FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 23, 2012) — Summer is upon us, and there’s no better way to enjoy its lazy days than on a houseboat, according to the Kentucky Department of Travel.
Kentucky often is referred to as the “Houseboating Capital of the U.S.,” and there’s ample justification for this term.
The state is full of lakes that lend themselves to this pleasant pastime, offering a vast number of coves and fingers that allow houseboats to tie up or anchor away from the main channel and provide boaters with a peaceful, secluded atmosphere.
Then there’s the ease with which visitors can rent houseboats from marinas operating on the lakes. Lake Cumberland boasts multiple marinas that specialize in renting these commodious craft to vacationers who crave laid-back quality time on the water with family and friends. When you add other popular waters like Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, and Dale Hollow Lake, more marinas rent houseboats of various sizes and degrees of luxury in Kentucky than almost anywhere else.
A great place to locate information on the state’s major lakes or marinas offering houseboat rentals is the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism’s Official Visitor’s Guide, which has detailed listings for facilities in nine separate regions of the state. The guide is available online at www.kentuckytourism.com. A printed guide can be ordered online or by calling 1-800-225-8747.
And don’t forget that Kentucky is a leading houseboat manufacturing center. Buyers from all over the world order custom-built craft to match their particular desires. In Monticello, Somerset, Russell Springs and other towns around Lake Cumberland, you’ll find some of the world’s best-known houseboat builders eager to provide the craft of your dreams. Many vacationers who’ve gotten their feet wet with a rental eventually decide to become owners.
In the early 1950s, a Somerset native, Jim Sharpe, began building small houseboats at a facility on the banks of the newly impounded Lake Cumberland. Sharpe got the idea for the business when he realized that visitors to the lake had few options for accommodations close to the water. As the business grew, the size and luxury of the boats he built grew with it. The company’s reputation spread, and Sharpe became known as the Henry Ford of houseboats. Although Sharpe is now retired, his company is still run by second- and third-generation family members.
For those who aren’t looking to buy, renting is an enjoyable alternative. The time of year and size of the boat determines the rental cost. A boat that sleeps 12 with six private cabins and amenities like kitchen, wet bar, central air conditioning and outdoor grill can rent for about $4,000 for Monday through Friday during peak season. Because of the pastime’s popularity, make arrangements for your Kentucky houseboat vacation as far as possible in advance.