New Flamingo Houseboats Mothership Trip 1/17-1/20 - Video and Review of Boat
My family has always
talked about doing a trip into the inside of Flamingo using a rented houseboat
as a mother-ship and we finally made it happen this past weekend. Ever since
the original houseboats were destroyed I've wanted to do this trip, but
between the negative reviews and hurricanes continuing to destroy the boats we
haven't been able to.
After a lot of planning we booked from a Thursday night through Sunday. The amenities for the boat are as below as described by the vendor. Houseboat offers a bunk bed, with full size mattresses (located in a separate bedroom) and one full size bed plus a small sleeper sofa in the living room, one full bathroom (shower), galley with cooking & dining supplies and air conditioning (while at dock). Here is a short video we took walking through once we were anchored up the first night.
After all is said and done, to rent the houseboat will cost around $425 a night to use the boat as a mother-ship after considering costs for the generator, propane, fuel, and rental cost. The costs are $350 a night for the boat, $50 to rent the generator, $25 for the propane tank, and fuel costs. If you want to keep the boat stationary at the marina it is $300 a night so that may be a better option for some.
The liability form that has to be signed off on is VERY extensive and a little scary but I think that it is designed to be that way to ensure you take care of the boat. I’d recommend getting a copy beforehand so you aren’t surprised as to how thorough it is when you arrive. They check out process went very smoothly with little hiccups but they definitely have the ability to charge very high costs if they feel that you abused the boat in any way.
We had a plan to pick up the houseboat Thursday as soon as possible, drive it out to the NW corner of WWB around marker 40 to use as our staging area for the weekends fishing. Check in is supposed to be at 3 pm which would have made it impossible to make it out that far in daylight(around 18 miles away) since the boat only goes 7 mph. Luckily the boat wasn’t rented the day before and Brett, who manages the houseboats it seems, was very helpful and allowed us to have an early departure around 11 am. My father and uncle loaded the boat with everything we’d need and they left the dock.
The marina provides a captain to drive you through Buttonwood canal out into **** bay. Once you enter **** bay they jump on a skiff and leave you on the boat to continue on. They helped answer any questions and explained everything along the way. The boat was equipped with a new chart plotter GPS which allowed for easy navigation and they arrived at anchorage after about a 3 hour drive overall.
Once securely anchored the weather was nice but the generator provided by the marina was started to run the AC and Heater as needed. The boat has a 70 gallon freshwater tank which we used as needed for the entire trip and did not deplete. Hot water which is run off propane worked very well along with the stove/microwave/refrigerator.
My brother flew into Fort Lauderdale at 4 pm and I picked him up, loaded the boat and made our way down in our 22’ Pathfinder. We arrived at the boat launch after fighting traffic at around 8pm. Luckily bugs weren’t too bad and weather was very nice and we began our trip to meet up with them in the designated area. I’ve been running the inside for around 10 years now however this was my first time at night. It was very nerve racking to say the least, especially with the layer of fog over top of the water until we got into Whitewater Bay. For any of those wondering about the shrimping, we saw a good number of shrimp in **** bay and canal leading in to WWB as we were motoring along. With almost no moon to help, I trusted the GPS and used a spotlight every now and then until we arrived at the boat an hour or so later. This part of the trip I definitely will change as it was uncomfortable navigating at night with the lack of markers and potential for debris, but we did what we had to in order to get out.
Once we arrived there were 2 fenders provided on the house boat and we brought 2 as well to help secure the boat and prevent damage. For the remainder of the trip we would fish day and night, taking breaks to cook lunch and have a rest from time to time with the house boat functioning perfectly as a mother ship for our trip. We brought along 40 gallons of gas to re-fill the boat and the marina provided 2 7 gallon tanks to run the motor. The motor on the boat probably burned 13 gallons to get us there and back, and the generator ran the AC and Heat for us each night and had to be refilled at around 3-4 am. The generator provided also helped to keep the boat batteries charged whenever we were docked. We did not deplete the 1 propane tank provided and cooked at least 2 meals a day and showered as needed, even though a spare was brought in case.
The only issue we had during the trip was at one point, luckily during the day when we were around; the boat’s anchor did come loose when the tide/wind shifted. It caught again shortly after but I would probably use 2 anchors with one being a larger size with a good amount of chain to ensure a secure hold.
After the trip was over the final morning 2 guys packed up the boat and headed home. They left first thing in the morning to make sure they arrived in time. Since check in is at 10 am, you actually have to be at the mouth of Buttonwood Canal at 9 am in order to have time to get back. They meet you at the entrance and drive the boat the rest of the way.
Overall takeaway from the house boat was that it was an amazing experience, but in order to fully enjoy, but here are a few more takeaways. Definitely need to stay at least 3 nights since the first and last day will be 3-4 hours of driving back and forth to your location if you decide to anchor away from the marina. Having a few guys who enjoy the slow boat ride to and from anchorage is a HUGE help, since myself I would have gone crazy at that speed and length of time not actively fishing.