Houseboating on Lake Travis is the ultimate great escape. The lake and beautiful hill country scenery are a wonderfully calming contrast to the tension filled timetable of city living. Whether it’s a three day cruise or a three hour meeting, being on the water works wonders in providing a dramatic change of pace. Considering that the average cruising speed of a houseboat is around eight to ten miles an hour, if you’re in a hurry, you’re in the wrong vehicle. For residents in Austin, when you want to get away for a couple of days and don’t want to spend a lot of time traveling to reach your destination, Lake Travis is a great choice since it’s only about a 30-60 minute drive from almost anywhere in the city.
Houseboats are most often thought of as a place for a vacation or holiday for family and friends or special events such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays or retirement parties but many companies have also discovered it to be a great place for a business meeting, team building event or an R&R day for employees. A cruise can also be an innovative incentive for the resourceful sales manager looking for a new way to reward or motivate his team.
When considering the use of a houseboat, there are many factors to bear in mind. They can be rented “bareboat”, wherein renters are given a short course in operations and sent on their way. Heaven forbid that anything should go wrong, and it usually does, after all, it’s a boat isn’t it. A person new to houseboating should keep in mind that houseboats are like flat bottom sail boats. They have a lot of surface for the wind to affect, no keel and are very difficult to maneuver in high winds. Previous experience with smaller boats or even larger cruisers will not prepare you for operating a large houseboat under adverse conditions. But, if you have had a fair amount of experience in boating, some mechanical aptitude, and do not encounter anything above moderate winds, you probably can do OK.
A second option would be to rent a privately owned boat managed by a service company. The service company staff takes the houseboat to a location where they can secure the boat and the boat stays at that location for the duration of the rental at which time the service company staff will return the boat to its marina.
A third option is one in which captain and crew are on board at all times to handle all aspects of boat operations, respond to any mechanical problems, make recommendations on places to go on the lake and possibly help with meal preparation and clean up. This option allows the customer more time to relax and enjoy the cruise without having to worry about operations. For a carefree experience, this is the only way to go.
We in the Austin area are really blessed to have such a great escape right at our back door. Lake Travis, the largest of the Highland Lakes chain, meanders 65 miles through the hill country providing approximately 300 miles of shore line indented with a multitude of coves. Consequently, while cruising, there are many unique places to investigate. At any given time, while under way, you might decide to stop awhile to fish, swim or just enjoy the scenery. Some groups bring along their own ski boats or personal watercraft and use the houseboat as home base from which to enjoy a variety of water sports. And some of the most gorgeous sunsets imaginable can be viewed from the upper deck of a houseboat while slowly cruising down the middle of the beautiful Texas Hill Country. If you have any suitable occasion coming up, this is a venue you should put high on your list of possibilities.
Mitch & Louise Phillips are owners and operators of the only full service, houseboat charter operation on Lake Travis. Our objective is to make every event live up to the name of Utopian Cruises. Every charter includes captain and crew to help insure an enjoyable time. For the ultimate in luxury cruises on Lake Travis, come to Utopia.