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News — Boating Safety



Traditional pontoon boating pastimes like fishing, swimming, skiing, and tubing are always good for hours of summer fun. And the merits of just plain relaxing cannot be overstated. But seasoned boaters at times find themselves asking, “How can I shake things up and break from the norm?”

Because of their size and large decks (in some cases double-decks) pontoon boats are vessels meant for festive gatherings. Whether it’s an adults-only party or camping with the kids, pontoons provide a venue for a wide variety of good times on the water. Below are just a few creative ideas.

Floating Pontoon Dinner Party

Pontoons can be equipped with all kinds of grilling and food-storage artillery, so it’s easy to host a dinner party on the water. The possible themes are endless. You can choose an ethnic or regional theme like Japanese or Midwestern, or go nautical and serve “Flank Speed Flank Steak” and “Buntline Bunt Cake,” or just take an old standard like the simple fondue party and modify its traditions — anyone who loses bread in the pot buys a round of drinks at the dockside bar. There’s no shortage of ways to get creative.

You could also reduce your prep time with a potluck dinner party. Or, get everyone into the on-deck cooking with a floating competition à la Iron Chef.

Get Your Game On, Pontoon Tournament Style

Breaking out the cribbage board or chess set on the pontoon is often a spontaneous thing, but such games are also perfect for tournaments, which can serve as the focus of the gathering and keep conversations flowing and seats shuffling. The games help fill in conversation gaps and maximize the mingling.

Also, a simple invite to “spend the afternoon on the boat” can be aggrandized into the “Seventh Annual Lake George Pinochle Tournament,” for example. It becomes an event traditions can be formed around.

If you have a friend with a pontoon on the same lake, more extravagant tournaments are possible, such as bean-bag toss with cornhole boards placed on separate, anchored boats. (If you miss the pontoon with your toss you have to dive in and get it, of course.) For other games you can have winner- and loser-bracket boats.

(picture by Harrisboats)

Birthday Party On A Pontoon

In addition to being a respite for parents, pontoon boats make terrific kid-party venues. Don’t limit yourself when throwing a birthday bash on the water. Deck your pontoon in a fun theme like tiki Hawaii or pirate shipwreck to make your child’s birthday party a fantasy adventure. Kids having too much fun can slide down “the plank” if your boat has a slide.

Pontoon Club Gatherings

Any kind of club can convene on a pontoon boat, making the meeting all the more entertaining and memorable. Cruise the open waters as your book club discusses the most recent read. Or, get a beer and wine club together and sample cocktails under the setting sun. Where better for an environmental studies or bird-watching club to gather?

Pontoon Boat Block Party

Pontoon boaters tend to have several like-minded friends who frequent the same waterways or docking areas. A pontoon boat block party operates just like a regular block party, with the added fun of boat hopping to chat with the “neighbors.”

Kick the pontoon boat party up a peg by making it a progressive dinner party where boaters start on one boat for appetizers and aperitifs, then move on for the first course, then to another boat for the main course, and then to another boat for dessert.

A riff off that idea is to have each boat feature different cuisine from different regions of the country or the world, or for each boat to prepare a different seafood dish. The possibilities are endless.

Pontoon Camping Adventures

Pontoon boat covers provide plenty of protection for sleeping under the stars on the water. Grab a group of friends, a bag of marshmallows to toast over the grill, and some flashlights and spend the night sitting on the deck telling stories about what lurks beneath the surface. This is also a fun thing to do with the family or with children’s parties or scouting groups.

Personalize It

With limitless options for fun on the water, the most important thing is to make your pontoon party suit your style. Take these ideas and make them your own with twists that match your personality. Or, let this be the guide that sparks your imagination to develop your own uniquely branded pontoon extravaganza.

Post your pontoon event pictures to our Facebook or on your Instagram with hashtag #MariDeck. We would love to see your photos and will even share if they catch our eye.

By: HarrisBoats

Play it safe when boating at night | Pontoon-Depot

Play it safe when boating at night | Pontoon-Depot

An evening cruise to watch the sunset or do a little stargazing can be an unforgettable experience. But navigating home can be challenging. Everything looks different in the dark, and it can be easy to lose your way or hit an obstacle you just can’t see.

To make it home safely, follow these guidelines:

Slow Down

Before you head out, find out what the nighttime speed limit is in your area. Once you’re underway, if you feel you need to go slower than the limit, that’s certainly OK. Going slower at night just makes sense. After all, you can’t easily see the landmarks you need to navigate, and underwater or floating debris can be next to invisible. Safety first!

Learn the Language of the Lights

If you don’t know what the combinations of red, green and white lights mean, you shouldn’t be driving a boat at night. These lights help you know if a boat is coming toward you, moving away, or crossing your course - and which direction it’s going. Access your state or US Coast Guard resources to learn more, but a good rule of thumb is that if you see a red light, stop. That boat has the right-of-way.

Avoid Distractions

It’s easy for your pontoon to be a party on the water. And most of the time, that’s OK. But when you’re piloting your boat at night, it’s important you’re able to concentrate. So make sure any lights on the boat (NOT your navigation lights) are dimmed, look over the windshield so you can reduce glare, and turn down the stereo.

Consider Using a Compass or a GPS

Your first trip on a waterway should never be at night. If you’re at a new place, go out during the day first and take a compass with you. Make note of the direction you travel. Or, go high-tech and use a GPS system to drop a pin at your dock or boat launch. That will make it much easier to find your way back after dark, when everything looks the same.

By following these simple steps, you can enjoy fun on the water any time of day.

Water Safety on the Lake | Pontoon-Depot

Water Safety on the Lake | Pontoon-Depot

May is National Water Safety Month which typically applies to backyards: swimming pools, swim spas and hot tubs. But in our line of business, water safety month means being safe out on the lake. And here are some of our best tips:

Water Depth

One of the first things to remember about swimming at the lake is that the murky water keeps you from seeing how deep it really is. Oftentimes, when you stop to swim it's hard to judge the water’s depth unless you're on a beach, in which case you know that the further you get from shore the deeper the water will be.

Swimming Distance

Additionally, the glare from the sun on the water can cause you to misjudge distances and think you can easily swim from point A to point B when, in fact, it's too far. As such, it is highly recommended that you always wear a life jacket when swimming in a lake, since there are so many unpredictable factors involved.

Life Jacket Required

Speaking of life jackets, we highly recommend that while the boat is in motion everyone wear a life jacket, especially children under 12 or anyone who does not possess strong swimming skills. This is an important precaution while the boat is in motion, in case of a boating accident or someone falling overboard. And remember, boats should only be driven by licensed drivers and never be driven by someone under the influence of alcohol for optimal safety of all of those on board.

Caution of Currents

Understand that swimming in a lake is not the same as swimming in the more controlled environment of a pool. There are currents, even in a large lake. As well as waves caused by other boats passing by. For everyone’s safety, it is highly recommended that you swim only in designated swimming areas or just off of a shore, where most boats won’t be passing. And be sure to anchor the boat and turn off the motor completely before anyone exits to swim.

This summer, keep your friends and family safe by taking these precautions during lake boating excursions. And remember, every month is water safety month!

Staying Safe on Memorial Day Weekend

Staying Safe on Memorial Day Weekend

On Memorial Day Weekend, everyone has the same idea as you — let's head to the lake! That means that for three days, your idyllic hideaway looks like Walmart on Black Friday.

Basically, you can expect big crowds.

The thing with big crowds is that they're full of human beings, and human beings share one universal commonality — they all love pontoon boats. That means you're going to have a whole bunch of new best friends and everyone in the crowd is going to want to come aboard.

You, being the awesome human being that you are, are going to want to accommodate them all. The problem is, your boat's maximum capacity doesn't increase just because it's a holiday.

In short, Memorial Day Weekend gives you lots of opportunities to overload your boat. Resist the urge to say "one more couldn't hurt."

Next, watch your speed. Excessive speed causes more accidents than anything else on the water, even when crowds aren't at their peak. On Memorial Day Weekend, there are more boats. More boats equals more things to crash into.

Finally, we come to booze. Don't drink and boat. It’s illegal. It's dangerous. Its stupid. It's irresponsible. What else is there to say?

Please keep in mind that just because you're doing the right thing, you can't assume that all the other captains on the sea are following your example. Assume that other boats zigging and zagging past, pontoon or otherwise, are piloted by folks who think the rules don’t apply to them. Be on guard!

So that's it. Be safe on Memorial Day Weekend. Use common sense and exercise good judgment. These are pretty good rules of thumb to follow on a boat no matter the day, but on holidays, surviving the three-day weekend with your body, boat and family intact is a special kind of mission.