This was our first time doing the "houseboat" type of vacation. We had a really good time. I suspect if you are with people you enjoy, that helps a lot too! :D
Reservations: Making the reservation was easy and Antler's was good about staying in communication regarding deposits and paperwork needed, etc. so that all went smoothly. We did call months in advance and were not able to reserve the boat that we wanted but the boat we ended up getting was sufficient so we were happy in the end. My husband likes to ask a lot of questions so we pretty much knew all we needed to do before we left based on his numerous calls to the office. However, the Antler's folks were patient with him so I have to give them major kudos for that.
We received a call a day or so before our trip that the lake levels were low and we needed to go to their 2nd Marina which was actually a closer drive for us so we were ok with that. We arrived and they were a bit backed up due to other folks returning their houseboats late in the morning. We were a bit cramped from driving 4 hours so didn't mind the 1/2 hour of stretching and bathroom breaks while we waited and they gave the captain and co-captains "Antlers" baseball caps which I loved since I stupidly forgot my visor for the trip. Then it was time to unload our gear onto a pontoon boat (on land) that was then put into the water and taken over to our houseboat so we could conveniently load onto the boat after our "orientations/operating instructions" talk.
Background: There were 3 families from the Sunnyvale/Santa Clara area that came together for this houseboat trip (5 adults and 7 kids). An adult from one of the families had taken houseboat trips before and driven ski boats and two adults had done a lot of boating with family members and friends that had boats. One family had no experience with boating or houseboats and none of us had actually driven a houseboat before so we were a bit nervous at first. However, with some of us having been on boats we understood some general boating etiquette regarding speed buoys and smaller vessels generally needing to move for larger (harder to turn and stop) vessels and the passing rules. After our orientation and training by Antlers staff, we felt pretty confident and there is a manual on how to start the boat, which switches to have off and on at various times and some trouble shooting etc. in one of the drawers and we could reach Antler's by cell phone on most parts of the lake, so off we went.
The Boat: We rented the "Mirage", it was a nice looking boat, pretty clean and not dated looking which I was surprised about. However, it was not a luxurious yacht, so don't set your expectations too high! There were 3 "staterooms" which were basically a double sized mattress on a platform and a cabinet for clothes, but you don't spend a lot of time in the room anyway right? :D Then the kids had a variety of sleeping options to choose from including the dining table/seating area which converted into a bed that 3 of the girls slept in plus there was a couch that converted though we didn't use it. There were 2 "Penthouse" rooms which are above the other rooms but you pretty much have to crawl into them and you cannot stand up but sitting is probably okay however I didn't actually verify this so don't quote me on it. I would guess 2 smaller kids could fit into each of these rooms and then there was a sleeping area that was beneath one of the rooms but above water level so there is a window and all. We called it the Harry Potter room. We didn't use it though because we had some big kids and they wanted to sleep on the top of the boat under the falling stars. More on falling stars later...
We rented a speedboat from Antlers as well so that we could find spots to park the Houseboat for the day and then venture out onto the lake for water skiing and tubing. This added a lot of additional fun for our group and it kept the kids from getting bored with swimming around the houseboat and sliding down the houseboat slide.
Amenities: The full kitchen was a great thing for us and we had no issues cooking and heating meals and snacks throughout the trip. However, the knives are EXTREMELY dull which slowed down meal prep throughout the trip quite a bit so I highly recommend bringing any knives you like to use when cooking as you'll save tons of time. :D We totally overbought food or didn't coordinate our meal purchases well enough and had duplicates and just too much to store so I would recommend that you really look at this because the fridge and freezer space is a bit limited and you don't want to have to keep going to the marina for ice throughout your trip for extra coolers. One of the great things on the boat is a very large cooler on the front of the boat which is great for drinks so the kids don't have to keep opening and closing the fridge. The harder the fridge works, the more more the batteries get used which the generator then has to charge and the more gas you end up using (and paying for). At the time time, gas was $5.85 a gallon and ice was about $2.50 a bag (you can get a sleeve of 6 bags for $13.50). It takes 2 sleeves to fill up that big cooler that is on the front of the boat. There is also a Jacuzzi on the top of this particular vessel, however it was filled with lake water so really, why not just jump in the lake (I guess if you prefer really warm water which I don't, you might enjoy this feature).
Issues: We ran out of fresh water (which comes out of the kitchen and bathroom sinks) the 2nd day in so we did have to go back to the Marina. We think that in rushing to get our boat ready for us, this was just overlooked. However, they filled us up quickly and got us back on the lake in record time so it was okay. Plus we ended up needing more ice for that big cooler on the front (we should have listened when they recommended 2 sleeves of ice!) so going back to the marina was in our plans anyway.
The only other issue we encountered was after using the BBQ on the front of the boat, we were visited by Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets came back the following morning. There may have been meat stuck to the grill racks still which attracted them which we should have burned off but didn't, so this was really on us rather than the boat. Live and learn right?
Nightlife: When the sun went down the stars came out and it was BEAUTIFUL! I saw 7 shooting stars in the first 10 minutes of looking and then lost count after that! It was quite lovely. My son and his friend said it was really cool to watch them until they got so tired they drifted off each night. Better than counting sheep!! :D
Sleep: I am not a great sleeper as I've mentioned in my other reviews. I wear earplugs to drown out the snoring by hubby, I take 2 Benydryl so when he does wake me it allows me to quickly fall back asleep and I wear a sleep mask to keep it very dark and I won't get distracted by shadows (crazy right? Don't worry, I know this about myself !). At home I have a super comfy TempurPedic mattress so I was worried about what appeared to be vinyl covered foam mattresses on the boat. However, I slept really well each night so I have nothing to complain about. You can pay Antler's an extra fee for towels and bedding but we opted to bring our own and skip the additional fee. We brought our own pillows as well but it turned out that wasn't necessary as pillows were provided in the staterooms.
Weather: The weather was pleasantly warm during the day and 2 of the nights were so warm we slept with the windows open all night long. I definitely liked going this time of year.
Hopefully this info was helpful to you! We had an enjoyable time and we would do this again, especially with Antlers.
- Also Known As:
- Antler Resort And Marina Hotel Lakehead
- Antler Resort And Marina Lakehead, California