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Can houseboats travel the lakes, rivers, and inland waterways?

by Jack Bosse
(Oklahoma city, Oklahoma, UNITED STATES)

Houseboats use the Lakes, Rivers, and Inland Waterways.

Houseboats use the Lakes, Rivers, and Inland Waterways.

Wondering if houseboats can travel the lakes, rivers, and inland waterways safely? Like to know if it is safe to travel the inland waterway on 50' houseboat? My wife and I are planning to retire and want to buy a 50' houseboar and cruise the Inland waterways.

The problem is, a yacht broker told us in e-mail, that it was not safe to use a houseboat on the inland waterways, that I should use a trawler instead.

I know its a bad idea to be in open water on the gulf,
but, why is it not safe to cruise the inland waterway in the middle of our great country?

Was he trying to scare us out of a houseboat?
If so, he has done a good job stepping on our dreams!

Thanks for any information, Jack.

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Reply - Answer
Well Jack, thanks for your post, and congratulations on your decision to retire on a houseboat.

I am sure that this post will get plenty of comments and opinions, but here goes my thoughts from my perspective. You can surely use a 50 foot houseboat to travel the inland waterways, lakes, rivers, and Great Loop, however certain conditions and preparations will be necessary.

You didn't mention in your post whether you and your wife have any boating experience, so I will assume that you are beginners. You will find a short list of preparatory items to consider first:

1) Be sure to take a few of the Power Squadron Boating Courses
to enhance your navigation and boating skills. They have different courses and levels, all available throughout the country.

2) Make sure that your houseboat is in tip top running condition, properly equipped, and that it suitable to handle the different weather/water conditions where you will be traveling or cruising.

3) Be aware that houseboats, cruisers, speedboats, and trawlers for that matter, can be used in inappropriate boating conditions. These conditions can be found on any river, lake or inland waterway. A safe experienced captain is always aware of the marine weather forecast!

4) You will want to decide whether you want a slower displacement style houseboat, or a faster planing hull style houseboat. You will want to decide if you want single or twin engines, gas or diesel fuel. There is many factors, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Take your time researching it all.

You may very well find these following links of interest to you:

Crusing and Traveling on a Houseboat

Hosueboats travel and cruise the Great Loop

In closing, enjoy your dream, and do come back and post a picture of the houseboat you choose, and let us know how the traveling and cruising are going.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat traveling and cruising experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

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

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Comments for Can houseboats travel the lakes, rivers, and inland waterways?

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Yes you can
by: Anonymous

I've seen many show that folks in England travel the canals and rivers in an actual house built for floating. They don't have to use just a house boat.
They have a moor that is their water space in a community. But they are allowed to travel the countries waterways.
I'm not sure about on the coast of an ocean. But definitely on inland waters.
I'd never seen such a thing until I found shows that featured them. Haven't seen anything from America, but don't know why

Houseboats on the Inland waterways
by: Capt John

First off, lets determine "inland waterways" - if you are speaking strictly of rivers, lakes, canals etc. - you should be fine.

On the other hand, if you are talking the "Intracoastal" as in the Gulf or Atlantic Intracoastal Waterways - well, maybe not so fine, depending on exactly where and how far you want to go.

Problem is, the ICWs while offering protection from the open sea, they are not completely protected from high winds, waves, or troublesome conditions.

In fact, (and I've done this dozens of times) I would rather cross the Gulf of Mexico than Albemarle, Pimlico Sound as they can get extremely rough even on a seemingly nice day for boating.

While some mono-hull houseboats can handle it better, pontoon houseboats (in my opinion) are not a safe option.


Houseboat Living - any european canal boats?
by: Alan

Thank you for this site. We are novices yet wish to retire & live on a European style long boat. Please guide us to manufacturers and associations who have experience.
Thanking you

Water way cruising
by: Old Houseboater

House boats particularly the cruising type such as Gibson, Holiday Mansion, Harbor Master and others are designed for cruising on the lakes and rivers of mid America.

While not suitable for blue water offshore travel they are completly capable of handling the waters for which they were designed. In most cases they will have much more capability for sloppy conditions than you will.

We have owned 4 cruisers and 7 houseboats over the years, have cruised extensively, and lived aboard for 7 years. The lakes and rivers of mid America are beautiful both to cruise on and live. The Tennessee River is my favorite but many of the river systems are interconnected and offer a lifetime of cruising pleasure.

Limitations are set by you!
by: Russell

When it comes to houseboat travel, 90% of the time the water will be little or no problem. And 5% of the time you won't want to be there, and the last 5% of the time you have no business being out there.

Know when to stay tied to the dock, and when to play. Watch the weather, and get some time behind the helm. Get some training help, and take several boating classes or courses.

Fair winds and Calm Seas, Russell

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