Women at the Helm | Pontoon Depot June 2018
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
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
“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.
HOW TO PLAN A FAMILY FUN DAY ON A PONTOON BOAT
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.
- Amy Cabanas
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9 Tips For Tube Towing With Kids | Pontoon Depot
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 http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&searchTerm=life+vests+for+kids
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 (http://www.basspro.com/Towable-Tubes/_/S-12850004002) 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.
Pontoon Boat Prep: Before the Season Starts…
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.
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.
- Amy Cabanas
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