Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the procedure?
After check in, There will be an orientation at the dock. HBKW then transports your party to an anchorage predetermined by your preferences. After answering any last minute questions, the HBKW representative will depart and allow you to enjoy the solitude only the back country can bring. At the end of your rental period, a HBKW representative will drive the houseboat back to the dock.
How do I make a reservation?
Call or email Houseboats of Key West to check on availability of a houseboat you wish to rent. Payment in full is due upon arrival to the departure date. Upon receiving your deposit, you will be mailed a Reservation Confirmation.
How many people can I have on board?
We will inform you of a houseboat's capacity when you make your reservation. generally up to 6 including adults and children however keep in mind there are only accommodations for 4 full size adults.
Rental Period:
The rental period is from 12:00pm the first day to 12:00pm the last day. The transit time back to the marina the last day is not charged to the renter.
When do we leave?
Check in time is between 9am and 11am the day of departure. This should allow you enough time to provision the boat with food, drinks and your personal effects. The boat should be loaded and all persons aboard and ready to depart at 12pm(noon), It is in your best interest to leave early but if this is not possible, the latest departure time will be no later than 4 hours prior to sunset. This will allow enough time to motor to the anchorage and get familiar with the houseboat while there is still daylight. The average transit time to the most popular anchorages is between 2.5 to 3.5 hours. Simply put, the closer to noon the boat can depart on the first day, the sooner you can start your vacation on the water.

Example: If Sunset on the day you are to depart is 7:15pm. This means the boat must leave the dock no later than 3:15pm to have enough time to transit and orientate everyone about how the boat operates.
When do we Return?:
Your rental period ends at 12pm(noon) on the last day of your trip. A representative from HBKW will arrive to the houseboat at approximately 11:30, allowing us to lift anchor no later than 12pm(noon) for the trip back to the marina.

Please make sure to have all of your personal effects stowed and the boat secured for the voyage home. Delays that prevent the houseboat from leaving at 12pm to return home will be charged per hour at a rate of $100 per hour, up to the daily rate of $475.00.

Arrangements can be made if you need to leave earlier to catch a flight.
What happens if we miss the departure time on the first day?:
The departure times are setup to allow for the 2 ½ to 3 ½ hour transit time from the marina to the anchorage location, while there is still daylight.This is important. If circumstances do not allow you to arrive at the marina, have your provisions and personal effects stowed and be ready for a departure on time, your departure will have to be postponed until 8am that next day.

The absolute latest departure time is 4 hours prior to sunset

Should this happen, you will not be allowed to stay on the houseboat at the marina (per marina policy) and will have to find accommodations for that evening at your own expense.

To ensure this from happening, it is advised that you arrive in Key West a day earlier than the rental period to insure against any travel delays that may be beyond your control. This gives you ample time to go to the store to get food, beverages and be to the boat early the day of departure.
Can I spend the first night on the houseboat so I don’t have to get a hotel room?
At this time no. Our dockage agreement does not allow this. There are several hotels close to the marina:

Days Inn - 3852 N Roosevelt Blvd - (305) 294-3742
Comfort Inn - 3820 N Roosevelt Blvd - (305) 294-5511
What if I forget something or someone is late arriving?
Depending upon availability, it may be possible to bring extra supplies and/or people back and forth for a nominal charge. The transportation fee to take someone or additional items to the houseboat can exceed $250.00, depending on where it has been anchored. Please be very careful to remember all items....and people.
Is there a fuel charge?:
Fuel use to and from the marina and to relocate the boat is included. The only additional fuel costs are for generator usage, please see below.
What other expenses will there be?
Sales tax in Monroe County, Florida is 7.5% and general running expenses may include fuel/generator usage fees.
How do I get food and drinks for my trip?
Publix is about two (2) miles from the marina and Winn-dixie is about four (2.5) miles from the marina. There is a liquor store about ¾ of a mile from the marina. We highly recommend making a menu for each day/night onboard. See above for the expense of forgetting something.
How do we keep our food and drinks cold?:
We use large marine coolers and ice on all of our boats, there is no refrigeration onboard. A large part of the experience of being in the wildlife refuge is to enjoy the natural surroundings, not having to listen to a generator hum to keep your beer cold. Coolers with ice are a more efficient and economical way to keep your food and drink cold.
Can we bring Alcohol on board?:
Yes, Alcohol is permitted onboard. Remember to drink responsibly. Accidents can happen while onboard and help is further away than on land. Many times excessive alcohol consumption while on the water can quickly lead to motion sickness, even in flat calm water. Have a good time, but use good judgement. You must be 21 years old to purchase and consume alcohol in Florida. We reserve the right to limit the amount of alcohol brought onboard, your safety is above all else.
Is there a box store near the marina to purchase outdoor activity equipment ?
Yes, there is a K-mart located just over 2 miles from the marina. There is also a Publix grocery store in the same plaza.
Is there a place to rent Kayaks, Paddle boards or a small boat?
Yes, Hurricane Hole Marina has several companies that rent all three. Please make arrangements with them before you arrive to check on availability and rates. Tell them that you are renting with HBKW and how many days you will be renting the items.

Boat Rental:
Sunset Watersports - (305) 296-2554

Kayak & Standup/Paddleboards:
Lazy Dog Kayak/Paddle Boards - (305) 295-9898
Can I rent fishing equipment and snorkel gear?:
Yes, Finz Dive and Tackle, located at the marina rents fishing poles and snorkeling equipment. they also sell frozen bait and have a decent selection of tackle and accessories. Please make arrangements with them before you arrive to check on availability and rates. Tell them that you are renting with HBKW and how many days you will be renting the items.

Finz Dive and Tackle - (305) 395-0880
What means of communication is provided?
Our boats are equipped with VHF marine radios. Should you need to contact us, we will have multiple cell phone numbers located on your contract, in the boat manual and posted inside the boat. Should there be an emergency situation, calling the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 or cell phone is advised. At each anchorage there is an ‘in case of’ float plan with your GPS and nautical chart location, along with emergency and non-emergency numbers.

As mentioned earlier, unless previously agreed, all houseboats will be in major carrier cell phone range. It is advised that you bring multiple cell phones with chargers should you wish to keep in touch with friends and family. Cell service is subject to brief interruptions, depending on atmospheric conditions.
What should we to do in case of bad weather?
Depending on the time of year, Florida weather can be variable. Each renter must maintain a close weather watch and plan their daily activities accordingly. We plan the anchorages according to the forecast for the rental period. These anchorages provide relatively good protection from waves, but can be subject to wind, especially after a front or during a squall.

The on board VHF has a weather channel. WX2. During hurricane season, if a storm arises, we will refund or reschedule your rental accordingly.
What type of clothing should we plan on bringing?
Here in Key West, we experience relatively mild weather patterns. Clothing in the spring and summer months usually consists of shorts, light shirt, hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. In the fall and winter months, long-sleeved shirt, pants, a light jacket and hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Our Florida Keys weather is usually sunny and warm, but because of our tropical location, it is possible to experience a brief rain shower from time to time. It is advised that you check the local weather before your trip and plan accordingly. It is recommended that you bring a light rain jacket in the spring and summer months if rain is in the forecast.
Can I/we drive the boat ourselves?
No, our insurance and shallow water around the anchorages do not allow this. The last thing most people want to do is use up valuable vacation time waiting for the right tide to be towed off a flat that they could not see to avoid. Not to mention the expense.
Where will we go?
We take the boats to pre designated anchorages that are chosen based upon what the renter desires and the forecast weather for the rental period. For instance, if you want remoteness we can do that. If you want to be near the flats we can do that. If you want your charter captain to be able to pick you up for a fishing trip we can do that. All of our anchorages are chosen based on the forecast weather, your criteria and the ability to be in cell phone range.
Will you move the boat for us to another location during our rental?:
For rental periods greater than 4 days / 3 nights, if you wish, we can move the houseboat to a different anchorage based on your criteria, there is no charge for the first location change.

This would also be a good time to check your provisions should you need additional Ice, Fuel, Food or Beverages, you will be responsible for the cost of these items. For rental periods of less than 3 nights, and after the first move, there will be a $250.00 charge to move the houseboat to a new anchorage.
Can I bring my jet ski?
Generally not. The majority of our remote anchorages are within the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. Jet Skis are not allowed in the refuge and the operation of Jet Skis within the refuge boundaries carry a very hefty fine. We do have a few anchorages in the jet skis allowed zone, but keep in mind these anchorages are usually much busier and are not near the beautiful, scenic BackCountry.
Can I bring my own boat?:
Certainly, If bringing your own boat, please let us know the make and size so we can choose the proper anchorage for the space needed for the extra boats.
Can I bring my pet?
Check on availability at the time of booking. Some of the boats do allow pets with a deposit.
How much freshwater will be onboard?:
The amount of freshwater onboard varies with each houseboat. For example, the Sandpiper carries 260 gallons of freshwater. This is more than enough water for 5 people for 7 days, provided you conserve. Ice and water are the two most valuable resources on the boat. Extreme awareness must be given to the amount each person uses. The amount of guests onboard and the number of days you intend to stay needs to be taken into consideration when you shower, wash dishes, clean fish or rinse off.

The water systems onboard all of our boats are sanitized and extremely clean. While the water is potable, it is recommended that you bring bottled water for cooking and drinking, this helps save the water in the tanks for showering and cleaning.
What is the Cancellation Policy?
You may cancel your reservation at any time subject to the following guidelines:

Cancellations made more than thirty (30) days prior to departure date will receive a full refund of your deposit, minus a 25% cancellation fee. If HBKW can rebook the boat for the same period of time, you will receive a full refund of your deposit, less a 10% cancellation fee.

If you cancel within 30 days of your departure date there is a 50% cancellation fee of your deposit.

Any changes that result in a shortened rental will be considered cancellations unless a prior arrangement is made with HBKW. We regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies as a cause for cancellation.

All cancellations must be in writing.
Damage Deposit:
Before departure, a security deposit of $1,000 will be required. This deposit is held to cover any damages that occur during the rental period. The rental deposit is a separate credit card charge that will be collected before departure. Any damages will be subtracted from the deposit. Items that are missing or broken will be billed for actual replacement cost. Damage to the boat will be billed at fair market value to have the damaged item(s) repaired. The security deposit will be returned after the rental boat is checked over for damage at the end of the rental period.
Deposit Policy:
A 50% deposit is required to make your reservation. The balance is due before departure from the dock. If paying by check, all checks must reach our office two (2) weeks before departure otherwise your rental will be cancelled.