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Winter Houseboats - can a house boat freeze in the water, or in frozen lakes?

by Robert
(Detroit, Michigan)

Winter Houseboat Water - boats freezing in frozen lakes.

Winter Houseboat Water - boats freezing in frozen lakes.

Looking at winter houseboats, can a house boat freeze or stay in the water in a cold frozen lake during the winter months?

I have a 37 ft steel River Queen houseboat with no engine. I have been told because my hull is steel and I have no engine, I can leave it in the water during the winter, is this true?

Up here in Detroit, the water freezes for a few months, and I don't want to cause any damage to the boat.

Thanks, Robert, Detroit, Michigan.

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Reply - Answer

Well Robert, I can understand your hesitation about leaving the boat in the water during the frozen winter months. The fact that the Riverqueen's have a steel hull is definitely a bonus.

You didn't mention if you were going to live-aboard, since leaving the boat in the water unattended is one thing, and living aboard is certainly another scenario. I will presume that you just want to leave it in the water.

A lot of folks will leave their boats in the water during the winter, and if the water will freeze, they often use a Bubbler System or a Dock De-Icer to move and aerate the surrounding water around the boats hull, this way the water won't freeze.

Since you don't have an engine, you have less winterizing to do in that department, yet you would likely want to put some light-bulbs in the bilge and bulkhead compartments to keep the temperature elevated.

You would naturally want to winterize any plumbing that you have with anti-freeze to eliminate any broken pipes and thru-hulls, and complete your normal winter storage routine.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers and visitors will share and post comments about their winter houseboat, freezing water tips and 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 Winter Houseboats - can a house boat freeze in the water, or in frozen lakes?

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by: Anonymous

Help I'm sinking and it's cold

New River Queen facebook Group
by: Pyro Chuck

Ours is in TX so while it does get below freezing there it doesn't happen very often and when it does it's usually not a hard freeze, thankfully.

We have a '66 project Queen and will be posting the entire rebuild in our new River Queen facebook group. We lost administrative controls to our old facebook group so we started a new one with multiple admins to avoid any issues in the future. Join our new River Queen Owners Group here:

winter life
by: Anonymous

Hey Robert how long ago did you post this? Did you freeze your River Queen? How did it fare? Tell us more about your boat! Fellow RQ owner here just looking to learn anything I can about these great boats.

Pyro Chuck
River Queen Owners Group -

Freeze away
by: Jim

I've been freezing in my steel hulled Mattie for 16 years. Of course I winterize the engines and the plumbing. I have never had an issue doing this.

There are a couple of things to remember. Leave the drives in the down position. Drives left up may hold water and crack. And guard against muskrats and other rodents that may chew on rubber parts and cause leaks.

The key is ice movement
by: Richard

You can leave a steel hull in the water - motor or not. The level of winterizing will change, but that is the only difference.

Your biggest problem is ice movement. If you are in a sheltered bay, you should be ok. If not, the slightest movement will be an issue.

If your steel is thin, it is even worse. Yes, steel will flex, but the pressure of pack ice is colossal. Remember the hulls you see in the picture are not 3/16 mild steel...they are probably thicker...

Use a bubbler or de-icer as Ian has suggested.

Reply - Answer
Richard, your post is right on, and I totally agree with your "pressure of pack ice is colossal" statement.

IAN from

Living aboard in New England
by: Ed Charter

Is it possible to live aboard a boat like a "Carri Craft" in a New England winter?

Local Liveaboard Advice from a Detroit Liveaboard sailor
by: Noel Gingerich

Take a look at Humbug Marina just south of Detroit in Gibraltar, MI. It is 20 min from downtown and the water never freezes here or only for a day or 2. The Trenton power plant and the current keeps it unfrozen.

This is my second year as a winter liveaboard and one of my friends is a houseboat owner. The houseboat has been there for 20 years. Look me up on Facebook if you need any more information.

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