This caravan can float on the water
Your caravan plunging into water is usually a sure way to ruin a holiday. Before your eyes your possessions, your valuable van and your holiday dreams sink quicker than your heart.
The usual reaction is to panic and scream. Maybe swear. Or even jump in after it. And that's exactly how I felt when our new purchase recently plunged into water - on the very day we had bought it! But I succumbed to that natural inclination to panic for just a split second. Then I just relaxed … because ours is no ordinary caravan.
Husband Bruce and I have bought a boat-a-home: a caravan-turned-boat that moves easily from land to water. Think of it as a floating caravan or a trailerable houseboat. On water it's a houseboat, then simply drive it onto its trailer and it becomes a caravan.
Australian-designed, the boat-a-home gives an all-inclusive travel experience. Requiring just 30cm of water, it can be used on all types of calm waterways anywhere in Australia - rivers, lakes, dams, sheltered bays - while at the same time providing all the benefits of conventional on-land caravanning.
It's the ultimate caravanning experience for people who, like us, plan to see much more of Australia while overseas travel is off the cards. They are individually handmade and ours is just the 41st in Australia. But, according to the Queensland-based manufacturer, Boatahome Australia, we will be seeing many more of them on the roads and waterways.
Company CEO Luke Golding said orders have doubled since the start of the pandemic. "We had to put on more staff to cope with the demand and now we are looking to expand even more," he said.
The surge in boat-a-home orders is reflected in both the caravan and boat industries generally, according to their peak bodies.
CEO of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, Stuart Lamont, says sales increases of 30-40 percent have been common across all areas of the industry in the past year. "From camper trailers to caravans of all sizes to motor homes; from holiday parks to manufacturing, the figures have been extraordinary."
"And, it's not just traditional caravanners like grey nomads. There is a whole new caravanning set made up of young families, young working couples, early retirees and digital nomads," he said.
Huge increases are also being seen in the boating industry according to co-General Manager of the Australian Boating Industry Association, Neil Patchett. "It's not just boat sales that are booming. New boat sales are up 20 percent and used boats by 50 percent, but there are also big numbers being seen in job creation, apprenticeships and manufacturing, as well as self-drive hire craft, charter boats and other water-based tourism. "
"Travellers who were spending their money on cruises or overseas holidays are now looking closer to home. People are seeing boating as the ultimate healthy outdoor recreation where they can reconnect with their families and stay COVID safe," he said.
It looks like our boat-a-home will have a lot of company on the roads, in holiday parks and while exploring Australia's waterways. Now, I just have to learn how to reverse the Ram truck with trailer and boat-a-home attached - without getting divorced. Panic? What panic?
Originally published as What NOT to do when your caravan goes in the water