Do You Drive A Houseboat? | LakeWizard

Living on a houseboat can be quite an experience, but how do you drive a houseboat? Here's what you need to know about driving a houseboat.

The quick answer is yes, you can drive a houseboat, but it will be a bit trickier than a regular boat. The process is the same, you start the engine and then drive around, but because a houseboat is larger, it's more difficult to steer. 

If you are in the market for a houseboat, it pays to get familiar with how to drive a houseboat, especially if you are going for a non-static houseboat.

As experienced houseboat owners, we get this question a lot, especially from people who have bought a houseboat for the first time. We understand your concerns, and so we've written this article to help you out. Without any further ado, let's get started.

Table of contents


Driving a Houseboat

While onboard a houseboat, there are several activities that one can enjoy with their friends and family, which makes a houseboat a lot of fun, especially for those who love being close to the sea. However, using a houseboat isn't all fun and games, though. For instance, it must be driven by someone, which means you must know how to drive one or hire someone who does.

You have the option of renting a houseboat with a driver or driving it yourself; however, most people choose the latter. If that's you, but you're worried about how difficult driving a houseboat may be, you've come to the perfect spot.

Driving a houseboat on the open water is quite easy, and anyone who has driven a car before can do it. On the other hand, docking or beaching your houseboat takes a fair degree of experience and competence. If you hire a houseboat, the rental company will usually provide you with tips and tricks that will help you out, and many of them will also assist you in getting the houseboat off and on the dock. But if you want to go out in your houseboat yourself, then learning the basics of how to drive one always helps.

The good news is that driving a houseboat is not that different from driving a car. If you know how to drive one and have some basic road sense, such as knowing when to hit the brakes or turn to avoid a collision, then driving a houseboat should not be difficult. It should be mentioned here that the lack of brakes is one of the most difficult aspects of driving a liveaboard and one that takes some time to get used to.

However, with the right amount of practice, anybody who knows how to drive a regular engine-powered boat can get the hang of driving a houseboat as well.

Starting the Engine

As with driving anything with an engine, it all starts with starting the engine. It should be noted that the type of engine that a boat has will differ depending on its size and type. This is why houseboat owners need to read the instructions beforehand to find out exactly which type of engine they are dealing with.

When driving a houseboat, one of the most important components that the driver needs to pay attention to at all times is the gauges. These are the fuel, pressure, and speed gauges that will let you know just how much fuel is left in the tank and how fast you're going, which is great to know when to slow down, and the pressure gauge, so you don't end up overheating the engine.

If you know your way around the speedometer of a car and the various gauges, then understanding the gauges on a houseboat should be easy. But there will be some differences. For instance, in the place of pedals, a houseboat uses levers that you need to familiarize yourself with. Since the houseboat does not come with brakes, you can either slow down from farther away, leave the throttle altogether, or turn the lever back, which will slow the houseboat down a lot faster than just leaving it to friction.

Reversing the lever is also a good idea when you are getting close to the harbor or marina while docking.

Turning a Houseboat

Again, because of its size, turning a houseboat can be tricky. In fact, it is one of the trickiest parts of driving a houseboat. This is mainly because, unlike driving and making turns in a car, there is a delay in the time you turn the wheel and when the boat begins to turn. This can be a problem for beginners who do not have a good idea of when is the right time to turn. That being said, if you stay focused on what's ahead, as in obstacles or other boats, then this delay should not be a problem.

Follow the Rules

Just because you're on the water does not mean there aren't any rules to follow. As we all know, there are certain laws to observe when driving a car on the road, and the same is true when it comes to water. When operating a houseboat, you must adhere to various regulations of the marina or harbor where it is docked or the lake or river.

If there are buoys in the water, one of the most important things to do is to follow them. If you do so, half of your problem will be solved, and you will not have to worry about anything else. If you hire a boat in a specific lake, the rental company should provide you with additional precise rules to observe while on the water. If you're visiting a new lake and don't receive specific directions, make sure to inquire.