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by Manitou Pontoon Boats

There is nothing better than spending a day on your pontoon boat. But as you may know, it can be very stressful if you don’t properly plan your excursion. Imagine a day on a pontoon boat where you visit the same area and do the same activities as the time before, more for lack of imagination than because of the fun quotient. Not to mention the chaos that can ensue if there isn’t enough food, water, or sunscreen for everyone in the party.

Aside from the “dos” and “do nots” for planning a day on the pontoon, there are numerous fun ideas you and your family should try:

  • Explore: Instead of visiting the same place every time, mix it up and boldly go where you haven’t been before.
  • BBQ: If your pontoon boat has a BBQ on it, why not enjoy a beach BBQ?
  • Scavenger Hunt: Invent a scavenger hunt where you stop at various places and solve clues. Will there be buried treasure at the end?
  • Mega Raft: If your friends all have pontoon boats and families, tie up all the boats together and make a mega raft.
  • Waterproof Camera: There is no better way to capture the day and take some memorable underwater photos.

Remember proper and creative planning, and you are sure to have an exciting day on the water.

Download our infographic for more tips for family fun on the water.

How to Survive Lightning Storms While Boating

How to Survive Lightning Storms While Boating

Check out these strategies for surviving lightning strikes when boating:

By: Boating Magazine

Powerful, dangerous, highly unpredictable — all are common descriptions of lightning storms. A direct strike that results only in ringing ears and a few roasted electronics would be considered lucky. Unlucky would be through-hulls blown out, a sunk boat or worse — possibly serious injury or death.

Many powerboaters like to think that they’ve got the speed to simply outrun or get out of the way of lightning storms, or they figure they’re safe if they go boating only when it’s clear and sunny. That’s an attitude aided by the low odds of a boat being struck by lightning, which BoatU.S. pegs at about one out of 1,000 boats in any given year. No worries, right, mate?

Count the seconds after a thunderclap and divide by 5: the result is the distance in miles from the storm.

Wrong. Engines can malfunction; big lightning storms can leave no room to escape; sunny mornings can turn into dark, threatening afternoons. If yours is the only boat in the area during a lightning storm, the odds of being struck go way up, leaving you and your crew vulnerable to millions of volts raining down from the skies. While manufacturers can build in a degree of protection, lightning protection begins with boaters being informed and prepared to take action in the event of a thunderstorm or actual strike. You should know the following techniques and strategies.

White clouds that rise to the customary flat “anvil” top are a good indication to clear the water and seek shelter. The "anvil" points in the direction the storm is moving.

A strategy of boating only on sunny, cloudless days may work well in places like Idaho and California, but that would mean almost never using the boat in places such as Florida, Louisiana and much of the Midwest. For example, most of Florida — the Sunshine State — has at least 70 to 80 thunderstorm days per year, with some parts having more than 100 thunderstorm days per year (with increased activity during the summer months).

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for special alerts on VHF channels 1-9 (most often it’s Channel 3).

Absolutely, boaters should track VHF, Internet and television weather reports and make responsible decisions about whether to go boating depending on the likelihood of lightning storms. Short-term forecasts can actually be fairly good at predicting bigger storms, but small, localized storms might not be reported. This is when knowing how to read the weather yourself can come in handy. (The U.S. Power Squadrons offers great weather courses for boaters, and there are many books that cover the basics.)

Use radar to spot a distant storm.

Lightning strikes typically occur in the afternoon. (Florida estimates 70 percent occur between noon and 6 p.m.) A towering buildup of puffy, cotton-white clouds that rise to the customary flat “anvil” top is a good indication to clear the water and seek shelter — or move out of the storm’s path if possible. That’s if the storm is at least somewhat off in the distance (most storms are about 15 miles in diameter and can build to dangerous levels in fewer than 30 minutes). If lightning and thunder are present, just count the seconds between the lightning and corresponding thunder and then divide by 5 — this will provide a rough estimate of how many miles away the storm is.

Some boaters opt to steer with a wooden spoon and keep their other hand in a pocket if forced to man the helm during a storm.

A storm that builds directly overhead might be less obvious until those pretty white clouds that were providing some nice shade moments ago turn a threatening hue of gray as rain dumps on you and the wind starts to howl or, worse yet, boom with thunder and lightning that are right on top of each other. Now is the time for a mad dash to the dock and shelter if close by. Like the National Weather Service says: “When thunder roars, go indoors!” If out on open water or too far from shore and shelter, it’s time to hunker down and ride it out.

Wait 30 minutes after the last strike before resuming normal activities (swimming, skiing, tubing, fishing, etc.).

Boaters who have been struck by lightning often begin their stories with “I was caught in this storm … ” before they share their miraculous or harrowing tales of survival and destruction (BoatU.S. has a number of first-person storm stories archived online: Even though getting caught in a storm is not always avoidable, there’s still plenty that boaters can do to minimize the chance of a strike and lessen injury and damage if there is a strike.

How to Stay Safest in a Thunderstorm
Research shows boats without a protection system do suffer more damage. Larger enclosed boats, trawlers and sailboats will sometimes come with a conventional protection system installed. With open boats it’s typically up to the owner to carry a portable pole with attached wire and ground plate that can be deployed in a storm.

We all learn in grade school that lightning seeks the highest point, and on the water that’s the top of the boat — typically a mast, antenna, Bimini top, fishing rod in a vertical rod holder or even the tallest person in an open boat. If possible, find a protected area out of the wind and drop anchor. If the boat has an enclosed cabin, people should be directed to go inside and stay well away from metal objects, electrical outlets and appliances (it’s a good idea to don life jackets too). Side flashes can jump from metal objects to other objects — even bodies — as they seek a path to water.

Lowering antennas, towers, fishing rods and outriggers is also advised, unless they’re part of a designated lightning-protection system. Some boaters also like to disconnect the connections and power leads to their antennas and other electronics, which are often damaged or destroyed during a strike or near strike.

Under no circumstances should the VHF radio be used during an electrical storm unless it’s an emergency (handhelds are OK). Also, be careful not to grab two metal objects, like a metal steering wheel and metal railing — that can be a deadly spot to be if there’s a strike. Some boaters opt to steer with a wooden spoon and keep their other hand in a pocket if forced to man the helm during a storm, while others like to wear rubber gloves for insulation.

An open boat like a runabout is the most dangerous to human life during lightning storms, since you are the highest point and most likely to get hit if the boat is struck. If shore is out of reach, the advice is to drop anchor, remove all metal jewelry, put on life jackets and get low in the center of the boat. Definitely stay out of the water and stow the fishing rods.

If all goes well, the storm will blow past or rain itself out in 20 to 30 minutes. It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes until after the last clap of thunder to resume activities.

Fun Facts About Pontoon Boats | Pontoon Depot

Fun Facts About Pontoon Boats | Pontoon Depot

By: CornholeOnWater

Nothing quite says summer like a "party in slow-motion." If you've ever heard the song from the band 'Little Big Town,' you know that can be achieved with a pontoon boat. They are perfect for getting together with family and friends to just relax and have a good time. 

Here are four fun facts and ideas for your pontoon:


Pontoon boats were invented by a farmer named Ambrose Weeres in 1951. His idea was that if you had a wooden deck built on two columns of steel welded together, then your deck would be more sturdy for conventional boating. In 1952 he started Weeres Industry and took orders for over 40 boats. In 1990, the Minnesota state legislators officially recognized Weeres as 'Mr. Pontoon'. In 1991 he was inducted into the Minnesota State Hall of Fame. 


You can customize your pontoon with virtually any feature you want! Depending on your interests, you can customize your boat with a GPS, a grill, a fish finder, customizable seats...pretty much anything to make it your own. {check out's shop for all your needs}


Pontoon boats are slow drifting vehicles. So, you can take a nice relaxing ride in the water until you reach a desired sandbank or dock, you can easily stop the boat, jump out and cool off, and play some fun water games like Cornholeonwater!


If you've ever wanted to camp literally on the lake, then adding a canopy or some type of enclosure to the boat will help you protect you from mosquitos and other outside pests. Just add some camping cots or sleeping bags for a more comfortable rest, as opposed to sleeping directly on the floor of the boat. Dock at a shore or sandbank, or anchor down at a place of your choosing. Let the water rock you to sleep as the crickets and cicadas sing you to sleep. 

Next time you're planning a family get together, change it up and invest in a pontoon boat. You can eat, sunbathe, relax, and just drift down the water. Don't let the fun end once the sun sets. Put up a canopy and enjoy your pontoon at dusk and as you sleep!

9 Tips For Tube Towing With Kids | Pontoon Depot

9 Tips For Tube Towing With Kids | Pontoon Depot

By: Sun Tracker Boats

When it comes to summertime fun on the water, it’s hard to beat the inflatable tow tube. There’s just something irresistible about the thrill of bouncing over waves behind a boat, that kids and the whole family love. Plus, it’s one of the most versatile activities for people of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels.

When gearing up for a day on the water, it’s important to be prepared before you head out. Be sure to read the warning labels, follow the manufacturers’ recommendations, and properly check your gear so that you can stay safe and have fun. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you take your family out tubing:

 1.) Always Wear a Life Vest: Anytime a child is on the water it’s important that they are wearing a life vest. Fit is one of the most important factors in determining the safety of a life vest. It should be snug enough that when you pick a child up by the shoulder straps it doesn’t slip past their ears and chin. There are many different life jackets designed for kids of all ages available at Bass Pro Shops

 2.) Choose The Right Tube: Not all towable tubes are created equal – some are built for speed, others provide a more leisurely ride. Some are designed for one person and others can fit three or four. To narrow down your options, consider how many people you want to tow and how wild they want their ride. Kids of all ages enjoy tubing, so look carefully at weight restrictions and your boat’s horsepower before picking out a tube.  A good place to start is with the selection of tubes at Bass Pro Shop ( or stop by your nearest Tracker Boating Center to check out their selection of tubes.

3.) Invest in a Proper Tow Rope: One of the main causes of tubing accidents is due to tow rope failure. This is easily avoidable if you invest in a proper rope and you make sure that it’s attached according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. The rope you use will depend largely on how many people the tube will carry. When buying your rope, check the tube manufacturers’ recommendations for specific tow rope requirements. Also, make sure to check for signs of wear, tear and fraying and replace your tow rope as needed.

 4.) Know Your Boat: Whether it’s a pontoon or a fishing boat, the horsepower of your engine will determine your tube-towing capacity. For example, the approximate top speed of a 20-foot pontoon with a 50hp FourStroke engine is 15-18 mph. This speed might be best for younger children, or those who don’t enjoy the higher speeds. With that in mind, you can more easily narrow down your tube and tow rope options.

 5.) Check For Proper Inflation: One of the quickest ways to damage your towable is under inflating it, which not only affects the performance of your tube, but also the longevity. Similarly, overinflating can cause damage to the PVC bladder and it might also rip seams in the cover. Make sure to follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for proper inflation.

 6.) Have A Spotter: There should always be a designated spotter onboard to alert the driver if the rider falls off. The spotter should keep track of the rider and be on the lookout for other swimmers in the water, as well as nearby boats.

 7.) Practice Hand Signals: Before taking off, make sure you and your crew have agreed upon a set of hand signals, just like water skiers use. For example, a ‘thumbs down’ could mean that you’re going too fast and a ‘thumbs up’ could mean they want to go faster. Using a set of hand signals will make it easier to communicate and check in with your rider.   

 8.) Avoid prime time: Peak traffic hours on the water are generally between noon and 4 p.m., when the temperature is at its hottest. Consider going out in the morning or in the evening to avoid the crowds.

 9.) Just Relax:  Finally, remember that a tube can be a whole lot of fun when parked in a bay and tied to your boat or pontoon. Kids can jump off and swim around it, or just hang out and relax.