How to Plan a Family Fun Day on a Pontoon Boat

There is nothing better than spending a day on your pontoon boat. With that, 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 the party.


Aside from the dos and do nots for a pontoon boat day, 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.



Preparing for all Boating Scenarios

Just like in your home, you should implement an emergency preparedness plan on your boat. Regardless of where you boat you should always identify potential threats. Then evaluate what types of resources you will need if any emergency arises. Your needs will vary based on the type of boating you do and the distance from shore that you travel. You should also develop an emergency plan and keep a kit with appropriate items on your boat at all times.

You should always check the weather before planning a day on your boat. Conditions on the water can become dangerous during even small weather events. Weather is also quick to change over the water, it is important to stay aware and return to shore before conditions get severe. Wind, rain, thunderstorms, hurricanes and tsunamis are all potential threats when on the water. Look into what threats your area is susceptible to and how to prepare for them on the CDC website.

Hurricanes and severe storms are usually easy to track. By checking the weather forecast ahead of time you can avoid these types of conditions. If a hurricane is expected you should get your boat to a proper storage facility well beforehand and evacuate the area.

Tsunamis are a succession of oversized waves that occur after the displacement of large amounts of water. They can occur with or without warning, however, a common cause of tsunamis are earthquakes. If you are on the water and notice the trees on shore shaking and other telltale signs of an earthquake, you should evaluate your best course of action. Tsunami waves only break close to shore, if you are in deep water far from the shore, you may not have any indication of the tsunami waves moving underneath you. Become familiar with the protocols for tsunamis and look at the International Tsunami Information Center’s information on what to do while on a boat if there is a tsunami warning.

A good skipper always prepares for the worst and hopes for the best. When preparing you should make a list of general items, but also include things that are specific to your family and their needs. An emergency kit is not one-size fits all, things like asthma inhalers, allergen free foods and insulin are all things that should be considered when preparing. The following are less specific items that any good boat emergency kit should contain.


  • NOAA Weather Radio- Keeping track of the forecast and any emergency broadcasts can help you avoid severe weather.
  • Clean water- Salt or lake water are not going to be sufficient if you are stranded and need to stay hydrated.
  • Food and a way to prepare it- Store foods that are high in protein and nutritious. Having a heat source if not only good to keep you warm but also for preparing any foods that need to be warmed.
  • Extra clothing- Extra layers and dry clothes to change into from your wet ones are good to keep on board.
  • Shelter- Shelter from the sun and rain are both important. Many boats have built in shelters, but a tarp or sheet can easily be used as a makeshift shelter.
  • First aid kit- For anything from bumps and bruises to broken bones, bug bites and open wounds.
  • Paddle- In case you encounter engine troubles it is good to have an alternate form of propulsion.
  • Something to bail out water- If it rains hard enough your boat might not be able to keep up with pumping water out of the boat. Having a bucket or two to help bail it out can save your boat from capsizing.
  • Tools- Spare tools and parts for your boat can become vital if you encounter mechanical problems while in the water.
  • Lighting- Not only to help you see but to help others see you in hazy conditions.
  • Compass and map- GPS devices are great but having a backup plan with a map and compass will always be a good idea. Ensure that you know how to use them.
  • Duct tape- Duct tape can be utilized in so many different ways, it’s always good to have a on your boat because of its versatility.


Not only should you have a plan and the proper emergency items, but you should also take a class or research about emergency procedures. Things like first aid and boat repair techniques can make the difference between life and death. Having the items is pointless if you don’t know how to use them, there are plenty of resources online to review and learn from.


Ally Mann


SES Floorplan Studio Photoshoot: A Sneak Peek

Today we shot our new SES floorplans at a studio in Auburn Hills, MI. The new floorplans were launched in late December, making it difficult to get outdoor pictures in Michigan. By using the studio, we avoided the weather and were able to shoot each floorplan by plugging components in and out of the boat as we shot them.

SES floorplan

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If Boaters Were Donors…

We recently came across this infographic about 2012 presidential campaign spending as well as the costs of other campaigns in history. Would you believe $2 billion was spent on both Obama and Romney? Few can even imagine what $2 billion could buy, and that got us thinking…

What if boaters were donors? What could $2 billion buy in boating-related supplies? Here are our rough estimates.

13.3 million fishing rods

Fishing Rod

Continue reading “If Boaters Were Donors…”

6 Reasons You Need a Boat Cover

Our friends at shared this great infographic with us about 6 reasons you need a boat cover.

Here’s their description:

Conscientious boat owners realize the importance of putting their watercraft to bed for winter. Failure to winterize your boat can result in a host of maintenance problems – and ultimately can shorten the life of your boat.

One of the best ways to protect your boat during the winter is to invest in a boat cover. When properly fitted, a boat cover can increase the longevity of your craft by up to 30 percent. To help boat owners understand the benefits of using a boat cover, we’ve put together the following infographic:

Continue reading “6 Reasons You Need a Boat Cover”


This blog post is courtesy of SavvyBoater, which carries a wide selection of top-quality pontoon boat covers, bimini tops,  boat seats and fenders.

A pontoon boat is great for fishing, family outings and parties. No longer looking as if they were built for your grandpa and his fishing buddies, today’s pontoon boats offer smooth rides and sleek finishes. The purchase of such a boat can be a significant recreational investment, but make sure you know all about pontoon boats before you buy. Use the following to help you make an informed decision:

5 Ways to Green Your Boat

With environmental concern on the rise, green products and practices are high in demand. Consumers constantly look for items that are both clean and cost-efficient. When it comes to transportation, there is a plethora of information about cars. When it comes to boats, perhaps not so much is available.

Fortunately, a number of steps can be taken by boat owners to employ green practices. Conserving energy and using environmentally friendly products doesn’t have to break the bank, and making just one small change helps. For those looking to get started or make some general changes, here are 5 popular ways to green your boat.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Green Your Boat”

It’s Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day, and We’re Participating!

In honor of “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day,” a National Safe Boating Week initiative to demonstrate how easy it is to wear a life jacket, some of us here at Manitou Pontoons are wearing our personal flotation devices on the job.

We even took pictures and figured you might enjoy seeing them:

We support the Wear It! campaign!

Don’t forget the National Safe Boating Council encourages participants to post their photos to the “Ready, Set, Wear it!” Facebook Wall or email the photos to Show others that you “Wear It!”

Remember to stay tuned next week for more stories and safety tips! In the meantime, be safe on and off the water!


A Little Something For Our Pontoon Loving Friends With Blogs/Websites Of Their Own

Love that pontoon of yours?

We know many of you out there maintain a blog or website of your own and often times you like to share stories about your fishing or water sports adventures on your Manitou Pontoon. So if you fall into this category, we figured we’d give you a couple of cool badges you can share on your blog or website, or even on Facebook or Pinterest if you’re so inclined. Like what you see? Just copy and paste the code into your html editor to add it to your own site!

Copy this code to add this to your own site:


Copy this code to add this to your own site:


Copy this code to add this to your own site:


Copy this code to add this to your own site:

Tips for boaters in the off-season

There’s nothing worse for a boating enthusiast than to sit idly through the winter months in painful anticipation of warmer weather (even if you do have some sort of beautiful northern getaway complete with log products, bear skin rugs and a nice fire place). That’s why Manitou has consulted some of the best names in boating to compile a list of ways to keep busy in the off-season. Take a look at our tips for off-season maintenance, inventory and fun to make sure your boat is ready to go the moment spring arrives.


Photo credit:

First things first: You must make sure your boat is in safe storage. Make sure that snow does not accumulate on top of your boat, if stored outside. Even boats that have been shrink-wrapped during the winterization process can be damaged by extensive snow and ice accumulation. Wyatt Hanks, Education Manager for the Marine Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Florida sums up what successful winterization looks like with these tips:

  • First make a checklist of all winterizing tasks that need to be accomplished.
  • Check the owner’s manual of your boat and motor(s) for manufacturer’s recommendations on winterization.
  • If you are a new boat owner, perhaps you should employ the assistance of a friend with experience in winterizing—or, hire a professional to do the job.
  • When it comes time to de-winterize, remember that each boat will vary in what is required, so consult your boat’s owner’s manual or boat mechanic.

Take inventory

First things first: You must make sure your boat is in safe storage. Make sure that snow does not accumulate on top of your boat, if stored outside. Even boats that have been shrink-wrapped during the winterization process can be damaged by extensive snow and ice accumulation.

Next, take an inventory of your safety kit with these guidelines from Manitou. Make sure you have all that is required by your state to be legal on the water for the upcoming season. It’s also important to ensure your fire extinguisher is in working order. Make sure:

  • The pressure is at the recommended level – On extinguishers equipped with a gauge (such as that shown on the right), the needle should be in the green zone—not too high and not too low.
  • The nozzle and other parts are not hindered in any way.
  • The pin and tamper seal (if it has one) are intact.
  • There are no dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits and/or other signs of abuse or wear – Wipe off any corrosive chemicals, oil, gunk, etc. that may have deposited on the extinguisher.

Beautify your boat

Photo credit:

Now is one of the best times to make sure your boat’s interior and exterior features are in tip-top shape. Johnny Ramirez of Ramirez Boat Service LLC offers some tips for keeping your boat beautiful and in good condition.

  • Get the hull waxed before you put it in the water – Use wetland compound if gelcoat is too oxidized.
  • Get the topsides waxed – You could do this after you’ve been in the water, but it might require wetsanding and compounding if oxidized.
  • Wax all your metals – This will prevent any type of rust buildup from prior years and keep them looking good without replacement.
  • Apply two coats of varnish to any teak wood on the exterior – Do this as a precaution. Remember, it’s easier and less expensive to maintain a boat than to run it down and make replacements.
  • Have your interior steps and companionway checked out – They may need some varnish while the boat isn’t being used and able to dry completely.
  • Clean the bilge – This will prevent any unwanted odors.
  • Have the interior detailed – This will curb mildew problems and also prevent any odors.

Here are a few more tips for a good-looking boat from Wyatt Hanks:

  • Wash your boat at least once a week – This will ensure the finish lasts longer.
  • Routinely inspect and clean the bottom of your boat – It comes into constant contact with the water and needs special attention. This tip may even save you money on fuel.
  • Spend regular time cleaning the boat’s carpet, upholstery and wood accents to preserve the value of your boat.
  • Grease all parts that require it.

Keep things running smoothly

Of maybe the most importance in off-season boat care is engine maintenance. We suggest these tips for winter maintenance:

  • Change all spark plugs – Spark plugs are cheap and easy to replace, so taking this precaution can save you time and money once boating and fishing season actually starts.
  • Check and tighten belts if needed, especially the alternator belt – A belt that’s not tight will wear faster. The belt should fit snugly in the pulley grooves. If not, the belt is worn and needs to be replaced.
  • Change the fuel filter, making sure the fuel line is not cracked – those in warm climates are lucky as the winters aren’t extremely cold. But, for some other climates, the combination of cold weather and several months of dryness can crack the fuel line. The fuel filter should be changed yearly as a precaution.
  • Check the oil – This falls under the obvious category, but it’s still necessary. Oil has a tendency to gum after several months of disuse. It may be necessary to drain the old oil and replace with a totally new batch.
  • Check the battery – Use a battery tester to see if the batteries still have a charge. Also check for corrosion, being careful not to contact any leaking acidic substances. This is important. You don’t want to be on the middle of the lake, or, worse, the ocean with dead batteries.

Have some fun

Photo credit:

Aside from making sure your boat is in beautiful, functioning condition, there are plenty of others ways to pass time in the off-season. Andrew Canepari of The Daily Boater encourages enthusiasts to get revved up for warmer weather in a few fun ways.

  • Attend boat shows – The off-season for boating is the busiest time of year for indoor boat shows, with convention centers displaying the latest and greatest boats and marine gear all over the world.  Boat shows not only have a wide array of boats and products all in one place, but you can usually also find pretty good deals as exhibitors will often have special offers to maximize their marketing budget. Check the boat show calendar on for current and upcoming boat shows near you.
  • Listen to nautical-themed music – It puts you in the boating spirit when you can’t get out on the water. The obvious choices are the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney, but we also love nautical songs performed with passion by independent artists, ocean conservationists, and anybody that mentions water in their lyrics. Tune in to the Daily Boater for our Sea Song of the Week every weekend to see our suggestions.
  • Brush up on boater safety – Whether or not your state requires boating safety education, courses by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Power Squadrons are usually inexpensive, and will give you the chance to brush up on your nautical knowledge and make you a safer sailor. Take advantage of the off season and take a course on boating safety or seamanship. Start at the boating safety page on to find resources for courses in your area:
  • Plan ahead – If you are going to trailer your boat to new destinations make your plans and reservations now. The most popular boating destinations fill up fast. The sooner you call, the better chance you have of finding the ideal spot for you and your boat.

You might also enjoy these good-time tips from Wyatt Hanks:

  • Go Fishing – There is usually good fishing in the off-season. Talk with local fisherman and see if they know of any good spots to fish. Find out what type of bait they use and any other tips they might be willing to share with you.
  • Find some projects – This may also be the best time to do any restoration jobs that may have your boat out of commission for a period of time.