1. Don’t let Marianne train you.
2. The road to the rentals at Bull Frog Marina is not straight ahead on the wide, nicely paved road. That one is for the kind of rich people who can afford to actually own a boat. Rentals are to the right. Follow the road until it turns to dirt. You can park at the bottom by the “bridge” – which looks like a really long peer – but only long enough to get your boat and transfer your load, then you have to find a spot on the hill. Be nice to the porters and they’ll be nice to you.
3. Be absolutely sure when you park that no lights or anything else that might drain a battery are left on. If the only guy in the marina who happens to own his own jumper cables is gone you could end up calling all the way to Escalante to have a tow truck come out and give you a jump start. All I can say is that I’m very, very grateful to the Good Samaritans who gave me a jump.
4. Do rent a little motor boat to go along with the nice, big houseboat. It makes it so much easier to get around, and can be used to help the houseboat get going again if you beach the wrong way
5. Make sure you tie the little boat well back from the end of the houseboat. It seems like you’d want it close, like when towing a car, but it doesn’t work the same way. If Marianne had stayed long enough to show us how to do this, there would not be a bow shaped dent in the back railing of the houseboat now.
6. Don’t expect the air conditioner to work. Temperatures are hot at night and scorching in the day. Luckily, if you keep all the windows and doors open while moving the houseboat it’s fairly comfortable.
7. The water in Lake Powell is too full of silt to see more than a couple of feet down. Snorkels and masks don’t do much. It’s kind of a cross between brown and green, but isn’t anywhere near as deadly as it looks, and will save you from heat stroke if you go ahead and swim in it. The shower is supplied from the lake with minimal filtering. If you try pumping water from the lake while moving, the pipes will fill with junk. No, it did not happen to me! I asked.
8. Our houseboat provided sleeping mats which could be used on the top deck. Even in a high wind, this is better than trying to figure out the jigsaw puzzle of a conversation-pit / hide-a-bed that is supposed to accommodate three people in the main cabin.
9. If you come to a sign – such as the one on a buoy directing people to Rainbow Bridge – and the arrow doesn’t match what the map says, get real close and see if someone has duct taped an arrow over the top of the real arrow. Not that the detour wasn’t worth it.
10. Don’t expect the refrigerator to work, but keep in mind that ice placed in the refrigerator will leek out the bottom and make the floor near it perpetually wet.
11. Keep the motor of the houseboat running until you get at least one, and preferably two of the four anchors set. It can drift while you’re digging.
12. Get those anchors set as well as you can. They say in the book that the anchors should be buried two to three feet deep. That sure would be nice. Unluckily, Lake Powell is made of rock, and sometimes you’re lucky to get even a foot of soil moved. Don’t be afraid to pile rocks on top to make up the difference. It really does help.
13. Waves can make the houseboat shift around, and even make booming noises though it’s grounded so well you can’t back up, but it’s the wind that will drag anchors as much as 10 feet, and make you get out of bed at 1 am to dig holes in the beach.