We just got back from a houseboat vacation on Norris Lake, June 27 to July 4, 2008. We had 4, 13 year old young people, 2, 12 year olds and 4 adults. There was plenty of room in the boat.
The kids had a great time. I brought some thick rope and set up a rope swing. We rented a ski boat and put on alot of hours on the boat tubing, wakeboarding and exploring the shoreline. the kids also had a great time jumping off the boat, playing X-box, swimming, watching movies, shooting off fireworks, floating around in the water, cliff diving, fishing and reading.
Scuba or snorkeling is not that great because the water is cloudy.
Cost after we got there: Springs Dock had the cheapest houseboats and were very easygoing. we spent $4,700 for a weeks rental of the houseboat, the skiboat and tax, (9.3%). We spent about $750 in fuel, $800 in groceries, (we shopped at the Wallmart in Lafollete) $160 in two meals out and %70 in liquor
Cell Phone service: Verizom cell phone service was not great. I could receive text messages and email on my blackberry but phone calls got dropped. (I guess the Verizon team could not swim.) Nextel did not work at all. Alltel was the best with phone calls being received and sent with no problem.
How Houseboating works: You should arrive at Springs Dock before 3:00 pm and after you have shopped for groceries. You move all your stuff to the boat. Springs Dock gives you an orientation, drives your boat out into open water and then you go and find a cove to tie up in. (we used the speed boat to scout the coves) We had to bring the houseboat back in to have the holding tanks pumped once.You cannot drive the boat into the marina. Springs Dock monitors Channel 16 on the radio for call ins. You call Springs Dock and A captain comes out and brings the boat in at no charge.
The skiboat rental is less money than a jetski rental and the ski boat we rented was an impressive boat that would do 50 mph with one person in it and top out at 40 mph with 6 people.
What we brought that was useful: a kayak, rafts to float on, extra rope so you can tie off a third line, flashlights so you can turn off the generator at night if you so choose to. movies, games, sharp knives, lots of towels, Binoculars, a good camera and laptop to download to
Items I wish I had brought:
Boots and long pants so I could have hiked on some of the vacant land. A hammock or an inflatable mattress so I could sleep uptop under the stars. Liqour, so I didn't have to drive 70 miles round trip to the nearest "non-dry" county. Note! the "dry" counties sell beer except on Sunday.
They do not sell wine.
Musquitos are not bad on the water because the bats eat them all but you get a few so bring sonme "OFF"
I was very impressed with Springs Dock and I would go there again.
Sincerely, Brad Gruizinga,
Cell 231 557 5999