Things are bustling around our local pontoon boat club, as members break out their ‘toons and ready their craft for the water. April is the month when those boaters who neglected to winterize their engines last fall are lamenting the fact, facing cracked lower units, clogged carbs and waterlogged fuel. On the other hand, diligent boaters who did the job right last autumn appear almost smug as their outboards fire at the first keying of the starter and the engines “purr” as the pontoons proceed proudly to their slips for the season.
While the guys are busy messing about with motors and boats, which are still on blocks awaiting their turn to be launched by the club’s communal tractor/trailer combo, their wives are often topside, mops and vacuums and brushes and buckets in hand, giving the boat a rigorous spring cleaning that may represent the only time the boats get washed – or the womenfolk are seen aboard – all season. Indeed, there are a few boats that, out of the 100 that belong to the modest, all-pontoon owners club, may not move from their slip until next fall, when it’s time to pull the craft out of the water for the off-season.
That lack of running time doesn’t mean those particular boats don’t get used over the course of the summer. One gentleman is aboard his docked FloteBote every time I arrive during the boating season, patiently fishing off the transom while enjoying the shade of his Bimini and a cool beverage. He spends twice the hours aboard his boat that I do annually, just not underway (which might be a good thing). Another big Bentley pontoon model is famous for its weekly poker game, which begins promptly after church every Sunday and continues through the afternoon. I’ve yet to see that boat out on the lake, yet there soon will be a well-worn path across the lawn linking it to the clubhouse and restrooms.
That the boats can be enjoyed without slipping a dock line is a testament to the comfort and adaptability offered by our favorite style of watercraft.