboats are designed to allow you to eat, relax, watch and sleep on the ride.

With that said, there are plenty of great places you can dock. Houseboating involves being around a community of houseboats. Unless, of course, you want to be a solo house boater. Most houseboaters moor primarily in a single location around lakes and rivers.

For instance, Lake Powell in Arizona, Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, and Lake Travis in Texas are great places to meet other houseboaters.


What factors should I consider when buying seaworthy houseboats?

If you have always wanted to buy a houseboat, you must have already created a wish list containing all the features you want in your houseboats. Houseboats come in all shapes and sizes, from small-sized houseboats that only accommodate one or two people to large story mansions.

However, there are key factors to keep in mind and check before buying a houseboat. Firstly, do your homework. A little research goes a long way towards helping you know where to buy, the cost, and other houseboat needs. You also need to determine the primary use of your houseboat.

If you are going to be living there permanently, you may want to invest in long-term houseboats and think about the future. If you have or intend to have a family, make sure the houseboat can accommodate them. Assess your needs for a boat and watch your budget.

Don’t forget you have the normal household needs and, of course, the place to dock.


Are houseboats expensive?

Like recreational vehicles, houseboats are not cheap, but prices vary greatly depending on the brand, size, and material used to make the houseboat. On average, expect to part ways with over $200,000 to get a new houseboat.

If you want to buy a used houseboat, you can go for giant houseboats that go for $300,000 or a dilapidated boat worth a few thousands of dollars.

Stick to your budget. It’s easy to get tempted to raise your budget for a houseboat you don’t want to let go. Many houseboat owners go beyond their budget and forget that there are other costs involved in running the houseboat, like buying boat insurance.

Keep in mind that your home insurance cannot cover your houseboat. You will need to set aside an extra $1800 for insurance every year. Insurance policies vary from one insurance company to another. Therefore, shop around for quality and quantity.