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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

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.

You have a dog. You have a boat. You need MariDeck.

You have a dog. You have a boat. You need MariDeck.

Whether it's a pickup truck or a pontoon boat, there is something inherently wrong about getting into a vehicle and driving away without taking your dog along for the ride. For dogs, a ride in anything mechanized is a little slice of Doggie Heaven.

It’s impossible to shove off onto the lake, steering your pontoon boat out onto the water while watching your dog on land getting smaller and smaller, tail wagging slower and slower as he realizes he's not coming along for the ride. Talk about cruel and unusual! Have a heart. Bring your pooch on board.

Dogs are great. Dogs are wonderful. But wait! Dogs have claws.

Claws present several problems on the deck of a pontoon boat. First of all, without good flooring, dogs don't walk on boat decks. They ice skate. After about a half hour of slipping and sliding around like a drunk figure skater, your dog might start to wonder if he might have been better off back on shore chasing Squirrels or napping.

When you upgrade to high-end vinyl flooring from MariDeck, however, your dog — and your two-legged passengers — have a safe, slip-free deck that's cozy on the feet while offering all the traction any species could ask for.

The other problem with claws is that they scratch things up — yes, even fiberglass. While your dog is slipping and sliding, frantically trying to gain even the slightest bit of traction, he's digging those claws into your deck.

Finally, dogs go to the bathroom — only when they do, they don't actually go to the bathroom.

Even the best trained dog might succumb to his instincts in unfamiliar surroundings. If the worst — or the really worst — happens on MariDeck flooring, a few sprays with the hose and it's like it never happened. If the same thing goes down on traditional boat carpeting, your dog's mishap is now a permanent part of your boat deck. Like, forever.

Or at least until you upgrade to Marideck — which you should right this second! Your dog and your deck will thank you.

You know what is more fun than a Pontoon Boat?

You know what is more fun than a Pontoon Boat?

The stuff it floats on!

You know the great thing about boats? They ride on the water. You know the great thing about water? You can swim in it.

Traditional boats are great, but when it comes to stopping your boat to descend into the cool, refreshing water for some fun in the lake, there is nothing in this world that can compare to a pontoon boat.

Want to turn your pontoon into a swimming platform? Then you're going to need a swim ladder. The good news is, you can score the best one money can buy for not that much money at all. Our swim ladders are perfect to use either at the transom or side gate.

They easily attach to the deck with Shur-loc catches, which are included at no extra cost. They're coated in vinyl, so both your feet and your pontoon are protected every time you take a dip. You know how ladder hooks are impossible to store? Not these babies — they fold flat.

There are few things better in this world than staring up from the water and seeing your pride and joy bathed in light. Today's LEDs don't get hot and they only gobble up around 10 percent of the energy of a traditional light. So soak your pontoon in the soft glow of amber, red, blue, white or green light to serve as a beacon while you swim and splash.

Finally, there's flooring. When all those little feet ascend back up your new ladder to the deck of your pontoon, they're going to trample your tired old marine carpeting into a matted, dirty mess. If you have high-end vinyl MariDeck, on the other hand, you'll be safe from slips and falls. Even better, you're just a few sprays with a hose away from looking like new — literally. MariDeck flooring makes your deck, and you whole boat, look brand new for years after installation.

You think it's fun on the lake? Wait til you get in the lake.