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Women at the Helm | Pontoon Depot June 2018

Women at the Helm | Pontoon Depot June 2018

By: PdbMagazine

I recently read an article that said only 23 percent of women ever put themselves in the captain position on their own boat and only 12 percent of watercraft are registered to females. Can that be right?

I promise you I’m not an over-the-top feminist but this seems a little off to me. To be honest with you, my husband gets in my way on the water, probably because our agendas are different. He sees the lake as one big fishing hole, but after a tragic fish hook to the finger accident where I had to be taken to the Urgent Care Center because I refused to calm down, I would rather avoid the sport altogether. Plus after 30 minutes of being on the boat with him, he’s already interrupted me 31 times letting me know the part of fishing he enjoys the most is the silence. I can’t handle just sitting there—not doing anything, not moving and just being bored. So while we enjoy each other’s company for the most part, we don’t agree about time spent on the water. The point of this story is that I don’t depend on my man for stuff like this. Brace yourself for the motivational statement of the day: You don’t have to either.

Women Do Own Boats

So I set my sights on finding a woman who owned her own boat. I reached out to our Facebook fans and asked if women felt comfortable operating their boats. When Pam Thomas from Algonac, Mich., responded with, “I own my own Manitou. No man needed to operate it, but they are certainly welcome aboard to serve me cocktails and clean,” I knew I had to track her down.

Thomas shared some great thoughts with me on women in the boating industry.

“In this area many women do captain their own boats. If a woman likes to boat and can afford it, she should get one!” says Thomas. “It's just that simple. There's no reason why women should have to wait for an invitation to do what they love.”

The area she’s referring to is a canal in the Anchor Bay area of Lake St Clair. Thomas and her dog, Jazzy, boat around the Lake St. Clair Flats, the largest freshwater delta in the United States.

“I love the water, have been on or around it most of my life. Family members lived on lakes and had boats. As I got older, many friends had boats,” says Thomas. “When I was married we were avid boaters. After my marriage ended I bought my very own boat, a Yamaha Exciter jet boat.”

But when the jet boat was no longer appealing, Thomas set out to find her next boat. She knew she wanted a pontoon but wasn’t quite sure which would be the best.

“I like to be an informed consumer; I thoroughly researched all pontoon makers,” says Thomas. “I was looking for comfort on the water and the Manitou 22 Aurora VP met my needs.  My Manitou dealer, Bill Rose Marine, is right around the corner. Mark Santavy, my salesman, was very informative and made the purchase process easy.”

Part of the appeal for Thomas was Manitou's V-toon technology. It allows for a smooth, stable ride through the rough water from the weekend boat traffic. She went with a 150hp Evinrude E-TEC motor to give her the speed she desired.

“The deck layout is spacious, comfortable and great for entertaining,” says Thomas. “It's like having your living room on the water.”

I ended our conversation by asking Thomas what advice she would offer other women looking to be more comfortable behind the helm.

“First, take a Boaters Safety Course to learn the rules,” she replied. “Then you just have to do it! Get behind the helm; get comfortable with steering, maneuvering through traffic, and practice docking the boat.”

That’s great advice from someone who’s been there. 

Do Some Research

I ran across a book called It's Your Boat Too: A Woman's Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water by Suzanne Giesemann. While the book is written from more of a sailing aspect, Giesemann addresses common fears and self-limiting attitudes that apply across the nautical lineup. She clearly outlines how everything on a boat is gender-neutral with this great statement:

“There is nothing on a boat a man can do that a woman can’t. Well actually, I’m wrong. There is one thing. We can’t pee over the rail. But considering that doing so can easily lead to a man-overboard situation, I don’t recommend it for either sex. All other boating activities, however, are gender-neutral. Driving, docking, navigating, performing maintenance…you can do it all. You, too, can be an equal partner aboard your vessel.”

Make A Day Out Of It

Doesn’t a girl’s day sound like a blast? If you are one of those women who don’t feel as confident in the captain seat as you would like, keep your first outing small. Invite a few close friends that will be understanding of the learning curve. Depending on your locale, pack a picnic and take the ladies out for a day they won’t forget.

Practice Makes Perfect

I’ve found over the years that the best way to learn is to just immerse yourself. You will get better. It’s okay to be scared but you can’t let fear dictate your life. Take the boat out for a spin by yourself when someone you know is available close by to help out if need be. Ask questions when you’re out with someone who has more experience and be ready to take control. Even if you are comfortable with your current role, you may have to take over one day in the event of an emergency. If you are one of two people onboard and the other person loses consciousness, it becomes your responsibility to get to safety.

Now that you’ve read this whole story, I hope you don’t feel like I’m a man basher. That is exactly the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish. I want both sexes to feel like they are on an equal playing field on the water. Except for my husband, just because I’m sure he didn’t make it to the end. He probably got through the first paragraph, read the part about my horrific fishing accident, rolled his eyes and then turned the page. So I can freely tell you that I’m confident I have a better understanding of the technical aspect of boating. Yes, he’s rebuilt an outboard before but I can define “displacement.” And since there can only be one captain, I guess it’s me. Yay for being female.  

Father's Day Gift Guide | 9 Ideas for Dad

Father's Day Gift Guide | 9 Ideas for Dad

By: PBMagazine

Fathers do so much for us when we're growing up. Beyond being providers and protectors, they're the ones who introduce us to the world of outdoor sports and fishing. They are the ones who bait our hooks when we're still squeamish about a writhing worm wrapping around our fingers, and know when to help us when we're still apprehensive about a fish flapping wildly in the air at the end of our line. The least we can do is to get them something other than a tie or cheap cologne for Father's Day, and show them how much we appreciate their impact on our lives.

The items on this list are all sure to please and get you that smile you've known your whole life. If you're still looking for something for dad, consider the following items:

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Spinning Combo $64.99

There is nothing more thrilling than landing the big one on your favorite lake. No rod seems to have more universal appeal and reviewer approval than the Ugly Stik line of rods from Shakespeare. They are durable and affordable. And there's no worry if the rod and reel are compatible, since they both come together in a package deal. If your dad's rod could use an upgrade, you can't go wrong with a combo rod and reel from Shakespeare. This combo package is available at There are also different combos to choose from, with varying pole lengths and string weights.
Photo provided by West Marine.

Casio Men's Pathfinder Forester Fishing Moon Phase Watch $49.95

This watch takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect time of day to catch fish. It takes into account the time of day, the phase and movement of the moon, the longitude and latitude of your location, and sunrise/sunset data to give accuracy within 15 seconds per month. It has a large digital readout and has a backlit display. It is also waterresistant for 100M. This watch is available on a lot of different internet retailers, but is also available at

ICOM M34 Floating Handheld VHF Radio $169.99

Although dad might not want to admit it, he can be clumsy at times. This radio is great in that if it were to be dropped overboard, it would simply bob around like fishing tackle or a buoy. The M34 features a long Lithium Ion battery and is rated IPX7 in water resistance. If it takes on water, it even has an AquaQuake water draining mode which makes the radio vibrate to clear water from the speaker. It includes a battery charger, AC adapter, a Lithium-ion battery pack and belt clip.

This radio is available at
Photo provided by West Marine.

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual $48.99

Inside every man lurks a handyman. But a handyman is nothing without knowledge. Nigel Calder's book, now in its third edition, is written in plain English and has helped many boaters troubleshoot and repair their boats. It has full-color photos and illustrations. It covers rigging, furling, plumbing, electrical installation, maintenance and more. If that isn't enough, Professional Boat Builder, in reviewing the book wrote, "Several feet of shelf space in [our] technical library is devoted to material published in recent years on marine systems for small craft. But the single most frequently reached-for reference in this collection is [this book]... It has effectively supplanted everything else on that shelf." This book is available on a myriad of websites and bookstores. If you're having trouble finding it, check out

Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool $79.99

Having a multi-tool ensures that your dad will be ready for whatever comes his way. This is Leatherman's most popular multi-tool and includes pliers that have been redesigned to allow twice the squeezing load, and features new bronze bushings for easier access. It also includes wire cutters, a saw, scissors, files, a bottle/can opener, and a lot more. It comes with a nylon case and a 25-year warranty to ensure that the tool will serve its purpose for a long time. It is useful both on and off the boat and can be used for repairs and maintenance work around the home. And you can tell him that it's a rugged survivalist tool, which every manly man should have.

Visit to compare multi-tools and models. There are a wide variety of styles and prices. Photo provided by West Marine.

Wagan 300 Amp Battery Jumper with Air Compressor $69.99

A battery jumper is something you don't think you'll need until you need one. This model from Wagan also features a 260 psi air compressor to fill any kind of tire or inflatable object. It also features five LED lights for emergencies or for working on your boat. And it has a charge indicator so you know when it needs to be recharged.

You can find this versatile product at or at other retailers on the internet.

PowerCap Pilot Series 5 LED Night Vision Cap $39.95

Sailors are taught to keep two flashlights handy, one for themselves and one extra for the crew. By simply wearing this stylish baseball cap, the mariner will always have a convenient, hands-free light for whatever the situation demands. The PowerCap features four LED lights under the brim, two in redand two in regular white, and one bright light on the edge of the brim on the front which can project over 60 feet. All the lights are controlled by pressing buttons hidden under the visor. This seamless cap is very useful for sail trim checks, deck clearing or spotting buoys, and you can add your own logo to the plain cap as well.

If you're interested in one of these caps, visit and your purchase will be shipped the very next day.

Henri Lloyd Men's Vista Jacket $165

These lightweight and stylish jackets provide comfort for those cool early mornings and come in handy in case of foul weather. Ergonomically designed, they are 100 percent waterproof, windproof and come in four different colors. A Durable Water Repellency (DWR) finish helps shed surface water, which maintains the performance and comfort of the garment in inclement weather. If you're interested in this jacket, or other fine retailers like West Marine.

Onyx Universal Camouflage Sport Vest $34.99

Why should you let your father boat around in an old, worn-out lifejacket that you're not even sure what the original color was supposed to be, but is now gaudy and pastel? Get him a new camouflage vest that will be both functional in sporting and provide safety as well. This vest has oversized pockets to allow easy access to angling or hunting equipment as well as adjustable belts to keep the vest from shifting or riding up. Available in sizes up to XXXL for the same price, check for more information.

Low-budget pontoons designed to maximize family fun

Low-budget pontoons designed to maximize family fun

By Lew Freedman, Chicago Tribune

The large necklace Cathy Santogrossi wore was a miniature neon sign. Much like a flashing sign that might be seen in Las Vegas, her few-inches-long advertisement grabbed the viewer's eye with rotating letters: "Boats = Fun."

Such a description may be true of all boats--and because her family business is Fox Valley Marine in Naperville, Santogrossi would tell you that--but it's possible that no boat is more fun for more people than a pontoon.

Large, stable, slow-moving, seemingly indestructible, pontoons really do live up to the cliche of "fun for the whole family." It is a curious quirk of nature and commerce that the best time to buy a boat is when the water is frozen. The annual Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show takes place in January so it won't interfere with prime boating time and a purchase will be ready for delivery when there's actually water available.

Maybe it's because my knees are senior citizens, but I confess to a growing fascination with pontoons. Once it was easier to identify with cigarette boats (thank you, Don Johnson) and their high-speed capability. Now I'm partial to the Volkswagen of boats.

There were a variety of pontoon boats on display at the recent show at McCormick Place, but even though they barely register on the price chart next to the million-dollar yachts, they seem to be inching up in cost.

Still, when I compare the price of a pontoon with the cost of a new car, I don't feel badly about the potential investment.

"Women like the boats because they're safe and they're like a home on the water," Santogrossi said. "Women like something safe and enclosed. There is more interest. It's going up. These people just want fun on the water. They can bring Mom and Dad with."

I lump pontoons with VWs because of their general lack of glamor. But I compare them to Hummers for their sturdiness. Basic pontoon boats measure 18 feet. They grow a bit longer from there. All models are 8 1/2 feet wide. Most accommodate wheelchairs. They are high-sided and, depending on the motor (25 horsepower and up), usually travel at speeds of around 10 m.p.h., or slightly faster than Fred Flintstone can go with foot power. When the Pontoon Boat Racing Circuit is started, I want to know about it.

The price is $10,000 to $40,000. Try to buy a 2007 car for 10 grand.

It is no surprise that the young, single guy with a sports car is not the target customer for pontoons.

"The demographic for the pontoon boat is Grandpa and Grandma," said Wayne Libera, who operates Water Werks boat sellers in Country Club Hills and Naperville. "They want to take the grandkids fishing and riding. You're going out there and puttering around on the water. And young parents buy that pontoon boat for large families.

"It's real safe and an 18-footer will hold 10 people. But that's no boat you would want to put in Lake Michigan."

Libera said a solid pontoon can be found for lake and river use for $12,000. Whatever happened to the old $5,000 model?

"Five thousand dollars will buy you junk," he said.

Some pontoons come with individual fishing seats at front and back to complement couch-style seating in the middle. Others have couches all around.

Pontoons are for the low-budget buyers whose only connection to fancy yachts is admiring them in magazines. If they want to live it up, they pay extra for an on-board portable toilet, a changing enclosure or a canopy for weather protection.

Tom Tepe and his wife, Priscilla, of Oak Park are looking toward retirement next year. They were window-shopping at the show for a pontoon of about 20 feet long and a $16,000 to $22,000 hit to the pocketbook.

"He wants to fish all day," Priscilla said.

"Maybe twice a day," Tom said.

They do plan to take the grandchildren out and want four seats.

"But it would probably be the two of us most of the time," he said.

Brad Frystak of Great Lakes Yacht Sales said parents of very young children set up playpens and that pontoon boats are ideal for wheelchair boaters.

"They're floating living rooms," Frystak said.The market is seeing the first signs of the young single male pontoon buyer, he said, as long as modifications are made.

"Believe it or not," Frystak said, "they are buying these because they're becoming performance-oriented with 175-horsepower engines."

Somehow that seems like equipping a yellow school bus with a jet engine.

Gearing Up for the Fourth | Pontoon-Depot

Gearing Up for the Fourth | Pontoon-Depot

By: PDMagazine

8 Safety Tips for Boating’s Busiest Time of The Year

The nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group for recreational boaters, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), says July Fourth is shaping up to be the busiest time of the year on the water for the nation’s recreational boaters, with boating traffic potentially surpassing last year’s levels. This also means boaters will face additional safety concerns with waterway congestion and nighttime operation.

In a recent survey of more than a half million BoatUS members, 88 percent of respondents say they are “very-to-extremely likely” to go boating during the 2018 July Fourth holiday period (June 30 through July 9). That compares to 73 percent who went boating over the similar period last year.

The BoatUS member survey also shows that about one in three (36 percent) of respondents are “very-to-extremely likely” to operate a boat at night to view a July Fourth fireworks display from the water. Three percent said that fireworks displays are the only reason they will venture out after dark all year long.

“With nearly 12 million registered boats on the water, boaters will need to take special safety precautions during the holiday period,” said BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water President Chris Edmonston. The Foundation is the nonprofit safety arm of BoatUS. “The mayhem of fireworks shows, overburdened launch ramps, crowded waterways and long days spent under the stressors of wind, waves and sun will require everyone to up their safety game and be courteous to fellow boaters.”

The BoatUS Foundation has these eight holiday boating tips:

  1. Wait to celebrate with alcohol. It could be a long day on the water, but waiting until after you’ve returned to homeport for the night before celebrating with alcohol is a wise move. Added to the effects of sun, wind and waves, alcohol lowers situational awareness and increases reaction times.
  2. The more lookouts at night, the better. Having extra sets of eyes – family members or guests – can help prevent accidents.
  3. Go slow after the fireworks. After viewing fireworks from the water and pulling up anchor, you may have the urge to rush home. Don’t. Slow down. Be cautious, and the odds for a safe return increase.
  4. Get kids’ life jackets for free. Everyone has extra guests this time of year, but they don’t always have properly-sized life jackets for everyone on board. The BoatUS Foundation’s free Kids Life Jacket Loaner program gives boaters a chance to borrow child-size life jackets for the day, afternoon, or weekend.
  5. Don’t overload the boat. Everyone should have a seat inside the boat, and be careful about adding extra coolers and gear. It’s also a bad idea to allow to passengers to ride on the top of a boat with an enclosed bow while underway.
  6. Be a safe paddler. Kayak, canoe or stand-up paddlers should understand all of the nautical rules of the road, practice defensive paddling and assume no one can see you. At night, paddlers are required to show a white light – colored glow sticks around the paddler’s neck don’t cut it. Avoid crowded anchorages and congested ramp areas.
  7. Never swim near a dock with electricity or in a marina or yacht club.
  8. Avoid the two biggest hassles. The nationwide TowBoatUS on-water towing fleet traditionally reports hundreds of battery jumps and anchor-line disentanglements over the holiday. To avoid having to contact BoatUS 24-hour dispatch ( monitor your battery drain, go slow while hauling anchor line, and be super vigilant so you don’t run over someone else’s anchor line after the show ends.