July 2007

Itís A Smorgasbord Of Boating Styles In Arizona

By Carol L. Allen

Not only are there thousands of registered boats in Arizona, but also there is a tremendous variety — a craft to fit every boater’s needs and lifestyle. From PWC to hot boats to houseboats and everything in between, Arizona’s waterways are filled with a wide selection of floating toys and homes.

A sampling from the boating smorgasbord follows, and it is only that, a sampling. No one article could do justice to all the types of watercraft on our waters, but here is an overview — in no particular order.

Personal Watercraft

International Jet Sport Boating Association (IJSBA) and Lake Havasu are nearly synonymous. It was in October of 1982 when the new Lake Havasu City found a fantastic event taking place at the Nautical Inn on the island — one that would become a signature event for not only the little desert city, but also to the entire sport.

IJSBA was formed with the assistance of Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA (then the only maker of personal watercraft) in 1980. However, not until 1991 did the association change its name to the present one. At that time, membership was available to those with all makes of PWC.

Meanwhile, the World Finals held in Lake Havasu City continued their growth: in size, scope, and impact as the sport grew with more manufacturers building PWCs. The member-driven organization blossomed to over 50,000, worldwide, and the majority considered Lake Havasu as home to their sport.

PWC race competitions are held not only all across the United States, but in 38 other countries as well. The events enable competitors to qualify to travel to Havasu and compete in the World Finals.

The Lake Havasu City event has been called the “Indy 500” for a PWC racer. No other PWC event in the world, nor any other event in the tristate area, comes close to the impact of the World Finals. As a matter of fact, it is the only motorsports event in the tristate area with a translator on staff.

The World Finals has become not only a showcase for the finest PWC racers in the world, but also the showcase for the entire industry. Here, in the shadow of the famous London Bridge, that the next years' models of PWC from all manufacturers are introduced to the world media and enthusiasts alike.

It is now largest motorsports competition event of any type between Southern California, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. The numbers (as of press time) are staggering; read on —

  • Number of competitors: 1,900
  • States represented by racers: 40
  • Foreign nations represented: 38
  • Continuous days of racing events: 8
  • On-Site spectator days: 35,000
  • Consecutive years of operation: 22
  • Class champions crowned: 33
  • Financial impact on Lake Havasu City: $3.5 Million

Some other PWC events coming up at Havasu are the following:

  1. Personal watercraft races: Crazy Horse Campgrounds, Oct.6, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (714) 751-8695 IJSBA
  2. Kawasaki Four Hours of Havasu: Oct. 7, Personal watercraft races, Crazy Horse Campgrounds, (928) 764-2210
  3. Havasu Happening Fun Run: Oct. 15, PWC Poker and fun run presented by Personal Watercraft Illustrated, part of the IJSBA World Finals, (928) 764-2210, www.desertsteel.com

Aramark’s Wilderness River Adventures says it so well: “Whitewater river rafting down the Colorado River is sure to let your spirit soar. Imagine the warm sun soothing your soul, roaring rapids awakening your senses and calm swirling pools restoring your inner peace.

“Perfect by yourself or with a group of friends or family, you'll find this is the vacation experience of a lifetime. Let yourself go! Within these hallowed Grand Canyon walls, the river's never-ending current carries you to new discoveries of majesty and beauty, and to new heights of excitement and adventure. Your journey climaxes at a wonderful destination: a new you.”

Although one of several rafting companies from which to choose, Wilderness River Adventures is one of the most popular and has itineraries that range from three and a half days to 16 days, and you can ride the rapids on either oar boats or motorized boats. The choices —

  1. The Best of The Canyon: Lees Ferry to Bar 10 Ranch
    • 188 River Miles
    • 6, 7 and 8 Day Motorized Trip
    • The Grand Tradition 12
  2. The Grand Tradition: Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek
    • 225 River Miles
    • 14 & 16 Day Oar Trip
  3. The Upper Canyon: Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch
    • 88 River Miles
    • 3 1/2 Day Motorized Trips
    • 5 1/2 Day Oar Trip
  4. The Lower Canyon: Phantom Ranch to Bar 10 Ranch
    • 100 River Miles
    • 6 1/2 Day Oar trip
    • 4 1/2 Day Motorized Trip


Arizona is one of the most popular states for houseboating enthusiasts. And, Lake Powell is one of their favorite destinations.

In your own home away from home, boaters can explore the enchanting world of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell. Visitors have often commented that this awe-inspiring landscape, which touches both Arizona and Utah, is like no other place on earth.

Lake Powell is more than 400 feet deep, 150 miles long, and has nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline. It embraces you with spectacular rock canyons and towers. And, at night, when you have pulled up onto one of the rosy sand beaches, the lake gently rocks your houseboat (and you) to sleep. That is, after you have closed your day with a look above at the clear sky, sparkling with diamond stars.

There are other lakes in the state, of course, that offer houseboating. Following are some of the popular outlets for houseboat rentals:

  1. At Lake Havasu: H20 Houseboat Vacations, 1000 McCulloch Blvd.,
    Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403, 800-242-2628 / Havasu Springs Resort,
    Route 2 Box 624,Parker, AZ 85334, 602-667-3361/ Sandpoint Marina and RV Park, PO Box 1469 Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403, 602-667-3361
  2. At Lake Mead: Seven Crown Resorts, Echo Bay Resorts, Overton 89040, 800-752-9669
  3. At Lake Mohave: Seven Crowns Resorts, Lake Mohave Resort, Katherine Landing, Bullhead City AZ 86430, 800-752-9669
  4. At Lake Pleasant: Pleasant Harbor Marina, 40202 N. 87th Ave., Peoria, AZ 85381, 602-566-3100
  5. At Lake Powell: Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas, P.O. Box 56909, Phoenix AZ 85079-6909. 602-278-8888 pr 800-528-6154/ The Houseboat Co., Box 1459, Page AZ 86040, 800-800-1038

Hot Boats

Although some Arizonans prefer the calmer boating experiences offered by paddlesports, houseboating, and sailing, hot boats are still hot! in Arizona— especially in the Lake Havasu area. Some sizzling boating is on the burner for the rest of the 2007 season:

  1. Malibu Boats Regatta: July 13-15, Nautical Inn Resort, 1000 McCulloch Blvd., (928) 855-2141, Nautical Inn
  2. Shockwave Custom Boats Regatta: July 20-21, London Bridge Resort, (928) 230-1014, Jokers Wild Promotions
  3.  Marine Max Aqua Palooza: July 27-29, Nautical Inn Resort, 1000 McCulloch Blvd., (928) 855-2141, Nautical Inn
  4. Playcraft Boats Regatta: Sept. 7-8, Nautical Inn Resort, 1000 McCulloch Blvd., (928) 855-2141, Nautical Inn
  5.  Howard Custom Boats Regatta: Sept. 21-22, London Bridge Resort, (928) 230-1014, Jokers Wild Promotions
  6. Advantage Boats Regatta: Sept. 28-29, Nautical Inn Resort, 1000 McCulloch Blvd., (928) 230-1014, Jokers Wild Promotions
  7. Supra Moomba Boats Regatta: Oct. 5-6, Nautical Inn Resort, 1000 McCulloch Blvd., (928) 855-2141, Nautical Inn
  8. Absolute Speed & Marine Poker Run: Oct. 12-13, Nautical Inn Resort, 1000 McCulloch Blvd., (928) 855-2141, Nautical Inn
  9. Holiday Food Drive Poker Run: Nov. 2-3, Nautical Inn Resort, 1000 McCulloch Blvd., (928) 855-2141, Nautical Inn

Family Boating, Boat-In Camping

From hot boats now to the less-dramatic subject of family boating — one of the favorites for Mom and Dad and the kids (plus grandmothers, grandfathers, and a wide assortment of friends and relatives) is boat-in camping.

And, Arizona has a wide selection of “perfect spots” to boat-in, then camp by the water. Although the following destinations are just a sampling, they offer a good start to this great family experience.

  1. Lake Havasu has 125 lakeshore campsites available along the Arizona side of Lake Havasu, from Lake Havasu City to Parker Dam. Most sites have a picnic table, shade, BBQ grill, pit toilet, and trash can and are available on a first–come-first-serve basis. These are fee sites.
  2. Patagonia Lake’s campground has 72 developed, 34 hook-ups, and 12 boat-access sites, restrooms, showers, and dump station.  RV size limit is 35 feet.
  3. Lake Pleasant has 14,000 acres (about 45 miles of shoreline), fishing, water skiing, boat-camping areas, boat ramps, visitors’ information center, boat rental, and limited picnic resources on the county side with more resources on the private side. A small portion of the lake is inaccessible from December until middle June (due to nesting eagles). This is the closest lake to Phoenix and is located off  I17 and Arizona State Route 74 west, just a few minutes north of Phoenix. There is an admission fee.
  4. Saguaro Lake has 1,200 acres, fishing, water skiing,  camping (accessible by boat), restrooms, drinking water, boat ramps (a small fee may apply and limited boaters allowed in on weekends; try to be in by 9 a.m.). The entire upper half is a no-wake zone and nature preserved. Big Horn Sheep have been spotted in this area. Located off Arizona State Route 87 about 20 miles northeast of Scottsdale.

Dragon Boats

In addition to more traditional types of boating, Arizona also sports Dragon Boats on Tempe Town Lake.

The Arizona Dragon Boat Association is a non-profit 501c(3) organization whose vision is to spread the sport of Dragon Boat racing in Arizona. Founded in 2002, their paddlers have competed in races in the United States and around the world.

There are two new Arizona teams in the Valley, both of which are recruiting hard and fast. The Arizona Diva Dragons are the all-female team formed by Lana Walther. The Arizona Dude Dragons are also on the lake.

Both teams should be traveling to Long Beach for the ViewSonic Long Beach Tournament on July 27. 

This year has seen wonderful growth by the AZDBA They hosted the Autumn Of The Dragon event, a Membership Appreciation party at Casino Arizona, a very successful Fourth Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival, and in support of the Outrigger clubs, AZDBA helped their annual regatta event by the addition of Dragon Boat competition. 

On top of that, the AZDBA now has six new IDBF-certified Dragon Boats with new paddles and PFDs. 

Now that lake activities are maturing, the City of Tempe is requiring that AZDBA — as other lake users — help fund lake maintenance.  To do this, the AZDBA pays the City of Tempe for the marina space where the Dragon Boats are stored as well as a lake-user fee of $20 for paddlers. 

The AZDBA is proud to announce that one of their goals, to establish a Breast Cancer Survivor team has now become a reality. Dragon Boating has a very close relationship with Breast Cancer survivors — most festivals have BCS divisions and will make special arrangements for a display of support during the festival — and as a result, local paddlers have announced that the first Arizona  BCS team, A Breast In The West, has been formed.

Hot on the heels of the Breast Cancer announcement is news that the Special Olympics of Arizona have formed a set of teams and are practicing now.

AZDBA is holding their successful series of open paddles again. These are open to anyone who wishes to join us on Tempe Town Lake, every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m.-9 a.m.

You will need to become a member of the AZDBA (at a cost of $50), but this covers you for one whole year and offers all the benefits of membership, including insurance, advance notice of trips, access to all the clubs, and the chance to help with the Annual Arizona Dragon Boat festival in March.

And, The Rest

There are many other Arizona boating choices that are reflected in articles throughout this issue of  Arizona Boating & Watersports. And, those only scratch the surface. Boating in our state is a big deal, and the possibilities are endless.

Welcome to the sumptuous smorgasbord of “Arizona on the Water.”