February 06, 2024
The worst of winter weather will soon fade into memory for another year. And, with the approach of springtime and summer warmth, a steady supply of sunny and fun days for family and friends is about to start at your favorite local water body as the 2024 boating season prepares to arrive on the calendar.
For the kind of memorable fun that will carry you through the warm weather season ahead and on into next fall and winter, there are a few steps you should take, according to Jens, the global product strategy manager for Manitou Pontoon Boats. These steps will ensure that your next time out on the water in a pontoon boat, like those built by Manitou, is the best yet.
“For our family, it’s all about preparation before you even head out for the water,” said Housley, a 37-year-old husband and father of two children, ages three and six. “Family is big for me and pontoon boating is a big part of that family life on the water when the weather is warm.”
Those enjoyable days—which Housley says are the most anticipated, talked about and remembered moments in his household each summer—center around three main ideas of having the right pontoon boat, having all of the necessary gear, and of course, having the right plan to put into action for a day of watery fun.
That proper rig that Housley is talking about starts with having the right pontoon boat model selected in the first place, and there’s little doubt that with plenty of expert help in finding such a boat at a local marine dealer or at a wintertime boat show, not to mention a wealth of financing options and plentiful service and warranty provisions available when consumers do make a purchase, all meaning that it’s simply hard to go wrong when you’re selecting your next pontoon rig from a Manitou Pontoon Boat inventory.
Add in such things as the Rotax S engine, Max Deck design options, digital technologies, V-toon hull design, and plentiful accessories and there is no shortage of boating possibilities from Manitou’s value-packed Cruise model to the recreationally designed Explore and Explore Dual Engine models and on to the sporty LX model.
And if you want the most luxurious, most spacious and absolute best time out on the water for family and friends this spring and summer, there’s even the Manitou Luxury XT pontoon boat model to consider.
With so many possibilities, which one is right for your family? Housley says that when buying a boat, you’re going to want to certainly consider things like how large it is, what the floor plan looks like, whether it’s rigged for the various things you want to do, what type and size engine it has powering things up, and what storage options are available among other potential buying considerations.
Once you have selected the right pontoon boat, there are some other things to consider if you want an epic day of water fun for the family, the first and foremost of those being centered around safety concerns.
In fact, safety is such an important consideration for Manitou and its parent BRP Marine Group that there is a Responsible Rider Program that aims at helping boaters have responsible behaviors on the water that are safe for all of those aboard, safe for the surrounding environment, and a day filled with proper boating etiquette that allows for everyone to enjoy a fun, safe day on the water.
How can you play it safe? Well, as your Manitou pontoon boat’s skipper, start out with being sure that you’ve got an eye to the sky for the day’s weather forecast before heading out and a handle on what safety gear your boat has onboard before you crank the engine.
Keep in mind that safety is always going to start with having the proper safety equipment aboard, which will include making sure that your craft comes with the required number of legal, properly fitting personal floatation devices (PFD) when you and your loved ones are out and about on the water.
Talking about life jackets might not be the most enjoyable discussion topic for boaters, but they are the law and in the event of an unexpected boating mishap, they float while you and I don’t.
Also, remember that safety regulations can vary from state to state, so make sure you’re in compliance, and that children under the age of 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket or life vest when underway on a vessel under 26 feet in length.
Once you have the right boat rocking gently on the water, and the right safety gear properly positioned aboard, all that’s left for a day of fun and lifelong memories is to plan a few things out according to Housley. That starts with a broad understanding of what the day’s aquatic mission is all about, from simply cruising around to perhaps a little early morning or late evening fishing to a day of playing with water toys or maybe even making a run to an island for some swimming, day camping and cooking out.
“For me, that starts with knowing the waterway you are going to be spending the day upon,” said Housley. “You’ll want to know what launches you’re utilizing to put in and take out of in terms of cost, water depths, amenities offered, fueling possibilities, etc. if you are trailering your boat instead of keeping it in a marina slip.”
Housley also wants to have as much of this trip planning done as possible the evening before a trip, from knowing what boat launches he plans to use—and on crowded weekends, it often pays to have both a Plan A option here as well as a Plan B possibility—and what things he needs to have on board, from basic snacks and drinks to ice-filled coolers and food for a cookout or picnic to sunscreen to slather on and aquatic toys and tow ropes necessary for a trip filled with watery fun.
“It sometimes even pays to look at social media and state natural resource agency websites beforehand, to see what others are doing or to find links to web pages that will help you know what you need to have, what such spots are like, and all of the particulars about operating a boat in such places,” said Housley.
Housley will also make sure that in addition to knowing where he’s going, making sure he’s fueled up and can easily acquire more fuel as needed, and what gear he’ll need to have aboard, that he also remembers that amidst all of the planning and preparation that he enjoys so much, that there’s one common theme and mission for the day ahead.
“For me, it’s all about having a kid-friendly experience, a day of family time together that is fun and memorable,” he said. “My kids love these days on the water and even though they are young, it’s already something that they’re asking about and inquiring as to whether we’re going to be able to do more of that this upcoming year.”
From days spent swimming and playing in the water to naps under the shade of their Manitou pontoon rig’s Bimini top to having room for plenty of friends and loved ones to the simple joys of biting into food straight off a charcoal campfire, there’s no shortage of weary smiles when Housley pulls into the darkened driveway at the end of a day spent on the water.
“I’m from Wisconsin and I’ve been out on the water my whole life and through all of that, pontoons have been a big part of my life out on the water,” said Housley. “And soon, it’s time once again for my family to be out on the water and making sure that they’re smiling, laughing, having fun and doing things that help us spend time together."
“With my Manitou pontoon boat, we’re able to get eight of us on the water and the kids are able to pack along plenty of toys and even invite a friend from next door,” he added. “Add a cooler of beer for the adults and we all get to enjoy time in the water, a chance to get out of the water for some eating and relaxing, then slipping back into the water, and ending the day cruising about as we laugh and smile.”
“For me, it’s all about having fun and relaxing during the warm weather months, and there’s little doubt in my mind that the pontoon boat is perfectly set up for all of that.”
Indeed it is, so let the warm weather boating season begin, along with the laughter and smiles as another year of watery fun begins and memories are made that will last for a lifetime amongst family and friends. After all, that’s the Manitou way, isn’t it?