Manitou’s flagship model is destined to become a modern classic.
BY ALAN JONES
Manitou is one of the builders that has made twin-outboard pontoons more mainstream than anyone would have imagined a few years ago, which makes sense given the pontoon’s similarities to catamaran hulls that often have twins. Unlike twin-outboard monohulls that have their motors close together on the transom, the 25 Legacy LT has its twin engines placed far apart on the outer pontoons, making those horsepower more useful than just for propulsion. Spreading the engines far apart helps with maneuverability at speed and around the dock, but it also opens up the center for getting in and out of the water using the stout stainless steel boarding ladder with swimming pool–style grabrails.
The setup allows the swim platform to be pushed far back in the middle, because there’s no engine there, delivering more real estate exactly where it’s needed. Manitou cleverly solved the riddle of how to integrate the ski tow and the ladder in the same location. It made the standard stainless steel ski tow large enough that any passenger can board and enter the water within its perimeter, a configuration that also keeps the tow line from chafing the engine cowlings, even during the hardest skier cut.
Eschewing the ubiquitous aluminum fencing/rail exterior used on most pontoons, Manitou uses an all-fiberglass exoskeleton to give the boat a bold look and an intricate molded shape that aluminum-clad pontoons can’t achieve. While Manitou offers some of the industry’s boldest color choices, such as the metallic lime green model we tested last year, the top-of-the-line Legacy LT takes a different approach. The four color choices for the center panel are more conservative, as are the four different color choices for the surrounding fiberglass. For a little extra panache, buyers have a choice of four colors for the powder-coated rubrail and its stainless steel protector.
The model I tested took the current hot trend of gray to the extreme, incorporating a two-tone automotive paint job on the exterior that was a perfect match with its Yamahas. Inside, the upholstery was dark and light gray with black piping. It exuded classiness. The bow entry gate is cut from one piece of billet aluminum and was powder-coated to match the boat’s color scheme. It’s heavy, so Manitou wisely designed it to lock into place, whether open or closed, for extra security.
Manitou will rig its boats with any outboard brand, a smart move to satisfy customer preference that’s made even smarter by the fact that in certain areas of the country buyers might only have one outstanding dealer nearby. The dual-engine options on this boat range from 150s all to way to Mercury Racing’s new 400R, but the cost for the alpha dog package — the Mercury XL Carbon Edition with twin 400R outboards — is an additional $101,475.
Our test boat featured Yamaha F300s, which add $66,075 to the base price of $92K. Buyers can take the Yamaha option all the way to a pair of F350 V-8s, but the additional 402 pounds, not to mention the extra $16,275, make the F300s the Yamaha sweet spot. The acceleration was breathtaking, giving the 25 Legacy LT a time to plane of 2.1 seconds and a time to 30 mph of four seconds flat — one of the quickest times we recorded during testing for 2018, regardless of boat type. Top speed was an un-pontoon-like 63.3 mph.
Wisely, Manitou offers only one tube configuration for the Legacy LT, and that’s its industry-changing SHP (Sport Handling Package): twin 25-inch logs on the outside and an oversized 27-inch center tube that’s been dropped so it’s 5¼ inches lower than the outer tubes. The arrangement results in a pontoon that mimics a V-hull and leans in noticeably during hard turns — despite having positive-angle lifting strakes on both sides of all tubes, which we’ve learned tend to “push back” in hard corners and normally result in a flat cornering attitude. Despite being nearly 27 feet long and weighing 4,310 pounds, the 25 Legacy LT was very nimble and stayed hooked up even when I turned the wheel all the way to it stops.
The 25 Legacy LT is a good choice for boaters who live on large bodies of water and need the buoyancy the big center tube and six lifting strakes generate. The tubes are tipped with what Manitou calls Barracuda nosecones. Saber-sharp and reinforced, they effortlessly cleave through larger waves.
Twin engines make docking easier, especially when they are spread as far apart as they are on the Manitou. Our test boat took it to the next level with joystick docking, though it’s the only Yamaha-powered joystick boat I’ve seen that didn’t use the Helm Master system. Instead, Manitou offers SeaStar Solutions’ Optimus 360 system ($16,250), which worked very well. With it, drivers can walk the pontoon sideways. Remember, though, to let go of the joystick control before reaching the dock, because the outboards can reach outside the protection of the pontoons and get their cowling dinged.
Our test boat was fully rigged for watersports, including an optional Sport Arch ($10,000) that was color-matched to the exterior and had a Bimini top, a ski tow — combined they give the Legacy LT two tow points than can handle any watersport — and an optional in-floor locker set deep into the 27-inch center tube ($1,500). The boat had an optional forward Bimini ($1,100). A pop-up privacy booth was set into the port bow recliner.
To enhance the entertainment factor, the 25 Legacy LT might have one of the best standard stereos I’ve ever seen: an 800-watt JL Audio system with a subwoofer and six lighted speakers, including two on the transom that fire rearward, for some tunes while swimming. The only stereo option is a pair of coffee cans on the Sport Arch that cost $1,875.
The 25 Legacy LT features quad loungers with fiberglass frames that continue the overall theme. The two in the stern are slightly shorter. Perhaps the best option on the boat is the upgrade to a companion bucket seat called Aqua Lounger that includes a kick-out footrest ($250). Standard features abound, so buyers won’t have to check very many boxes on the options list. At the helm, there’s both a standard Simrad Evo 3 smart screen and a seven-inch Murphy display that allows the driver to control any of the boat’s systems. Our test boat had the optional Yamaha CL seven-inch smart screen ($550), which replaced the Simrad unit. Manitou offers a choice of beige or gray vinyl flooring as standard, but 13 options range from $1,250 to $1,300.
The standard 25 Legacy LT is well lit with both interior and exterior lights, and items such as speakers and cupholders glow blue. For refreshments, Manitou offers several custom cooler options, including an Orion 45 Super Cooler ($561) that has a Manitou-logoed top pad or a more modestly priced soft-side carryon ($63). For on-the-water dining, grab the Magma grill option for $388.
Purchased by Steve and Marilynn Myers, Denver, N.C.
Purchased at Foothills Marina, Mooresville, N.C.
WHAT WE LIKED
Fit and finish/Attractive styling/Rough-water handling/Turning ability/900-watt stereo/Power Bimini top
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
I would like to have gone with the twin-engine option but my budget ran out at one 250 hp outboard.
WHY WE BOUGHT IT
We have had the same Correct Craft ski boat since 1980 and a twin-tube Sweetwater pontoon we bought in 1994. We had no intention of buying another boat until we went to the Charlotte Boat Show and fell in love with the Manitou Legacy. We loved its styling and realized it could replace our two older boats. We live on Lake Norman, which is large, and visiting someone across the lake could take an hour on our old pontoon and we worried about weather kicking up. With the Manitou, we can make it in 25 minutes. We were tempted by the twin-engine version, but the Yamaha VMAX SHO 250 pushes it really well. On our first trip, we had 11 people on board and one of our guests wanted to go slalom skiing; we were surprised when he got up easily. We have four grown kids and a 5-year-old grandson, and they like to go sightseeing, tubing and skiing. The buying process at Foothills Marina was great. I told them what features I wanted and what I wanted to do with the boat, and they made sure it was properly equipped. After the sale, they went to great lengths to make sure my
For many people, pontoon boats are associated with Grandpa’s old ‘toon idling lazily around the lake with the grandkids fishing off the side. Early pontoons were not fast enough for watersports and had few of the modern conveniences that cuddy cabins and bowriders could provide.
In the late 1980s, manufacturers like Manitou Pontoons from Lansing, Michigan saw the potential of a faster pontoon boat and started designing models that could handle bigger engines. When 115-hp outboards appeared on the back of pontoons, customers that once said they would never get a pontoon took a second look.
The addition of a third tube to pontoon designs increased structural stability and buoyancy, and opened the door to even heavier, higher-horsepower engines. The increase in power allowed pontoons to pull skiers and tubers, and created a boat that was more appealing and versatile.
The 2018 Manitou X-Plode XT is a shining example of pontoon potential. With the X-Plode, Manitou set out to change the pontoon stereotype of a party barge into that of a fast, colorful, full-featured sportboat that could outperform many of its V-hulled cousins. The Manitou X-Plode XT accomplishes that mission with style and ease, while carrying more passengers, too.
A 70 mph pontoon?
When someone invites you to go for a ride on their shiny new pontoon boat, the last thing you expect to need is a pair of goggles. But goggles were the one thing I was missing when I met Greg and Tim from Manitou Pontoons at Duck Lake — about 20 miles south of Lansing, Michigan — to go for an afternoon cruise.
Manitou has built pontoon boats at their headquarters in Lansing for more than 30 years. They use Duck Lake for testing because it has a clean, predictable bottom free of prop-eating obstructions and submerged surprises that might create an unpleasant situation if struck at 70 mph.
Yes, that’s correct. Seventy mph. Seven, zero. And yes, on a pontoon boat.
Sitting at the dock, the 27-foot X-Plode XT looks like it’s straining at the lines. The boat comes in several color combinations, including more tame options like black or white. Customers who want to stand out from the crowd can choose a bright orange or electric lime green X-Plode.
Manitou works closely with several outboard manufacturers to ensure their engines are installed to the highest factory specifications and to offer their customers power options that best fit their needs. Our test boat featured twin Mercury 400-hp engines, but twin 300s are the most popular choice for the X-Plode series. Customers can also choose from smaller or single engine configurations.
Manitou takes their manufacturing standards to the extreme. With finished storage compartments, built-in seating hardware, one-piece aluminum safety doors, and engine mounts built to withstand the power and weight of twin outboards, Manitou’s workmanship, fit and finish are exemplary.
The Manitou X-Plode XT is offered in several floorplans, including the new-for-2018 27-foot RFX layout. All of the structures from the deck up are fiberglass. Vinyl seating and non-skid vinyl decks with snap-down covers resist stains and damage, making the entire boat easy to clean with a boat brush and a hose.
Felt-lined storage compartments are hidden underneath the seats, and a hatch in the floor allows access to the interior of the center tube. This 6-foot storage space is great for stashing longer items like skis or covers, and also includes an automatic bilge pump to ensure the contents stay dry.
Loud and proud
Creature comforts such as LED accents in the cupholders, around seat bases and on the sport arch are just plain cool. JL Audio is a standard feature with an amp, a subwoofer and LED-lit speakers throughout the boat. A color-matched Bimini and mooring cover are also included. A pop-up privacy station allows guests to change out of wet swimsuits before dining at the standard aft table.
Electronic options from Manitou’s engine partners are a nice touch. Systems such as Mercury’s joystick controls and VesselView provide engine feedback and precise handling in tight spaces. Manitou’s own Smart Touch screen gives the captain control over lighting, entertainment and navigation features.
Manitou recognized the benefits of the third pontoon early on. Structural integrity is improved with the extra tube, but Manitou went a step further and created a patented V-Toon design. The result is a faster, better handling pontoon boat.
With precise placement of the third tube and the addition of scientifically designed lifting strakes, Manitou has create a pontoon hull profile that mimics a V-bottomed boat. The design climbs up on plane with minimal bow lift, rides softer and more stable in rough water, and takes a hard turn with the same control and feel as a V-hull.
With Tim at the wheel and Greg up front, we went for a ride down the lake. I didn’t really know what to expect from a 70 mph pontoon boat. As we began to climb in speed, I was very glad I remembered what it was like to fly across open water and had taken off my glasses before they were ripped from my face.
When we hit just under 70 mph carrying three big guys and a full gas tank, I understood why a dog hangs out of a car window with his cheeks flapping. I had to fight the urge to grin like a cartoon character and let my tongue hang out.
Turning back, I was really impressed by the stable feel as the boat leaned into turns like a V-hull. We climbed back up to full speed again before criss-crossing our own wake and that of another boat. The ride was always dry and smooth.
Best of both worlds
The Manitou X-Plode XT is difficult to label. It’s a hard-charging, smooth-riding dayboat that reminds you it’s a pontoon when 15 people can find comfortable seats. With the sport arch, it could be mistaken for a ski boat and easily tows adult wakeboarders and tubers. The best classification I could come up with is “high-speed aquatic entertainment platform.”
We ran the X-Plode XT back toward the dock, then stopped and idled up the lake for a while so we could talk. As I tried to think of any last questions or clarification I might need, we all grew quiet, enjoying the fall air and beautiful view. After riding in silence for a few minutes, I turned to Tim, and with a silly grin I said, “Do it again.”
Tim’s grin matched mine as he leaned forward and pressed his glasses securely onto his face. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Greg grab one of the handrails as the twin Mercury 400s started to wind up, and we tore off down the lake like a rocket.
One thing is certain: This is not your grandpa’s pontoon boat!
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!
Lansing, MI – On October 7th the Capital Area Manufacturing Council (CAMC) conducted multiple tours of local manufacturing companies to recognize National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). The goal of this event was to expose Middle and High School students and teachers to the strong Manufacturing Industry in the Lansing, MI area. Manitou Pontoon Boats was 1 of the 18 manufacturing facilities that participated in this event by hosting two groups of students and teachers. The group that came learn about and tour the facility was the engineering, welding, and machining students and teachers from the Capital Area Career Center Mason in Mason. For more information on CAMC follow this link www.camconline.org/mfgday.php
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 your 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 water, there are numerous fun ideas you and your family can 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 grill 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, 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. Keep reading or download our infographic below for more tips for family fun on the water.
Involve Your Kids from the Beginning
Kids want to be included, and giving them small tasks can be rewarding for them. These can be little things, like making sure everyone has their life jacket on, or looking for wildlife.
Plan Activities for Your Boating Adventure
Boat trips work best when there are planned activities for you and your family. These will prevent everyone from getting bored.
Bring the Sunscreen
Water can reflect the sun’s rays and amplify them. Make sure to apply sunscreen throughout the day, and spend time in the shade. It’s better than spending an evening tenderly applying aloe.
Bring Snacks and Drinks
Drinking water throughout the day, especially when it’s hot, can prevent dehydration and other heat injuries. Also, a day on the water can pass by quickly, and kids will become hungry. Bringing food with you means more time on water, instead of heading back sooner than you want.
Teach Nautical Terms and Rules
Since you’re on a boat, it’s an opportune time to teach your kids about nautical terms and science facts—everything from which side is starboard, to nautical safety rules, to why the tides go in and out.
The Do Nots
Do Not Leave the Dock without Life Jackets
Aside from obeying child life jacket requirements, there’s always a possibility that little ones can fall off the boat accidentally. It’s important to keep them safe.
Do Not Sail All Day
If you’re planning a longer trip, try to mix it up so you’re not on the water all day. Even if it’s docking or going to a beach for 30 minutes, let the kids run around.
Do Not Ignore Safety
Don’t let your kids stand or walk around while the boat is moving. Pontoon boats can be very safe, but you can never be too careful.
Do Not Trash the Beach
Littering on your excursion to the beach isn’t just rude, but it can hurt environment. When you see floating trash on the open water, pick it up.
Do Not Bring the Whole Neighborhood
Pontoon boats have a set number of people who can safely travel on the boat. Don’t go over that number.
Spending a day on the water can be exciting for everyone aboard, but taking time to plan ahead can make all the difference for creating a successful and memorable family experience.
This article was updated with links and more information on 6/20/2018.
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.