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15 TOP PONTOON & DECK BOATS FOR 2018

15 TOP PONTOON & DECK BOATS FOR 2018

By: Brad Roberts

 1. Bennington 22SSRXP

Bennington pontoon boats are available in hundreds of floor plans with thousands of configurations, so as a buyer you can choose the layout that best fits your family.

The Bennington 22SSRXP comes from their most popular line and offers incredible seating space for a dozen in two forward facing radius benches in the bow, and two more facing aft at the stern (great for water sports with the optional Turbo Swing ski tow bar). Either location will accommodate the usable-sized and shaped rectangular table –you can actually do dinner on the boat.

One of the things I like about this layout is that it provides for a captains’ chair for the co-pilot. If you want to out for a cruise alone with your sweetheart you want them sitting beside you!

The Bennington 22SS comes standard with 25” tubes and a 115hp rating, upgrading to the Premium Performance Package or the 32” Elliptical tubes raises that to 150hp. Centre gates fore and aft, along with a port side gate, provide easy access.

Having had the pleasure of being at the helm of many Bennington models over the years, what sets them apart is their attention to quality, and the performance foils on the tubes really get them up and onto plane quickly.

2. Escape-Larson 21 TTT

Escape pontoon boats always have excellent styling – that extra flair which really turns heads. The 21 TTT is no exception, laid out in a fairly standard way, but with the details and build quality to set it apart.

Starting up forward, there are two curved benches with a
recliner on the port side. An optional teak table can mount between the benches, creating a nice space for entertaining.

At midships, the helm station with Captain’s chair sits to starboard, while a very well cushioned swivel chair complete with cup holder sits to port.

At the stern of the boat, you will find a corner bench on the port side, and a love-seat on the starboard side facing to port. All of these benches have hand-contoured upholstery for exceptional comfort.

There are gates at the forward and aft ends of the boat, and the swim ladder is on the stern to starboard. If you are looking for something different, there are a total of four different layout options, each with different uses in mind.

For those curious about what TTT stands for, it is Tapered Tube Technology, Escape-Larson’s proprietary pontoon design that creates a very stable and streamlined hull shape, which translates into a smoother and faster ride, all while reducing your fuel costs.

3. Harris 180 Cruiser

It’s easy to catch a case of two-footitis, even in the pontoon world, but Harris may have the cure. Their Cruiser line of luxury pontoon boats is versatile and the 180 is a great example.

You’ve got four unique floor plans to choose from on the 180. Two for entertaining, one for fishing, and one for enjoying both activities at the same time. Regardless of your choice, you’ll have plenty of room for family and friends.

The 180 is rated for a 60 horsepower outboard when equipped with the sports package. Harris loaded the boat with standard features and then added an extensive options list. You can design the perfect pontoon.

The fisherman in me wants to pick the Fish & Cruise layout, then check all the boxes for the tackle station, upgraded fishing seats and aerated live well, but that means no stereo upgrade. It’s not available with the livewell.

If you all about entertaining, the Polk stereo and lighted speakers are a great choice. You might also want to opt for the pillow-top furniture for ultimate comfort. Regardless if you fish or cruise, Harris has packed a ton of features into the 180 and possibly found a cure for pontoon two-footitis.

4. Lowe SS 210

Lowe’s Sport SS series sits at the heart of the company’s pontoon lineup. The SS210 offers many of the features found on the higher level boats, but at a lower price point. The highlight of this model is its no-nonsense design.

Seating areas are functional and comfortable. The forward section features a chaise lounge on the starboard side. The port side settee is slightly shorter to make room for the side entry gate. The rear space has an L-shaped configuration beginning at the companion’s position and wrapping around the aft of the playpen, ending at the walkthrough to the swim platform.

Ahead of the walkthrough is the fiberglass-reinforced helm station. The captain will enjoy the supportive bucket seat with folding armrests. There’s a large aft sunpad with plenty of storage beneath.

The swim platform features a wide aluminum ladder and doesn’t feel cramped as the outboard is mounted quite far back. Lowe has 45 years of experience designing and building aluminum boats.

The SS210 might not have any standout features, but if you’re in the market for a well-built, do-it-all pontoon boat from a quality manufacturer, this might be your next boat.

5. Manitou 23 Oasis SR VP

Manitou’sP Oasis line offers four very different floor plans in lengths from 20 to 26 feet. The very versatile and sporty platform of the 23 Oasis SR VP is my favourite. Starting at the bow there are some classic wrap-around seating areas, ideal for when you’re sitting down to a meal or entertaining larger groups onboard.

Next, at midships, you have the Captain’s chair to starboard and another nice long bench on the port side. Once you get to the stern, you see the Split Rear, or SR. There are two large convertible seating areas, one to either side with a walkway down the centreline. This feature opens up the aft end in a whole new way. It provides excellent access to the stern with its swim platform and ladder. The unique rear seats can be upright to provide seating for four in a great conversation-style settup, or they can be reclined to create two loungers.

The VP model has the additional upgraded pontoon logs, providing a more stable platform that is able to mount up to 150 horsepower on the stern.

6. Four Winns HD 240 OB

You’re going to have a hard time finding a better-looking deck boat than the Four Winns HD series. Deck boats often make design compromises to find a balance between bowrider performance and pontoon capacity. Four Winns has figured out how to do both, without compromise and packed this boat with features to keep the entire crew entertained.

Fore and aft swim platforms bookend an interior design meant for fun. The spacious bow seating has a pair of loungers with an icebox hidden under the center cushion. The passenger-side console hides a head compartment with a porta-potty and vanity. The helm features standard gauges and a Bluetooth-capable stereo system. The highlight of the helm is the deluxe 3-spoke tilt steering wheel, wrapped in soft-grip material.

7. Hurricane SunDeck 187 OB

Hurricane originated the deck boat back in 1974. They continue to be the number one deck boat builder in the world, so it’s no surprise that the SunDeck 187 OB is a solid and well-rounded boat.

The broad beam is constant over the entire length. The bow seating area is spacious with full wraparound seating. There’s a wide swim platform up front with a foldaway ladder. I appreciate a design that keeps the swimming and playing away from the drive system. It also makes beaching the boat a much easier process.

There’s a seat base for a pedestal seat that will convert the swim platform into a great spot to fish. Hurricane skipped the dedicated companion seat and went with an L-shaped seating area that starts at the port-side console and continues around the aft of the cockpit. The captain gets a bucket seat and functional helm layout with fog-resistant gauges. The aft swim platform is split into two smaller areas due to the outboard. The starboard has a swim ladder, but except for water sports, you’ll want to stick to the bow platform for swimming.

If watersports are your thing, the optional wakeboard tower and upgraded stereo system should be on your list.

Functional seating wraps around the rest of the cockpit, save for a narrow walkway to the aft swim platform. The platform is spacious, considering the allowances made for the outboard engine. Any compromises here are offset by my favourite feature, the double-wide, rear-facing seat.

I’m inclined to check the boxes for the vacuflush head, bimini top, and upgraded stereo system, but even in standard trim, this is a fine example of what a deck boat should be.

8. Princecraft Ventura 224

Princecraft has a new model of deck boat with their Ventura 224. Well suited for a range of uses on the water, this design has a large and flat deck, with a full bow that makes for a lot of room for a boat this size.

The layout is traditional, a Captains chair at midships to starboard, with benches either side up forward, and an ‘L’ bench just behind the Captains chair to port. A table option is available to make the ‘L’ into a dining area. The after bench folds down into a chaise lounge that spans the width of the boat, the boarding ladder is on the stern, on the starboard side.

If you plan on using this boat for fishing, it comes stocked with plenty of features designed to help reel in some big ones. There are swivel seats at each of the corners for an unobstructed cast, and plenty of room to net any that come aboard.

In the deck you will find a lockable rod rack, an aerated live well and a large icebox. Trolling motor and fish-finder options are available as well to up your fishing game.

9. StarCraft 221 I/O

Floating at the dock, the StarCraft 221 I/O might seem like another deck boat with a watersports twist.

It wouldn’t be until you peeked under the deck, or under the water, that you realize this is a whole lot more than a sporty deck boat. This is a serious wakesurfing machine.

Let’s start under the water. StarCraft outfitted this Crossover Surf model with Volvo’s Forward Drive. A new standard in tow boat propulsion, the Forward Drive moves the propellers under the boat, away from the surfer. The design also vents exhaust below the surface, keeping the fumes out of the surfer’s face.

Under the deck, StarCraft further refined this boats wake-sculpting abilities by installing three inflatable ballast tanks. There are also surf tabs to help shape the perfect wave. The tanks and tabs can be controlled from a touch panel on the helm.

On board the boat, the customary deck boat spaciousness is easily noticed, especially with the single console design. Passenger seating begins forward of the helm and then wraps around the entire boat and across the stern. There’s plenty of seating to get everyone out on the water, but the best place to enjoy this boat will be on a wakesurf board.

10. Montego Bay Cruise 8522

Montego Bay pontoons are proudly built in the town of Gillett Wisconsin, right alongside Mirrocraft Boats. The company offers three lines of pontoons: sport tri-toons, cruise and fishing. The standard and deluxe cruise lines come in lengths from 16 to 22 and 16 to 24 feet respectively.

The 8522 features a three-gate layout (stern, port and bow), twin-facing sofas forward, a captain’s chair and an l-shaped sofa aft set right against the stern sidewall for maximum floor and seating space. The compromise for the increased space is a lack of any rear sunpad.

With space for up to 12 guests and a maximum horsepower rating of 115, this is a family–sized ‘toon. All models are 8.5 feet wide regardless of which floorplan you may choose to customize, and all come with 25” tubes and fully-welded all aluminum transoms.

There are a myriad of options to choose from including six carpet and flooring options, and four colour choices. The 8522 features a very usable sized aft deck, complete with optional ski-tow bar (on all but the 16 foot models) and the option to choose your fuel tank size, including removable above deck tanks.

11. Princecraft Sportfisher 21-2S

The Sportfisher 21-2S from Princecraft is a classic pontoon boat.

Rated for an 115HP engine, it is sure to provide countless hours of comfort and fun for your guests. There are plenty of seats onboard, including the benches along each side, an aft facing recliner at the stern, and two swivel chairs on the foredeck. The Captain’s chair lies to starboard, while there are access gates through the rails forward, to port and aft of the Captain’s chair.

A ladder comes standard for the spacious stern which makes for a great swim platform. There are options available to tailor the boat exactly to your wants on the water.

For those into fishing some excellent options include a range of trolling motors, fish-finder sonar, an aerated live well and rod storage. Tow sports and swimming options include a stainless steel tow bar and a privacy enclosure for getting changed out of the wet gear.

If you’re looking to extend the time spent away there are half and full camper options are available, as well as a portable head. This is a simple and truly versatile platform for fun on the water.

12. Starcraft SL3

Starcraft Marine has a sporty, performance driven pontoon with their SLS3. Coming in at just under 24 feet in length, this platform can mount up to 250 horsepower, giving plenty of speed and power.

The floorplan is laid out in an innovative symmetrical pattern, both fore to aft and side to side. This results in a ring of benches surrounding the central point of the boat. The centre area has the Captain’s chair on starboard and another high-backed swivel companion chair to port. There is a removable table, which can be mounted at either the forward or aft end.

At each end of the boat there are open decks, each accessed by gates. The standard supplied boarding ladder is mounted on the starboard stern deck, which can be extended further if you need a little extra space for gearing up or storage.

The ski pylon comes standard, though if you are serious about your tow sports there is a Wake Tower Package available, which comes with all the bells and whistles to make your SLS3 the ultimate wake boarding platform.

13. Sunchaser 8522 Lounger DH Sport

The Lounger DH Sport is laid out to maximize the comfort of you and your guests, while still keeping a great aesthetic appearance from the outside. In the overall layout, there is a stern deck with a boarding ladder to starboard, and then the rest of the deck space is taken up with the fenced in seating area with gates at the bow and stern.

The chaise lounge benches wrap around the outside in total symmetry, making four great lounging spots that allow for reclining or upright seating. In the middle section there is the Captain’s chair to starboard, with a well-appointed helm station that has all the bells and whistles needed.

To port of the Captain’s chair there is another high backed swivel chair, and both of these have plenty of height and legroom. The 8522 lounger does not come specialised for any one specific interest, but there are packages available if you want to tailor the boat to your wants.

The Big Water edition is meant for those on larger lakes, there is the Salt Water edition for the coasts, and quite a few Performance packages to increase the speed and power up to a single 150hp outboard.

14. Stingray 192 SC

Stingray Boats is one of the few remaining truly independent boat builders, and as such their boat designs respond to the buyers needs and desires not those of the distantly removed corporate shareholders. And it shows! Their 192 SC deck boat is built on Stingray’s famous Z-plane hull that offers up to better fuel economy and a higher top speed compared to competitive models with the same power.

The hull design carries its’ 100” beam far forward almost to the bow for maximum deck space. Seating space is plentiful with two forward lounges set behind the large foredeck complete with a reboarding ladder under a hatch cover. My daughters would use this area to suntan very comfortably. The side console helm features a swivel chair behind a small windscreen and a well laid out dash including 2 cup holders.

To port, an l-shaped sofa brings the seating capacity up to 10 people. You’ll find ample storage under all the seat bases, and a large in-floor space for boards and skis. At the stern, four cupholders and two storage compartments flank the centre mounted ski tow bar, and there is a second reboarding ladder to starboard.

15. Sylvan 8520 Mirage LZ

The Mirage Cruise might sit at the lower end of Sylvan’s pontoon boat lineup, but this 8520 Cruise LZ is anything but entry-level. The 8520 stretches two inches short of 21’ and has a full 102” beam.

The fore and aft seating area feature U-shaped lounges. The gate openings which divide the seating areas are 30” wide for easy access. The captain and companion will enjoy the high-back swivel seats with padded armrests.

The fiberglass helm console features standard gauges and a windscreen. It also houses an AM/FM Bluetooth stereo. Several different lighting options are available to brighten things up.

I’ve recently discovered under-deck lighting and would include them as a must-have upgrade. The underwater lighting would also be on my list. Sylvan includes a bimini top and you can option a half or full camper top to add further protection from the elements. There’s also a playpen cover available to protect the interior when moored.

The 8520 is rated for a 125 horsepower outboard, but Sylvan knows some of us might want more fun, so they’ve given us a few upgrade packages. The top-end RPT PR25 Performance Package increases the horsepower rating to 200, adds hydraulic steering, a 60-gallon fuel tank and a ski pylon. How’s that for fun?

For all your accessories and/or vinyl flooring visit Pontoon-Depot's shop site.

How To Protect Pontoon Boat From The Summer Heat

How To Protect Pontoon Boat From The Summer Heat

By: The Ocean Sailing Guide

I am excited about the summer of 2018. This summer brings new memories, adventures, and time spent on the pontoon with family. Now, with the arrival of summer, comes the staunching summer heat, which if you didn’t know, can be dangerous to a pontoon boat. Therefore it is important to know how to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat.

While owning a pontoon boat is incredibly rewarding and fun, it’s important that you take the time to care and protect your boat, especially in the summer heat. We can all agree that the last thing you want to happen this summer is to find out that some part of your pontoon boat was damaged by lack of protection.

Today, I want to share with you my ideas and thoughts on how to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat this year. As always, if you have any ideas to share with the crowd, feel free to add your comment below.

Shall we begin?

The Four Step Protection Plan To Help With Summer Heat

It’s important that, before the summer heat gets here, you develop a game plan for how you plan to protect your pontoon boat.

Once the snow has passed and the White Walkers went back home, I know that it’s time to begin getting my Pontoon Boat ready for the ocean blue.

I have developed what I like to call my pontoon protection plan. It’s an incredibly easy process that starts the moment the warm rays come out.

  1. Full-Scale Cleaning

pontoon seating in the sun

Like many other things in life, before you can apply any form of protector to a surface, it needs to be clean. So, what I like to do is take the boat out in the backyard and prepare it for a full-scale cleaning.

In the industry today, there are dozens upon dozens of different pontoon boat soaps, which can be found at your local boat stores, marinas, or even Amazon. The best products, in my opinion, are the ones that care for the gel coat and the surface of the material.

When it comes to the interior of your pontoon, treat and clean it based on the type of material on the inside. For me, I use a high-quality vinyl cleaner and polish from a local boating store. This helps protect the interior material from cracking or flaking.

  1. Apply A Protectant

Once the pontoon is spiffy clean, what I do is apply a protectant to help protect the gel coat and material of the boat from deteriorating or oxidizing, due to the Sun.

Again, there are so many different products on the market today that can do the job. I recommend purchasing a product that is heavy-duty. What you are looking for is something known as polymers.

This is the secret to protecting your pontoon boat, it’s your personal defense mechanism against the Sun. It’s the sunscreen for a pontoon boat.

Do keep in mind, the more you sail, the more you need to clean and reapply a protectant. Remember, this is your baby!

  1. Daily Maintenance

Now, I understand that this process can be time-consuming, and sometimes undesirable. To make it easier for myself, I take the extra step and perform daily maintenance on my pontoon.

So, what I typically do is use some daily maintenance products, also known as pontoon boat guards. These products act as the first line of defense to protect the boat and the original protectant.

My favorite part about using these cleaning products is that they have polymers in the formula. This helps reinforce the protectant, helping to clean the boat from harmful chemicals, and effectively protecting it from the Sun.

Since most of these products come in the form of a spray, it’s easy to use.

  1. Cover Your Pontoon When Not In Use

covered pontoon boatI have talked a lot about the importance of pontoon boat covers and the best ones out there. I can’t stress it enough. You do not want your pontoon boat exposed to constant heat. Otherwise, the sun’s powers and UV rays will expedite the oxidation process.

To protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat, purchase a quality cover that you can use year-round.

Try to get into the habit of covering your pontoon if you are not using it. Every time I come back from the water I take a few minutes to clean off the grime and bacteria, or salt if I was in the ocean. Once dry, I cover the entire pontoon until it’s next use or cleaning.

Most Common Mistakes Boaters Make

If you are want to avoid any damage or expensive repairs, avoid making any of these common mistakes that boaters make:

  • Dish Soap

Unless you intend to clean the dishes on your boat put the dish soap back where it belongs, the kitchen. Why would you use that product on your boat? Don’t be cheap, buy the right product!

  • Laundry Soap

Like that of dish soap, using laundry soap or detergent with water to clean a pontoon boat is a mistake. If you are seriously considering cleaning your boat, use the proper products.

  • Wrong Surface, Wrong Product

It’s important to know all of the materials in and on your pontoon boat. When it comes to cleaning, you need to know what types of materials you are dealing with.

You should also know the environment that your boat is around. For example, if you live close to the ocean, chances are, with the ocean and salt water, there’s salt in the area that can reach your boat.

Summer Pontoon Protection Checklist For 2018

With the anticipation of summer, I have prepared a little checklist for you all in case you need some help or are just looking for some helpful ideas. I’m going to call it Summer Pontoon Protection Checklist for 2018.

If you can follow the 4-Step process listed above and follow this checklist, your pontoon boat will be in great shape.

  • General Cleaning – Perform a general cleaning of the inside and outside of the pontoon boat.
  • Make sure all electrical outlets and batteries are functioning and working.
  • Inspect all gauges to ensure maximum operability.
  • Review oil and filters to make sure the pontoon is ready for maximum performance.
  • Check all essentials
    • Transmission Fluid, belts, cooling system, etc.
  • Make sure trailer is up-to-date on registration
  • Make sure pontoon is up-to-date on registration
  • Test all lights.
  • Inspect exterior and interior of pontoon for minor or major oxidation.
  • Reseal and add polymer protectant.
  • Purchase daily spray pontoon guard for each use.
  • Purchase quality boat cover designed to protect from UV damage.
  • Have fun!

Enjoy Your Pontoon This Season!

Overall, as a pontoon boat owners, it’s our responsibility to keep track and protect our baby. Your pontoon boat needs protection, like sunscreen, to play and function longer. If you don’t protect it, you risk things breaking down, resulting in a messy situation.

Trust me, this summer, that’s the last thing you want to deal with when you can be enjoying the summer rays on the ocean blue.

Overall, my hope is that with all the information and tips I shared with you in the article, you are properly prepared to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat.

If you have any methods or ideas that I did not discuss above, feel free to drop a comment below and share with us! After all, we are a community of pontoon boaters!

PONTOON BOATING SAFETY GUIDELINES & REGULATIONS FROM STATE TO STATE

PONTOON BOATING SAFETY GUIDELINES & REGULATIONS FROM STATE TO STATE

By: HarrisBoats

Recreational boats create wonderful opportunities for memorable family times, romantic cruising, or parties with friends. But owning a boat also carries certain responsibilities, and smart boat owners should know how to keep their guests safe on the water.

Adhering to marine laws is fairly simple, despite varying guidelines from state to state. The basic principals tend to be the same, so operating with common sense is the best place to start. Consulting the guidelines for the particular state you intend to boat in is step two.

See below for links to boating regulation guides for all 50 states.

THE RULES OF THE WATER

As with any form of transportation, boating carries its own set of rules and regulations for both boat operator and any guests onboard. Standard roadways are governed with state and federal laws, and waterways are protected and monitored in similar fashion. Guidelines that can vary from state to state include:

  • Granting right-of-way and passing on a particular side given the situation
  • Minimum operator age
  • Mandatory life jackets for everyone onboard
  • Illegality of operating a watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Towing restrictions
  • Boating license and insurance

Good advice before hitting the lakes is to carefully study your state's requirements and adhere to them fully. Just as automobile drivers can be ticketed or arrested for irresponsible behavior on the road, boat operators can be fined or imprisoned for reckless behavior. Even worse are the prospects of injury or death.

If the full set of guidelines in your state is overwhelming, at the very least make sure to watch your speed, stay alert, lay off the alcohol and keep passengers from getting rammy. Too much fun can quickly turn into no fun.

Click on any state below to read its boating guidelines:

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming
Tiki Bar Inspires Couple to Go Afloat on a Pontoon Houseboat

Tiki Bar Inspires Couple to Go Afloat on a Pontoon Houseboat

By: BetterBoat

Sitting lakeside at your own private tiki bar, sharing drinks and steaks with your loved ones.

How can life get any better?

Jeff and Julia Kloeckner of Laingsburg, Michigan asked themselves that exact question one afternoon, and Jeff decided what the tiki bar needed was a houseboat.

I sat down one sunny afternoon recently to talk to the Kloeckners, my friends and neighbors. We sat on their back deck and enjoyed the view of the lake and their pontoon.

Jeff proudly talked about his pontoon and the story behind it, while Julia grabbed her photo album and displayed all the pictures documenting her husband’s boat creation.

The Pontoon Houseboat Journey

The 1987 Manitou Pontoon was built at the original Delta Township factory, not far from Kloeckner’s home. It was sold to a family who took it up north to Gaylord, and they enjoyed it for many years, until the Kloeckners bought it from them in 2009.

When the Kloeckners purchased their pontoon, the recession was affecting gas prices so much that they soon found they used the boat less and less.

Their 18-foot, ’87 Manitou Pontoon had been sitting idle at the dock throughout the summer. The more it sat, the more Jeff pondered over what he could do with it.

He wanted to be able to use his pontoon for fishing and floating. Better yet, to turn it into a houseboat to enjoy at their location on Round Lake and take it to other lakes too.

Round Lake is known as Al Capone’s hideaway spot. The current Lakeview Banquet Center on the lake used to be a dance hall with big bands and bootleg booze.

Today Lakeview is a busy reception hall for weddings and other gatherings. Locals on the lake boat out near the hall to watch wedding ceremonies, listen to the music and take in the occasional evening firework displays.

Fireworks, beautiful sunsets and star-filled nights are just a few more good reasons a houseboat would be fitting on Round Lake.

Not only that, but Michigan has over 11,000 lakes to explore. There are so many different things to do in and around Michigan lakes. You can check out the “Lake Effect” at Pure Michigan.org and discover the endless opportunities of fun things to do and enjoy.

If you’re looking to camp on your pontoon or conversion pontoon, check out this pontoon camping guide.

The Kloeckner’s have known firsthand what lake life is all about and were ready to discover new adventures with their houseboat on Round Lake and other lakes up north. Thus, they began their own DIY pontoon houseboat project.

How to DIY Your Own Pontoon Houseboat

Luckily, Jeff had the capability to configure his own houseboat design and structure.

His 30-plus years of construction experience and a jack-of-all-trades know-how gave him the confidence and skill to tackle this type of DIY project.
Less experienced DIY folks may want to use a kit to transform their pontoon. There are hundreds of ideas—some crazy!—that you can find online.

However, you really need to sit down and decide what you want for your houseboat, what will work for the size of your boat frame and the budget that you have to work with.

The possibilities can be endless!

What about adding a bathroom? Or a hot tub? Or even a second deck with a slide down into the water? The sky truly is the limit for just about anything you can imagine for your own houseboat.

Need some ideas? Go to Pinterest, type “conversion pontoons” in the search bar and you’ll discover an endless stream of pictures of the most amazing pontoon houseboats, and houseboats from around the world.

Once you choose your style, whether it’s simple or a floating Jimmy Buffet theme, build it with passion and keep safety in mind.

Some Takeaways: Consider Safety, Weight, Capacity and Insurance

Conversion projects like this bring up a number of questions on transforming a pontoon into a houseboat. One question for converting into a houseboat would be the framing structure and weight distribution.

The Manitou pontoon’s initial construction is ideal for strength and dependability. When you’re adding weight and height to the framework, you’ll just need some guidelines to keep it safe. The United States Coast Guard has a booklet to calculate your precise weight and capacity limits.

Manufacturers place a weight and capacity limit sticker on the boat at the factory. I called a Manitou dealer in Michigan and they recommended staying within the limitation that’s posted on the boat, for safety. Adding weight and height to a boat frame can make the boat unstable.

Another question would be insurance. Do you keep the same coverage for your boat as you would for a houseboat? I highly recommend contacting your own insurance agent to make sure you have the best coverage suited for your needs.

How to Expertly Use Recycled Material

Jeff created his houseboat using recycled material. Lansing’s Cooley Law Stadium, home of the minor league baseball team the Lugnuts, had just undergone major updates and Jeff was able to use the steel sides from the outfield storage unit.

The steel sheets were used as the sides of his 8′ x 10′ houseboat construction. He used steel studs for the framework to keep costs and weight down on the pontoon.

He also wanted the boat to be self sufficient, so he designed a way to use solar energy to power a Minn Kota Electric 55-lb thrust trolling motor. Jeff added a ceiling fan to the interior for cooling, installed sunglass material for the roof and placed house windows on the sides to also allow light and air flow.

A screen door in the front adds to the charm! And the inside has room for their queen-size air mattress (for when the fish aren’t biting) and storage for fishing equipment.

On the front of the boat, Jeff has two spots to insert fishing seats. He and his wife can comfortably sit, dangle their feet in the cool lake water and fish to their heart’s content!

What’s in a Name?

On the side of the boat Jeff added the boat’s name, Lily pad.

Fitting for floating on their small lake like… a lily pad! Jeff cut and designed lily pads from a steel metal sheet, painted the boat’s name on them and then attached them to the side of their houseboat.

When I asked them what they love best about the boat, they both replied that “it’s one of a kind!” Jeff loved working from his own ideas and how the solar unit helps keep their Lily pad self sufficient.

If you’re looking for recycled building material for your pontoon conversion, check out Habitat for Humanity. It’s a great place to look for recycled items for your project and help your community at the same time. Habitat stores are filled with building material, cabinets, furniture and so much more.

Think outside the box and find new treasures to go afloat!