Vaal River Vacations - Houseboat and Self Catering units
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a Skipper’s License to rent and drive the Houseboat or does it come with a skipper?
You drive the houseboat yourself.
If you do not have a skipper’s License, we send you some training material beforehand. You answer a short monkey puzzle test, and email it back to me.
When you arrive, we go through everything again, and if you have no boating experience, I go out with you until you get the hang of it. Once you are comfortable and I am satisfied that you can operate the boat, you drop me off at the point of departure, and from then you are on your own.
What Facilities are there on the houseboat?
Starting in the kitchen, there is a 2-plate gas hob and gas oven. All the cutlery, crockery and utensils you might need. Wash basin with mixer tap. Wash cloths and detergent.
Gas geyser supplying hot water for doing dishes and showering.
Permanent double bed in the fore cabin. Benches and table fold down in kitchen area for another double bed. Built in vanity n fore cabin with wash basin.
Charcoal braai (barbeque)
What must we bring along on our Houseboat Trip?
We supply bedding and the kitchen is equipped with all the cutlery, crockery and utensils you will need.
Bring your own towels for showering and when swimming in the river or at one of the restaurants.
Food and drinks (Cooler box with ice for the drinks comes in handy, because the fridge is only about 60 litres – small bar fridge size)
Insect repellent (depending on the time of year) and sun screen.
Charcoal Briquettes and Fire Starters (We also sell these items on location) There is a small Weber type Braai on the back of the boat.
Folding chairs to use on the roof of the boat (There are benches under the awning at the back of the boat)
Torch/Flash light – There are 12V lights inside and outside the boat, but comes in handy when using the braai after dark.
We supply an umbrella stand on the roof of the boat, so you can bring your own umbrella. The two benches on the back of the boat are under an awning.
How many people can the boat accommodate and what are the sleeping arrangements?
The houseboat is certified to carry 6 people, but can only sleep 4 people comfortably.
There is a double bed in the fore cabin with a sliding door that leads to the kitchen area.
The benches and table in the kitchen area fold down to make another double bed.
There is also a short bench in the fore cabin where a child might be able to sleep.
Is there a TV or radio on the boat?
No TV. There is a car type radio with CD player, but does not play MP3 files.
All restaurants along the river have TV’s to watch major sporting events etc.
Is there Electrical power on the boat?
The 220V plugs below the Distribution Board (Black faceplate with switches) are only live when the houseboat is moored at our jetty, and the land line is plugged into socket on the back left of the houseboat. There is no inverter on the boat that supplies 220V.
Two 12V outlets are available inside the boat for cell phone car chargers, GPS etc.
The engine has a separate starter battery that is isolated from the main 12V power on the houseboat. The engine’s alternator does not charge the batteries associated with the main 12V power.
Two solar panels on the targa wing on the back of the boat charge the two batteries for the main 12V power. Cloudy weather and being moored under a tree or bridge therefore prevent these batteries to charge via solar power.
How do the various Gas appliances work?
All the gas appliances on the houseboat have a safety mechanism in that they need to detect heat to keep the gas supply on. If the flame goes out the gas supply gets shut off.
All this means is that when igniting any gas appliance, the knob must be kept depressed for a few seconds after ignition. If the flame goes out after the knob is released, it was most likely not held down long enough.
Geyser pilot flame lighting instructions
Move slider to the position where the two notches are. (This is the only position where you can depress the knob.)
While depressing the slider knob, repeatedly push the igniter knob on the right until the pilot flame comes on.
Keep the slider knob depressed for about 30 seconds for the thermocouple to heat up.
Release the slider knob and if the pilot flame stays on, move the slider to the right.
If the pilot flame goes out, repeat the steps and keep knob depressed for longer to heat the thermo couple.
Oven and grill:
There are two burners inside the oven. The one at the top is for grilling and the one in the bottom and towards the back of the oven is for normal oven operation.
Depress the oven knob and turn it clockwise (grill burner) or anticlockwise (oven burner) while holding a match to the relevant burner. Once it ignites, keep the knob depressed for about 20 seconds. Release the knob. If the burner goes out, repeat the previous steps.
For Grill operation the oven door needs to be open. If you close the door while the grill burner is on, it will automatically go out.
For oven operation the door must be closed.
Is the Fuel included in the rental fee?
No. You pay a Fuel deposit for 50 litres of fuel when making the booking. This amount varies depending on the price of 93 octane unleaded fuel at the time of your cruise, as well as the price of 2-stroke outboard oil.
The houseboat is equipped with a pre-mix 40Hp 2-stroke engine.
The fuel that is used must be pre-mixed (93 unleaded petrol with 2-stroke oil) with a ratio of 50:1 (petrol:oil). This means 500ml of 2-stroke oil with 25 litres of petrol. The fuel in both tanks at the time when you take possession of the houseboat is already mixed in the correct ratio, so it is used as is (Do not add extra 2-stroke oil).
If you need to refuel, empty one of the fuel containers into the other (using the funnel), so you can use the extra 500ml of 2-stroke oil supplied with 25 litres of petrol. Immediately add the 2-stroke oil to the petrol so that there is no confusion later whether the fuel is mixed or not. Make sure the 2-stroke oil is mixed well with the petrol by shaking the container before using it.
You get refunded for the petrol left in the tanks when you return, so even if you do not use the extra petrol that you have bought, you will be refunded for your petrol expenses. If you use the extra 2-stroke oil supplied, the cost will be added to you final invoice.
Where on the river do I sleep at night?
We make a few suggestions on where to overnight, but it is up to you to decide where you want to sleep. There is a map on the boat, so we go through the various options before departure.
The only general rule we have is that you do not invade other people’s privacy. So, mooring right in front of a private property, or making use of private jetties is not allowed.
Some of the restaurants allow you to overnight at their jetties. You are also welcome to overnight at the jetty at your point of departure here at Cruise-n-Snooze.
Waterfront Country Lodge (https://waterfrontlodge.co.za)
River Palace (https://riverpalace.co.za)
Vaal River Lodge and Spa (https://vaalriverlodge.co.za)
Tropicana River Lodge (http://www.tropicanariverlodge.co.za)
Stonehaven on Vaal (https://stonehaven.co.za)
Riverside Tsogo Sun (https://www.tsogosun.com/riverside-sun)
If there may be a cancelation due to weather, may they reschedule or is outright cancelled?
The only weather-related ground for cancellation is if the river is in flood, in which case we will reschedule.
What are the age restrictions for hiring a Houseboat?
You need to be at least 18 years of age to rent and drive the houseboat.
The upper age limit is dependent on your physical condition. Mooring the houseboat at a jetty in windy conditions or dropping and raising the anchor takes a fair amount of physical strength. If you do not think you are up to it, rather err on the side of safety and do not rent the houseboat. Keep in mind you are liable for any damages to the houseboat.
How much fuel does the craft normally use?
Fuel consumption is a function of how fast you drive, wind conditions, any prevailing currents and obviously how much you drive.
Regarding the speed you travel, there is a 4-fold difference in consumption from driving as fast as the houseboat can go vs. just cruising along. The reality is that your actual cruising speed is not that much different between the two scenarios.
Headwinds or driving against the current also have an impact on fuel consumption.
The 50 litres we supply is enough to explore the recommended sections of the river.
How far may they travel and where are the restrictions?
There is about 55km of navigable water. Upstream the weir at the Lethabo power station forms a physical barrier in the river, preventing boats from going further upstream. Downstream the Barrage dam wall with its sluice gates forms the other limit that you can cruise. The 20km upstream from where we are situated is the recommended area to cruise, and is also where the most restaurants are situated.
How often do you have breakdowns?
Breakdowns are far and in-between, but they do happen. Engine maintenance is done according to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. Most of the time any issues can be sorted out over the phone, but someone is always on standby to go by boat and assist if need be.
To contact us:
Phone: 084 550-8798
Fax: 086 523-5569