Boatel Houseboat - Pontoon or Bluewater - Coastal Cruiser House Boats?

Is Boatel Houseboat, a pontoon bluewater islander coastal cruiser yacht?

Is Boatel Houseboat, a pontoon bluewater islander coastal cruiser yacht?

I'm confused, is a Boatel Houseboat a pontoon house boat, or Blue Water yachts? I've seen words like Islander, Coastal Cruiser, and Bluewater Yachts associated with Boatel Houseboats, I'm totally confused.

I see that one style or model is a like a pontoon houseboat, while the other on is like a cruiser style fiberglass houseboat.

Can anyone explain why there's such a difference.

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Reply - Answer
Well, I have also found it confusing since there's different houseboat designs with similar history's. To confuse matters even worse, there's a "DreamBoatel" in Australia also.

Now don't quote me on this, but from what I can tell:

If you look at the North American side of it, from what I can tell, it all started over 50 years ago with the Boatel Company. At one point there was a merger between Boatel Houseboats & Blue Water Houseboats.

Boatel was making rental houseboats with a full hull design made of mostly steel, and some aluminum models.

Bluewater was making performance luxury fiberglass yachts for coastal cruisers with sizes to 50+ feet.

Together they have had quite a few innovations:
  • The first manufacturer to make a one piece fiberglass hull.

  • First to have a planing boat over 50ft with gas engines.

  • Until 1980, they controlled 95% of the rental houseboat market.

  • They were first to safely install propane appliances on board.

  • So, is it a Pontoon Boatel Houseboat, or a Boatel Bluewater Coastal Cruiser Yacht, in this case, it just happens to be both.

    Either way, both of these houseboat designs have their charm, history, and qualities. You can find both models "For Sale" in basically all major lakes, rivers and marinas.

    Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their Boatel houseboat stories and experiences.

    Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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    Comments for Boatel Houseboat - Pontoon or Bluewater - Coastal Cruiser House Boats?

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    Boatel Engine Covers ?
    by: Stan

    Looking for a used cover for a 1984 52' Boatel. HIGH winds on Lake Powell took it overboard. Any suggestions?


    Hi Stan, my opinion is to get a friend, or a diver to go looking for your "overboard cover", as finding a replacement will be difficult.

    IAN from

    1976 48' Boatel cruzin lake Ouachita!
    by: George

    Three years of fun on one of the most beautiful deep clear lakes in Arkansas. Twin crusader V8 350s with Vdrives. Runs fast if you want. Wake surf easily too. About 22mph WOT.

    Total update/refurb from 70s attire. I've learned a lot, but I need some new motor mounts. Don't think I can find originals. Any ideas?

    Boatel houseboats is now Bluewater
    by: Boatsteve

    Bill, Boatel is now Bluewater, but I could not get them to help me with questions so good luck their service is poor if you're not looking for a new boat!

    Houseboat Documentation - builders certificate for Boatel
    by: Billvb

    Anyone know where to get a builders certificate for Boatel boats I was looking to document the boat and need this certificate to document the vessel.

    House Boat Magazine Article on Boatel Restoration
    by: Boatsteve

    House Boat Magazine will feature the "Thirsty Turtle" restoration in the April Issue. Should be a great veiw of the 1974 47' Boatel Islander the wife and I restored. Now on to fix the Sea Ray for running around in! Boatsteve

    Speed of a Bluewater Houseboat
    by: Al

    The original brochure for my 1974 Bluewater Boatel boasts of a 30 mph cruising speed.

    Remodeled Houseboat - a Boatel 1974 47 foot Islander
    by: Boatsteve

    Well the houseboat did get finished, total restoration of the inside. Photos posted and soon to be in House Boat Magazine. Runs well cruises nice at 8 to 9 miles per hour she will do more, but it just eats gas at that point and runs out at about 15 miles per hour.

    Anchors out and sleeps great, and the custom arches really make the boat look nice. It's nice to dock and easy to drive. The high wind days are difficult and the trick is to point and shoot.

    Until next spring it will be on blocks and in the spring we will buff the lower hull as this was not done last year as we needed to get in the water and to our home port.


    Reply - Answer
    Well Steve, congratulations on all your hard work, and glad you're enjoying the boat.

    IAN from

    about the Bluewater Boatel History post
    by: Al

    Al from Creature Comforts here. I just want to say that my "post" notes are from the Bluewater website.

    Thanks. Al

    My 1974 Boatel Islander 47 foot
    by: Boatsteve

    Ok I bought this on eBay but I knew the boats last two owners. I do not know how fast it goes as I am restoring it. needs new paneling as all the window seals needed replacing and I did that first so now the paneling and then modern toilets etc.

    The hulls on these are great built to last I have no stringer rot or delamination. What I question and I have asked Bluewater without a reply. This boat has two arches one at the rear and one over the upper helm. the upper helm is the whole upper deck area not like others I have seen. Anyone seen one with arches?

    Bluewater Boatel History
    by: Al - Creature Comforts - Chicago

    1950's - The Beginning

    Elmer Klapmeier initiated what is now Bluewater Yachts in the early 1950's because of his love of the outdoors and desire to sleep in a bed rather than a bedroll. The first craft he developed was used to transport the sportsman to a base camp many miles by water from a landing in northwestern Ontario. Due to high quality manufacturing, some of these boats are still in service.

    Elmer Klapmeier quickly copyrighted the name "Boatel" and brought his newly graduated engineer son into the business on a part-time basis by way of an outing on the craft. Jim Klapmeier became very enthused and brought a friend into a venture named Northernaire Floating Lodges. These entrepreneurs had the idea to rent the Klapmeier-built boats on Rainy Lake on the U.S. and Canadian border. By 1958, the company was renamed "Boatel Company" and Jim joined his father full-time to increase service to Northernaire and offer Boatels throughout the United States.

    The 1960's - Domination of Rental Business

    By the mid-1960's Boatel's market had expanded throughout North America and the company built a larger facility to serve the growing demand. As buyer sophistication grew, Boatel capitalized on its success by introducing a full hull steel boat with inboard/outboard power rather than outboard power. In 1967, Boatel added a full hull model made of fiberglass.

    The significant and attractive feature of the Klapmeier design was the shallow draft of just 24 inches. This performance feature allowed the 37-foot craft to operate safely in shallow water and to be beached-a popular feature with inland waterway cruising enthusiasts.

    Boatel also capitalized on their welding and boat building expertise by bidding on navy contracts for landing barges.

    The 1970's - Transition Into Retail

    The continued success of the boats provided an ample international base on which to grow similar but distinct products with appeal to the moneyed yachtperson's desire for more living space than a traditional motor yacht configuration. The result was a highly-demanded line of yachts from 35 to 45 feet in length, which appealed to a niche customer that no other design could satisfy.

    Originally offered in the houseboat markets, the target was redefined as intercoastal waterways and larger inland bodies of water in 1973. Despite the oil crisis in 1973 and the rising cost of petroleum-based construction materials and marine fuel, yacht sales of as many as 100 boats per year continued throughout the 1970's. In 1979, the yacht division became so popular it was given its own identity - "Bluewater."

    Reply - Answer
    Al, I wanted to personally thank you for taking the time to write such a great article on the history of the Bluewater Boatel line of boats.

    IAN from

    Boatel Tradewinds
    by: Bob Neale

    We had one of these boats for 20 years. My dad brought me to a marina to look at it, and I wanted it. He bought it and my family and I spent the next 10 years with it every weekend in the summer.

    The next 10 years, I used it every other weekend in the summer with college and work friends. Wish I still had it now that I have a family. It was truly a great to plane and run about 20 mph. What a great memory this boat has for me!

    First Boatel Houseboat
    by: Larry Jones

    My first houseboat was a 1976 37 ft Boatel, with twin 155 hp slant six Chryslers, and Volvo outdrives and Koehler Generator.
    It was a truly great boat, and Boatell's were well made even back before they became Bluewaters.

    I read an article about the early days of the houseboat industry and learned the difference between cruising house boats and floaters was the ability to pull water skis.

    Next trip to the lake I pulled my 2 sons behind the Boatel. It probably would run 18 mph at WOT. Made a serious wake for kids to jump jet skis on.

    Sold it to someone who let it go downhill, last time I saw it it was on blocks at a marine dealers. But we will always remember the good times we had over a 10 year period on the "Priorities"

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