At Forever Houseboats, we work with new houseboat captains every day. It is important to us that we share the ins and outs of houseboat operation for optimal enjoyment and safety. One of the most common questions we hear is: How do you find your way on the water? Naturally, this is a reasonable question for which we have a reasonable answer. In our experience, we have found that the three best tools for navigation on the lake are maps, a Global Positioning System (GPS), and the marine radio.
When you’re out on the water, the map you want is a navigational map. These are specifically designed to provide boaters with important information to ensure safe boating. Navigational maps have numbers that coordinate with the numbers on the green and red buoys on the lake. If you happen to get turned around, remember that if the green buoys are on your starboard (right) side, you are headed away from the marina and towards open water. Conversely, if the red buoys are on your starboard side, you are headed toward the marina and away from open water.
Thanks to car navigation systems, most people are familiar with GPS units. By transmitting signals to US government satellites, a GPS is able to determine your latitude and longitude with remarkable precision. You can use a GPS to find your way to a specific location by simply entering the latitude and longitude coordinates. In the case of an emergency, you can give your GPS coordinates over the marine band radio so help can find you.
Marine Band Radio
In addition to maps and the GPS, sometimes it can be helpful to talk to someone who knows the lake. All Forever Houseboats come equipped with a marine band radio. Cellular service can be unreliable on the water, especially if you are in a cove or canyon. As a result, the marine radio is the best way for you to communicate with the marina while you are boating. Channel 16 on the radio is monitored by local authorities including the park service and all lake marinas. If you need to call the marina, try reaching them on Channel 16 first. If it’s not an emergency, we’ll switch to a different channel after establishing contact.
Out on your houseboat, you will have a few different tools to help you find your way and navigate the water safely. Your houseboat Instructor will teach you to read the maps, demonstrate how to use the GPS and marine band radio, and answer any questions you may have. Ready to head out on the open water? We are here to help. Contact us today at Forever Houseboats to make your reservation. We’ll steer you in the right direction!