Near the end of summer in 2003 my wife and I decided we wanted to
rent a houseboat on Dale Hollow Lake
so we could have some time with our two daughters aged 9 and 4. Our 9 year
old is a good swimmer and our 4 year old had just taken a series of
swimming lessons and was becoming a swimmer also.
|Since our kids both love the
water so much a houseboat on Dale Hollow Lake seemed like the obvious
choice. The lake is incredibly clear and with 620 miles of shoreline
so there is lots of room to roam. As it tuned out we started our
planning a little to late. Between my work obligations,
the fast approaching start of the school year for our kids, and the
people who scheduled their houseboat rentals ahead of us, we just couldn't get it
together before the start of school. So we elected to go ahead and
plan on the houseboat we wanted to rent for early in the summer of
Our houseboat vacation was intended primarily for some quality family
time spent swimming, fishing, and flat water kayaking (a much needed break from the real world).
However, we also wanted to invite some friends down for a day and night of swimming, fishing,
and eating. So when we chose the houseboat we wanted we decided on a 16' x 64' Jamestowner from
Hollow Marina. The reason we liked this houseboat so well is it
has four individual bedrooms which would allow for some privacy for
us and our guests. It also had a large, covered, front deck, a water slide
into the lake, TV and VCR, air conditioning, grill and all the other
necessities for a great vacation on Dale Hollow lake.
Our houseboat vacation began on June 1st 2004, the day after
Memorial day. I knew that traditionally Dale Hollow Lake could be
pretty crowded during holiday weekends, So we elected to start our
houseboat rental after everyone else had already headed home. That
part of the plan worked out perfectly! In fact we could hardly believe
how few people we actually saw, especially in the cove where we spent most of
Since we had been to Dale Hollow Lake before I had a
pretty good idea of where we were going. We have all cruised around
the lake in a pontoon boat on several occasions, and I have done a
bit of fishing up there as well. So, for this trip we didn't really
plan on doing a lot of cruising around in the houseboat. We thought,
and did, spend the majority of time with the houseboat parked in one
spot that was convenient for swimming, eating and fishing while taking a few trips out on
the lake in the small boat and the kayaks we had brought along.
On our first day,
Tuesday, we arrived at the Marina around 1:00
pm and started loading our stuff.
By 1:30 we were getting our orientation on how to drive the boat,
safety orientation, and instructions on how to operate all the
various amenities such as the generator, grill, air conditioner, etc.
By 2:00 we were on our way across the lake and excited to finally be
As soon as the boat was tied up the kids were ready to go
swimming. We took the kayaks off of the back deck and they hopped
right in. I thought the water was a little cool but you got used to
it pretty quickly, the kids didn't seem to notice.
discovered a treasure trove of unusual rocks and fossils along the
shoreline and spent some time wading, collecting.
|Wednesday was a truly great
day. We woke up early after our first night on the boat. When the kids
woke up we called them and they crawled into the bed with us. We all
laid there staring out the window that is perfect height so while
laying you can enjoy the view of the lake. We were amazed at the glass like water and
right from bed we could see numerous fish in the water and a really
cool map turtle floating near the houseboat.
After a little while of talking, tickling, and laughing we fixed breakfast and got our swimsuits on. We were all anxious
to get back in the water. Most of the day was just spent swimming or
watching our kids swim. They were also anxious to get into the kayaks
we brought along and our older daughter really seemed right at home
paddling around "our" cove. It was great to not have a schedule, a
ringing phone, or crowds of people. For the most part, we just
relaxed, ate and swam.
Latter that evening as we were about to fix dinner I caught movement on the opposite shore
of the lake. It was a
running down the shoreline. As he neared a point on shoreline he
jumped up onto a fallen tree and walked on it into the woods and
silently disappeared into the forest.
|Early Thursday morning we woke up
discovered it had starting raining lightly. As the sun came up a huge
rainstorm rolled through. It ended up raining off and on much of the
day, but we still had fun. We had the covered but open front deck and
the large living room area to roam and relax in. In between storms
the kids found time to take a couple of swims. By mid-afternoon they
were tired enough to lay down and take a nap.
I was able to fish from the back deck that is covered. During periods
of heavy rain it was a little wet back there from the blowing rain.
Later in the evening I took the small boat and went to pick up our
friends Darren, Crissy, and their son Alex who was 4 years old. We
planned on cooking dinner, fishing and swimming with them for that
night and most of the next day.
As darkness approached Darren and I set up the drop lights to
attract schools of shad. We didn't catch a lot of fish, but we caught several
bluegill, a couple small bass and a catfish. At about 4:00 am I woke
up when I heard
something banging around on the back deck of the boat. I got up and
went out to investigate. It was Darren's fishing pole and something
big was on his line. I went and knocked on his door and let him know
he had caught something and it seemed bigger than everything we had
caught so far. It turned out to be a pretty good size channel catfish
about 26" inches long, his biggest fish ever!
The weather Friday was perfect! It was about 85 degrees (F) and
sunny. We all spent a lot of time swimming and we all took turns
paddling the kayaks around the cove. The kids also spent more time
wading and collecting rocks and showing their finds to Alex.
Friday evening we were still
having a great time, but our family was a little somber knowing
tomorrow would be our last day. I took Darren, Crissy and Alex back
to their car. Later that evening my wife's sister came out to meet us
in her mother-in-laws pontoon boat, and she brought her two daughters
along. Our daughters who had started acting a little tired were
suddenly rejuvenated and all the kids spent the rest of the evening
swimming, kayaking, and wading.
|Saturday was quickly upon us
and we had to have the houseboat back to the marina by about 11:00 am
so they could get it cleaned up for the for the next group. Everyone
wanted to get in one last swim and of course the kids wanted to
paddle the kayaks around one more time too. So we got up early and
let the kids swim while we took turns packing our stuff and keeping
an eye on them.
When we got back to the
dock they wanted us to just sit and wait for their guys to bring the
boat in. Pulling into a space not much wider than the houseboat is
generally a task left to the experienced. They re-fueled the
houseboat and the small boat, and did a quick visual inspection of
both. I was pretty
surprised to find out we had only used about $75 worth of gas. We
didn't really do much cruising around in the houseboat but I figured
we had used the generator more than that.
For my wife and I, I think spending so much uninterrupted time with
our kids was an unforgettable experience. Sure there were a lot of
fun distractions like swimming, kayaking and fishing but we did those
things as a family.
For our kids, they just couldn't get enough of Dale Hollow Lake.
They were constantly swimming, going off of the slide, kayaking, and
fishing. They also really seemed to enjoy wading the shoreline
collecting unusual rocks and fossils and watching the wildlife. We
saw a red fox, hawks, crows, turtles, fish, humming birds, Great Blue
Heron, and heard a barred owl on multiple occasions.
Our houseboat rental on Dale Hollow Lake was one of our best
vacations ever. I just can't say enough about the beauty and solitude
of Dale Hollow Lake, the comfort of the houseboat and professionalism
of the staff and Dale Hollow Marina. We are all hooked on
houseboating and hope to be back in 2005!
Here is a Checklist of
the major items we brought with us. If you are considering renting a
houseboat here are a few
Houseboat Planning Suggestions and Tips.
Dale Hollow Marina
99 Arlon Web Drive
Celina, TN 38551