There’s nothing worse than hitting the lake and realizing you don’t know how to properly launch your boat. By the time you pull up to the ramp, it’s too late to take a crash course in maneuvering. Instead, save yourself both time and embarrassment by taking a moment now to learn how to launch your boat the correct way.
That means preparing ahead of time by disconnecting electrical outlets and stowing all safety equipment, transom straps, and mooring lines inside the boat. It also means learning how to back up into the water slowly and in a straight line, making only fine-tuned corrections until the water is just above the wheels of the trailer. To get the best results, practice your moves ahead of time in an empty parking lot. That way, you’ll be ready for launching the moment you pull up to the ramp.
Follow these simple steps outlined in our infographic, and you won’t have to fiddle haphazardly with your mooring lines and winch straps to the tune of honking horns and the shouts of impatient drivers.
Manitou Expands – Moving forward by moving in (Complete article can be read by scrolling to the bottom of the page)
Moving forward by moving in
By Brady L. Kay
Work smarter, not harder was the general idea behind the decision to relocate Triton Industries and the pontoon manufacturing plant to a larger building after years of working in a tight 50,000-square-foot building while still producing beautiful boats. In 2011, demand was growing for its high-end Manitou pontoons and the Delta Township facility in Michigan could no longer keep the secret quiet, relocating was unavoidable.
President Scott VanWagenen was hesitant to break the team into two shifts and knew it was just a matter of time until they would be forced to move if they wanted the company to continue to grow.
“We couldn’t stay where we were,” recalls the Triton Industries president, stressing the difficult choice for the company that was founded in Lansing in 1985 and then relocated to the Delta Township building ten years later. There was also pressure to move near suppliers in Indiana and the sad reality was the innovative designs its R&D team was coming up with couldn’t be easily produced in their current facility at that time.
But then a building went on the market in nearby Watertown Township in the spring of 2014 and new hope was discovered. With the help of Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Lansing Economic Area Partnership and grants that brought sewer lines to the building, the $6 million, 144,000-square-foot facility became Manitou’s home.
Triton Industries now owned the building and the 10 acres of land that came with it, but it wasn’t exactly turn key ready. The building previously owned by Wolverton Industries needed to be converted from a pet food distributor warehouse to an updated pontoon manufacturing plant and that wasn’t going to be easy.
“The biggest steps were electrical, like running the power we needed for all of the machinery and a fire suppression system, along with an access road all the way around the building for the fire department,” says Greg VanWagenen, the director of marketing and communications at Triton Industries. “Then air hoses, power lines, as well as a heavy modification to the offices that were in really bad shape. There hadn’t been a lot of upkeep over the years so we had problems with the roof, painting outside, plus adding offices inside the actual plant. It really looks like a new building now and some people might think that if they didn’t know the history of it.”
Today with a building that is over two-and-a-half times larger than the former location, the workforce has continued to expand and now includes a total of 118 employees. Manitou’s growth has not only earned it recognition from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, but now quality pontoon boats are being built at a pace of around 40 a week.
“We’re doing on average two more boats in an eight hour day,” says Greg. “In our old building if we were averaging six boats a day we’d be occasionally staying late or working Saturdays and almost all of that was due to the space and the constraints the old building gave us. One of the biggest advantages is our finishing and quality control with the lighting and being able to see any issues with the boats and being able to check them off at the end. If something is wrong we’re able to push the boat aside and wait until we can fix it and get it out the door, where before if one boat stopped it stopped all the boats in the production line because we didn’t have the room to juggle things around.”
Part of the demand to have more pontoons built each week is credited to Russ Hafner, the company’s sales manager who according to Greg has done a great job getting reps in place and building its dealer network, “Russ has done a great job, especially in the Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas markets where we didn’t have a lot of representation before.”
Room For Innovation
Besides the overall expanded number of boats rolling off the assembly line each day, the new facility now makes it possible to further explore those innovative designs and features Manitou is best known for. In fact, according to Greg, the new X-Plode XT and Legacy LT models that were released last year with the fiberglass walls wouldn’t have been possible without their new building.
“The XT and LT models couldn’t have been developed and we could never offer something like a twin engine boat that we’ve started working on,” says the marketing director. “The R&D department now has the proper area to test and build new models and workout any kinks those models might have and we didn’t have that in our other building. There was no where to work on a single boat and bring it out and in to tweak things. It was a lot of work before and a lot of juggling.”
Intentional or not, news of the twin engine Manitou Legacy was now out, which had the PDB staff that was on hand for the facility tour asking the obvious question, “can we see this twin engine Manitou?”
As we walked into the R&D section of the building we were met by Dave Curtis, the vice president of operations and inventor of the V-Toon who had a big grin on his face. He was beyond excited to show us what he had been working on. Since joining the company back in the late 80s as a welder right out of high school, Dave has been the mastermind behind a lot of other key developments that help distinguish Manitou pontoon from its competitors.
Others in this area who have been instrumental in the development of the twin engine Manitou included R&D engineer Jon Miller as well as Tim Peters who is best known for his driving abilities as the official boat tester.
“Again, part of it is the space,” explained Greg as we walked around the prototype model. “We didn’t have the space we needed before to do some of the things we wanted to do and this twin engine model is something we really wanted to do.”
With room to now grow, the sky is once again the limit for Triton Industries. Looking back on all that Manitou was able to accomplish out of its old building, it’s kind of exciting to imagine what this Michigan-based manufacturer will come out with next.
“This building marks the beginning of a lot of new and fun things for Manitou,” concluded the Triton Industries president. “We’ve done a great job so far but really the future is ahead of us.”
At Manitou Pontoon Boats, we specialize in making great aluminum pontoons, but we realize that there are many other types of pontoons on the market, and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. We’d like to summarize those out for you so you can arm yourself with information before shopping for your next pontoon boat. Continue reading “The Types of Pontoons”
Whether or not you’re a big time country fan, it’s hard to think of a song other than Pontoon by Little Big Town that more accurately describes a perfect summer – spending a lazy day out on the water on a pontoon boat without a care in the world. If you’re also a fan of Pontoon by Little Big Town, we’ve put together a few resources for anyone interested in learning how to play the song, sing it, or just listen to it. Continue reading “The Pontoon Song”
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:
Continue reading “ALL ABOUT PONTOON BOATS: FOUR QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU BUY”
The following post actually comes from our friend Bryan Hermann from www.ezfender.com, who shared this tale of tube polishing and protecting on the Pontoon Forums website, and it was so detailed we figured we’d share. Thanks Bryan!
For those who are interested in polishing and protecting the tubes on your pontoon boat, here is a list of materials and step by step process to make your tubes shine like a mirror.
Start out getting the right tools and supplies.
I bought 2 quarts of Sharkhide Protectant http://www.sharkhide.com/index.html, 2 quarts of Cleaner and 1 can of polish. This ended up being more than enough to do 2 boats, actually.
I used my 8″ 3000 to 8000 RPM Sander/ Polisher and 5 buffing pads
-1 gallon of Lacquer thinner
-About 2 dozen old cotton rags and 1 roll of paper towels
-600 and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper to sand out scratches
-1 brass chisel and a small dead blow hammer to knock of welding slag.
-Masking tape, I used 2″ wide
-Plastic to cover the trailer
1. Start out by removing any prior protectant by washing the pontoons off with lacquer thinner poured into a rag. If any protectant is on, you’ll see it dissolve. Get it all off, or the Cleaner won’t attack the aluminum, which is what you want it to do.
2. Next, when drying the pontoon off you can feel any slag which was splattered on the pontoon during the welding process. Remove this with a soft tap on a chisel with a hammer I could even just use my hand in most cases. Wet sand the rest off and any scratches you want to remove. In my case, it was the bad scratches down the center of my pontoons from the previous owners docking technique. I don’t think he had one!
3. Dry again. Then tape of all areas you are not going to treat and cover the trailer with plastic sheeting to protect them from the acid and polishing compound.
4. Get ready to clean…Dilute the Sharkhide Cleaner to strength needed. I diluted mine 3 parts water to 1 part cleaner in a garden sprayer or spray bottle. Spray on the cleaner, evenly, let it foam up. After about 3 minutes of working time, I rinsed it off with water. This left behind a nice white finish that will let the polishing compound do its job more easily.
5. Polish time! Working in about a 3 foot section, I started at the top of the pontoon and worked my way down in an S shape to the masking tape line at the trailer bunk. Clean excess compound from the pad when it builds up and starts to bite hard. Add more compound to the pontoon when it seems like it does not bite any more. You want it to bite into the aluminum to work properly. Clean the pontoon as you finish up each section with lacquer thinner. Go to the next section and repeat all the steps until you are done with that pontoon.
6. After the polishing is complete, wash the pontoon off with lacquer thinner to remove all residue left from the compound. Make sure you remove it all. Use white rags or paper towels and clean until you get no black residue on the rags. If the tube is not completely free of residue the Sharkhide will not stick to the aluminum.
7. After you are done, it is time to apply the Protectant. It does not take much! Use a clean rag and fold it to the size of your palm. Pour a little Protectant to the front of the rag and wipe it on the tube in 6 foot sections. I found that working in a right to left motion from top to bottom worked the best for me. I did miss a few small spots, but after the first coat cures, in about 24 to 36 hours, you apply the 2nd coat; you can catch all the spots, missed. Don’t try to apply to missed spots when it is still wet, it will dissolve the first application and look splotchy. After the second coat is on, you can either stop there or apply a third.
If anyone has any questions or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
What makes for the best performance boat? Is it speed? Handling? How about luxury? Or is it the obvious combination of all of these features? Every boat model offers its own unique features, which can make choosing the right boat a difficult task, especially when considering different types of boats.
The bowrider and pontoon are two entirely different boats, but they are increasingly similar in their performance. This comparison looks at Manitou’s X-PLODE model pontoon—one of the fastest, most comfortable pontoons on the market—and the Cobalt 276—the Bentley of sportboats.
Photo courtesy of Manitou Pontoon Boats
The Manitou X-PLODE sits at the cross-section of speed, luxury and ultimate comfort. Its innovative design is unlike any other pontoon, with sportboat handling specifications, an impressive platform for watersports enthusiasts, a variety of floor plan options, plenty of features for entertaining and more.
Sport handling package
Let’s look at the X-PLODE’s sport handling package. The X-PLODE is a performance boat unlike any other, because it offers a pontoon feel and V-hull characteristics. Manitou’s trademarked triple tube design is what allows for maximum handling and comfort. The design consists of a lowered center tube with a larger diameter and lifting strakes on each side of the three tubes, that when put into a turn, perform much like a fiberglass V-hull. Your guests will experience more comfort and relaxation as they are not pushed to either side of the boat with each turn.
Manitou’s X-PLODE offers standard features that most sport boats don’t include standard or even offer as optional features. Manitou includes features of the likes of portable cup holders, a mooring cover, a stern toy box, privacy curtain kit and a color-matched steering wheel. Here is a complete list of standard features:
- 12 volt outlet and iPod/Mp3 holder and input jack
- AM and FM Sony CD player w/ set of 6 speakers
- Anodized rub rail w/ stainless steel dock guard
- Anodized walls
- Bimini anchor light
- Carpet – shaw (taupe)
- Cooler – 24 can, hard side
- Corner castings – stainless steel
- Crossmembers – extruded aluminum
- Cupholders – portable
- Cupholders – stainless steel
- Deck – limited lifetime warranty
- Depth gauge
- Dinette table
- Docking lights – LED
- Fasteners – stainless steel
- Fuel gauge
- Furniture – Comfort Touch marine vinyl
- Furniture – extended starboard chaise
- Gas tank – built-in, 51 gallon
- Helm chair – reclines mid-back w/ self-leveling arms
- Helm chair – automotive-style slider
- Helm – fiberglass w/ Soft Touch automotive-style top
- Ladder – stainless steel, stern entry
- Lift gates
- Light – courtesy
- Master on/off battery switch
- Mooring cleats – 4 regular, stainless steel
- Mooring cover
- Mooring eyes
- Motor mount – aluminum w/ splash shields
- Navigation lights – LED
NMMA certified using ABYC standards
- Nose cones – anti-spray integrated splash fins
- Pontoon tube riser – full-length
- Privacy station curtain kit
- Seat hinges – hands-free loading
- Ski tow bar
- Steering wheel – color-matched
- Swim platforms – built-in
- Trim gauge – w/ pre-rig
- Waste basket
Still swooning over the X-PLODE’s awesome dose of standard features? That’s nothing. The available options for this model exceed all expectations. Manitou offers optional features like a portable table capable of rolling within the boat; a galley with sink for entertaining and storing tableware and party favors; and a portable barbeque grill. Other options include a bow filler bench, stainless steel bimini frame and a power bimini for those who aren’t a fan of elbow grease. Here is a complete list of optional features:
- BBQ grill
- Battery charging system
- Acrylic tubes
- Bimini top – power arm
- Bow gate filler seat bench
- Center in-tube storage
- Cooler – 24 can, hard side
- Cupholders – portable
- Dock bumper
- Double bimini top – stainless steel
- Dual battery smart switch
- Enclosure – full
- Enclosure – stern
- Galley w/ sink
- Helm chair – reclining high back w/ self-leveling arms and bolster
- Hydraulic pedestal for helm chair
- Ladder – versa-trac, 4 step
- Lighting – blue LED for cupholders
- Lighting – blue LED for exterior
- Lighting – track, blue LED for interior
- Porta potti
- Portable table
- Rear fiberglass decking w/ custom floor mats
- Ski mirror
- Sirius satellite radio
- Ski tow storage rack
- Vinyl floor – full deck
Manitou also offers a variety of floor plans for their X-PLODE model. The standard deck plan offers classic L-shaped lounge seating along the portside, making adventures at the end of the towline easy and exciting to watch. This design provides three entry gates—at the bow, stern and portside. The standard design is wheelchair accessible through the portside gate and boats plenty of room for comfort. Other features of the standard deck plan include two lounges at the bow, an optional dining table, sunpad at the stern and vast wet storage.
The PT floor plan allows for more intimate gatherings in the bow, with two comfortable bucket seats to port. It also maintains the starboard lounge and L-shaped seating, as well as a sunpad with storage.
The 2012 X-PLODE comes with a variety of color and graphic options to allow boat designs to match everyone’s style and taste. Each model is available in a unique design and with neutral or colored walls, matching graphics and color-coordinated interior vinyl.
The standard colors are red, black, burgundy and blue. Learn more about the color packages here.
The Manitou X-PLODE starts at $68,988 with standard features, but its final price depends on the preferred packages and features of the buyer.
Check out this video of the X-PLODE in action.
Photo courtesy of boattest.com
The Cobalt 276 offers an advantage in sportboat design and performance with a distinct bow layout and desired specifications. This model comes with a host of standard features and optional items for a luxurious bowrider experience. Its lightweight material construction allows for improved efficiency without sacrificing strength.
The 276 has a range of standard features not often seen on boats in class. It has a fiberglass liner, swim platform fully integrated into the hull, molded-in graphics and an electric riser for the motor box. More standard features include:
- AM/FM CD w/ 6 speakers and amplifier
- Aluminum windshield w/ stainless steel cap
- Bow scuff plate – stainless steel
- Carpet in the cockpit
- Depth and water/air temp gauge pkg.
- Engine vents – stainless steel
- Gel coat liner in engine room
- Head – portable
- Mini wet bar – in cockpit
- Outlet – 12-volt Acc
- Removable ski pylon
- Swim ladder – starboard boarding
- Swim platform
- Wood/dash trim pkg.
Cobalt’s 276 excludes a lot of typical standard features and instead offers them as optional features. This is because not everyone would utilize these items for a boat of this size and price range. The 276’s optional features include:
- Bimini top
- Cockpit cover
- Dinette table for cockpit
- Head – fixed
- Porcelain toilet
- Teak table – port side
- Transom shower
- Trim tabs
This model is a big bowrider, with a standard, trailerable beam, high freeboard, massive helm seat, advanced cockpit utility and standing-access to the anchor.
The Cobalt’s cockpit contains wraparound seating, a wide companion seat to port that doubles as a lounger and a seatback that bends forward as the stern sunpad’s backrest. The cockpit also includes double-stitched upholstery, snap-in carpet and mini wet bar.
The helm seat of this model is huge, comfortable and well-built, able to slide fore and aft. It also has a high back and padded flip-up bolster. Its only disadvantage is its inability to be raised and lowered.
Forward of the companion seat, the head includes a wide door to the compartment and comfortable sitting clearance. There is also a small sink to port, as well as a porta-potti.
The Cobalt’s bow contains an inclined backrest and U-shaped seating without the forward most part, as to create a bow with more utility. This allows passengers to sit facing forward and for easy access to the anchor while standing.
Cobalt offers an exceptional warranty for the 276. There is a 10-year limited warranty on the hull and deck, five-year warranty on the engine, five years on the accessories and three years on the gel coat.
The base price of the Cobalt 276, powered by a single MerCruiser 8.2L gas engine and Bravo III dual-prop drive is $120,606.
Take a look at the Cobalt 276 on the water.