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Newbie to aluminum houseboating

Question:
Would anyone care to share their experiences with houseboating and/or recommend a particular manufacturer? I am looking to buy a 'smallish' aluminum houseboat (in the 30-40ft range) for cruising a lake in Central PA. Would like to have sleeping quarters for 6.


Answer:
-I would suggest using a 14x42' houseboat as a minimum size. If you can get a 14' wide it will really help. The difference in space from a 12' beam to a 14' beam is very noticable. Of course 16' and 18' wide are much nicer too, but your length would be up to 60-80' for that type of beam.

I have a 49' houseboat and that is about as small as I would ever want to go. I can sleep 6 in my boat. 2 in the state room, 2 in the queen size hide-a-bed couch and a couple more fit in the twin bunk beds. We have had a lot more people sleep out with a tent on the roof and inflatable matresses on the front deck, but that was a party.

Fiberglass: If you want to cruise around a lot a Gibson or Harbor Master are very good. They both have planing hulls and can cruise near 20 knots which is fast for a houseboat. Gibson's smallest is a 14x37' and they go to 16x56'. Harbor Masters are 12'x40 to 14'x52. They are typically equiped with twin engines from chevy 350's to 454's

Aluminum: Aluminum houseboats they pretty much start in the 14x54' range and go UP to 22x96' at the upper end with 16x60 - 16x75 being the most common range I see. Summerset, Jamestowner, Stardust and many others are al mostly built near lake cumberland KY which is the center of the earth for large aluminum houseboat construction these days.

You can sometimes find a used rental boat with an outboard or single 4 cylinder I/O cheap. Beware. These boats are typically very underpowered and beat up.

Steel: You might find a number of old steel hulled houseboats in that size range like 12x36 or 12x38. Unfortunatly I can tell you from experience that steel is a real pain in the ass. It is cheap to weld on, but these boats tend to rust from the inside out and if they are not regularly hauled out sand blasted and epoxied they rust from both sides. Stardust is one of the oldest, with Summerset, Jamestowner and others building them. Beware! Know what you are doing before you buy one. They are less expensive than aluminum and fiberglass boats, but many are a lot worse than they look.

You want at least a single engine I/O preferably a V8 for these boats. Steel is heavy. My boat weights about 20,000 lbs. Outboards just don't cut it except in perfect near zero wind days.

You might start with a subscription to Houseboat Magazine. The spend a lot of time showing all the big boats which are mostly aluminum, but they do give time to Gibson, Skipperliner and Harbor Master which are not. Frequently they have articles on fixer uppers. You can visit this link to get you started.

http://www.houseboatingmagazine.com


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