1. Do you need a special license to drive a Holly Bluff Houseboat?
2. Do you have to be an experienced boater to drive a houseboat?
3. Are navigational maps provided?
4. What is the average amount of gasoline used?
5. Which springs can we get to by houseboat?
6. Can we pull auxiliary watercraft such as a ski boat or fishing
boat behind the houseboat?
7. Do you have a launching ramp?
8. Do you rent small boats to pull behind the houseboat?
9. How many anchors are on board the houseboat?
10. Can we pick up the houseboat after hours?
11. Do life jackets come with the house boat?
12. Is the houseboat equipped with a sewage holding tank?
13. What form of payment is acceptable for the rental?
14. Do you allow pets on your houseboats?
15. What are your hours of operation?
16. Can we get in touch with you after hours?
17. What do we do if the generator stops running after hours?
18. Are your houseboats equipped with a marine radio?
19. Will our cell phone work on the river?
20. What items do you supply on the houseboat?
21. What items should we bring?
22. Do you have a coin laundry?
23. Can we buy groceries on the river?
24. Do you sell live bait for fishing?
25. Do you rent fishing equipment?
26. Do you sell fishing licenses?
27. Are there restaurants nearby?
28. Is it safe to swim in the St. Johns River?
29. Can alligators get onto the houseboat?
30. Do we have to come back to the marina every night?
31. Are mosquitos bad?
32. Do you have security at the marina?
33. How far can we travel on the St. John's River?
34. What is there to do on the river?
35. Will we see Manatee?
36. Are there pirates on the river?
Q. Do you need a special license to drive a Holly Bluff Houseboat?
A. The renter must be a responsible adult 25 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license. Florida boating safety educational requirements were updated Jan. 1, 2010. This update requires boat operators who were born on or after Jan. 1 1988 to obtain a Florida Boating Safety Education Identification Card in order to operate a motorboat. Go to FloridaBoatingCourse.com to complete the course.
Q. Do you have to be an experienced boater to drive a houseboat?
A. No, our houseboat handbook maybe be downloaded HERE. This handbook will tell you how to operate the houseboat. After you arrive and check onto the houseboat, one of our instructors will go through the boat with you from bow to stern, take you and your crew out on the river and teach you how to drive the boat. Timeshare and rental customers are not mailed this handbook but can purchase one by calling us prior to arrival.
Q. Are navigational maps provided?
A. No. During the orientation session the instructor will review the charts in the handbook with you and recommend some places to visit, give you some good overnight mooring spots and mention some areas that are hard to navigate.
Q. What is the average amount of gasoline used?
A. Our houseboats are powered by 165 V6 Inboard-Outboard engines and are very fuel efficient. They use about 2 1/2 gallons per running hour at normal cruising speed. The generators use about 1 1/2 gallons per running hour. The average fuel use for a weekend is about 75 gallons. Midweek I would estimate at 85 gallons and about 100 gallons for a full week.
Q. Which springs can we get to by houseboat?
A. Blue Springs State Park is about one half hour south of our marina. Manatees winter haven is this spring so you cannot drive the houseboat into the spring run. You can beach the houseboat in a designated area and visit the spring just a short walk away. Silver Glen Springs is about four and one half hours north of Holly Bluff and is the most popular destination point on the St. John's. You can drive the houseboat into the spring run and stay overnight in this spring. The water at both springs is crystal clear and 72º degrees year around. If you tow a small boat you can get to DeLeon Springs, Salt Springs, and Alexander Springs. These springs are not accessible by houseboat.
Q. Can we pull auxiliary watercraft such as a ski boat or fishing boat behind the houseboat?
A. Yes, you may tow a boat up to 20' long. We suggest towing your boat behind the houseboat and will provide specific instructions on how to do this when you arrive. You will need to bring a long tow rope, not a ski rope. We will provide information on how to do this, not specific instructions.
Q. Do you have a launching ramp?
A. Yes, we do have a launching ramp which you can use free of charge. We have ample parking and you do not need to un-hook your trailer from your car.
Q. Do you rent small boats to pull behind the houseboat?
A. Moonlighting Boat Rentals nearby rents fishing boats and motors. You can call them direct at 1-386-738-2788 and they will have the small boat here when you arrive for your houseboat charter.
Q. How many anchors are on board the houseboat?
A. Two, one large Danforth type for the bow and one small anchor on the stern.
Q. Can we pick up the houseboat after hours?
A. We are open from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. seven days a week. If you arrive after 5 p.m. the office will be closed. Please call us if you plan to arrive late so we can leave a note on the door directing you to your houseboat. If you arrive after dark we will leave the houseboat porch light on for you. To begin your cruise on the day of your charter you must arrive by 4 p.m. so we have plenty of time to teach you how to drive the houseboat. If you arrive late you are welcome to stay aboard the houseboat and we will check you in and give you the orientation the next morning.
Q. Do life jackets come with the house boat?
A. Yes, all houseboats are equipped with life jackets. If you have small children you may want to bring your own ski vest type jackets that would be more comfortable.
Q. Is the houseboat equipped with a sewage holding tank?
A. Yes, each houseboat is equipped with a large sewage holding tank. We have our own sewage treatment plant at Holly Bluff and two pump-out stations are located on our fuel dock. The holding tank is pumped out at the end of each rental.
What form of payment is acceptable for the rental?
A. On the day of arrival we accept Visa, MasterCard, travelers checks or cash. We will accept a check if it arrives two weeks prior to your departure.
Q. Do you allow pets on your houseboats?
A. Yes, we do allow up to two small dogs and cats for a charge of $15 per day. Each pet must weigh less than 35 pounds. If you bring your dog we suggest that prior to your arrival at Holly Bluff you purchase a few pieces of sod that you can place in a box on the back deck for bathroom facilities. Sometimes it is very difficult to find a suitable place to take the dog ashore due to excessive vegetation along the river banks.
Q. What are your hours of operation?
A. Holly Bluff Marina is open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Q. Can we get in touch with you after hours?
A. No, if you are experiencing a maintenance problem you need to call us prior to 5 p.m. We only do service calls during daylight hours. It is important not to anchor in the main river channel since there is commercial traffic on the St. John's River. You must get to the side of the river if you are having problems. Most boaters on the river are very friendly and you can hail someone if you are having problems and cannot reach us by radio.
Q. What do we do if the generator stops running after hours?
A. Consult your handbook and push the reset button as shown to you by your instructor. If this does not work you can go to a nearby marina and plug in to power. However, if it is after dark, remember your boat is equipped with battery operated lights, the water, toilet and gas char broiler will work without electricity. Anchor in a safe place and call us at 8:30 in the morning.
Q. Are your houseboats equipped with a marine radio?
A. Yes, we monitor channel 12. Marine radios are good for a range of about 15 miles. If you are out of range you can call the marina nearest to you and they will call us on a land line with a message from you.
Q. Will our cell phone work on the river?
A. Yes, in most places. Sometimes you have to go on top deck for better communication.
Q. What items do you supply on the houseboat?
A. We supply linens, including towels, coffee pot, color TV, pots, pans, dishes, wine opener, can opener, trash bags, coffee filters, paper towels, toilet tissue, dish soap, gas charbroiler with propane, cooler for drinks, and two lounge chairs on the top deck.
Q. What items should we bring?
A. Hand soap, beach towels, binoculars, fishing equipment, paper plates (if you do not want to wash dishes), extra lounge chairs if you need more than two. Casual dress is the norm in all restaurants in the area and on the river.
Q. Do you have a coin laundry?
A. Yes, we have a coin laundry here at the marina.
Q. Can we buy groceries on the river?
A. No, plan your meals accordingly. There is a Winn-Dixie about 6 miles from the marina but groceries are scarce on the river. Most fish camps have beer, ice, sodas, chips, and snacks.
Q. Do you sell live bait for fishing?
A. No, we have a few fishing supplies but no live bait. There are tackle shops with live bait nearby.
Q. Do you rent fishing equipment?
Q. Do you sell fishing licenses?
A. No, but in Florida you can call 1-888-347-4356 and purchase a fishing license using your Visa or MasterCard.
Q. Are there restaurants nearby?
A. Yes, we have several good restaurants just a short distance from the marina. There are a few restaurants on the river that you can reach by boat. We will show you these during the orientation.
Q. Is it safe to swim in the St. Johns River?
A. People swim and ski in the river. We do have alligators. I suggest going to a spring to swim where the water is clear. Alligators are normally not aggressive toward people.
Q. Can alligators get onto the houseboat?
A. NO, I have never heard of a alligator getting on a house boat. It is against the law to feed the alligators. If you feed them they will come very close to the boat looking for food. They do not know the difference between a hand and a hot dog so please do not feed the gators.
Q. Do we have to come back to the marina every night?
A. No, to experience the river the best, you should stay out a few nights. Anchor behind a island or in one of the lakes. I prefer to find a clearing and tie up to a tree so I don't have to be concerned about the anchor slipping.
Q. Are mosquitos bad?
A. For most of the year mosquitos are not a problem. However, I recommend that you bring repellent especially if you are sensitive to bites. We do sell repellent in our store. Certain times of the year when the temperature and barometric pressure reach a certain level the lakes in particular have a mosquito called the blind mosquito that comes out at night and can cover the side of the boat. They do not bite and are just a terrible nuisance. We suggest that you do not go into the lakes when these mosquitos are in the area. They are not a problem on the river.
Q. Do you have security at the marina?
A. We are a small private owned marina. The owners live on the premises and try to keep a close watch on things. We also have several people who live aboard houseboats here at the marina. We are located in a rural area of finer homes on the river and seldom have a problem with theft.
Q. How far can we travel on the St. John's River?
A. The cruising range for our houseboats is Sanford to Marker6/7 in Lake George. With all the lakes and tributaries this will give you over one hundred miles to explore.
Q. What is there to do on the river?
A. Fishing, swimming, gator watching, bird watching, sun bathing and just relaxing. The only music you will find outside the boat comes from nature. The owls and frogs will sing you to sleep at night. There are no nightclubs on the river. But you will see beautiful wildflowers, moss draped cypress and oak trees, osprey, eagles, egrets, blue and white heron, and turtles. Florida is blessed with beautiful blue sky by day and lots of stars at night.
Q. Will we see Manatee?
A. Blue Springs State Park is located about one half hour south of the marina. This is winter sancuary for manatee. It is very common to see manatee on the St. John's river October through March. After the weather warms up most manatee go to the inter-coastal waterway. However, some manatee stay here year around so it is not unusual to see them all year.
Q. Are there pirates on the river?
A. It is not unusual for someone to ask us this question. I have never heard of pirates on the St. Johns. The river is very safe. We have never had a customer boarded by a pirate and I do not remember anything taken from a rental houseboat.