Hot tub on top deck of a houseboat


Your Houseboat comes equipped with several water management systems, all designed to help make sure you have enough clean water throughout the duration of your trip. These systems are convenient and easy to understand and provide a visual display of how much water is available for use. Your houseboat instructor will explain the functions and limitations of this system prior to departure and will answer any questions you or your crew may have.

When you arrive at the marina for your houseboat orientation, a qualified and experienced Houseboat Instructor will review the water systems with you. Most “Captains” find it helpful to assign one or two “First Mates” to take part in this important orientation to make sure everyone else on board is briefed on water use and conservation.

Callville Bay | Houseboat on the water during sunset


The fresh water tank on your boat provides all of the clean, filtered water for the sinks, showers, dishwasher and ice makers. (The capacity of this tank will vary depending on your houseboat type.) There is a water gauge on the helm to check your supply levels. If you are running low, you will need to head to the marina for a fill up, however, careful water use by your whole crew should help avoid running out before you return.

The tank has its own filter and the pressure and flow is controlled by two fresh water pumps. You can control the water pressure with a switch on the 12 volt panel at the helm for the water pumps. The switch has three positions; The center position is “OFF.” Use this position when no water is needed. You can turn the pumps on by switching either direction. If one fails, switch to the other. There is limited water pressure so don’t try to use too many faucets at once.

Houseboat Tip: The hot water heater runs on generator power. It is important to make sure the generator is switched on BEFORE you step into the shower.


All of the sinks, showers and toilets on your boat drain into a common waste holding tank (The capacity of this tank will vary depending on your houseboat type). None of your wastewater goes into the lake. This tank is emptied back at the marina when you return your houseboat. Conservation is very important to avoid filling up your tanks too quickly. A gauge at the helm will show tank capacity and “Tank Full” warning lights will alert you to the need to have your tank pumped out sooner.


It looks similar to a normal toilet, but you will find that there are some big differences in how a marine toilet works compared to the one you use at home. The marine toilet on your houseboat draws water from the lake for flushing and the water is discharged into the same tanks that all of the sinks and showers drain into. This way nothing goes into the lake. The whirring sound you hear when flushing is the in-line macerator grinding up the waste on its way to the holding tank.

Simple steps to help conserve your fresh water supply and make it last for the whole trip:

  • Don’t leave the water running when you are washing, brushing your teeth or shaving
  • When showering, turn the water off while lathering up
  • Use the dishwasher with a full load as opposed to washing dishes in the sink
  • Make sure your whole crew is “on board,” and knows what to do

*Conservation is also very important to avoid filling up your waste holding tank too quickly.


Many houseboat models come equipped with a water slide. When you push the button on the top of the slide a pump draws water from the lake and gets it wet for that perfect slide into the lake! The water will stop flowing when you release the button.


If your houseboat features a hot tub, you will be pleased to learn that it has its own dedicated water system, filling and draining into a separate water tank. It will take at least 4 hours to heat your hot tub so you will need to plan ahead before getting in. The houseboat instructor will review your boat’s specific hot tub system during your orientation.