Family Fun Afloat by Sandra and John Scott

“Grandma, this is sweet!” exclaimed 9-year old Jenna upon entering our 70′ Forever Houseboat. This outburst set the tone as three generations of the Scott family from three states set sail into the new year. Jenna and her 7-year-old brother, JJ, checked out the four bedrooms and entered into a debate over whom was going to sleep in which bedroom, at which point I, the matriarch, stepped in.
“Go check the sign on the door. What does it say?”
“Sandra Scott, Captain, and Crew.”
“Right. And who is in charge of a boat?
“The Captain.”
“Correct! And who has to obey all the captain’s orders?”
“The crew.”
“And who is the crew?”
“We are. Does that mean Dad, Mom, and Uncle Jim also have to obey the captain?”
“Of, course.”
“Grandma, are you going to drive this houseboat?” Asked JJ incredulously.
Good question, I thought. “We will see. The beauty of being the captain is that I get to delegate jobs. Right now the job is to unpack and everyone has to help the captain.”

Many hands make light work. I was glad we decided to take the option of boarding the night before we set sail. Unpacked and dinner over, we all watched the instructional CD and felt ready to set sail in the morning.

On New Year’s Eve morning, after a hearty breakfast that included a family tradition of fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar that my grandmother used to make, Mark, the marina man, gave us an orientation tour and piloted us out to the Colorado River. John, the son, took over the helm, to which JJ queried in amazement, “Daddy, you know how to drive the houseboat?”

Mark had assured us, “If you can drive a car you can drive a houseboat.” However we had been houseboating before and knew it isn’t exactly the same. Our car is not 70 feet in length nor is it 22 feet high therefore it is not affected by the wind. We headed north on the river toward Hoover Dam. The sun gives brilliant color to the rocky landscape sliced between the robin’s egg blue of the desert sky and the blue black of the water. At Owl Point Cove we found the perfect mooring place. The guys tied off the boat to stakes pounded into the ground. It is a critical operation as we learned from previous experience, so they also added an extra tie down from the bow. Once our Forever Houseboat was secure, I told the grandchildren, “After you finish the fire pit, you can go from that point to the end of the beach and climb any of the hills. Be like Christopher Columbus. Explore and report back what you find.” And, off Jenna and JJ went picking up shells and pretty stones along the way.

The tantalizing aroma of our turkey dinner, which had been cooking since we set sail, was finally ready. After our family dinner, the snacks were put out, the satellite TV set to the New Year’s Eve programs, and we started another family tradition – putting puzzles together on New Year’s Eve. Everyone but JJ greeted the New Year Vegas time. He fell asleep shortly before midnight just like his father use to at the same age.
On New Year’s Day three out of the seven of us joined the Polar Bear Club with a quick dip in the frigid waters of Lake Mohave – obviously I had to stay on deck to take pictures. JJ opted for the water slide. If only I had caught the picture of him bobbing up out of the water with his mouth and eyes wide open in shock but making nary a sound. With his sister and dad, he jumped in the hot tub Uncle Jim had ready. JJ’s voice returned, “We are now members of the Polar Bear Club, aren’t we, Dad? Where is the clubhouse?”

The first day of the new year was one of relaxing, watching bowl games and some serious snacking. Winter is a slow time on Lake Mohave but for us it was wonderful. We had the whole place to ourselves and there was something for everyone to do. The children went hiking with their dad and grandfather. They fished off the back of the boat with their dad, who explained, “Jenna, if you can’t put the sardine on the hook, you can’t fish. That’s the rule.” Uncle Jim went for a long run, which paid off because he saw wild burros. Daughter-in-law, Kim, worked on the diabolic puzzle that seemed destined to take days to finish even with intermittent help and constant encouragement from the rest of us. I preferred basking in the sun on the top deck with a book.
Time passed quickly as we settled into a relaxed routine. With the early morning sun giving a golden glow to the world, Jenna and JJ started their day fishing, which was more like drowning sardines. Following a hearty family breakfast there was plenty of time to explore. The last day Jenna, JJ, their dad, grandpa and uncle went on a long hike along the ridge while Kim napped on the couch recovering from the strain of completing the “world’s hardest puzzle.” I got in some serious “me” time in the rooftop hot tub where the stark but beautiful scenery diverted my attention from my novel. Lake Mohave is part of the Lake Mead Recreational Area and the lake below Hoover Dam. It offers a variety of boating, camping, hiking, fishing, and other recreational activities. During the summer it is a busy place but from late fall to early spring it is the perfect place to get away from the routine and for us to bond together especially since our family is spread from East Coast to West Coast. There was plenty of time for Grandpa to play his “take no prisoner” style of checkers with the grandchildren and for the whole family to play Uno, followed by soaking in the hot tub.
Houseboating is a vacation that remains in the memories long after the trip is over, and as added insurance, we continued with another family tradition. Each night every one of us made an entry and drew pictures to commemorate the day in our journal, “Scott’s Family Fun Afloat.”