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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 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!

Pontoon Boat Prep: Before the Season Starts…

Pontoon Boat Prep: Before the Season Starts…

By: Misty Harbor Boats

If you’re like most pontoon boat owners, you’re itching to get back on the water once the season starts. If you don’t live somewhere with year round warmth, you may have stored the boat away for winter—but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for the spring and summer season now!

Read on to see a few things you can do to get your pontoon boat ready for fun once the warmer weather rolls around.

 Make improvements

As boat owners, we’re always looking for ways to make our next trip even better than the last. This might mean making improvements to your pontoon boat that make it more enjoyable for everyone on board. If you’ve been thinking about adding features such as a ladder, slide or tent cover to your boat, now is a great time to do it. By the time the season starts up again, your pontoon boat will be decked out and ready to go!

 Clean up your pontoon boat and make necessary repairs

There are, of course, practical issues you may need to take care of during your offseason time. If there are any repairs you need to make on your pontoon boat, now would be a good time to check those out and pick up the necessary parts you may need. If all your boat needs is a bit of freshening up, devote an afternoon to cleaning it up and getting it back to looking like new.

 Plan your next adventure

A fantastic way to keep yourself and your family occupied during the winter months is to plan your next adventure. Whether this is to a local spot or a bona fide vacation destination, everyone will enjoy having a say in the planning process. It’s also a great way to keep your mind focused on the water fun you’ll be having—without actually being on the water.

 Give it a name

If you have not yet given your pontoon boat a name, do it this winter! Every boat needs a good name, both for practical reasons—so help on the water can find you easily, should you ever need it—and fun ones. Every pontoon boat has its own unique personality, just like the people who use it, so be sure to give yours a name that sticks.

 Purchase your new pontoon boat

Like many boaters in search of a fun alternative to traditional powerboats, you may be considering purchasing a brand new pontoon boat this year. Why wait until the season’s already underway to do it? The winter months are the perfect time to think about the style and design you want and get your new boat ready for fun on the water in 2018.

If you fit into this category, get in touch with us today! We can make your pontoon boat wishes a reality in time for the season ahead.

Can’t wait to get back on the water? Try these ideas and hold on just a little longer—you’ll be seeing fellow boaters on your favorite waterways in no time at all. 



By: Line and Sight

Most people think pontoon boats are only good for pulling water-skiers and wake-boarders. The truth is that a lot of anglers today are using them for freshwater and saltwater fishing. Pontoon boats have some key advantages over regular fishing boats. Of course, there are a few downsides to fishing from a pontoon boat as well. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of pontoon boat fishing.

More fishing space

Party barge pontoon boats offer lots of deck space to move around on while fishing. You won’t be cramped for room to cast your line, as you would in a typical two-seater boat.

Keep in mind, not all pontoon boats are big. Some are small one-seaters built for lone fishermen. These types of pontoon boats are comfortable, but don’t offer much space. Bigger pontoon boats give fishermen more space to operate. Their wide, rectangular shape allows for plenty of elbow room. You’ll also have more space between each rod while slow-trolling. You can better space out your down riggers — although you’ll have to order a specialized mount online.

You can safely stand up and move around

If you’re embarking on a family fishing vacation, big pontoon boats are perfect. Their wide deck gives you better stability and balance while standing. The spaciousness a pontoon boat provides will give you room to teach junior how to properly cast his line. Your kids can practice their fishing techniques without snagging you.

Your kids can also move about the boat, which means they’ll be less fidgety and impatient. You can stay on the water with them longer, and enjoy more fishing with the family. The seat sizes in big pontoon boats are also ideal for all day fishing. They’re comparable to sofa cushions, and are good for adults and kids alike. Plus, if you’re out on the water and need to relieve your bladder, having a sturdy boat helps. Just make sure no one’s looking when you do your business.

Of course, if you’re using a one-seater pontoon boat, standing up is not an option. Standing is only smart if you’re on a bigger boat.

They’re a smooth ride over moderate waves

If you like lake and saltwater fishing, then tri-toon boats are a good mix of size, speed, and comfortability. They’re seaworthy, as long as you stay close to the shore. Larger tri-toon boats can be rigged with huge outboards. They can zip through the water at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and beyond. Ocean anglers say they’re performance is comparable to a V-hull.

Pontoon boats can come with very nice interiors. It’s less like a boat, and more like a living room. They definitely offer more comfort than traditional bass fishing boats. Their elevated design allows them to handle bumps and chops on windy days. You can coast smoothly. Their stability on the ocean also makes them ideal for drift fishing. As long as you stay away from big waves, you’ll like pontoon ocean fishing. Just be smart and use them in ideal water conditions.

They’re taller than deck boats

While their height makes them a comfortable ride, it’s more difficult to get your fish into the boat. You’ll have to reach further, and/or lift the fish higher with your rod.

A one-person pontoon boat puts you closer to the water, and allows you to work your way into nooks and shallows. But the bigger, taller ones can cause you to lose fish at the last second. Remember, it can be dangerous to lean over the side and fight with a fish. It’s a good idea to take a fishing net with you to help safely secure your catch.

Poor handling

Pontoon boats have a pretty poor turn radius. They’re not ideal for making sharp turns. You won’t be able to fit a party barge style pontoon boat into a tight channel or cove. If you want a boat with a tight turn radius and ideal mobility, try a traditional deck boat. They offer better steering, and are easier to maneuver on the water.

They’re not good for deep sea fishing

As mentioned, pontoon boats can coast over choppy water. But when it comes to big waves and rough waters, they are not the boat of choice. To get the best performance out of a pontoon boat, you’ll want to stay somewhat close to land. You’ll also want to avoid rivers and lakes on extremely windy, wavy days. It’s good to be brave and try new things. But setting out into deep wavy water should be avoided at all costs. Pontoons can handle moderate water conditions, but are not designed for rough waters.

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of fishing in a pontoon boat, give it a shot—or don’t. At least you’ll know what to expect, and what to avoid while pontoon-fishing.



By: Triangle Marine Boat Center

Owning a pontoon or open deck power boat is a wonderful luxury – but newer is always better. What if there was a way to upgrade the value and comfort of your boat without having to buy a newer model? There is!

Small additions and improvements to your boat can make a huge difference in your enjoyment. There is no need for massive overhaul or large investments. Instead, by updated old materials or technologies or adding something new, like an audio entertainment system, your boat will give off a fresh, rejuvenating vibe.

Safety and Security

For both quality and aesthetic purposes, the hardware on your boat should be inspected regularly and, if need be, refurbished. Rust streaks around stainless steel fasteners are a sign of corrosion, and should be replaced. Once the bolt or fastener has been reinstalled, it is important to make sure it is completely sealed, and you can use rust remover will give it that brand new look.

Anchors should also be inspected for safety purposes. You want to make sure the chain is in good condition and will be reliable whenever you need to use it. If you need to replace the chain, it’s also a good opportunity to add a bit of extra length, as well, notes This will provide additional length in case you need to anchor in deep waters or heavy seas.

VSM monitors – vessel systems monitors – help you keep your boat’s overall maintenance needs in check. They are easy to use and keep track of dozens of vital measurements within your ship’s systems. Upgrading your monitor can ensure that you keep a close watch on all different aspects of your boat and better maintain your vessel.

Entertainment and Enjoyment

Now that we have gotten some necessary safety aspects taken care of, let’s inject a little extra fun into the boating experience. Adding a new sound system will give your pontoon a new sound and allow you to enjoy your day at sea in style. There is nothing like listening to your favorite tunes accompanied by sunshine and the open sea. You can have an audio system installed along with a USB port connection, as well, which will allow you to play music from your cellphone or other music player – and even charge it in some cases.

You can also update your vessel’s lighting with LEDs. While just a few years ago, these bulbs were prohibitively expensive, the price has dropped dramatically, making them an option work considering. In addition to offering a greater longevity, LEDs are also often brighter and use less electricity, helping conserve power on your boat.

Speaking of power, you can also take advantage of being out on the open water and in the full midday sun by installing a solar panel on your vessel, says Sailing Magazine. While the initial investment may seem expensive, the truth is that panels are much more affordable than you might think. Plus, by boosting your available battery power, you won’t ever have to worry about being without power while on the waves.

Triangle Marine Center offers a full range of accessories to help make your boat everything you want it to be. Our accessory shop offers a full range of equipment, from anchors and electrical supplies to navigation systems and lighting – all at a very affordable price. Stop in to see us on Highway 441 in Tavares, Florida today and shop our selection or speak with our service team about major upgrade options and how we can help improve your boat.


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