Launching a boat is something every boater needs to do in order to enjoy a day on the water. As such, everyone owes it to everyone else to know how to do it right and do it quickly. Every second spent dawdling at the launching ramp not only cuts into your day, but into everyone else’s day as well.
Once you get to the launching ramp, it’s too late to cram for your real-life test. By preparing in advance and knowing what to do when, you’ll be able to efficiently launch your boat free of angry horns and shouts from other boaters.
Before you Reach the Launching Ramp
Prepare your boat before you approach the ramp. This ensures when it’s your turn, you’re ready to go without any delay.
- Load your safety equipment, mooring lines, and other gear into the boat.
- Unhook and stow the transom straps.
- Disconnect any incandescent light-bulb plugs.
- Gather your mooring line and fenders, making them ready to use.
- Make sure your drain plug, if your boat has one, is in place.
While On the Launching Ramp
You’ve waited your turn, and ideally everyone in front of you followed all the same steps you’re following, continuing a friendly and efficient day of boat launching. Now, prepare yourself to get your boat into the water.
- Get a spotter. Move all kids and onlookers from the ramp area and put a spotter out there. Launching is easier with one person driving and another directing.
- Situate your vehicle and boat. Line up your vehicle and trailer as straight as possible, about the length of a trailer away from the water.
- Back into the water. Slowly back your trailer down the ramp, only making small, fine-tuned steers. If you need to straighten the trailer, driving forward a bit can be a big help. When the stern begins floating in the water, stop.
- Secure your vehicle. Set the parking brake. If you have an excessively large boat, chock the wheels on your vehicle.
Getting In the Water
At this point, you’re ready to get your boat off the trailer and into the water.
- Unhook the boat. Disconnect the winch strap and safety chain from the trailer. Next, back the boat away from the trailer. When the water is just above the wheels of the trailer, you’re ready for the next step.
- Launch the boat. Start your boat’s engine. Important: make sure the engine is in the water before you crank it. Shift into reverse and gently back up. All Manitou boats have to be powered with the engine into the water off the trailer—you can’t float it back by hand. If, after applying gentle power, your boat doesn’t move, you probably need to back up farther.
Securing the Boat
Now that you’re in the water, tie your mooring lines to the dock. Make sure all your passengers and supplies are nearby and ready to board. By getting everyone and everything on the boat quickly, you show courtesy to other boaters and help keep the launching ramp free of holdups.
While your other passengers are boarding, park your vehicle nearby and make your way back to the boat without delay. Join your family and friends on the boat, untie the mooring lines and off you go.
One of the most confusing topics in all of boating, pontoon or otherwise, deals with gasoline—particularly ethanol. Can you use it? If so, what percentage of it is okay to use in your boat engine? We’ll try to alleviate the confusion by breaking down the essential points.
What is Ethanol?
Ethanol is added to fuel to diminish pollution. Acting as an oxygenate, ethanol—which is essentially 200-proof grain alcohol—reduces hydrocarbon emissions. We should note that ethanol used for fuel is not safe to drink.
The most common ethanol-blended fuel is E10, which means the fuel is made of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. E15 (15% ethanol and 85% gas) has been the source of much debate in Washington, D.C. lately, with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) lobbying hard against the sale of E15.
Is Ethanol Gas Bad for Boat Motors?
This is where it gets confusing. E15 is not good for boats. Do not put E15 into your boat’s motor. Using E15 in your boat’s motor can cause unfixable damage. You could find yourself with complete engine failure and all the safety risks that come with using a fuel incompatible with your boat’s engine.
However, E10 is good and compatible with all marine engines built in the last 10 years or so. Because a fuel’s ethanol content is not always obvious at the pump, it’s important to make absolutely certain you’re using E10 before filling the tank. This confusion, and the potentially damaging effects of putting the wrong amount of ethanol in your boat, is just one of the reasons the NMMA is so adamantly opposed to the sale of E15.
If E15 is So Bad, Why the Controversy?
The fight is over whether to allow the year-round sale of E15. Because there is more ethanol and less gasoline than in E10, E15 is better for the environment, and proponents also say selling E15 all year would lower prices. Further, a demand for a more environmentally-friendly fuel might help the industry work to produce even better fuels.
Currently, E15 cannot be sold all year largely because it can’t be produced all year. Its fuel volatility in the summer months is too high, leaving too great a risk to produce it.
The NMMA’s worry is that year-round sales of E15 will add further confusion to the issue and potentially lead to accidental and unnecessary destruction of recreational boaters’ vessels. When boaters fill their tanks, they don’t always thoroughly check to make sure their fuel is E10, and one mistake can lead to complete engine failure.
As the NMMA continues to lobby for recreational boaters and the industry, it’s important to know how to keep your own boat safe when fueling.
- Given a choice between E10 and E15, always use E10. However, certain engines may require other fuels, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual first.
- Make absolutely certain you’re filling your tank with E10. Check at the pump. It’s easy to make a mistake, as some gas stations will have E10, E15, or even another type of fuel, so double (or triple) check before fueling.
A typical pontoon boat will travel at a rate of about 18 to 25 miles per hour. It may surprise you that these speeds are more than fast enough for a pontoon to be used for most water sports, like waterskiing and tubing. How fast a specific pontoon can go depends on the number of tubes beneath the deck, the size of the engine, and the load the boat is carrying. Pontoons aren’t usually known for their speed, but we’re doing what we can to change that.
How does a pontoon compare to a fiberglass boat?
Pontoon boats have a multi-hull aluminum structure and float through the water’s surface with a shallow draft. Pontoons can climb above the water and get to plane almost immediately when taking off, and they don’t experience as much horizon loss as speedboats and other fiberglass boats do when accelerating. Pontoons are designed to have maximum deck space and options for seating and entertaining, making them ideal for taking large groups out on the water. Accommodating these features means the average pontoon will be slower than the average fiberglass boat.
V-shaped hulls are the most common shape for fiberglass boats. These hulls have a deeper draft and are designed to displace water at lower speeds and lift the boat to plane at higher speeds. Boats designed to reach higher speeds have to sacrifice deck space, seating capacity, and other features to be more aerodynamic.
Fast pontoon boat design
Even if pontoons aren’t as fast as the average fiberglass boat, that doesn’t mean they have to be slow. Traditional two-tube pontoons are great for slower cruising speeds and a leisurely day on the lake. We’ve found that adding a third tube will not only make a pontoon more stable and buoyant, but with the right design, it can make a pontoon faster.
Here’s how we do it: Our tritoons are built with Manitou’s patented V-TOON hull technology. A larger center tube sits lower in the water, creating an optimal differential from the outer tubes to simulate a v-shaped hull. This means our tritoon boat mimics the physics of a v-hull boat. The tritoon will lift above the water and plane just like a fiberglass boat – only it will get to planing speed more quickly than a fiberglass boat. The V-TOON design also allows our pontoons to bank while turning, like v-hull boats do. Positive angle lifting strakes, available on the center tube on VP models, or all three tubes on SHP models, help our tritoons achieve a smooth plane. The results of these heavily-researched designs are improved acceleration and higher speeds than a typical pontoon boat can reach.
Manitou pontoons also have underskinning to reduce drag from water splashing up beneath the boat. The thick barracuda nosecones on our SHP models make the tubes strong enough to withstand higher speeds and rougher water.
What does all this mean for the tritoon’s speed? Well, with an average horsepower of about 165, our boats reach speeds of around 35 to 40 mph on average. And our 27 X-Plode XT SHP, a new length for 2018, recently reached 71 mph when equipped with two Mercury Racing 400R engines.
So yes, pontoons are generally slower than other powerboats…but they certainly don’t have to be boring! Check out our buyer’s guide to compare our pontoons and see what’s possible.
How to increase the speed and performance of a pontoon
Want a faster pontoon? In addition to the optimal experience a V-TOON hull gives, here are some ways you can maximize your pontoon’s speed and performance:
- Add a second engine.
- Add more horsepower.
- Add underskinning.
- Lighten the boat’s load.
- Ensure the pontoons are clean below the waterline.
- Lower the bimini cover.
If you’re interested in our performance pontoons, contact a Manitou dealer near you to start a discussion!
There is nothing better than spending time with family and friends out on the water. While you’re enjoying the sun and the water, why not bring along your dog to join in on the fun? Before heading out on your pontoon boat, though, it is important to get your furry friend the stuff he or she needs so your dog can have fun and be comfortable, too.
Start by purchasing a doggy life jacket, which will make it easy for your dog to float around in the water even if he is not a strong swimmer. Next, be sure to add a floating dog ramp to your boat so that your dog can easily get back on board without issue.
Everyone knows that dogs love jumping into water, especially when you throw their favorite toy. A floating ball is the perfect accessory because you can easily keep the game of fetch going all day. When on the pontoon, your dog also needs a tether and harness to stay safe, as well as a cooling bed to keep from overheating. Learn more about how to get these accessories from Manitou!
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.
When warmer weather arrives, it’s time to head to the water. Whether you enjoy cruising along the river or floating around the lake, spending time on a boat is a great way to spend the summer. Don’t have a boat yet? Then we’re here to help you find the right pontoon boat for your summer fun.
Pontoon boats are a popular selection for many people. These boats have aluminum tubes, called “pontoons,” attached to flat decks, giving them the buoyancy needed to stay afloat. What many people don’t realize is the variety of models available. From a basic model for trips with small groups of friends and family, to luxury pontoons with all the bells and whistles, there is a pontoon that will meet your needs. There are even models designed specifically for a day on the lake fishing with your close friends.
Are you interested in learning more about the different types of pontoon boats available? Continue reading, or download the infographic below. You’ll learn more about what makes each type unique.
Types of Pontoon Boats
Don’t need a whole lot of boat, but still want a lot of fun? A value pontoon is for you. These no-frills boats—usually 18 feet or less—are perfect for you and a few of your closest friends. A smaller boat is also ideal for those who don’t require as much storage space.
Yearning for a day of fishing on the lake? An angler pontoon boat is for you. Angler models usually include rod holders, swivel chairs, and live wells. With plenty of space to move around the boat, pontoons are great for taking kids and individuals with mobility restrictions out on the water.
Want to be on the lake, but also host a BBQ? A leisure pontoon boat is for you. Leisure models come with features such as grills, sinks, and foldout picnic tables. Throw some patties on the grill—leisure pontoons are for those who really know how to do summer.
Love the finer things in life? A luxury pontoon boat is for you. To live in the lap of luxury, it’s all about the amenities. We’re talking high-tech audio systems, bar stools, LED track and seat lighting, and high-end seat cushions. Often, luxury pontoons have highly customizable floor plans to fit your lifestyle out on the lake.
Feel the need for speed? A performance pontoon is for you. We’re talking about a 300 HP engine, accompanied by hydraulic power assist steering, for a wild ride with exceptional control. Think of a performance model as a speed boat with roomy, ultra-comfortable seating.
If you’re considering a Manitou, you’ll find that many of our models often combine the best features of the different types listed here. More than that, you can build your own pontoon boat right on our website. First, check out all the options in our buying guide.
This article was updated with links and more information on 6/20/2018.
When many people think of pontoon boats, they see a wooden platform stabilized on wooden or steel barrels. While these were definitely the start of pontoons decades ago, the technology has advanced to give people a faster, smoother, and more luxurious experience out on the water. Nowadays, pontoon boats are made entirely with fiberglass to reduce weight without sacrificing stability. Like in other types of boats, pontoons now have traditional hulls to help with steering, and furniture built into the fiberglass to maximize space and efficiency.
Luxury pontoon boats are growing in popularity because they allow families to take part in all of the activities they want. In addition to fishing, you are able to use your pontoon boat for entertainment and watersports. Newer models come equipped with fire pits, cooler space, a barbecue grill, and even a waterslide. Rather than having to slowly float on the water, a 300-horsepower engine allows you to travel up to 65 mph. Learn more about how pontoon boats are redefining boating today.
Now that summer has officially started, it is time to get your pontoon boat back into the water. When the temperature creeps up, there is no better way to spend time with family and friends than by making your pontoon the ultimate summer retreat. You’ll have the perfect weather for tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and more, so make sure that you have everything you need to rule the water this summer.
In terms of water sports, you’ll need a pontoon boat with an engine that can get speeds up to 26 mph. A 90-HP engine is a good start, while having 115 HP gives you a little extra. Interested in lounging on your pontoon all day, instead? Start by having the ultimate cookout at home and bringing a picnic aboard the boat, complete with sandwiches, burgers, salads, and drinks. Decorating your pontoon with themed accessories is the perfect way to throw the ultimate floating party.
For adults and children alike, ensure that you have plenty of life vests, and that everyone is aware of boating safety guidelines before you leave the dock. Remember to obey all laws and regulations concerning boating; doing so will allow you to turn your pontoon boat into the one-stop place for fun this summer.
Now that the winter is rapidly approaching, it is time to take the necessary steps to winterize your pontoon and ensure that your boat is in top shape when you get ready to take it back out on the water. Although it sounds like a no-brainer, the first thing you’ll need to do is secure a location for your boat out of the water.
If you decide to keep your boat in the water, keep in mind that you may notice decreased performance due to the colder water. Be sure to check your battery and fluids to ensure that they are clean before putting the boat away for the winter. Other steps to take when winterizing your pontoon include:
- Replace the oil and oil filters before storing.
- Drain all coolant and water, and replace with antifreeze.
- Remove all valuables so they are not damaged or stolen.
- Clean your pontoon inside and out.
The most vital step in protecting your pontoon this winter is to choose the right cover. Whether you store it inside or outside, having the perfect cover is essential. Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to keep your pontoon secure and protected throughout the winter.