Building a Legacy

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.

PERFORMANCE

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.

HANDLING

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.

BEST USES

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.

PREFERRED SETUP

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.

owner feedback

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

 

Manitou Sweeps McKainer Barrel Race Again

Our race team has grown accustom to winning the Pontoon & Deckboat Magazine barrel races having done so the last three years. Perhaps these 3 previous years of domination have kept the competition away; only one other company arrived to see how they stacked up to V-Toon Technology. Even the new, dual engine category, could not entice any competition out to the event. The entire article about last September’s event from Pontoon and Deck Boat Magazine can be read below.

To find out more or subscribe to Pontoon and Deck Boat Magazine follow this link www.harrispublishing.com/pontoon-deck-boat

National Manufacturing Day

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

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Manitou Expands – Moving forward by moving in (Complete article can be read by scrolling to the bottom of the page)

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. Transformation 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.”

PDB (2 of 3)

PDB (2 of 3)

 

Manitou Expands

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.

Transformation

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.”

Increased Production

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.”

Twins?

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.”

Tag for Swag Giveaway: Win Free Manitou Gear!

Our Facebook fan base has grown quite a bit over the past year, and we couldn’t be more thankful to have such a loyal and engaging audience.  Likewise, we’ve amassed quite a few Manitou goodies over the past few months, and it’s time to do a little spring cleaning. Since we’re close to 5,000 likes, we’d like to celebrate reaching that milestone by giving some of this gear away.

Here’s how to enter, and it takes less than 5 minutes:

1. “Like” our Facebook page if you haven’t already.

2. Look for the contest post on our Facebook page – it will contain this photo:

Manitou Gear Bag

2. Tag yourself anywhere in the photo, and consider yourself entered!

Continue reading “Tag for Swag Giveaway: Win Free Manitou Gear!”

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

Continue reading “SES Floorplan Studio Photoshoot: A Sneak Peek”

New 2013 Manitou Dealers

We’re excited to announce new dealers for the 2013 year. Below is the list of who we have signed so far, including our first ever dealers in Quebec and Manitoba.

The Nautic Group 625 Hwy. 146 Kemah TX 77565 U.S.A. 281-334-2628 www.nauticgroup.com
Country Corner Marine 1199 River Hwy. Moorseville NC 28117 U.S.A. 704-664-1134 www.countrycornermarine.com
Rockingham Marina 635 Rockingham Rd. Johnson City TN 37615 U.S.A. 423-408-3215 www.rockinghammarina.com
Koopers Cars and Marine 10538 E M-89 Richland MI 49083 U.S.A. 269-629-4979 www.kooperscarsmarine.com
Tailwalker Marine 2903 Highmarket St. Georgetown SC 29440 U.S.A. 843-527-2495 www.tailwalkermarine.com
Breezy Boat City 2816 Gulf Breeze Pkwy. Gulf Breeze FL 32563 U.S.A. 850-934-6010 www.breezyboatcity.com
Kentuckiana Yacht Sales 5888 Hwy. 641 N. Gilbertsville KY 42044 U.S.A. 270-703-1461 www.kentuckianayacht.com/
Enns Brothers 925 Lagimodiere Blvd. Winnipeg MB R2J 3K4 CANADA 204-475-3667 www.ennsbros.com
Elitech Sport Evasion 1200 De La Gabelle St. Etienne Des Gres QU GOX 2PO CANADA 819-691-1773 www.elitechsportevasion.com

 

 

What’s Happening This Month: A New Brochure from Manitou

That’s right, folks. Keep your eyes open for a new Manitou Pontoon Boats brochure that will be emerging very soon.

So, what’s so great about it?

“This year we concentrated on providing the customers with all the information they need on the boats while at the same time maintaining an artistically creative, visually appealing brochure that makes you want to head out on the water in a Manitou during a warm summer day,”  Greg VanWagenen, Manitou’s director of marketing and communications, said.

“High quality pictures, premium paper stock and expertly executed printing processes portray our boats as the high end premium brand that Manitou has become known for.”

In addition, he said they decided to go green with this brochure – it was printed with 100 percent wind power.

Here’s a preview of some of the great photos:

Continue reading “What’s Happening This Month: A New Brochure from Manitou”

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 outreach@safeboatingcouncil.org. 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!

 

Cautionary Tales in Boating Safety: Part 1

As part of our series of posts on safe boating, we will be presenting four real stories of people who have had dangerous or scary boating experiences. These individuals have shared these tales in hopes of helping others who may encounter the same situations. Regardless of whether or not an accident is unavoidable, the most important factor is what’s ultimately learned from it.

Ken Beckstead

Ken Beckstead (right) and friend Jeff Moschin. Photo courtesy of Ken.

There’s one unsettling boating experience Nevada resident Ken Beckstead will never forget.

While waterskiing at Kings River, he said he suddenly saw a jet boat traveling toward a narrow part of the river. The boat was equipped with a jetovator, a device that sprays water out of a jet propulsion system.  Because the spray is about 50 feet high and 200 feet back, it cannot be traveled through due to risk of bodily harm.

Although Beckstead was able to get to the side of the river and away from the jet boat, he said other boaters had no escape route. One of the trapped boats contained children.

“The jet boat actually went over the top of the boat with kids in a side on collision,” he said. “The kids were pressed down in their boat by the jet boat hull.”

Ambulances were called, and there were no serious injuries, Beckstead said. However, it remains an example of how some people get terrible results from showing off their fast boats at the worst times.

“Luckily the jet boat had no external propeller,” he said. “The kids would have been cut to pieces.”

He said he remembers another similar story of a man on a jet ski who left the shore and was suddenly side impacted by a boat traveling about 60 miles per hour. No one saw the man lying face down in the water except Beckstead’s friend on shore.

“It was too far to swim out to the guy,” he said. “He died before anyone in the water saw him.”

He said although he has owned different kinds of freshwater and ocean boats for the past thirty years, he never utilized fast speeds unless he was the only boat around for at least a mile. If the motor in any jet propelled vessel suddenly dies, the driver has no control over steering or braking.

He suggests never letting anyone without experience drive a boat because the wakes can sink a boater not familiar with crossing waves correctly. In addition, people should scan around their boat at least every minute for their own safety.

“The best advice I can give is to take a safe boating class,” Beckstead said. “Once you actually get on the water there is only one rule, never trust anyone.”