Options and Designing Your Houseboat
Every Stardust Cruisers is custom designed for the owner with your needs and budget in mind. This section will help you to see the different options that are available and to understand the advantages or disadvantages of each one. This will allow you to spend your money on the options that are important to you and to design a boat that will fit the way you intend to use it. Floor plans, interior designs and decorating options are limitless. Our design staff will work with you to create a boat that is unique and fits your individual tastes. As you will see in the pictures on our web site, every boat is different but still instantly recognizable as a Stardust regardless of the budget. Our Interior Design Department is the best in the business. Shelly Aff and Debbie Sharpe, formerly of Sharpe Houseboats, head our in-house interior design center. They both have years of experience in interior design and impeccable taste. We have a full selection of material, flooring, wall covering, counter tops and accessories.
This section will cover primarily exterior features and interior mechanical/electrical items in order to familiarize the buyer with the options upgrades and choices that are available to you as you plan your dream boat with Stardust Cruisers. Pictures of many of these options are shown in the "Option Pictures" tab.
Standard Barge Style Hull. This is the style hull typically used on most houseboats. It is the most inexpensive to build and has a more blunt bow similar to a barge. It lends itself well to beaching and is a good option if you are only planning on short range trips on inland lakes.
Displacement Hull: The Displacement Hull is designed to split the water instead of pushing it. The front of the hull is deeper in the water with a sharper more vertical entry. The rear of the hull rises at the rear which releases the water and gives the boat a push. The result is increased speed and greatly improved tracking (the ability to drive the boat in a straight line). Wake from this style hull is over 50% smaller than a barge hull. We strongly recommend a displacement hull for buyers who will be traveling significant distances in their boat or those who are concerned with improved performance and handling. If selecting an inboard or V-drive option, this hull lends itself best but they can also be installed in a barge hull.
Catamaran Hull: The Catamaran Hull consists of two separate hulls that are joined together by the main deck. Not to be confused with a pontoon hull which has sealed tubes, these two separate hulls are open at the top and utilized for living areas and equipment. Cruising speed and handling for a displacement catamaran is the best of the 3 styles. This is a great choice for long range cruising or the Intercoastal Waterway or for the customer wanting the best performance. The downside of a catamaran is the loss of some lower cabin space compared to the other hull styles and a little higher construction cost.
Wall System Options: The standard wall is a product manufactured by Fiber-Tech Industries that is a ¾” sheet of marine plywood sandwiched between inner and outer layers of fiberglass. If choosing the insulation option, the wall is framed out and we spray insulation between the framing. This is the typical wall of other houseboat builders. It’s not our first recommendation but we continue to offer it in order to remain competitive with competitor’s quotes. An upgrade of this wall option is the insulated wall from Fiber-Tech Industries which has a ¾” outer layer as described above and a ½” inner layer with a foam core between. This is the type of wall used in a refrigerated tractor trailer.
New No Wood Wall: Stardust has a new patented no-wood wall system and web frame design. This consists of an aluminum structural frame wall that is welded the entire length of the hull and a new web frame that ties the entire structure together from the hull up the wall and across the roof. The wall is then sprayed with closed foam insulation. The outer skin of the wall, which is manufactured in house, consists of ½” foam with an outer skin of smooth high gloss UV resistant gel coat. The bottom of the wall is shaped to go over the lip on the hull that is typically screwed to the Fiber-Tech wall. This creates a wall that cannot leak at the hull.
We believe this is the most important option that you can choose. No wood means No rot. It creates a boat that will last a lifetime. The finish is a much smoother high gloss finish and the gel coat is more UV resistant. The web frame creates much more strength in the entire structure including the hull.
Inboard Outboard: Most houseboats have been made with Inboard/outboard applications. This consists of an automotive type engine with an outdrive. The advantages are lower cost and ease of installation. The motor is below deck out of the way. The disadvantage of this option is that the outdrives are the weakest component and the boat must be taken out of the lake to service the drives. Since a houseboat is a displacement hull, there is no performance advantage to trimming the drive as there is in a smaller vessel. Most people that choose this option don’t plan on heavy use and take advantage of the cost savings. A single engine is acceptable on a smaller boat while twins are recommended for larger boats to improve handling.
For Inboard/outboard applications, we typically use Mercruiser or the Volvo duo prop engines and drives. The owner can choose between 4, 6 or 8 cylinder engines. The larger the boat the larger the engine recommended. The 6 and 8 cylinder Mercruisers have the larger Bravo drive that has a larger diameter prop which improves handling. The 4 cyl has a smaller drive and the impeller for the water pump is located in the drive which can necessitate pulling the boat for minor maintenance. Volvo’s Duo Prop drive is also a good option and the duo props have good reverse power which is important when parking.
Outboards: The new 4-stroke outboard engines have made the outboard a viable option. They are quiet, dependable and efficient. The outboard is easier to service and the drive can be serviced without pulling the boat out of the water. No winterization is required and the cost is lower.
There are lots of good 4-stroke outboard engines on the market with a wide range of horsepower. We recommend Honda or Mercury but can install any brand.
Inboard or V-drive: This is by far the best option for a houseboat. They utilize large, slow turning propellers that are best suited for a heavy displacement vessel. There is almost no maintenance on the running gear and the transmission is located inside the boat. The propeller surface area is more than twice the typical inboard/outboard or outboard engine making the boat more responsive with a faster cruise speed and improved fuel efficiency. If choosing diesel power, this option is strongly recommended as the drive components are much stronger and better suited to the high torque of a diesel engine. We also recommend this option for anyone considering cruising long distances. The only downside is the higher cost.
Inboard applications are typically powered by diesel engines or V-8 gas engines. We recommend Cummins diesels but the customer can spec any brand. Mercruiser is the primary supplier for the V-8s.
Standard windows are available in many different sizes that are selected with the customer and designer. This is an RV type window with a painted aluminum flange on the outside and are available with insulated glass and with different tints or colors. These windows are reliable and provide a good seal at the wall and have good insulation properties.
Sculpted Insulated Windows allow complete freedom in designing a unique and spectacular looking boat. In conjunction with our wall system, this creates a yacht like appearance. The wall panels are molded with a recess for the insulated window which provides a water dam around the glass. The window is then installed in the same manner as an automotive windshield with the glass flush with the exterior of the boat. With this wall and glass system you can create huge windows that create stunning views from inside the boat. There is no glass glued to a wood inner wall as some competitors do.
See the Options tab for pictures of different wall systems.
Standard Rails consist of aluminum tubing welded to the lower deck and screwed to the top deck. They are typically covered with canvas or mesh material or Durabond which has a smooth white painted finish on a thin aluminum skin. An option for the pipe rails is a cruiser rail which is an additional oval shaped rail installed above the top rail which provides a hand rail.
“Yacht Rails” Stardust Yacht rails on the bottom level are made of the same material as the hull (3/16” aluminum) and are a continuation of the hull. They are approximately 2 ½” thick. We utilize a door to match instead of gates made of pipe. The rails are then faired and painted white and a stainless steel hand rail is installed on top. As you look through the pictures of our boats, you will notice that most of our boats have the aluminum solid yacht railing on the back. This helps to give our boats the signature yacht look on the back deck. On the top deck, the upgrade to the standard rails is an aluminum box rail system similar to what has been described with a stainless hand rail on top. The bottom of this rail system sits flush with the roof providing a continuous rail look as you would see on any yacht.
Roof Edge Options: Stardust boats have a distinctive wide roof edge profile. The front and back can be sloped and or curved. When you look at competitors’ boats, you will notice a smaller profile with a rough fiberglass matting finish and aluminum trim pieces. The Stardust roof edge eliminates the unsightly trim. When selecting the option for the smooth high gloss finish, it completes the yacht like look.
Exterior Ceiling or Soffit: The ceiling of the front and rear deck area is covered with vinyl soffit as our standard option. We also offer a smooth high-gloss fiberglass panel made in house as an upgrade. The fiberglass has a more finished yacht look and less maintenance.
Flybridge Options: We have several flybridge options. They include our XL flybridge with walk-thru windshield. It has an oversized sunpad and a bench seat forward of the windshield. In addition to the pedestal mounted Captains Chair there are two lounge seats behind the windshield. We also have an option for a return piece that creates a U shaped seating area behind the windshield. If the flybridge is not that important to the way you intend to use the boat or you would like a more economical option, we offer a small bridge without the walk-thru feature. We also offer a free standing console that can house the operating controls.
In addition to our Stardust model flybridges we have access to other designs manufactured outside of Stardust.
Party Top Options: We have 3 options for party tops. A pipe top with canvas is the most inexpensive. Size and shape can be selected by the customer. The second option is a Fiberglass molded top. They come in 6’ sections in varying widths to match the boat. Fiberglass tops provide a cooler environment and improved appearance. There is also less maintenance with no canvas to maintain or replace. The 3rd option is our custom made one piece top. This gives us the flexibility to shape the top with curves or angles at the front and rear roof edges. These tops also have the strength to walk on for a 3rd level sundeck or for a helipad. TVs can be recessed into the top and swing down for viewing.
Swim Platforms and Jet Skis or Boat Ramps: All boats have a swim platform and are equipped with Stardust’s exclusive hide-away swim ladder. The size of the platform is variable to match the customers’ request. But, there are lots of options to consider. Waverunner ramps or boat ramps allow the storage of your boats on the back of the houseboat. Additionally, hydraulic swim platforms are available that can raise and lower or pivot. If loading jet skis and boats, the pivoting swim platform works well. The platform that raises and lowers straight up and down also creates easy access for swimmers and a great place to sit in your chair with your feet in the water. Note that Stardust ties the swim platform in with a spray rail that extends from the platform about 10 feet up the side of the boat. It’s just another feature that gives the yacht like appearance.
Bars, Outdoor Kitchens, Tables: Stardust has numerous fiberglass options to expand the living and entertaining areas on top of the boat. We have V-Bars, Grill Bars, Straight Bars, an oval shaped bar height table, fiberglass curved couches, and a modular bar and kitchen that can be designed to fit your specific needs and seating capacity. In addition, we can build custom designs for the top. Counter tops are available in fiberglass or granite options. We also have recessed fan enclosures, recessed or surface TV fold down enclosures, Bars with pop up TVs or anything you can imagine.
Exterior Deck Covering: The front and rear exterior decks of a houseboat have typically been covered with an exterior carpet with a variety of quality and colors available. We recommend that swim platforms be covered with our Teak look option that has a non skid surface and is available in multiple colors. The ultimate decking option is an upgrade to our Permateek Decking. This surface gives the high-end look of teak without the maintenance requirements. It is a composite material that has a non-skid surface. Stardust is the exclusive regional supplier of Permateek Decking. See the Options tab for pictures of our decking options.
Interior Wall Options: Interior walls of houseboats are typically high quality paneling. We have several colors available and custom colors are also available. Stardust has also pioneered the padded yacht wall. It gives a nice contrast for our custom woodwork and eliminates some of the trim required for paneling. Most choosing this option will have the padded walls in some areas such as the salon and paneling in the cabins. We also offer wallpaper.
Electrical System Options: Stardust Electrical Systems are the best in the industry and are configured differently than other houseboat companies resulting in increased reliability and efficiency. Control systems can be standard marine breaker system or a digital system with computerized controls and system monitoring. This also allows remote monitoring and control of on board systems from home or mobile devices. Each electrical system is equipped with an ELCI (Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter) which will disconnect power if stray voltage is detected in order to protect swimmers from electrical shock. In addition, we install galvanic isolators on each incoming line to protect the boat from galvanic corrosion of the hull. We utilize marine panels (not residential electrical panels). We believe our system provides the safest and most reliable system in the market.
Arches: Arches under the party top add style and shape to a boat. They are available in any shape or configuration.
Thrusters: Thrusters are available front and back. Stardust’s thrusters are built into tubes in the hull and are accessible from inside the boat. While many smaller houseboats are built without thrusters, they are certainly a comforting option when parking, especially in the wind.
Slides, Diving Boards: Slides are available. Straight or curved fiberglass slides or Plastic Tube slides. Diving board are also available.