Whether buying new or renovating an older Pontoon, there are a few things you need to do to protect your investment, both from the weather and a maintenance standpoint. Much of the wear and tear on the interior occurs because of improperly storing the boat and poor cleaning practiced during the boating season. When the boat is stored, one of the best ways to prevent damage and premature wear is to purchase a quality cover. A good cover will shade your boat from the suns damaging UV rays, as well as keep debris and small animals from setting up home in your Pontoon during storage periods. The life expectancy of the interior is greatly reduced when it’s not covered. Upholstery can become brittle and start cracking in as little as two years if left open to the weather (Especially the sun). This is where a good cover can save you money, and aggravation, in the long run.
If you’re an angler and are looking for a boat that will allow you to fish in comfort, then look no farther than the Pontoon boat. It’s open design is is the ideal design for families or even the avid lone fisherman to enjoy a day on the water. Plus it’s shallow draft will allow you to get into places the others can only dream of.
The open layout of a pontoon fishing boat allows you plenty of room to move around, rather than being confined to one small space. Even if you have 3 or 4 other people onboard, you all will have plenty of room to cast without worrying about hooking each other. On a true fishing Pontoon, you can have one fishing seats located in each corner of the boat. So it’s easy for everyone to fish in comfort. Most Pontoons also have at least 2 gates that can be opened, and that makes landing a big fish a breeze.
Pontoon boats also offer the advantage of being an extremely stable platform to fish from. Traditional fishing boats tend to lean alot to one side when someone steps too far toward the boats gunwale. Not so with the Pontoon. You can walk right up to the very edge without noticeable leaning or getting that uneasy feeling that comes from typical fishing boats. And if you get a Pontoon that has non-slip Vinyl flooring, when the day is done a quick hose down of the deck is all that’s needed to make it look new again.
Another great feature of a Pontoon boat is the Bimini top. If you’ve ever been fishing on a 90+ degree day in the sun, you know what I’m talking about. Almost every Pontoon has a Bimini top that can be put up in a matter of minutes. There are also some out now that operate automatically at the push of a button for nearly instant shade. Plus the way the Bimini is constructed, you won’t lose out on any fishing comfort or room, like is often the case on other fishing boats. Also a big plus if a sudden rain storm comes up. You can still sit under cover and keep on fishing, which by the way can sometimes be the best time to fish.
Another advantage that the pontoon fishing boat has is lots of room for rod lockers, rod holders and tackle boxes. And with an electric trolling motor and livewells, other boats can get crowded quickly. In addition to fishing gear storage, you’ll find more than enough space to put coolers filled with cold beverages and your favorite foods and still have room to move around easily.
So if you’re considering a fishing boat, whether it’s for two people or eight, a Pontoon is hard to beat for comfort and safety on the water. And really, that’s the way it should be…
The Pontoon boat provides a comfortable platform to spend leisure time on water. The boats consist of two aluminum, or sometimes composite, pontoons positioned on either side of the boat. The Pontoons must be strong and durable enough to withstand the constant pounding of the water, as well as resist puncturing from debris in the water. Most pontoons use an aluminum frame that has a rigid material attached on the top that is called the Deck.
The decking material that’s used can be manufactured from several different types of materials. Decks now consist mainly of wood, aluminum or composite materials. Wood decks have by far been the most common material used, with aluminum coming in a close second on newer Pontoons. The Pontoon decking is more often than not covered with carpet, with some models (Mainly fishing types) using Vinyl. The Vinyl provides an easy surface for cleaning up. The decking of a pontoon must be rigid enough to attach seats, helms, fencing and controls, so it’s common for the wood to be 3/4″ thick.
Some composite boats also use composite or a wood and composite mixture as decking materials. The composite decking is a strong alternative to solid wood decking and is also much lighter. A disadvantage in a composite deck is that it can become weakened over time, requiring a complete refurbishing of the pontoon decking. It is important that only a marine-grade plywood be used when refurbishing a soft deck due to its ability to resist the damp and wet conditions that pontoon decking is subjected to. Stainless steel screws and fasteners should also be used in any replacement or repair to avoid failure due to rusting.
In the beginning…..
Who would have thought that attaching a wooden platform to two round sealed cylinders would evolve into a modern watercraft that is today known as the Pontoon Boat or Party Barge. Since these boats have become one of the most popular modes of transportation on the water today, it might lead one to wonder just how the idea came about and how different they are today. The earlier years have been covered here, but lets take a look at when they really became popular with traditional boaters and what they have become today.
The beginning of what is now known as the modern Pontoon boat was created by Ambrose Weeres in 1951. At that time, Weeres was asked by a friend to create a platform out of tubes and oil barrels that would float in water. His initial boat was basically a plywood sheet secured to 55-gallon steel drums. Weeres learned that steel pontoons collapsed when they contracted due to cold temperatures. He redesigned the floats to include a vent tube in each pontoon to allow for fluctuations in air temperature. The first boat, later named “The Empress”, sold before Ambrose even had a chance to name it. In his first year, Weeres constructed four more boats. In 1952 he founded Weeres Industries and took orders for 40 more boats. He then took his Pontoons to a boat show in Chicago and rounded up another 100 orders. A company marketing highlight occurred when Weeres pontoons were to be used in water events at the Minneapolis Aquatennial celebration, a week long summer community festival attended by thousands of Minnesotans. After the overwhelming response from that showing, he now had a work force of twenty two employees to keep up with increased demand. The company continued to prosper until sometime in 1954 Weeres sold the business to Ray Knese.
The 60′s, 70′s and early 80′s…
Knese built a large production facility near St. Cloud, Minnesota. Business increased enough that Knese added two more production facilities in 1964. The number of employees grew to 22.
Sometime between 1964 and 1976, Dick Anderson purchased the business. In 1976, Weeres Industries produced more than 900 pontoons. For a short time Weeres also produced trailers for pontoons, water bikes, and snowmobiles. The newer pontoons at this time could accommodate larger motors, making it easier for users to pull waterskiers.
During the years Anderson owned the company, sales ranged from $1 million to $1.5 million per year, and production varied greatly from year to year. At that time, Weeres produced Pontoons from 16 feet to 28 feet in length with a variety of layouts. By this time the competition in the field had grown and at the same time the entire marine industry was beginning to slow down.
There were now again new owners of the company. When Clint Lee and Gordon Brown took over in the early 1980s, the company was near declaring bankruptcy. At that time the company had just 16 employees, and annual sales were under $1 million. According to the new owners, the company had faltered for several years because the previous owners failed to reinvest the profits in the business.
Lee had a background in the boating industry and Gordon had experience running small businesses, so they were looking for a business opportunity in manufacturing that produced a tangible product. So they looked at Weeres.
One thing that attracted Lee and his partner Brown to Weeres specifically was that the company had some of the most expertly skilled aluminum welders in the industry. Aluminum welders were hard to find and difficult to train. In large part because of that exceptional craftsmanship, Weeres had a reputation for superb quality. Weeres pontoons were built like tanks, according to Lee, but they lagged behind the competition in the area of styling.
Lee and Brown focused on improving quality and lowering costs. Early on in their ownership, they invited Weeres and his family for an outing on a large luxury Weeres pontoon. They wanted Mr. Weeres to see how far his invention had come. In 1985 Weeres Industries purchased Palm Beach Boats, which manufactured both salt-water and freshwater pontoons.
In the late 1980s, pontoon manufacturers noticed a dramatic change in the demographics of pontoon owners. Because Pontoons were easy to trailer and were safe and versatile, young families started buying them as well. At this time, boat design, as well as furniture design made great strides in order to attract more customers. In 1991 Ambrose Weeres was among the first four people to be inducted into the Minnesota Marine Hall of Fame. He was lauded for his initial innovation and Weeres Industries was praised for it’s continued improvement on the design. Innovations that the company garnered were the first to use pressure treated plywood and fabricating the Pontoons from aluminum, rather than steel. The company really began to grow between 1992 and 2002. One factor for that growth was that Weeres began selling boats, trailers, and motors in a package deal. This made it much easier for consumers to purchase a complete setup without having to decide piece by piece. Also the economy was much stronger and people began to spend money on recreational activities more and more. In the late 1990s, Weeres saw 30 to 35 percent annual growth, and the staff grew to 60 employees.
The company received national recognition in 2000 when Pontoon and Deck Boat magazine named Weeres the “Best-Built Luxury Pontoon.” By this time Weeres was a worldwide corporation and they made pontoon boat types that suited most everyones needs. They has designs for fishing, swimming, waterskiing, or just for cruising lakes and streams. The specialty models helped to attract new users. Pontoon sizes ranged from 16 feet to 28 feet in length and gave the consumer plenty of choices.
2000 and beyond…
Pontoon have now evolved into much more than Weeres would have thought possible. Accessory selections included portable toilets, changing rooms, electronic fish finders, radios, tape and CD players, roof enclosures, swivel seats, wheelchair gates, aerated livewells for keeping fish or storing cold beverages, and mini-kitchens with microwaves and refrigerators.
The company’s success is based on continually trying to improve it’s product and getting their product in as many dealerships as possible. Also careful scrutinization of employees added to and improved on that. Weeres pontoons had a reputation for lasting forever.
The 50th anniversary of the company was in 2002. Weeres management and employees remain focused on producing high-quality boats and satisfying their customers. Looking to the future, Lee did not expect any dramatic changes in the pontoon boat industry, but he believed the company’s fiberglass offshore business would see growth. Company owners Lee and Brown are still at the helm of the company that started it all.