Articles in: Cabin Contemplations

Best boat to buy for a cottage

best boat to buy for a cottage on a lake or river
New cottage owners often have to buy a boat once they close the deal on the property. A number of things need to be considered when deciding which type of boat is best to buy for the new cabin.

Water conditions, boat use, and docking facilities all impact the type and size of the boat that will be ideal for your situation. Budget is also a factor.

Lake size and conditions

Big lakes are great for cruising, but they can also get very rough. In situations where the cottage is on an island or you need to cross large areas of open water it is important to have a boat that is big enough to handle rough weather. This means spending a bit more money, but it is worthwhile to ensure safety and reliability on the lake.

A small 16 foot open aluminum fishing boat, for example, isn’t going to work as your primary boat at the cottage in most circumstances.

Aluminum or fibreglass

Hidden rocks, reefs, and submerged islands are common in cottage country. River systems and smaller lakes that see significant changes in water levels often have unmarked hazards. In these areas it is generally better to have an aluminum boat in the event you hit a rock.

Fibreglass boats are better suited for big lakes with lots of open water and no submerged structures near the surface.

Dock size and water depth

The length of the dock and the depth of the water at the dock often determine the size and type of boat you can buy. A cottage with deep water at the shore or a long enough dock will be able to harbour larger boats. Cabins with small docks and shallow or rocky conditions around the dock might only be able to accomodate a smaller boat.

Best types of boats for lakes and rivers

Several types of boats are popular for properties on lakes or rivers. Many cottages have two or more boats with each one used for a specific purpose.

There might be a bowrider, deck boat, or a pontoon boat for running back and forth from the mainland. A fishing boat could be used for catching dinner. On big water, cottagers might also have a ski boat and then a larger cruiser for doing long trips. Some cottages also have a sailboat.

The surge in boat prices in recent years has made it much more expensive to treat the family to a different boat for every activity on the lake or river. As a result, there needs to be some negotiation and compromise when buying the first boat for the cottage.

1. Bowrider

Cottaging veterans often recommend a bowrider, also referred to as a runabout, as the best boat to buy for cottage owners in most situations. It can serve as a reliable boat for general purposes and is also versatile enough to be used for fishing, or as a ski or wakeboard boat. This type of boat is popular with cottagers on both lakes and rivers and would be a good boat to buy as the primary boat for the cabin. Bowriders come with either aluminum or fibreglass hulls, so there are options for all situations.

2. Deck boat

A deck boat is similar to a bow rider and these days some designs make it difficult to tell the difference between a deck boat and a runabout. In simple terms, the deck boat provides more space, hence its name, particularly at the front of the boat. A deck boat might be a good choice if you are not sure whether a bowrider or a pontoon boat is the best boat to buy as your first cottage boat.

3. Pontoon boat

A pontoon boat is another good multi-use boat for cottages. The stability of the boat makes it ideal for running back and forth from the mainland with supplies if you have an island property. A pontoon boat is good for lakes and rivers and can serve as a fishing boat, as well as being a comfortable boat for taking a leisurely cruise. It is generally not ideal, however, for cottagers looking for speed or those who need a powerful ski boat.

Pontoon boats come with covers to provide protection from the rain and can be opened up on nice days.

4. Fishing boat

A pure-play fishing boat, often referred to as a bass boat, tends to have a powerful motor and is designed for ripping around the lake to maximize fishing time. The boat is stable and versatile for getting into shallow areas to access fish. While the fishing boat might be flashy and a great bonus for the cabin, it is generally not the best boat to buy as the primary boat for a cottage.

Hybrids are available in the market where the fishing boat has some characteristics of a runabout and is also equipped with a pole mount to pull water skiers or wake boarders.

5. Ski and wakeboard boat

The boat industry knows how to tailor products for specific interests. This is particularly the case with ski and wakeboard boats. Manufacturers design the boat’s hull to produce the best wake and the boat has an inboard motor. This type of boat is a lot of fun, but would probably go in the category of “cottage toy” as opposed to a must-have for the cabin.

6. Cabin cruiser

A cabin cruiser is a big boat that costs big bucks. If you are fortunate enough to have the money to spend on a cabin cruiser it is a great option for cottage owners who have properties on large bodies of water. The cabin cruiser is used for long trips and normally comes with a sleeping area, washroom, and even a small kitchen in some cases.

7. Sail boat

Sail boats are not typically associated with cottages, but that doesn’t mean a cottage can’t have one. Small sail boats are popular in areas where the cottage has access to good sailing conditions. Serious sailing types, however, often use their sailboat as their cottage and spend most of their free time in the summer sailing with their local clubs.

Buying a new boat for the cottage is a big decision and it makes sense to take the time to plan the purchase with the entire family. Current and future use should be considered. If a new boat is too expensive, it might be possible to buy a good used boat to get started.

Best Chainsaw to Buy for a Cottage

Best Chainsaw to Buy
There are three good types of chainsaws to consider for cutting trees and firewood at the cabin: gas-powered, battery-powered electric, and corded electric. The best chainsaw to buy for a cottage depends on how and where you plan to use this essential power tool. Read the full article

Best Dock for a Cottage: Types and Materials

floating dock

Cottage owners have several types of docks to choose from when building a new dock or choosing the best dock to buy for a new install at the lake. Read the full article

5 Tips for Staining Cottage Siding

Staining The Cottage

How to stain siding on a cottage, cabin, lake house or chalet

Staining the cottage is one of those maintenance projects that cabin owners love to avoid. Read the full article

Should You Rent the Cabin and How Much Can You Charge?

Old Cabin

Cottage rental rates continue to rise amid soaring demand for lakeside vacations. Cabin owners who previously ignored the income opportunity now wonder if they should rent the lake house for a few weeks to help cover the annual costs. Read the full article

10 Cottage Finance Tips for Buyers

Buying a cottage is a wonderful and emotional experience. It is also becoming very competitive for top lake properties. Read the full article

Chainsaw Won’t Start – Now What?

Chainsaw Fuel Line

The chainsaw is a useful tool to have at the cottage, so it must remain in good working order. When the chainsaw won’t start, we need to know why. Read the full article

Cottage Association Saves Its Members Thousands


The Whiteshell Cottagers Association (WCA) is a member-driven, non-profit organization that is run by volunteers from within its membership. Directors are elected from each of the 22 populated lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba to represent their lake on the Board of Directors.

The WCA was formed to “represent the interests of cottagers to the government and provide leadership and information to its members” with a mandate “to advocate for fair and reasonable service and lease fees for cottagers, and encourage good environmental stewardship on the part of cottagers and all other park users.

The total membership has risen significantly over the last several years by focusing efforts on those issues the association saw as being most important for its members.

Service & Lease Fees
The WCA has already won two successive rate freezes from the government on a program of lease rate escalation dictated by the previous administration, which was scheduled to have more than doubled lease rates from what they were three years ago. This success has already saved some members thousands of dollars each.

The WCA has also spearheaded the development of a new, province-wide Association of Cottagers Associations (known as the MPPCOA) to develop through discussion with the Province, a new basis for the annual fees for servicing and occupying crown (and private) land in Manitoba’s Provincial Parks for recreational purposes.

Environment and Infrastructure
As a result of the many letters of concern the WCA received about the lack of maintenance on infrastructure, water levels, and on environmental issues, the association instigated a committee comprised of retired engineers and environmentalists to provide insight and leadership in these areas.

Several years ago, major changes in the staffing of government departments resulted in little corporate memory or operations ability for the regulation of water levels in the park. The WCA committee now liaises effectively with the current staff of Manitoba Infrastructure to better manage the higher levels of precipitation.

Benefits for Falcon Lake
The WCA was successful in convincing Parks to carry out maintenance on boathouse access channels that had not been dredged since their original construction in the early 1960s. Once the work is completed, boathouse cottagers will no longer be pitted against the rest of the cottagers on Falcon Lake, who are constantly at risk of flooding.

An issue that is still unresolved at Falcon will unfold at an Open House being sponsored by Parks and Manitoba Infrastructure on August 26. Government will be advocating for a new “gravity drain style” level control structure which (as proven by history, and the hydrological model developed for the lake), is predictably unable to prevent flooding. The WCA prefers the slightly more expensive “pumped” control structure, which is the only option which can demonstrably prevent flooding. Government believes the additional cost of a “pumped” facility is not justified. However, the cost of repairs as well as loss of access to docks (or even the use of cottages), that the cottagers endure following a summer of above normal rainfall, do not fall to the government – and they more than outweigh the up-front savings of the lower-cost option.

The need to replace the decrepit level control structure at Falcon Lake made it much easier for the WCA to convince Parks of the need for concurrent maintenance of the drainage channels. This is now scheduled to happen, and will pay off for all Falcon Lake cottagers. The WCA will continue to work to see all of these issues addressed, in the shortest possible time.

Ongoing Efforts
The committee of eight cottagers from all over the Whiteshell has worked continuously on these and other issues affecting cottagers. For example, special effort is being made to convince both levels of government and CN Rail to fix the bottleneck that the rail crossing over the Whiteshell River creates – causing frequent severe flooding on Caddy Lake and occasional flooding on West Hawk Lake. These efforts have been underway for a couple of years, and resolution will take persistence and patience.

The WCA has done a great deal over the last four years to improve the scope and quality of the services the association provides for the cottagers in the Whiteshell, and the WCA intends to sustain this level of effort going forward. WCA members have received extraordinarily good value for their annual fee.

The WCA website can be found at and membership application can be completed on line, or printed out and sent in by mail.

Have a great summer, and may it include the relaxation and enjoyment of a family cottage.

By: Alan Roberts
President: Whiteshell Cottagers Association (WCA)

Time to Smell the Roses

wild roses

Wild roses appear every June at our cottage, and they have always been a great reminder at the beginning of the season to slow down and reflect on what’s really important in life. Read the full article

Cottage Opening Guide

cottage opening weekendCottage season has arrived and many people are preparing to head to the lake for the first time since they closed up the cabin last fall. Read the full article