If you're at this website, hopefully it's because you're interested in hobby steamboating - not because you're interested in skiing at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. And if you're spending more time looking at the picture above than reading these lines, you're in the right place. But there are no instructions on how to build or operate a hobby steamboat on this website. Those you can find in our Steamboating Magazine - available through the "NAVIGATION" bar to the left - or other steamboating webpages like Steamboat Primer and Steamboat FAQs and through the many listings on our Links pages. But there is a lot of useful information here, so read on.
Now one of the wonderful things about this hobby is the mobility of our "toys". Steamboats go anywhere there's water - and over 3/4 of the earth's surface is water. You are not con-strained by roads, streets, and paving. Some areas are more improved than others, but by exercising common sense you can explore a lot of water that is unavaible to most power boats - closed to internal combustion engines are usually open to steam boats; too shallow for sail boats - steamboats can be as shallow draft as any power boat; rowboats - even gently rowed their oars will disturb waterfowl while a slow turning (30 rpm) steam engine will not; and electric boats - a steamboat can usually carry enough fuel for a day's steaming at full speed and be equally quiet.
You will rarely find people more friendly than those in hobby steamboating. It is probably, in part, due to the universal attitude of sea people throughout the world to help one another in times of danger or need no matter the other differences. But also, as in any hobby with a small number of members, we tend to "stick together". And if it's a matter of machinery, usually a repair can be effected "on the spot", frequently through the use of knowledge, tools and/or parts borrowed from other steamboaters.
This very friendliness is a key part of our "meets". We not only enjoy "getting together" to share our skills, boats and varied experiences with other steamboaters, many of us do it on a larger scale with the general public. Most of us recognize that in order for this hobby to continue to flourish we need to reach out and attract new members. And because there are hobby steamboating groups throughout the world (see our Links page for those that have websites) we are able to stage some of our meets to make them available for the general public - usually in an urban area. Most organizations have a few "open" meets. Some have only one annually, with other events available to members only (although if you contact someone handling the event, you'll probably be invited to attend). But if you're really interested and check the events calendars on this and other websites, you should be able find one you can attend.
Many hobbies, by their very nature, tend to be age or sex restrictive. Not so with hobby steamboating. Many of the 52 ½ foot Royal Navy harbor service launches of WWII were coal fired and crewed by WRENs. There are at least four hobby steamboats in the USA owned, maintained and operated by women, varying in size from 8 feet to 22+ feet. And both the US and the UK have had steam powered Sea Scout boats. Vol. 10, No. 6 of Steamboating Magazine has a description of "Building a Putt Putt Boat with Kids" that will give youngsters an opportunity to assemble their own "steamboat" at a meet or event. And I know of at least one organization that has had teenagers as members AND steamboat owners/operators for well over ten years.