First Time Houseboater Guide | Shasta Marina at Packers Bay

First Time Houseboater Guide

07/08/2020 | by charkrader | Vacation Rentals

If you’ve never been houseboating before, get ready for your “best vacation ever”! Don’t take our word for it. Ask around. That’s often how return visitors describe their trip from our marina. If you ask a seasoned houseboater, they’ll gladly tell you their favorite tips to make your trip go smoothly. We have a few tips to make your first time houseboating adventure, well…amazing!

Start with a little planning. Planning doesn’t have to be tedious or difficult, particularly if you know where to start. Each houseboat trip is as different as the people who take them. One huge advantage to houseboating is that not every member of your party needs to like to do the same thing. There is something for everyone on and off the boat. Here are top houseboating planning tips for the Best Vacation Ever – The B-E-S-T!

Sumerset galley
houseboat icon
Your boat is the gateway to your vacation. It is your launchpad for relaxation and play wherever you want to go. Shasta Marina at Packers Bay has several different boat models that accommodate groups from 2 – 22 people with a range of amenities. Prior to arrival at the marina, all guests should familiarize themselves with the layout and the amenities of the houseboat. 

Don’t forget to plan on bringing any personal watercraft that you’ll want to use on your vacation. Everyone is more than welcome to bring their own favorite personal watercraft, but if don’t have your own, Shasta Marina has your back! Power boats, sea-doos, paddle boards, wakeboards, towables, and other personal watercraft are available from the marina on a first-come reservation only basis. We recommend you reserve your personal watercraft equipment at the time of houseboat rental.

two young people preparing pizza in the galley
eating & drinking

There is something about houseboating that makes people extra hungry and thirsty. Maybe it’s the sunshine, the swimming or just part of the fun. Planning meals family style that include favorite dishes and meals that can be prepped in advance are time tested crowd pleasers. While the marina store has the items that you may need such as snacks, marshmallows, ice, beverages, ice cream and even non-food essentials such as sunscreen, hats, swimsuits and beach towels, you will want to make sure that you fill your fridge and your pantry in advance.

The “house” in houseboating doesn’t just refer to the comfortable beds in the staterooms, it is also about the oversized couches, large dining area, and the group-sized galley. You’ll have plenty of room for all of your favorite foods for even the pickiest eaters in the residential size refrigerator and cupboards. The gas barbecue, ice maker, coffee maker, blender, oven, automatic dishwasher and gas stove are ready for whatever bounty you prepare. All the cookware, dishes and utensils that you will need to prepare your meals are all on-board.

For your convenience, you can order your groceries and beverages online and pick-up your groceries at Raley’s in Redding on your way to the marina – that way your milk, or beer, is still cold when you reach the marina.

Sunset View of Sumerset on Shasta Lake
Shasta Lake
Familiarize yourself with Shasta Lake before you arrive. It is the largest reservoir in California with hundreds of acres waiting to be explored. There are dozens of inlets and coves to play in during the day and host a campfire at night. Add a little turf to the water vacation on one of the trails that lead to vast overlooks or waterfalls. Or, take an excursion to the Shasta Caverns before coming back to relax in the hot tub counting stars. There are several varieties of fish in the lake, so make sure to grab your pole and bait to make the most of your time on, in and around the beautiful shores of Lake Shasta.

Toys & Things
Only bring what sparks joy and is essential. Bring what you NEED – because this is about the best vacation ever – and forget the rest. 
You’ll be surrounded by water — you’ll want to bring water toys. Bring the pool noodles, the air mattress, the squirt guns, sand buckets and shovels. Fishing from the back deck of the houseboat or the shore of Shasta Lake is great, but the fish may get scared away from the laughter on the shore or the splash from the water slide. If you have a kayak, bring it along.

Determining what you need is very personal based on your needs and planned adventures during the trip. Keep in mind that you are on your own private floating island and everything you have is only what you bring with you. The houseboats are fully stocked with everything that you will need to sleep, eat and play except food, drink, clothing and linens.

You’ll want to make sure that you bring beach towels, kitchen towels, bathroom towels, sheets, blankets and pillows for each person. Bring a sleeping bag and sleep under the stars on the top deck. You’ll be spending a lot of time outside, you’ll be glad that you have sunscreen, chapstick and mosquito repellant
Temperatures can vary more than 30 degrees each day. You’ll want to bring layers of clothing to transition easily through the cool mornings, to the hot afternoons, to the warm evenings. Pack your favorite bathing suit(s), shorts, and tank tops along with sandals or water shoes. There are also great trails around the lake and the amazing Shasta Caverns, so you may want your hiking or closed-toe shoes for those excursions.

Probably the most important “thing” on your trip is safety. Houseboating is a family-friendly activity, particularly when safety is top of mind.

For first time houseboaters, we strongly recommend getting educated about water safety. While not required for rental watercraft, every guest who intends to captain the houseboat or use any personal watercraft, should seriously consider getting their boater safety card. There are many different types of personal watercraft on the lake every season. Knowing the right of ways and other boater safety tips will help you stay safe during your trip.

The houseboat has safety life vests for each person on board, but if you or your child has their “favorite” life vest, bring it. We encourage keeping children in life jackets not only when they use the water slide or splashing around in the lake, but even in the hot tub.

Our entire family at Shasta Marina at Packers Bay wants you to have the best vacation ever. Please ask our team any questions that you may have, we are happy to help. Be safe and have a wonderful time houseboating.

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