Preparing For Lake Powell's Big Water Year

Lake Powell is poised for a big fill year in 2023.

While all the water is certainly welcome, its rapid inflow during the Upper Colorado River Basin’s runoff season may cause lake levels to rise by 2 feet or more per day, for a period of time, in May and June. And although it’s impossible for us to know today how much the lake will rise, and how extreme the daily fluctuations may be, there are several things we encourage you to consider and plan for if you’re anchoring with us before the 4th of July.

Purchase More Anchor Line

The longer your anchor lines, the further your anchors can be positioned up-beach, and the longer your anchoring location may last. We generally recommend having the following anchor line and extension lengths available on your boat:

Houseboats 75 to 85 ft. or smaller

  • 175 to 200 ft. rope for each stern anchor line
  • 100 ft. of rope for each bow anchor line
  • (2 to 4) 50 ft. extensions lines

Houseboats 86 to 100 ft. or larger

  • Standard line lengths issued with your boat +

(4) 50 ft. stern anchor line extensions

(2) 50 ft. bow anchor line extensions

Flexibility with your Anchoring Location Preference

It’s important to balance a number of considerations including safety, site longevity, and beauty when picking an overnight anchoring location for your houseboat. Specifically, you’ll want to moor in a location that allows your anchors to be placed far enough above (not from) the water line, based on how quickly the water is rising during your stay. For example, if the lake is rising 1 foot a day and your trip lasts for a week, you’ll want to overnight in a location accommodating at least 7 feet of lake rise. 2 feet per day requires 14 feet.

Under these conditions, beaches (sand or rock) with gentle rises are not suitable anchoring locations for multi-day stays. Beaches with steep rises or with high shelves, on which to position anchors, will work best. Depending on how quickly the lake levels are rising during your trip, anchoring options may be limited.

If your preference leans towards site location (beauty) vs. site longevity, there are options you can consider. These include:

  • Re-anchoring your houseboat (reposition anchors at current site or move to new site) as rising water levels require .
  • Adjusting your schedule to spend a few extra days in-dock at the beginning or end of your trip, so you’ll only have to  anchor once.

Train your crew and perform the following daily maintenance activities

Make sure to familiarize yourself with, and to train your crew on, the key aspects of houseboat anchoring. Also, ensure you have enough crew to successfully monitor and maintain your anchorage using the guidelines listed below.

Check Houseboat’s Bow Position Frequently Throughout Day

Your houseboat’s bow position will change often as it is continually pushed up-beach by the rising lake.
The position is undesirable and unsafe if the bow is:

  • floating, rather than firmly positioned on the beach
  • located so the anchors are no longer within their proper placement zones
    (45° – 90° for side anchors and 45° – 15° for bow anchors)
  • maintaining fewer than the required number of contact points on the beach
    (center point contact on V bows, and at least 2 points of contact on pontoons and multi-point bows)

Reposition Houseboat’s Bow As Needed Throughout Day

To properly re-seat your houseboat’s bow:

  • loosen your anchor lines,
  • motor the houseboat onto beach to firmly position the bow on the beach, and
  • re-tension your anchor lines (see below).

Maintain Anchor Lines As Needed Throughout Day

A rising lake causes anchor lines to loosen. Depending on the rate of rise, this can happen very quickly. Movement of the houseboat due to a combination of winds and slack anchor lines allows dynamic forces to be placed on anchors. Dynamic forces, when high enough, cause moorings to fail. Keeping anchor lines properly maintained consists of continually monitoring, adjusting, and preserving the following anchor line conditions.

  • Proper Tension – Adjust your anchor lines just to the point where the slack has been removed and the line becomes straight (no more bowing in the line). With a rising lake you’ll generally be tightening anchor lines. IF USING A WINCH, DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN ANCHOR LINES. Overtightening can significantly preload the anchor line, thereby unnecessarily decreasing its capacity to absorb additional loads from winds. The best way to properly tension with a winch is to first slack the lines and to then re-tension them just to the point where the slack has been removed and the line becomes straight.
  • Even Tension – Adjust each anchor line’s tension so the wind load can be equally distributed among all of the anchor lines located on the same side of the boat – all lines must be tensioned equally. Slack lines don’t take an equal share of the wind load. As a result, they require the properly tensioned lines, and their corresponding anchors, to do more work. This decreases the overall holding power of the boat’s anchoring system.
  • Leeward Anchor LinesDo not re-tension leeward anchor lines during wind events. These lines will naturally slack when winds are blowing. It is however, important to ensure these lines are evenly tensioned. This ensures the wind load will be equally distributed among them should the winds shift – causing them to become windward anchor your anchor lines (see below).