We’re back from our houseboat adventure on Lake Shasta. Did I enjoy it? I think so!
The thing was massive, I can’t believe they let people loose with these things after just five minutes of instructions. Mind you, five minutes was too long for me. We’d only just got onboard and I wanted to go and explore not listen about engines, generators, LP gas and blowers. The boys were rushing around shouting ‘bunk beds!’ and I was itching to go and explore the rest of the boat. But Danny made me stand there and listen as a back up in case he couldn’t work out what to do.
We’ve never rented or even been inside an RV so the guy’s instructions about the different things on the boat followed by ‘just like an RV’ weren’t that helpful!
We’d upgraded to the next size up in boats because it wasn’t much more, consequently we had a boat that slept 14. That sounds massive until you realize that they cram everyone in like sardines. There are bunk beds, five mattresses lined up next to one another in a cabin and then two double beds in the living room area. You either need to go on a houseboat vacation with people you know really well or by the end of the trip, with only one shower amongst 14, you’d know them really well by the time you got back to dry land.
My idea of the vacation had been cruising along, swimming in the lake, fishing and stopping off for a meal now at then at different towns scattered alongside the shore. I soon came to realize that there is absolutely nothing alongside Lake Shasta. There’s the odd marina selling the basics, bread, ice, beer but that’s it. As I’d thought about the trip, I’d pictured a lovely marina selling ice creams, a deli selling lovely bread and a café we could pop into for lunch. I wanted to become one of the tourists that drive me crazy in Newport.
So, for four days all we saw was water, trees and sky plus the boats cruising or whizzing past us. That sounds really relaxing but there were certain places on the lake we wanted to see like Shasta Dam and a few other points of interest so we actually motored quite a lot. At this point, I’d climb into the hammock with my book only to hear ‘You couldn’t get me a coke could you?’ Danny couldn’t leave the controls of the boat. Then ‘some chips and salsa might be nice.’ It was exhausting! Making sure the boys hadn’t disappeared off the back of the boat, serving the captain snacks, untangling fishing lines, blowing up rubber rings, looking out for sand banks in the shallow water. Endless!
I thought at one point I was going to be arrested by the Lake Shasta sheriff. The boys had all gone on ahead in our zodiac to scout out a good place to stop for the night and I was blazing down the lake to catch them. I’d had a glass of wine but was in control of the boat (honest!), next thing I know, the sheriff is heading over to me in his boat. I was trying to look cool and calm and stuck my head out the window to chat. Rather than arresting me for a DUI he was simply explaining that I should stay in the centre of the lake because there were especially shallow areas in that spot. Meanwhile, the boys in the zodiac could see the sheriff coming to speak to me and zoomed back to intervene!
A big tip we learned quickly was, if you need help tying up at a marina and no one’s around, slam into the dock with as much power as you can and shake the whole thing. Then they come running! We always thought we were approaching gently but completely misjudged the entire thing and slammed into the dock and I mean slammed.
One afternoon as we cruised out to take a look at Shasta Dam, a wildfire had started in the forest and all of a sudden the smoke came over the lake. It was amazing. The sky changed dramatically, it was fascinating to watch and there were so many colours suddenly turquoise, yellow, grey, blue and green.
So, did I enjoy it? Yes, it was an adventure. But I’d been too taken in with the online photographs of our houseboat. Obviously they’d been taken on the day it was delivered. It looked lovely and fresh. Ours needed a lick of paint, the gas cooker drove me crazy and some of the pots and pans I didn’t like the look of. Next time, I’d be more prepared for this and take my own things.
And I won’t be taking ten other people to share the boat, three other people was exhausting enough.