Recent News  

How To Launch & Retrieve Your Pontoon Boat

April 8, 2014


With the exception of docking, the one part of trailer boating that strikes the most fear in the hearts of new boaters has got to the launch ramp. Sure, it can be stressful the first few times, but here’s the good news: As long as you follow these easy tips, launching and retrieving your boat will become second-nature in no time.

Before You Hit The Road 

Don’t even leave your driveway unless you check a few things first. Make sure your trailer tires are inflated to the correct pressure. If you pulled out the drain plug for the ride home, now would be a great time to put it back in. Check the charge on your battery…it seems like someone always leaves the radio on with the volume turned all the way down! Think about the sequence you’ll want to detach the boat from the trailer, leaving (of course) the bow hook on until the boat is in the water.

Practice In Peace

The best way to reduce stress before your moment in the spotlight is to trailer over to the ramp one early morning or evening during the middle of the week. You’ll have the place to yourself, and you can take your time backing down, correcting and dialing in your entry strategy. Take a few passes. If someone shows up, pull up and out of the way, and resume your practice run in peace. And if you have any questions about what you’re doing, now would be the time to ask a fellow boater.

Load Before Launching

You might be surprised by how many folks wait until they are at the end of the ramp to load up their coolers, floats, pets, and whatever else they’ve lugged to the lake on this beautiful Saturday. The better move is to go ahead and park (hey, that shady spot looks good) and take your time transferring your gear from the SUV to the boat. This might even give the kids time to inflate their tube, the dog to do his business and Mom time to feed the baby. That way everyone’s good to go and focused on the task at hand.

Play Nice

Everyone’s anxious to be out on the water enjoying their boat. It’s probably hot outside. There may be people who haven’t read this article and are struggling with, ummmm, “efficiency of motion.” Put a smile on your face. Give a nod or a wave to the other “good guys” and maybe even lend a hand to help move things along.

Use Your Crew

Think ahead about what ramp line feels more comfortable for you. Some folks like the left side, some folks like the right. Give everyone on your crew a job. Your buddy can be your guide on the ramp. Your kids can relay messages and let you know if you’re getting too close to the curb. Everyone can help undo the straps. Mom can pull the tow vehicle up and park while you pull the boat over to the temporary dock for passenger loading.

Best Launch Ramp Tip EVER 

Put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel while backing the trailer up…then turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.

Trailering your boat can be the perfect solution for you and your boating lifestyle. By taking a few minutes to master the “unwritten rules,” you can make launching and retrieving your boat almost as enjoyable as a day on the water. Almost.

Pets Ahoy Photo Contest!

April 7, 2014

Spring has nearly sprung! And to celebrate the chance to get back out on the water, we just launched the Godfrey Pontoons Pets Ahoy Photo Contest! Through April 30, just click here to upload your favorite pet pics — whether it's a current photo or one from a previous season — taken onboard or near your Sanpan, Aqua Patio or Sweetwater pontoon.

One winner will receive a $50 gift card to the Godfrey Pontoons Gear Store and a full summer of bragging rights! It’s never been easier to participate because now all entries and voting will be done via Facebook. We invite you to enter as many photos as you wish and vote up to once each day for your favorites. There are also some great options for you to share your photos with your friends and encourage them to vote for you and the other best entries.

Once the contest period is over, we’ll give the Top 3 to our illustrious panel of judges who will determine the final winner based on five key criteria: 1) Creativity 2) Inspiring to other boaters 3) How well photo depicts boat brand  4) Quality of photo 5) Representation of contest theme.

We want this to be a fun contest and to challenge everyone to take some great photos of your pets out on the water or share some special moments you may have captured in the past. Of course, there is no purchase or payment of any kind necessary to enter or win this contest. Just read up on all the Official Rules to make sure your entry is eligible for the prize.

Let’s get this party started!

How To Boat At Night

March 28, 2014

Believe it or not, this brutal winter will be over before you know it. And that means you'll be out on the water again, doing everything you can to get the most out of every day. One way to do that is to stretch your boating fun past sunset and into the evening. And while there are some things you need to consider before you take this step, you are missing out on half the fun if you only hit the water under blue skies. Here’s what you need to know to be safe when the sun goes down.

SLOW DOWN

Cruising under the moonlight can make you feel like you’ve got the place to yourself. More than likely, you don’t. You’ll need to be on the lookout for the running lights of other vessels, aids to navigation in the water, and 100 others things that inevitably pop up out of nowhere at night. Since your reaction time will be slower, and your eyes will be working overtime to distinguish all kinds of different shapes, ease up on the throttle. By the way, that creature you see in the water is more than likely not a mermaid: If you’re cruising the Intracoastal Waterway down South…it’s probably a manatee.

SEE & BE SEEN

You may be tempted to shut off your running lights sometimes…especially if you’re drifting (or at anchor). This is a big mistake if you’re anywhere near the channel. Many times you will justify going incognito because there’s a decent moon, and once your eyes adjust, you can see just fine. But it’s critically important that you leave your lights on when you’re out on the water. They are not for you, after all. They’re for the other boaters to be able to spot you from a distance. The more reaction time, the better.

NO SUDDEN MOVES

Even with the required running lights, your eyes can still play tricks on you. Boats running in your line of sight can confuse your senses at times and convince you that you’re seeing something you’re not. For that reason, always try to maintain a fairly consistent track at night. Doing donuts, figure eights, and zigzagging across the water is asking for trouble. Plus, any passengers onboard may not be ready for abrupt maneuvers and could be tossed overboard. Since they will they be tougher to spot in dark water, you risk striking them with the boat or propeller.

CRANK IT DOWN

Music and boating go together like peanut butter and jelly during the day. But after hours, it’s more like peanut butter and anchovies. In other words, it’s really bad form to blast your tunes above background level. Sound carries extremely well over water, and even a moderate volume can be an annoyance to folks who have already packed it in for the night. Keep your tunes at a level where you can have a normal conversation. You can cut loose again the next day when you break out the watersports gear.

TOP IT OFF

It is a real bummer to run out of gas any time and any place. But when you’re out on the water at night, it’s an entirely new level of trouble. Being in a position where you can’t avoid other objects and get yourself home is bad enough, but it is a long, difficult process for someone else to have to find your position in the dark, down some off-the-beaten-path canal. Make sure you top the tank off before the sun goes down, while the fuel stations are still open and easy to see.

SWIM...DON’T DIVE

There is something really thrilling about sliding into the water at night. Note the word “sliding.” Diving into dark water at night is a really bad idea. Because no matter what that depth finder says, you never know what submerged tree, Pinto fender or ridiculously tall rock lurks beneath the surface. And since you’re going into the water at night, don’t take a chance that your head will be the first hard object that makes contact. Whatever you do, just go gentle into that good night (swim).

KEEP YOUR WITS 

You already know that your reaction time will be diminished because of the darkness. You’ll add to those effects exponentially with every cocktail. And if that wasn’t bad enough, reduced inhibitions will increase the hey-watch-this instinct that can turn a fun cruise under the stars into an evening that is best avoided. Stay off the booze. It’s your responsibility as captain.

Nautic Global Group Recognizes Accident-Free Milestone

March 17, 2014

Nautic Global Group along with plant three has reason to celebrate! Godfrey Pontoons Plant Manager Dan Finke announces that Plant Three has made it an entire year wihout having an accident.

“And these guys sure aren’t making teddy bears over there,” said Finke who has worked for NGG for two years.

Plant Three makes metal railing for all Godfrey Pontoons and railing sets for the Hurricane FunDeck series.

“Plant Three has one of the best teams, and I believe earning this honor is a great accomplishment because they face some of the biggest challenges due to operating high-powered and potentially dangerous equipment,” Finke said.

Plant Three Supervisor Dave Napier credits the plant’s accident-free record to the team atmosphere he creates for all 37 of his employees. “Last February we moved into this building as a team and ever since our main focus is safety first every day.”  

Group Leader Chad Pontius says, “Every morning employees meet to make sure everyone has all the tools to properly and safely do their jobs.”

Steve Gingerich, also a group leader said he is proud of all of the employees because they have increased their production by 80% since February 2013. “We went from producing 183 railings a day to now 275, and I am proud to say we have increased production without sacrificing safety.”

NGG Human Resource Director Steve Ott swas among several members of management who recently recognized Plant Three employees for their efforts. Finke is rewarding Plant Three employees by ordering each one of them a jacket with their name and the NGG logo.  

Ott says the company record for consecutive accident-free days, (two years, five months and three weeks) is held by our Polar Kraft Plant in Syracuse, IN, which was recognized in 2011, under current Plant Manager Tim Weisser.  

Fabrication equipment requires extreme concentration and precision, and the employees that make up Plant Three have set the standard for excellence. Please join us in recognizing all Plant Three employees for their accomplishment.

How To Anchor Your Boat

March 13, 2014

Whether you're a day boater, a dedicated angler or you love the sound of the waves on your hull while overnighting, you need to know how to properly anchor your boat. While there are lots of different special situations to consider, anchoring has a fairly simple set of basic techniques you can master in no time at all. This will mean your boat will stay put while you can focus on swimming kids, hungry bass or getting a good night's sleep even if it's windy or the tide/current is fighting against you. In addition to the tips below, consider using one of the inexpensive smartphone apps like Anchor Alarm, which uses your phone or tablet GPS to set your position and alert you if you're drifting out of position. 

 

 

 

 

 

United Way Recognizes Nautic Global Group Contributions

March 6, 2014

Thanks to contributions from our incredible employees, the United Way of Elkhart County announced today that Nautic Global Group has earned the honor of being among the Top Ten companies in Elkhart County to contribute to their 2013 donation campaign. 

This morning, representatives from the United Way of Elkhart County stopped by the NGG corporate office to present a plaque to show their appreciation of the contributions. 

Steve Ott, Director of Human Resources for Nautic Global Group (pictured), accepted the plaque on behalf of all NGG employees who contribute to the ongoing United Way Campaign, in both Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties.  

Nautic Global Group contributed $7,500 dollars to the United Way Campaign in combination for both Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties, and employee contributions in both counties brought the grand total to $70,000. 

Contributions to the United Way will help provide assistance to local families in cases of catastrophic events in their lives. For example, families who have recently lost their homes and possessions will be provided with food, shelter and clothing to get back on their feet. Approximately 200 cancer patients will receive a cancer journal, care and counseling that might not otherwise be provided through convention medical outlets. And close to 3,000 local school children will receive additional assistance to help them succeed in the classroom.

This Week's Boat Shows Featuring Godfrey Pontoons!

March 5, 2014

Here's where you can find Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater pontoons at boat shows this week! 

ShowLocationDealersBrands
Downtown Knoxville Boat Show
Mar 6-9, 2014
Knoxville Convention Center Madisonville Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Lake of the Ozarks St Charles Boat Show
Mar 6-9, 2014
St Charles Convention Center
St Charles, MO
Iguana Boat Sales Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Great Philly Boat Show
Mar 7-9, 2014
Greater Philly Expo Center at the Oaks
Philly, PA
Dinbokowitz Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Great Philly Boat Show
Mar 7-9, 2014
Great Philly Expo Center at the Oaks
Philly, PA
Ducky's Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Great Philly Boat Show
Mar 7-9, 2014
Great Philly Expo Center at the Oaks
Philly, PA
New Jersey Outboards Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
National Capital Boat Show
Mar 7-9, 2014
Dulles Expo Center
Chantilly, VA
Lake Country Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Savannah Boat Show
Mar 7-9, 2014
Savannah Convention Center
Savannah, GA
Custom Marine Sweetwater
Huntington Home & Garden Show
Mar 7-9, 2014
Big Sandy Arena
Huntington WV
The Great Outdoors Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Summersville Boat & RV Show
Mar 8-9, 2014
Summersville Arena & Conference Center
Summersville, WV
The Great Outdoors Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater

NGG Hiring 40 Positions At Syracuse Facility

March 3, 2014

Nautic Global Group (NGG) is excited to announce we are continuing to grow! The NGG Human Resource Department will hold open interviews with applicants on Wednesday, March 5. Interested parties must first fill out an online application by visiting www.NauticGlobalGroup.com.

The open interviews will take place at our Polar Kraft/Parti Kraft production facility located at the 300 East Chicago St. in Syracuse, Indiana, from 12:30-3:30 p.m. 

NGG  has enjoyed several years of growth and is expanding our production capabilities at all three of our facilities to meet retail demand.

The company is looking to hire more than 40 people in Syracuse for the following positions:

·       Fiberglass specialists (rollers, mold repair, fiberglass repair, choppers, gel coat, grinders, etc.)

·       Assembly

·       MIG/TIG welders

·       Wire harness builders

·       Riveters

·       Laminators

“This is a very exciting time for our company, and the team we’re building is the most important part of the equation,” said VP of Manufacturing Mike O’Connell.  “The industry is growing, our company is growing, and we are seeking talented people who would like to join us.”

The pay range for these open positions varies from $10 per hour to $18.25 per hour and up, depending on experience. Full-time health benefits are also available.

If you have questions about the positions or open interviews please contact Nautic Global Group’s Communication Specialist Judi Lykowski: (574) 322-6218 email: jlykowski@nauticglobalgroup.com.

NGG Rewarded For Going Green

February 28, 2014

Nautic Global Group (NGG) is going green and is proud to be rewarded for doing so!

Kurt Kenning with Energizing Indiana and Bruce Griffey, an Energy Efficiency Representative with AEP, along with David Kline, an AEP local customer service engineer presented NGG with a rebate check for $103,000 today at Nautic Global Group’s headquarters in Elkhart, Indiana.

The rebate money is from the Energizing Indiana Commercial & Industrial Rebate Program that is designed to help Indiana’s commercial and industrial facilities achieve long-term, cost-effective energy savings.

Nautic Global Group has qualified to receive in total $293,816 in Energizing Indiana rebates since the energy efficient transformation at the NGG facilities started in November of 2013. The company is expected to receive another rebate check, for changes that were made in the two NGG production facilities located in Syracuse, Indiana.

The rebate money was awarded to the boating manufacturer for changing close to 1,400 light fixtures and light bulbs in all three of the production facilities to make them more energy efficient. 700 light fixtures were replaced with new more efficient fixtures and bulbs in the Elkhart facility, and 700 more were replaced in Syracuse, Indiana.

Brian Oakes, a maintenance technician at all three NGG facilities said this major transformation was completed in two months. Oakes worked with Bill Erdman, Transportation Manager at Nautic Global Group, to execute the plan to fruition.

Erdman said, “Nautic Global Group is getting more out of the Energizing Indiana program than what has been invested monetarily in replacing the lights and bulbs.” “Almost no money is coming out of our pocket to promote energy efficiency.”

Kenning, a Commercial & Industrial Trade Ally Coordinator with Energizing Indiana said he worked closely with NGG to validate and verify that each and every light bulb and light fixture was replaced with new efficient replacement models.

“These new bulbs are brighter and use half of the electricity that the old bulbs used, plus they do not give off as much heat. So not only are we saving money on electric, but we will also save on heating and cooling to keep the plants comfortable for production,” said Oakes.  

“As a boat manufacturer, participating in this type of program makes perfect sense for NGG,” added Doug Sexton, VP of Sales & Marketing at NGG. “The very nature of our business promotes an active lifestyle that takes full advantage of our natural surroundings. It’s good for NGG and the people who are employed here, for the boating lifestyle, and for the environment."

Nautic Global Group Names New CEO

February 28, 2014

Nautic Global Group (NGG) — parent company of Hurricane Deck Boats, Rinker Express Cruisers and Captiva Sport Boats, Godfrey Pontoons, Polar Kraft Aluminum Fishing Boats, and Parti Kraft Pontoons — today announced that Bradley (Brad) D. Gates has been named as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Gates, who brings marketing, customer service and product strategy experience to NGG, succeeds the company’s interim CEO James (Jim) R. Malone. Malone will continue in his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Gates will join the Board as well. The succession is effective March 3, 2014.

“Following an extensive search process, we are excited to welcome Brad to Nautic Global Group,” said Malone. “Brad is a proven leader, with skills and experience that are a natural fit with our emphasis on quality and service. His team-oriented and high-energy style, combined with his strong professional background in marketing, customer service, aftermarket parts, and forward-looking product strategy for dealer-distributed manufacturers, will support our focus on execution while also positioning the company strategically as it enters its next phase of growth.”

Gates previously served as the President of EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa) at Capital Safety Group, a privately owned company engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of fall protection safety equipment. In this role, Gates developed strategic plans to drive growth, customer service enhancements, and profitability, successfully turning around the company’s EMEA business performance and results. Before joining Capital Safety Group in 2007, Gates progressed through business and marketing roles of increasing responsibility at Minnesota- based The Toro Company, a leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of professional turf maintenance equipment and services worldwide. Gates earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Management and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from Concordia University.

“I am honored to have been selected as Nautic Global’s new CEO,” said Gates. “I am excited by the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead for the company and am committed to its success. I look forward to working closely with the talented senior leadership team and Nautic Global Group’s 900-plus employees to further our objectives of manufacturing great boats and selling them through a great dealer network.

“For more than 60 years NGG has established an impressive presence in the global boating industry,” Gates continued. “I am enthusiastic about joining the team, and I look forward to us continuing to enhance the dealer and customer experience as we grow.” 

Nautic Global To Add 70 Manufacturing Jobs

February 24, 2014

If you or someone you know is looking for a great job in southwestern Michigan or northern Indiana (known as Michiana), Nautic Global Group is having open interviews at its Elkhart, Indiana, campus on Tuesday, February 25, from 12:30-3:30pm. 

The boat builder — Hurricane Deck Boats, Rinker Express Cruisers, Captiva & MTX Sport Boats, Godfrey Pontoons (Sanpan, Aqua Patio & Sweetwater), Polar Kraft Aluminum Fishing Boats and Parti Kraft Pontoons — is hiring 70 manufacturing positions including welders, upholsterers, sewers and fiberglass laminators. While experience is required for welding positions, on-the-job training will be provided for many of the other positions.

Jobs are available at NGG's Elkhart and Syracuse, Indiana, facilities. Hourly wages range from $10 per hour to more than $18 per hour depending on experience. Full-time health care benefit packages are also available.

"These are exciting times for Nautic Global Group, and as the demand for our products increase, we will continue to rely heavily on the strong workforce found throughout Michiana," said Doug Sexton, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Nautic Global Group.

For a complete list of open jobs, and to apply online, please click here.

 

 

Your New Godfrey Pontoons Gear Is HERE!

February 21, 2014

If you haven't checked out the all-new Godfrey Pontoons Gear website, you are missing out on tons of new selections! There's even an easy new check-out system. Just click here to get in gear! 

Improve Your Docking Technique

February 20, 2014

You can ask any group of new boaters what they like least about boating, and nine out of 10 will say docking. That’s everyone from twin-screw cruiser pilots all the way down to the tiller-handled outboard jon boat fisherman. Your heart starts pounding, your palms start sweating, and you are desperately trying to remember all the “advice” you’ve ever been given about how to do it properly. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Nope. There are a few things to remember, sure, but the main thing is to take it slow (or as slow as the prevailing current and boat traffic allows) and keep your cool. Many good and experienced boaters take more than one shot to back their boat into a slip. You shouldn’t feel too much pressure to get it perfect every time. Life’s too short, and that sort of self-imposed anxiety flies in the face of everything that boating should be about. So there you go. Read these tips, and remember to take your time. You’ll be fine.

Godfrey Pontoons Is Coming To A Boat Show Near You

February 19, 2014

Here's where you can find Sanpan, Aqua Patio & Sweetwater pontoons this week!

ShowLocationDealersBrands
Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show
Feb 14-23, 2014
Indianapolis State Fairgrounds
Indianapolis, IN
The Boat Place Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show
Feb 14-23, 2014
Indianapolis State Fairgrounds
Indianapolis, IN
Pinecrest Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Detroit Boat Show
Feb 15-23, 2014
Cobo Hall
Detroit, MI
Krupa's Boat Mart Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Grand Rapids Boat Show
Feb 19-23, 2014
Devos Place
Grand Rapids, MI
Lynden Sports Center Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
New Jersey Boat Sale and Expo
Feb 20-23, 2014
NJ Convention and Expo Center
Edison, NJ
New Jersey Outboards Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Roanoke Boat Show
Feb 21-23, 2014
Roanoke Convention Center
Roanoke, VA
Hughes Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
East Kentucky Sport, Boat & RV Show
Feb 21-23, 2014
Pikeville Expo Center
Pikeville, KY
The Great Outdoors Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
The Boat Show of Springfield
Feb 21-23, 2014
Illinois State Fairgrounds
Springfield, IL
East Side Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
St Cloud Boat Show
Feb 21-23, 2014
St. Cloud Civic Center
St Cloud, MN
Boomerang Sports Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater

Boat Shows This Weekend!

February 6, 2014

Here's where you can find Sanpan, Aqua Patio & Sweetwater pontoon boats this week...

ShowLocationDealersBrands
Atlantic City Boat Show
Feb 5-9, 2014
Atlantic City Convention Center
Atlantic City, NJ
New Jersey Outboards Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Raleigh Boat Show
Feb 6-9, 2014
Raleigh Convention Center
Raleigh, NC
Chatlee Boats Sweetwater
Mid Atlantic Boat Show
Feb 6-9, 2014
Charlotte Convention Center
Charlotte, NC
Huntley Marine Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Mid Atlantic Boat Show
Feb 6-9, 2014
Charlotte Convention Center
Charlotte, NC
Talley's Pier 77 Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Fort Wayne Boat Show
Feb 6-9, 2014
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Fort Wayne, IN
Hamilton Lake Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Fort Wayne Boat Show
Feb 6-9, 2014
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Fort Wayne, IN
Westlake Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Fort Wayne Boat Show
Feb 6-9, 2014
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Fort Wayne, IN
Pinecrest Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
West Virginia Sports Show
Feb 7-9, 2014
Charleston Civic Center
Charleston, WV
The Great Outdoors Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Mid Atlantic Sports and Boat Show
Feb 7-9, 2014
VA Beach Convention Center
Virginia Beach, VA
Centerville Waterway Marine Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
All Valley Boat Show
Feb 7-9, 2014
McAllen Convention Center
McAllen, TX
Ron Hoover RV & Marine Sweetwater
Columbia Boat Show
Feb 7-9, 2014
State Fairgrounds
Coumbia, SC
M & W Mobile Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Cedar Rapids Sport Show
Feb 7-9, 2014
Hawkeye Downs
Cedar Rapids,IA
Coralville Lake Marina Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater

Godfrey Pontoons Featured In Ad For New Outboards

February 5, 2014

To promote its new lineup of made-for-pontoons Evinrude outboard motors, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) is filming several national ads featuring Godfrey Pontoons. Check out this cool behind-the-scenes photo of the new E-TEC 90-horsepower model on the back of a Sweetwater 2086!

Here's more information on the new Evinrude series...

BRP EXPANDS ITS EVINRUDE PONTOON SERIES WITH NEW 65 HORSEPOWER MODEL

BRP expands its innovative Evinrude E-TEC Pontoon Series line-up with a new Evinrude E-TEC 65 HP model. The Evinrude E-TEC 65 HP Pontoon Series is the ideal choice for any smaller-to-midsize pontoon application.

Last June, BRP unveiled its Evinrude E-TEC Pontoon Series outboards with the 90, 115 and 150 horsepower options; ideal for any midsize-to-larger pontoon application.

“The initial response to our Pontoon Series has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are pleased to expand this innovative and unparalleled line-up,” said Alain Villemure, vice president and general manager of BRP’s Marine Propulsion Systems division. “The Evinrude E-TEC 65 HP Pontoon Series is the perfect option for pontoon owners who want maximum performance, comfort and convenience in this horsepower segment.”

Like all Evinrude E-TEC Pontoon Series offerings, the Evinrude E-TEC 65 HP model is the only outboard engine specifically designed to meet the needs of pontoon owners in the 60-75 HP segment. Best-in-class features of the Evinrude E-TEC 65 HP Pontoon Series include:

  • Application Specific Gear Ratio – Provides more torque and higher thrust for quicker acceleration, improved throttle response and more power to stop when needed
  • Remote Oil Tank Reservoir– Affords easy access for checking and re-filling, and with a combined oil capacity up to 2.25 gallons, the time between fill ups can be extended by more than two years for the average pontoon user
    • Comes standard on the E65SL model and offered as an accessory on E65SNL
  • Specifically Designed Motor Mounts – State-of-the-art framework reduces vibration by up to 40 percent, giving pontoon owners a quieter and more enjoyable boating experience
  • Superior Electrical Output - With more than twice the charging capacity of competitors, the 65 HP Pontoon Series will deliver enough power to run all of today’s outboard electronics without draining the batteries
  • Ultra-low Emissions– Besides a CARB 3-Star certification, carbon monoxide levels are up to 50 times lower than competitive offerings at idle speeds
  • Lower Maintenance – 3 years or 300 hours or no dealer scheduled maintenance means no annual tune-ups or oil changes, reducing operating costs and allowing for more time on the water
  • Auto Winterization – The 65 HP Pontoon Series fogs itself automatically in minutes, which not only saves pontoon owners a costly trip to the dealer, but also extends their boating season

The Evinrude E-TEC 65 HP Pontoon Series will be available for delivery in early spring 2014 in North America.

Boat Show Fever Continues Around The Country!

January 29, 2014

Here's where you can find Godfrey Pontoon Boats at boat shows this week...

ShowLocationDealersBrands
Progressive Minneapolis Boat Show
Jan 30 - Feb 2, 2014
Minneapolis Convention Center
Minneapolis, MN
Erickson's Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Progressive Minneapolis Boat Show
Jan 30 - Feb 2, 2014
Minneapolis Convention Center
Minneapolis, MN
Bay Lake Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater

Using Your VHF Radio

January 27, 2014

Leave it to those Hollywood movies to teach all us boaters a bad habit or two. When they've run out of gas and are running late for a wedding, the first response for actors on the big screen seems to be to grab the radio microphone and start shouting MAYDAY! But while that may be fine for dramatic effect, it's the last thing you should do in real life.

Understand that if there’s one piece of safety equipment on your boat that rivals a life jacket in terms of being valuable to you (and your guests) in an emergency, it’s your VHF marine radio (either handheld or fixed-mount). When you’re out of cell phone service coverage (or the battery’s dead or you left it on your charger at home), your VHF radio can summon the help you need in the case of an accident. Certain frequencies, such as channels 9 and 16, are monitored by the Coast Guard (or other boating law enforcement agency) and, when used properly, a marine radio can be an effective way to communicate with other vessels, along with harbormasters and marinas, for various reasons.

And it’s important to know and respect the appropriate etiquette for using a VHF radio to make sure your messages are clearly understood and a proper response can be put into effect. Here are some key points to remember when using your marine radio.

Sweetwater PE 220 Cabana Demonstration

January 26, 2014

Godfrey Pontoons pioneered comfortable, multi-season pontooning when it designed and introduced the very first Cabana Enclosure to integrate seamlessly with the bimini frame. Since then, Godfrey Cabanas have led the industry with easy-care fabrics, heavy-duty zippered doors, and convertible windows and screens.

Aqua Patio 220 SL

January 25, 2014

Designed for the perfect day of boating in the sun, the Aqua Patio 220 SL is an amazingly refined pontoon with the best list of upgraded standard features in the industry, and clever rear-facing lounges that ensure everyone has a great view and a comfortable place to sit. And with a four-speaker Sony stereo system complete with mp3 input, easy-climb boarding ladder, extended swim platform and stainless steel ski tow bar, your watersports-loving family will be active all day long.

Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 SL

January 24, 2014

Featuring the perfect combination of high-quality construction, upgraded comfort and incredible standard features, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 SL is an inspired addition to the Godfrey Pontoon Boats family. With twin, aft-facing sun lounges, the 220 SL is all about fun in the sun. Add in performance features like the Sweetwater Total Package performance system and luxurious touches like optional synthetic teak decking, and you're ready to take on any adventure in style!

Sweetwater 240 AD

January 24, 2014

Shhhhh...you didn't hear it here, but the all-new Sweetwater 240 AD is debuting this weekend at the Nashville Boat Show. This is the biggest secret around the Godfrey Pontoon Boats headquarters, but we managed to get a covert pic in the booth thanks for our great partners at The Boat Locker. Yes, that IS an upper deck and awesome slide, but this is for your eyes only. Please don't share this classified information. But, if you're in Nashville...stop by and take a good look! But remember, this is just between us.

Aqua Patio 220 WB

January 23, 2014

The all-new Aqua Patio 220 WB has an all-new bar base with molded in footrest, side cooler tub and a raised solid surface bar top. The aft corner of the boat continues the flow of the bar with a new corner unit that has a stainless steel drawer/door combo and solid surface counters with a grill mount area. Next to this corner unit is a new motor shroud with an additional raised bar top and two speakers. Aqua Patio pontoons also offer the popular "Grill Master" unit standard on these models, featuring a removable propane grill, sink with hand pump faucet and plenty of storage to make this the ultimate pontoon for entertaining.

Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 SLC

January 22, 2014

Featuring a comfortable and stylish mate's chair, the all-new Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 SLC has a cleverly designed new seating layout that opens up the middle of the boat and allows a side-entry gate. Built on the hugely successful Sweetwater 220 SL platform with twin, aft-facing sun lounges, the 220 SL is all about fun in the sun. Add in performance features like the Sweetwater Total Package performance system and luxurious touches like optional synthetic teak decking, and you're ready to take on any adventure in style!

Rules Of The Road For Boating

January 22, 2014

No better time to review the "Rules of the Road" for boaters. Suitable for sharing...

Rinker Boats Rules of the Road

Heading To The Boat Show?

January 21, 2014

Here's where you'll find Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater pontoons this week!

ShowLocationDealersBrands
Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show
Jan 17-26, 2014
Duke Energy Center
Cincinnati, OH
Kent's Harbor Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Milwaukee Boat Show
Jan 17-26, 2014
Expo Center at State Fair Park
Milwaukee, WI
Boat House Lauderdale Lakes/Boat House Lake Country Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Louisville Boat, Sport & Travel Show
Jan 22-26, 2014
KY Expo Center
Louisville, KY
Arnolds Boats & Motors Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Louisville Boat, Sport & Travel Show
Jan 22-26, 2014
KY Expo Center
Louisville, KY
Fentress Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Baltimore Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, MD
North Bay Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Pittsburgh Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
Monroeville Convention Center
Monroeville, PA
Indian Lake Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
PA Farm Show Complex
Harrisburgh, PA
Ducky's Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Pittsburgh Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
Monroeville Convention Center
Monroeville, PA
Full Performance Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Upstate SC Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
TD Convention Center
Greenville, SC
Lake Keowee Marina Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Upstate SC Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
TD Convention Center
Greenville, SC
Gunnells Marine Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
San Antonio Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
Alamo Dome
San Antonio, TX
Lake LBJ Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Oklahoma City Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
State Fairgrounds
Oklahoma City, OK
H & H Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Kansas City Boat Show
Jan 23-26, 2014
H. Roe Bartle Hall
Kansas City, MO
Iguana Boat Sales/Table Rock Boats Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Central Carolina Boat & Fishing Expo
Jan 24-26, 2014
Greensboro Coliseum
Greensboro, NC
Chatlee Boats Sweetwater
Fredricksburg Boat Show
Jan 24-26, 2014
Fredricksburg Expo & Conference Center
Fredricksburg, VA
Lake Country Marine Sweetwater
East Texas Boat RV & Camping Expo
Jan 24-26, 2014
Maude - Cobb County Activity Center/Fairgrounds
Longview, TX
Shipp's Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Charleston Boat Show
Jan 24-26, 2014
Charleston Area Convention Center
Charleston, SC
Duncan's Boats Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Red River Valley Boat Show
Jan 24-26, 2014
Fargo Dome
Fargo, ND
Mc Laughlins RV & Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Iowa Boat , RV & Vacation Show
Jan 24-26, 2014
UNI Dome
Cedar Falls, IA
Coralville Lake Marina Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater

Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 DFS

January 20, 2014

Designed specifically for anglers, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 Deluxe Fish pontoon boat features an all-new aft fishing prep and storage area, four fishing seats, removable rod storage box, an aerated livewell, a Lowrance X4 fish finder, and a full vinyl decking option for easy maintenance. Plus, the optional Coastal Edition package makes the 220 DFS the ultimate saltwater fishing pontoon.

Aqua Patio 240 CB

January 19, 2014

With one of the most distinctive entertaining areas you'll see on any boat, the all-new Aqua Patio 240 CB features a head-turning center pub-style bar with four comfortable bar stools, a large prep/serve table and additional raised bar counter. The 240 CB pontoon boat also comes standard with a new Grill Master unit with a removable propane grill, sink with hand pump faucet and plenty of solid surface counter area and storage. A second rear canopy is provided for shading the entertainment area in addition to the main bimini top.

Sweetwater 2286 DL

January 18, 2014

Another new seating configuration based on Sweetwater's popular 2286 platform is the all-new DL layout featuring a doublewide aft-facing lounge that pulls double duty as an enormous sunpad. Although clearly designed with guest comfort in mind, the 2286 DL pontoon boat also manages to provide an incredible amount of storage as well as concealing a full pop-up changing room under the sunpad.

Aqua Patio 240 SL

January 17, 2014

The hugely popular Aqua Patio 240 SL pontoon boat just got better with incredible new refinements including upgraded vinyl, exclusive deck coverings and redesigned rear-facing lounges. At nearly 26 feet and rated for up to 14 passengers, the 240 SL is ready for watersports with a deluxe stainless steel ski tow bar and an easy-climb rear boarding ladder.

Sweetwater Premium Edition 220-4

January 16, 2014

Make the most of every sunny day with the trailerable Sweetwater Premium Edition 220-4 pontoon boat, featuring plenty of storage and four convenient entry gates to make boarding and loading gear extremely easy no matter how you come into the dock. In fact, the 220-4 is packed with high-quality standard features to help you make the most of every day on the water, like a Garmin Echo Map chartplotter, docking lights and an easy-climb boarding ladder.

Sanpan 2500 FE WB

January 15, 2014

Sit in the lap of luxury aboard the ultimate entertaining pontoon, with premium features like deep, comfortable seating throughout, beautiful elevated helm station and, of course, the head-turning wet bar, complete with two bar stools, raised solid-surface countertops, and a full-featured galley with pressurized freshwater sink.

What makes the Sanpan 2500 FE WB unique is that is combines the popular wet bar setup with the FE (Family Entertainer) forward deck layout that features two comfortable captains chairs and a handy table directly opposite the starboard lounge.

Godfrey Pontoons Boat Shows March On!

January 15, 2014

Godfrey Pontoons will be at the following boat shows this week!

ShowLocationDealersBrands
Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show
Jan 16-20, 2014
McCormick Place
Chicago IL
Huber's Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Austin Boat Show
Jan 16-19, 2014
Austin Convention Center
Austin, TX
Lake LBJ Marineland Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show
Jan 16-20, 2014
McCormick Place
Chicago, IL
Boat House Chicago/Boat House Lauderdale Lakes Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Huntington Boat & RV show
Jan 17-19, 2014
Big Sandy Arena
Huntington, WV
The Great Outdoors Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Richmond Fishing Expo
Jan 17-19, 2014
Meadow Event Park
Doswell, VA
Southeastern Marine Sweetwater
Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show
Jan 17-26, 2014
Duke Energy Center
Cincinnati, OH
Kent's Harbor Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Milwaukee Boat Show
Jan 17-26, 2014
Expo Center at State Fair Park
Milwaukee, WI
Boat House Lauderdale Lakes/Boat House Lake Country Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Quad Cities Boat & Vacation Show
Jan 17-19, 2014
River Center
Davenport, IA
Coralville Lake Marina

Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater

 

 

Aqua Patio 250 Wet Bar

January 14, 2014

The newly redesigned Aqua Patio 250 WB has an all-new bar base with molded in foot rest, side cooler tub and a raised solid surface bar top. The aft corner of the boat continues the flow of the bar with a new corner unit that has a stainless steel drawer/door combo and solid surface counters with a grill mount area. Next to this corner unit is a new motor shroud with an additional raised bar top and two speakers. Aqua Patio pontoon boats also offers the popular "Grill Master" unit standard on this models, featuring a removable propane grill, sink with hand pump faucet and plenty of storage.

Sweetwater 2286 FCS

January 13, 2014

Looking for the perfect combination of family cruiser and fishing pontoon? Check out the Sweetwater 2286 FCS, with an easy-care vinyl deck, rod holders and fishing station for the anglers, and plenty of comfortable seating, ample storage, and upgraded amenities for the rest of the family.

Sanpan 2200 SLR

January 12, 2014

The Sanpan 2200 SLR pontoon boat features an all-new deck layout with three wide, comfortable reclining lounges, one directly opposite the helm, and two more rear-facing seats. Full seat adjustments allow guests to find their perfect comfort angle, compartments directly behind the seat and in the arm rest provide ample storage. The armrest storage compartments conceal stainless steel cup holders and the 2200 SLR features rear speaker bezels that can flip up to face the speakers aft toward the water. At over 24 feet in length and rated for up to 12 passengers, the 2200 SLR is always ready for a great day on the water.

Aqua Patio 220 DF

January 11, 2014

Got a family that likes to fish on their pontoon as much as they enjoy cruising and watersports? The Aqua Patio 220 DF is guaranteed to give you the best of both worlds. Anglers will enjoy features like a Lowrance X4 Pro fish finder, two forward fishing seats, an aerated livewell, built-in rod holders, and a deluxe aft fish prep station. Cruisers will love the comfortable seating layout with soft touch vinyl, and watersports enthusiasts will have a blast and integrated ski tow bar and easy-climb boarding ladder.

Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 Wet Bar

January 10, 2014

Featuring a head-turning multi-level bar area with swivel stools and a stainless steel freshwater sink, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 WB is built for a party on the water. At more than 24 feet long and rated for up to 14 passengers, no one will be left behind at the dock. And since it's a Sweetwater, you'll find plenty of comfortable seating with Soft Touch vinyl and expansive storage areas so you can bring along everything you'll need for a great day on the water.

Sanpan 2500 Wet Bar

January 10, 2014

Pulling out all the stops, the new Sanpan 2500 WB literally raises the bar on what you should expect in a luxury pontoon. With its beautiful and functional bar area, complete with two bar stools, solid surface countertop, LED cup holders and stainless-steel storage drawers, invite everyone you know to the party! The Sony Amphitheater sound system is also now standard on all Sanpan models featuring a Bluetooth wireless connection so everyone on board can play a non-stop playlist directly from their smartphones. At just under 27 feet in length, the 2500 WB is rated for up to 14 passengers and is packed with high-quality standard features such as a refreshment center with pressurized freshwater sink and a Garmin Echo Map chartplotter.

2014 Sweetwater Pontoon Series

January 9, 2014

Whether you're after the best-value pontoon on the water with the base Sweetwater, or you prefer the well-chosen upgraded amenities of the Sweetwater Premium Edition, you will soon discover why these are the most popular pontoons on the water. With a long list of standard features, an incredible variety of layouts and stunning design options, you are sure to find a Sweetwater to fit your lifestyle. From cruising and camping, to watersports and fishing, the possibilities for your adventure on the water are endless. And when you factor in the ease of operation, low maintenance and top-notch construction, it's a decision so simple, you'll wonder why you waited so long. When you're ready to hit the water, make it easy on yourself. Make it a Sweetwater Pontoon Boat.

The entire Sweetwater lineup received major upgrades for 2014 including furniture vinyl, decking options, and exciting new graphics packages to complement the five available rail skin colors. You can now choose from a half-dozen alternate flooring selections including four exclusive carpets, and a new Nutmeg vinyl that is stunningly beautiful and easy to maintain. You can even choose exactly where you'd like to place the different surfaces, from bow to midship to aft deck or covering the entire deck. And with a new larger canopy top providing an incredible amount of shade, you'll always have a comfortable place to relax.

Sweetwater Premium Edition 240 SLR

January 9, 2014

Sharing a completely new seating concept with its luxurious siblings Sanpan and Aqua Patio, the Sweetwater has added the new SLR layout to its Premium Edition 240 model. With three oversized, media-room-style reclining lounges (one directly opposite the helm, and two more rear-facing seats) the 240 SLR is not only the pinnacle of pontoon comfort, but compartments directly behind the seat and in the arm rests provide ample storage.

Godfrey Pontoons At Boat Shows!

January 8, 2014

Where in the world is Godfrey Pontoons this week? Thought you'd never ask!

Houston International Boat Show
Jan 3-12, 2014
Reliant Center
Houston, TX
Ron Hoover RV & Marine Sweetwater
Atlanta Boat Show
Jan 9-12, 2014
World Congress Center
Atlanta, GA
Atlanta Marine Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Omaha Boat,Sport & Travel Show
Jan 9-12, 2014
Century Link Center
Omaha, NE
Beaver Lake Marina Aqua Patio
Omaha Boat Sport & Travel Show
Jan 9-12, 2014
Century Link Center
Omaha, NE
Omaha Marine Center Sanpan, Sweetwater
Central Texas Marine Association Boat Show
Jan 10-12, 2014
Bell County Expo
Belton, TX
Lake LBJ Aqua Patio, Sweetwater
Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo
Jan 10-12, 2014
NC State Fairgrounds
Raleigh, NC
Chatlee Boats Sweetwater
Grand Strand Boat & Sportsman Expo
Jan 11-13, 2014
Myrtle Beach Conventional Center
Myrtle Beach, SC
Marine Service Center Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater

2014 Aqua Patio Pontoon Series

January 8, 2014

Who says you can't have it all? Aqua Patio pontoon boats are all about superior performance, cutting-edge design, unbelievable comfort, and cool features you can't find anywhere else. With an incredible number of upgrade options available, you can create exactly the boat you want. Whether it's interior and exterior lighting packages, striking rail skin inserts, integrated wake towers or luminescent Carbon Fiber Pearl vinyl, you can enjoy all the seating, storage and ease-of-operation that pontoons are known for — but now you can do it in style. So when you're looking for a pontoon that checks all the boxes and gives you everything you're looking for, go ahead...live the liquid lifestyle with Aqua Patio.

Creating A Boat Show Game Plan

January 7, 2014

If you’re in the market for a new boat, the boat show can be a great place to work a deal. Of course, it can also be a dizzying and confusing experience if you’re not prepared. The good news is that with a little research and some easy planning, you can head through the front door of the boat show with confidence.

1) Start early. That’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? The anticipation. The build-up. The excitement. Make that a key part of your experience. The more time you spend thinking about how you’ll use your boat, the more time you spend comparing features, and the more time you arm yourself with research, the more confident and focused you will be on the boat show floor. 

2) Ask around. To say that boaters like to talk about their boat  is the understatement of all time. If you got into boating through family or friends, start there. Ask about the amenities they use on their boat and the ones they could live without. You’ll find all kinds of information about gas mileage, top speed and other “specs.” Once you get past all that, however, it comes down to how happy other folks seem with their purchase. 

3) Make a list. It can be something as simple as a sticky note or as detailed as a notebook. You’ll soon discover that list is getting pretty long. Enclosed head, swim platform, space for a cooler, full galley, oversized sunpad, top-of the-line stereo, etc. Now, once you have your list together, start organizing into “must-haves,” “would-be-nice,” and “don’t really need.” This will help you really wind up happy with your boat, rather than jumping at a “good deal” in the heat of the moment. 

4) Climb aboard. You’d be surprised at how many folks are too intimidated to really give a boat a thorough inspection at a boat show. You should feel welcome to spend some time acquainting yourself with the boat you’re about to buy. Sit in all the seats, not just the helm. Is the backrest at a comfortable angle? Open the cabinet doors. Do they open and close securely. Does the boat feel solid? 

5) Remember there are no dumb questions. Repeat, there are no dumb questions. If you’ve gone through these first four steps and you’re still confused about something, just ask! The dealership has an entire team of people at the show. A reputable dealer will want you to be just as confident about your purchase as you walk out the door as you were when you walked in.

2014 Sanpan Pontoon Series

January 7, 2014

As the leading ultra-luxury pontoon line, Sanpan welcomes you aboard by setting the standard in cutting-edge design, high-end comfort and incredible entertainment options. The pillow-top furniture calls to mind your home media room and the wide selection of seating layouts means you can get the perfect boat for your lifestyle. Whether you're hosting a party for a spectacular sunset cruise or taking your grandchildren out for an afternoon of tubing, you will always travel in classic, refined style. When you're ready for the best, you're ready for Sanpan.

Sanpan continues to build on its reputation for offering the best standard features in the industry. All Sanpan models, now feature comfort enhancements for the captain such as suspension seating (you'll wonder how you lived without it), a raised helm to see up and over passengers and make docking easier, and effortless hydraulic steering. And beautiful touches such as stainless steel rail inserts and optional Versa Teak flooring on the forward and aft decks evoke a sense of classic style before you ever climb aboard.

All Sanpan models are also available in one of three packages developed to enhance your boating lifestyle, whether you want to upgrade to a Triple Tube Package with 27" diameter pontoons and a 45-gallon fuel tank, or you prefer a Coastal Package with a full vinyl deck and no carpet, or you are interested in the upgraded handling of the Performance Package with a full under-deck skin and full-length lifting strakes.

Get Prepped For Your Local Boat Show!

January 2, 2014

All throughout the spring, summer and fall months, most of us are out on the water. If the weather’s nice, we’re boating. Every weekend, for sure, and maybe even a quite a few “personal” days when the opportunity arises. But when the weather gets colder, our thoughts turn from boating to boat shows. 



Whether you’re looking for your first boat or you’re in the market to upgrade, winter boat shows help us keep the fire burning until our glorious spring launch finally rolls around. In addition to the fun atmosphere, gleaming gel coat and new gadgets you just can’t live without, there’s something else that should be drawing you right through the front door. The deals!

Think about it. Since the boating season is over in most parts of the country, and boats have been serviced and stored during the fall, your local dealer will be wheeling and dealing with all kinds of special offers and manufacturers’ incentives. If you’re looking for a boat, you owe it to yourself to attend a boat show. 

To help you navigate the aisles like a pro, here are the Top 3 things to think about as the boat show rolls through your community:

1) Do your homework and narrow down your search before you get there. It adds to the experience if you walk in with a good idea about the type of boat that best fits your lifestyle. Do you need seating and storage for lots of family and friends? Are you more into performance and styling? Do your kids spend most of their time tubing, skiing or wakeboarding? Will you spend a lot of time on big water? Have you always dreamed of anchoring and overnighting in a serene cove? There will be lots of terrific distractions…be prepared!

2) Get to know your dealer. Nearly as important as the type of boat you buy is the feeling you get from your dealer. They will be instrumental in helping you get a great deal. They will be delivering your boat. They will be there for routine service, storage and anything else you need after your purchase. Talk to the salesperson at the booth. Ask to speak to the owner of the dealership. Chances are, they are one of your neighbors. A good dealer knows that your relationship begins with the sale, not ends with the sale.

3) Shop for value, not just price. This is a simple idea, but it’s harder than it sounds. Cheaper does not mean value. There are price wars at just about every boat show between competing lines. Ask about quality construction. Ask about resale value. Ask about financing offers. The cream rises to the top, as they say. You will pat yourself on the back a year or two (or 10) down the line when you make quality a priority over price alone.

Choosing A Great Boat Dealer

December 18, 2013

While there are some similarities between a car dealership and a boat dealership, you may be surprised at how much they don’t have in common.

Sure, they both have showrooms, shiny new vehicles and salespeople. But with few exceptions, a
car purchase comes down to function and price. And even if you wind up getting your automobile serviced at the dealership, it tends to be a fairly anonymous event. Buying a boat, however, could easily be characterized as starting a relationship. And because of that, it’s worth putting a little time into finding the “right one.” 

Here are some pointers for narrowing down your choices and settling down with a boat dealer who will be by your side for the long haul.

• Do you feel comfortable? If you’re feeling pressured or stressed or tense in the showroom or at the boat show booth, you may want to keep looking. Anxious excitement is part of the boat-buying experience and should be enjoyed. Those other things, well, who needs them? 

• Do their customers rave about them? Good dealers would love for you to meet and talk to their customers. Nobody does a better job of selling a dealership than satisfied customers. Remember, this is a relationship that will last for years. Longtime customers are a sure sign that the dealership appreciates their patronage and support.

• Do they have a busy service department? This one may seem a little counter-intuitive because you want to be first in line. But think about it. Who has more experience solving common issues? Who has a well-staffed, well-trained crew? Who can offer great rates because they are doing volume business? More than likely it’s the busy service bay. 

• Do they host events on the water or showroom? Many times a dealer will gather customers of a certain brand for an afternoon of socializing with other owners. Sometimes there’s a parking lot cookout with face-painting for the kids. Other times, they turn their showroom into a movie theater in the middle of winter. There is just something wonderful about mingling with others that share your love for the water. 

The point is that your boat-owning experience can be and should be just as exciting, fun and rewarding as your boat-buying experience. Good boat dealers get that. More importantly, good boat dealers go out of their way to make sure that you get that!

Why Are Boaters So Superstitious?

December 13, 2013

Let’s face it…boaters are a superstitious bunch. Well, we've got a storied history that goes all the way back to the days of the earliest ocean-going vessels, when everything from bad weather to scurvy were connected to various perceived transgressions by crewmembers and (more likely) unknowing passengers. String enough of those coincidences together, and the word spreads quickly that something as innocent as bringing a banana onboard can wreak havoc on a voyage that would otherwise be smooth sailing.

Whether you view boating superstitions as solemn, don’t-ever-mess-them laws, or if you get a chuckle out of the seemingly outrageous notions that have sprung up over the years, they are part of nautical folklore. And, being notoriously nostalgic, those of us with a love for boating and the water tend to embrace even the nuttier superstitions—even if it’s done with a sly wink of the eye.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most-popular, boat-related myths that still rule the seas even today.

BANANAS ON BOARD

If you head down to any of Florida’s coastal fishing villages in search of a fishing charter, there’s one thing you need to remember. Leave the bananas at home. That’s real bananas, banana nut muffins and even Banana Boat sunscreen. You’re even asking for trouble if you show up in Fruit of the Loom underwear. And even if, for some reason, you feel like ignoring the no-bananas rule that exists aboard nearly all fishing charters—let’s say you smuggle aboard a banana smoothie—don’t plan on coming home with many trophy fish. Of course, there’s nothing but anecdotal evidence to prove this is true, but you’ll hear those anecdotes walking every dock from Pensacola to Islamorada.

History: Looking past the obvious things like cartoon injuries caused by slipping on a discarded peel, the more likely source of the banana superstition is that ocean-going vessels would stop at tropical islands for provisions during their months-long excursions. In addition to fresh water and other necessities, they would frequently take on crates of bananas. Good source of potassium aside, these crates nearly always came with the added bonus of deadly spiders, snakes and other critters that don’t mix well in the close-confines of a boat.

RENAMING YOUR BOAT

As if you didn’t have enough to think about when considering a name for your boat, you will probably get an earful from some wise mystic of the sea (the guy in the marina slip next to yours) about the hazards of changing the name of a boat that’s been previously named. Fortunately, since it’s a long shot that you and the prior owner BOTH dreamed of owning a boat called “My Pretty Petunia,” there are certain ceremonial steps you can take to avoid offending the sea gods. Not surprisingly, the ceremony revolves around high-quality domestic sparkling wine (only use the French stuff if you’re anxious to help THEIR economy rebound). Get rid of all evidence of the boat’s previous name. Just draw a line through the name on all logbooks and maintenance records. Make sure all traces of the name are gone from the transom. Notify your local boating law enforcement of the name change as required, and apply your new carefully chosen new name to the boat. Invite your family and friends, and distribute plastic glasses (bare feet and broken glass do not mix). Unless you’re renaming a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, best to just pour a generous portion of bubbly over the bow instead of smashing the bottle Queen Elizabeth-style. When everyone’s glasses are full, say something like: “For thousands of years, we have gone to sea, and we have called our vessels by name. For all that have gone before us, we humbly raise a glass in their honor and ask for blessings in the name of YOUR BOAT NAME.” If you’re into flowery (and overly long) ceremonies, a quick Internet search will reveal plenty

History: This business about it being bad luck to rename a boat actually has a pretty reasonable explanation. Back in the day, when sailing vessels would travel to far-flung ports-of-call, boats and crews would carry a certain reputation. Good reputations meant easy, uncontested passage into friendly harbors. Changing a boat’s name could easily raise suspicions simply because it wasn’t recognized.

OTHER COMMON BOATING-RELATED SUPERSTITIONS

• Have you ever known anyone who threw salt over their left shoulder? That’s an old pirate trick to “keep the devil at bay.” The bay, of course, is literally where they wanted the devil to stay as they headed out to sea.

• Have you ever “knocked on wood” to prevent bad luck? That came from sailors thumping the hulls of their wooden ships to check for rotten areas. This is also the origin of the phrases “ship shape” and “touch wood.” It all comes down to having a boat that will hold together during a voyage.

• As perhaps the easiest superstition to understand, the form of a naked woman on the bow was said to calm the seas and guide the vessel to safety. If you’ve been out at sea for months on end with a ship full of hygienically challenged men, surely any naked woman aboard would seem like good luck.

• Dramatic bodily embellishments such as tattoos, brands and piercings have long been thought to ward off evil spirits. The wilder the design, the better it allegedly worked.

• It’s a no-no to whistle anywhere aboard a boat, for fear that you will summon bad weather. This is where the phrase “whistling up a storm” comes from.

Thinking About A New Boat? Consider Pre-Boat Show Purchase

December 5, 2013

We all know that the Winter Boat Show season is a great time to get a deal on a new boat, right? But it might surprise you to know that December might actually be the best time of the entire year to make a deal. Think about it...when are dealers receiving truckloads of inventory? Right before boat shows! High inventory levels, winter moving in fast, AND the holidays around the corner...that's a win-win.  Thinking about a new boat? Think December!

Find The Perfect Gift AND Sleep In On Black Friday

November 19, 2013

If you're one of the frantic holiday shoppers that rises at the crack of dawn the day after Thanksgiving, here's an idea that will guarantee you find the perfect gift for everythone on your list AND be able to sleep like a baby on Black Friday. Just head to the all-new Nautlc Global Group Gear Store for a great selection of goodies from Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater pontoon boats. You'll find stylish new merchandise from t-shirts to hats and hoodies so folks in cooler climates can keep the fire burning through the fall and winter. Now the only reason you have to set the alarm the day after Thanksgiving is to enjoy the comfort of your warm bed and bask in a decision well-made for a few seconds before drifting back off to sleep. Now THAT'S a holiday weekend. 

 

Godfrey Pontoon Boats Deliver Performance!

November 8, 2013

When it comes to pontoon performance, quality and innovation, Godfrey Pontoons is the industry leader. But that only makes sense. You see, Godfrey built the very first aluminum pontoon back in 1958. And the driving force behind our 50 years of success has been to pull together the best designers, engineers and craftsmen to create products that will excite you, thrill you and give your family the best ride possible.

If you still think that you need a fiberglass runabout to satisfy your need for speed...think again. High-speed turns? No problem. Wakeboarders and tubers? Bring it on. You can even top 50 miles per hour with a 300-horsepower outboard. And, oh, by the way, Godfrey Pontoons let’s you enjoy all those things and more in luxurious comfort. You get the picture. Pontoons have come a long way over the years, and the Godfrey has developed many of the advancements that are making it happen.

Speed and performance. Those words are in our DNA. And you can tell when you get behind the wheel of a Godfrey Pontoon. The chambered G-Force III Triple-Tube System, easy-planing tube extension, sport motor pan, full aluminum belly skin, a massive and dry in-floor ski locker, and aggressive lifting strakes of Godfrey’s Total Package are a good place to get your adrenaline pumping. Those features all contribute to the excitement by giving you more consistent control and superior handling at higher speeds. It’s an incredible difference you won’t experience with any other pontoon brand.

From the all-welded V-Keel, which ensures even tracking while protecting the bottom of the pontoon, Godfrey Pontoons are engineered for speed and performance from the water up. Combine that attention to detail with separate, pressure-tested pontoon chambers created by strengthening interior bulkheads, and you’ve got a solid foundation. And when you add extruded aluminum splash fins to give you a dry ride, the difference is clear. 

Even the decking process is uniquely better than the competition. Only the best materials and hardware make the cut on a Godfrey Pontoon. Whether it’s the sound-dampening durability of Marine Deck PTP — which won’t rot, warp or dent — or even the huge, stainless steel deck fasteners, oversized C-Channel support beams and heavy-duty saddle brackets, every step in the process is designed for strength and worry-free performance. And since you’ll be out on the water in tough marine conditions, we’ve even created the Next Wave electrical system with water-resistance Deutsch Connectors for easy plug-and-play dependability.

Why do we spend so much time and effort overbuilding in areas you probably won’t ever see? Because sometimes it’s what you don’t see that can make all the difference, whether you’re talking about a day on the water or a lifetime of enjoyment. It’s a difference that’s resulted in more industry CSI Awards for Godfrey Pontoons than any other manufacturer. 

The good news is that we’re not talking about ideas that are coming sometime in the future. The time for you and your family to enjoy the excitement of a Sanpan, Aqua Patio or Sweetwater pontoon is now. So, go and try it for yourself...we know you’ll agree that the secret to a great day on the water is within your reach. And you can find it with a Godfrey Pontoon Boat.

Aqua Patio 220 & 250 WB...New Models For 2014!

October 8, 2013

The theme of the hugely successful Aqua Patio 250 wet bar layout has been refined and expanded for 2014 with the addition of a smaller wet bar model on the brand’s popular 220 platform. The redesigned AP 250 WB has an all-new bar base with molded in foot rest, side cooler tub and a raised solid surface bar top that houses new Nautic Global Group exclusive stainless steel ring cup holders, complete with an innovative LED-lit stemware holder built into the base of the design. The aft corner of the boat continues the flow of the bar with a new corner unit that has a stainless steel drawer/door combo and solid surface counters with a grill mount area. Next to this corner unit is a new motor shroud with an additional raised bar top and two speakers. Aqua Patio is also offering the popular "Grill Master" unit standard on these models, featuring a removable propane grill, sink with hand pump faucet and plenty of storage. Additional improvements for the Aqua Patio line include a new Nutmeg vinyl deck option and new metallic rail skin color options.

Sweetwater 2286 DL...Double Your Fun In The Sun!

October 2, 2013

Another new seating configuration based on Sweetwater’s popular 2286 platform is the all-new DL layout featuring a doublewide aft-facing lounge that pulls double duty as an enormous sunpad. Although clearly designed with guest comfort in mind, the 2286 DL also manages to provide an incredible amount of storage as well as concealing a full pop-up changing room under the sunpad. Sweetwater has also introduced several new packages featuring the most-requested options such as a Bluetooth-enabled Sony Stereo system, stainless steel speaker covers, pull-up cleats, a stunning darker Mica Mist carpet color, and a newly redesigned moveable armrest/cupholder.

Aqua Patio 240 Elite OB...Sunpad Versatility!

September 30, 2013

If your family loves to spend a full day on the water, sometimes a little flexibility comes in handy. That's where the all-new Aqua Patio 240 Elite OB comes to the rescue. While it has the great comfort features found on models, the Elite has a rear lounge that can sit up, lay completely flat or recline anywhere in between. Flexibility...meet loungability. 

Boat Show Features Sanpan & Sweetwater Pontoons

September 27, 2013

It's going to be a beautiful weekend in the Garden State, so come on out an enjoy the Atlantic City In-Water Boat Show! Our friends from New Jersey Outboards will be featuring a huge selection of Sanpan and Sweetwater pontoons through Sunday at Farley State Marina next to the Golden Nugget Casino.

 

 

Sanpan 2500 FE WB...The Ultimate Party Pontoon!

September 26, 2013

Combining the hugely popular Sanpan web bar and family entertainment deck layout, the Sanpan 2500 FE WB is the ultimate party pontoon. With luxurious pillow-top furniture (including two captain-style seats in the bow), LED mood lighting, an amazing sound system, and a newly redesigned bar/lounge, this boat is made to help you take the fun to the water. And since it's rated for up to 14 passengers (17 if you opt for the triple-tube package!), you won't have to leave anyone behind! 

Sanpan 2200 & 2500 SLR ... New Models For 2014!

September 25, 2013

Expanding on its reputation as the industry’s true ultra-luxury pontoon brand, Sanpan has created an entirely new deck layout utilizing three wide, comfortable reclining seats. Offered in both the 2200 and 2500 platforms, the SLR packages feature entirely new extra-wide reclining lounges, one directly opposite the helm, and two more rear-facing seats, all covered in Sanpan’s luxurious soft-touch, pleated vinyl. Full seat adjustments allow guests to find their perfect comfort angle, compartments directly behind the seat and in the arm rest provide ample storage. The arm rest storage compartments conceal stainless steel cup holders and the 2500 SLR features rear speaker bezels that can flip up to face the speakers aft toward the water. Also new for Sanpan in 2014 is a beautiful new stay-cool vinyl decking, stylish matte-finish wood grain accents, standard Bluetooth-enabled Sony stereo systems, and a new optional aft refreshment center with sink and pressurized water system.

Godfrey Pontoons Honors Top Dealer For 2013

September 24, 2013

Nautic Global Group, parent company of Godfrey Pontoon Boats, recently recognized the Godfrey Pontoons top worldwide dealer for model year 2013, 
Krupa's Boat Mart in Jackson, Michigan

Located in South Central Michigan and surrounded by hundreds of small pontoon-friendly lakes, Krupa's is a second-generation dealership that's run by Owner Gary Krupa and a tight-knit group of longtime employees. Krupa's has been among the top Godfrey Pontoon Boats retailers for many years.

"We are very excited and honored to be the recipient of this award," said Mr. Krupa. "Nautic Global Group is known for their unparalleled quality, and we are proud to have sold so many of these boats to satisfied customers in 2013. We look forward to providing quality boats and service to each customer in the future, just as we have over 50 years."

Congratulations to our incredible friends and partners! 

Godfrey Pontoons Wins Customer Satisfaction Award

September 20, 2013

Godfrey Pontoons was one of only six pontoon manufacturers to to be recognized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA)  as part of the 2013 Marine Industry CSI Awards for excellence in customer satisfaction. 

The Marine Industry CSI Awards program honors participating manufacturers that actively measure customer satisfaction and pursue continuous improvement to better serve the customer. Award recipients achieved and maintained an independently measured standard of excellence of 90 percent or higher in customer satisfaction over the past year, based on information provided by customers purchasing a new boat or engine during the period between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013.

Participating manufacturers must survey all new boat buyers during this period. For this reporting period, the program surveyed more than 50,000 consumers.

“Customer satisfaction is critical to the success and growth of the recreational boating industry and its CSI award recipients that set the bar on delivering an exceptional customer experience,” notes Robert Newsome, director of engineering standards for NMMA.  “We applaud and thank these manufacturers for their commitment to enhancing the boating lifestyle.”

Aqua Patio 240 CB...New Model For 2014!

September 11, 2013

With one of the most distinctive entertaining areas you’ll see on any boat, the all-new Aqua Patio 240 CB features a head-turning center pub-style bar with four comfortable bar stools, a large prep/serve table and additional raised bar counter. The 240 also comes standard with a new Grill Master unit with a removable propane grill, sink with hand pump faucet and plenty of solid surface counter area and storage. A second rear canopy is provided for shading the entertainment area in addition to the main bimini top. Aqua Patio also streamlined its four upgrade packages including the Triple Tube (full under deck skin, power-assist hydraulic steering & 45-gallon fuel tank); Coastal Edition (full vinyl deck with no carpet anywhere and 2” tube upgrade); and Performance Package (under deck skin, lifting strakes & Sea Star hydraulic steering).

Looking For Pontoon Performance? Make It A Triple-Tube

August 7, 2013

With a growing customer demand for high-performance pontoon boats, Godfrey Pontoons continues to refine and expand its lineup of boats featuring an optional center pontoon, including the exclusive TOTAL Package and G-Force III technologies for its popular Sweetwater line.

The increasing popularity of triple-tube packages continues to be driven by customers who are demanding more speed and performance than ever before. Of course, pontoon owners can still enjoy a leisurely cruise or on-water picnic, but now they can just as easily fire up the motor with six to eight people aboard and effortlessly pull a skier at 30 mph.

 “The great news is that today’s pontoon boats can do far more today than ever before,” said Godfrey Pontoons Brand Manager Bob Wachs. “And when you add the reassuring comfort, stability and handling of a well-designed triple-tube system like TOTAL Package, these pontoons stack up against any other boat on the water.”

 This year’s TOTAL Package (Triple Outperforming Tube And Launchpad) for the Sweetwater line includes:

• Chambered G-Force III center pontoon with in-floor ski locker

• Sleek Godfrey premium nose cone and all-welded V-keel

• Performance lifting strakes

• Stay-dry, no-splash fins

• Smooth-riding aluminum under-deck skin

• Quick-to-plane G-Force III LaunchPad motor pan

• Full-day 50-gallon fuel tank

• Optional extended center pontoon

• Power-assist steering system

Not only does the added center tube improve watersports performance, but it also makes the boat much easier to handle, with a stable ride, even in rough water and when making hard, high-speed turns.

Increasing the stability and handling has also lead to the ability to add outboard power up to 300 horsepower, which means that consumers looking for top speeds of up to 50 mph now can consider 24- to 25-foot triple-tube pontoons such as Sanpan and Aqua Patio when making a buying decision.

Even value-oriented buyers have options like a triple-tube equipped 22-foot Sweetwater, which is rated for up to 150 horsepower. A recent test by Mercury Marine, with a 22-foot Sweetwater and Mercury Verado 150 hp 4-Stroke, resulted in a top speed of 40 mph, making it one of the fastest 22-foot triple-tube pontoons on the water!

Check Out The Sweetwater 2086!

August 2, 2013

Captain Steve walks us through the Sweetwater 2086...an incredible value pontoon that's packed with standard features, plenty of seating and tons of storage. In fact, this boat can be configured with several different seating and storage options so it's a boat you can adapt for your own boating lifestyle.

 

 

Models Needed For Godfrey Pontoon Boats Photo Shoot!

July 30, 2013

Attention Godfrey Pontoon Boats fans! The next photo shoot for Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater & Parti Kraft pontoons will take place in two locations during the month of August. We're looking for models of all ages for both morning and evening sessions to feature swimwear & watersports gear aboard a variety of boat types. This is your chance to be featured in the next Godfrey Pontoon Boats catalog and boating publications around the world!

The first photo shoot is Aug. 18-20 on Lake St. Clair near Harrison Township, Michigan, north of Detroit. 

The second photo shoot is Aug. 21-30 on Lake Wawasee near Syracuse, Indiana, between South Bend & Fort Wayne. 

For details on this twice-in-a-lifetime adventure, just shoot an email to Rachael (rrussell@nauticglobalgroup), and she will get more information from you. Hope to see you out on the water!

GPS Has Changed Navigation...Here's How It Works

July 29, 2013

By now, you’ve no doubt come in contact with Global Positioning System (GPS) in one form or another. After all, if you’ve got a smartphone, you’ve probably already got an app for that. But what is GPS? And, more importantly, how has it changed the way we approach boating?

From the days when ancient mariners practiced coastal “landmark” navigation, through the complicated process of “dead reckoning” using a compass, ship’s speed and the hope you’ll get close, it wasn’t until we looked to the sky that our position was something more than a guess. While celestial navigation wasn’t exactly foolproof (not much help during the day or on cloudy evenings), a clear night sky and a sextant were definitely a huge step forward.

The technology we know today as GPS began as land-based radio signaling (some are still used today) and position was calculated by determining how far the boat is away from a known source signal. Now, of course, we use primarily satellite-based, high-frequency signaling and new receivers that are easy-to-use and extremely accurate.  

So now, no matter where you are in the world (assuming you can get a signal) your course and position data is right in front of you and usually right on the money. This makes it easy and convenient to calculate your proximity to land, other vessels and approaching weather. For recreational boaters, this has provided a new level of comfort and security when underway.

It’s amazing, really. There are satellites orbiting the Earth, constantly transmitting signals that contain position and time information. All your GPS has to do is grab a few of those signals and make an quick calculation to determine the differences between those signals (the same way old-school mariners “triangulate” their position using a known fixed point like a lighthouse) and you’ve got yourself a spot on the map you can trust. And because the information is continuously updated, you can see an accurate heading, along with your speed and, sometimes most importantly, where you’ve been.

Of course, all GPS systems work a little differently, and all have their own bells and whistles, but they all essentially work the same way and provide the same basic information. Generally, you’ll have some sort of graphic display to see your location, and many, especially a GPS that’s designed for boaters, will offer a charting feature to put your location in context with your surroundings. They come in different shapes and sizes from handheld to fixed-mount but, again, the basic functionality is the same.

One feature you want to make sure you master before hitting the water is the Waypoint function. This can be as basic as marking your point of departure (usually “Home”) and giving your self a virtual crumb trail back to port. Or you can program in a few stops you want to make during the day, which helps you determine when you’ll arrive at, say, a dockside restaurant for lunch. Fisherman can also mark their favorite “honey holes” so they’re easy to find the next time out.

While GPS systems won’t completely eliminate the need for more traditional charts (they’re not much good if your electrical system fails), they have made it easier for boaters to get more adventurous and confident out on the water.

Naming Your Boat Is Serious Business...Seas The Day!

July 24, 2013

When your new boat arrives, remember it comes with an enormous responsibility — you will need to choose a boat name!

Okay, maybe it’s not SUCH a big burden, but lots of folks feel pressure to come up with the latest, greatest boat- or water-related turn of phrase to dazzle the rest of the marina with their cleverness. It’s for those people, we’ve come up with a few pointers to help you narrow down the choices.

As you can see by this list of last year’s top boat names (compiled by our friends at Boat U.S.) the most popular ideas are puns of one kind or another. In fact, one could argue that the boat name is the last acceptable bastion of the cheesy pun. That’s something us boaters take pride in, after all. And whether it’s your personal style or not, you’ve got to admit that a funny boat pun will put a smile on your face.

So, in the spirit of the adventurous boaters who came before us, let’s turn the wheel toward well-charted territory and see if we can navigate the confused seas before us. According to our extensive research (really just one page that has all the annual top 10 boat names since 1991), there are a handful of categories that can help you narrow down your search.

Partying

One name, above all others, has dominated the last decade of boat names: Aquaholic. While booze and boat operation do NOT mix, apparently booze puns and boat names blend just fine. Some of the other classics along these lines include On The Rocks, Happy Hours (or the variation Happy Ours), Southern Comfort, Shaken Not Stirred, Beeracuda, and Comfortably Numb. Be aware that any of these could lead to more than your fair share of visits from local boating law enforcement!

Attitude

Getting sassy on the high seas is a well-established method of boat naming. Just ask the folks aboard Mojo, Damifino, Life Is Good, Sea Ya, Miss Behavin’, Nauti Buoy, Blew ByYou, Footloose, Liquid Asset, What’s Up Dock, Bow Down, and Trim This.

Language

Meaning something to the effect of “let’s go” in Italian, the name Andiamo was pretty hot back in 2010. Also making the non-English greatest hits are Ohana, a Hawaiian term which emphasizes the importance of family ties; Carpe Diem (plus its Anglicized pun, Seas The Day); and another Italian phrase La Belle Vita, which can be used to mean “the beautiful life” or, more ironically, “someone who only thinks about having fun.” Of course, you have to give careful consideration to this last phrase because rumor has it that Hollywood bad girl Lindsay Lohan now has it tattooed somewhere on her person. Clearly, Ms. Lohan leans toward the latter definition.

Relaxation/Therapy

One of the best things about boating, of course, is the ability to get away from it and just unplug from “real” life (or Reel Life or Reel Time). And along those lines, there is a legacy of boat names that attempt to capture that feeling. Out on the water, you see lots of names like Solitude, Escape, AWOL, Freedom, Island Time, Diversion, No Worries, Mental Floss, Lazy Daze, Summer Wind, Amazing Grace, Liberty, Wanderlust, Dream Weaver, and Therapy (or the like-minded pun Hydrotherapy). Of course, if things have gone too far, you can always choose a classic like Luna Sea.

Pop Culture

Lots of good material to be found here. Movies, TV shows, music…you name it. Literally. Just think about these classic pop-culture references such as Licensed to Chill (with grateful nods to both James Bond and The Beastie Boys), Captain Hook, Hakuna Matata, Black Pearl, and Serenity Now (with a humble nod to Frank Costanza).

Mythology

Top names here include Pegasus (a flying horse sired by king of the sea Poseidon), Boreas (Greek god of the North Wind), Notus (South Wind), Eurus (East Wind), and Zephyr (West Wind). Another popular choice is Odyssey. Hey, thanks Homer!

Money

These days, it seems like there are fewer and fewer money references on the back of the boat, but in certain circumstances, it may be the right move. For instance, if you’re buying your boat on the winnings from your recent Mega-Millions quick pick, Whole Lotto Fun, would have to make your short list. And if your not-so-lucky poker buddies lost enough to you for a decent down payment, it may be tough to resist Dough Buoy.

Water

It’s hard to resist the urge to sing the praises of the open water when naming your boat. So it's okay if you’re leaning toward Splish Splash, Fantasea, Seaduction, Sea Breeze, Tide Runner, and Sea Spirit. And, have mercy, you just know there is one boater/American Idol fan out there somewhere who’s at the helm of Ryan Sea Quest. Clear skies, friend. Clear skies.

Family

Just to get serious for a minute. Is there anything more important than your family? Of course not. You can’t ever go wrong with a tribute to your lovely wife or your wonderful kids. You will be spending the best quality time with your family aboard your boat, after all. Why not celebrate your time on the water by naming your boat after the most important people in your life?

There you go. You’ve got a good start on your boat-naming quest. Remember, this should be FUN. When it becomes work, you’ve gone too far.

New To Watersports? Here's What You Need To Know

July 16, 2013

As much as we all enjoy a leisurely sunset cruise, part of the fun of boating is the opportunity to not only get out on the water, but also to get wet once in a while. And if you’ve got younger passengers, your boat will likely be decked out with a hefty collection of different equipment…some familiar and some not so familiar.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular watersports today. Please remember to ALWAYS wear a life jacket when participating in any of these activities.

Tubing

Nothing puts a smile on the face of a kid like the freedom found clinging tightly to an inflatable tube as it skitters across the water. Although they come in a huge variety of styles, the basic idea is pretty simple. A bladder made of flexible PVC is inflated with air, and the tube is attached to a nylon towrope, which is then attached to a boat. The rider (or riders) then sits or kneels inside the tube or holds on to handles attached to the surface of the tube. One of the appealing things about tubing is that the boat driver has plenty of control over the experience the riders will have. Slower speeds and a straight track will be great for even the most timid children, while higher speeds and sharper turns add more thrill to the ride. For the best (and safest) ride, always make sure the tube is properly inflated.

Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding involves riding a fiberglass board over the surface of the water with your feet tightly anchored to the surface with a binding. You hold the handle of a ski rope (usually attached to a wake tower “pull point” that’s about 7 feet from the water’s surface) and criss-cross the wake wave at around 18-24 miles per hour. Enthusiasts can launch themselves into the air or perform a number of exciting tricks. Beginners who try these maneuvers will quickly learn what the term “face plant” means.

Wakeskating

Wakeskating is an adaptation of wakeboarding that employs a similar design of board manufactured from wood or fiberglass. Unlike wakeboarding, the rider is not bound to the board in any way, which gives the sport its own unique challenges. Instead, the top surface of the board is covered with grip tape, (similar to a skateboard) or a soft, high-traction, foam covering that is kinder to riders in the inevitable wipeouts. Riders usually wear grip shoes while riding behind the boat at 16–20 miles per hour. However, this depends on water conditions, the weight of the rider and their proficiency in the sport.

Kneeboarding

It’s gone by a number of different names over its 40-year history (Knee Ski, Glide Slide and Hydroslide were pioneering styles), but no matter what you call it, kneeboarding is a blast. As the name suggests, you kneel down on a surf-style board, while holding on to a towrope handle and the boat pulls you along at about 15-20 miles per hour. Starts are pretty easy, and once you reach plane, you can pull a strap securely across your knees to hold you on the board. As with tubing, the driver has a great deal of control over the rider’s experience, adjusting speeds as needed as directed by a “spotter” on the boat who keeps their eye on the rider at all times. More advanced riders can perform tricks such as the Side Slide, Back Roll and Surface 360.

Waterskiing

Waterskiing is the oldest and most familiar mainstream watersport. A skier slips his feet into rubber bindings, and is pulled up and out of the water while holding the handle of a towrope attached to a boat. With the skis under water pointing toward the boat, the skier signals the driver to accelerate, while a “spotter” monitors the progress and lets the driver know when to speed up, slow down or come around to pick up a downed skier. More advanced skiers sometimes “drop” one ski and ride with both feet on a single (or slalom) ski. Invented in 1922 by Ralph Samuelson on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota, the sport has evolved from two boards and a clothesline to modern fiberglass skis to suit any skill level.

Safety First

Watersports are a great way to enjoy your boat, but safety should always come first. Remember to check the towrope at the boat connection point (ski-tow eye, wakeboard tower, or ski pylon) and the tube itself. Replace the rope at the first sign of fraying because it could breakk under strain. Also, take up rope slack slowly to prevent knots and to avoid jerking the rider. Know the abilities of your riders, and start slowly...working up to a manageable speed. Check tubes for age and weight capacities, and always know local speed limits and regulations for tow sports. Never abruptly change your course when other boats are present, and always slow down when your riders are crossing the wake.

How To Be A Good Marina Neighbor (Suitable For Sharing)

July 10, 2013

Being a good marina neighbor basically comes down to doing for them what you would have them do for you. That’s right…it’s the Golden Rule. Be gracious, be helpful, be generous, and be considerate. But you knew that already. It’s the others who might need a helping hand, right? Here are some pointers to help guide you in building a great relationship with the folks in your surrounding marina slips and in the process set a good example for everyone else.

SLOW DOWN

It’s easy to rush at the end of the day. You’re tired, it’s getting dark and cocktail hour is rapidly approaching.
But when you’re pulling into the marina, take care to slow down. No wake speed is top speed. Creeping along is better. You have more time to react, you won’t create a disturbing wake, and you will give others a chance to help guide you in.

STERN IN

 Yes, it takes a little more time to back into your slip, but not only is it much easier to get on and off your boat aft,
but you provide a clearer walking path along the docks. This is especially important for boats with large bows or pulpits.

DECLUTTER

Coil your dock lines, organize your shore power cords, stow watersports gear and life jackets, and put away your cleaning supplies. It’s getting dark, remember? It’s hard to see those hazards, and tripping on a hose on a splintery wooden dock while wearing flip-flops is not a fun way to end a fun day on the water.

SHUT IT DOWN 

Going up to the marina restaurant for a catfish dinner? Shut down your gear. That means turning off your lights, your marine radio, CD player, television and everything else that can annoy your neighbors while you’re gone. A shrieking radio or television can quickly put the damper on a relaxing evening. Plus, you'd hate to come back to a dead battery.

GO WITH THE FLOW 

You had a big day. You’re probably worn out and tired. Others probably are too. Some marinas seem to have a bigger nightlife than a daylife, but many wind down after hours. Don’t be too rowdy if everyone’s turning in early. On the other hand, don’t be too whiny if there’s a party a couple of boats over.

BE EFFICIENT

Need gas? Get it and move along. Need to pack or unpack the boat? Use the designated areas. Don’t dawdle around fuel docks or launch ramps. Boaters are generally patient people, but this can be a big source of irritation, especially among the “regulars.” Do some advance planning and think about your strategy for dealing with fuel and launching/retrieving efficiently.

KNOW THE RULES

Most marinas have established policies to help ensure a peaceful community. Some rules are common to all marinas and some are “house” rules that deal with special situations that have come up before in that location. Many times you can get the “lay of the land” by having a quick, friendly conversation with the marina manager or your neighboring boaters. One of the most important things to remember is to respect the marina’s “quiet hours.” 

Photo Contest Winner Announced!

July 8, 2013

Congrats to the Wilkins Family from Arkansas who won with the most recent Godfrey Pontoons Photo Contest with their pic titled "Good Day Mate"! Stay tuned for information on the next contest coming up in September for the next chance to win!

Guide To Viewing Fireworks From Your Boat

July 2, 2013

About the only way to make a Fourth of July fireworks display even more spectacular is to watch it from your boat. Not only do you get to enjoy the relatively cooler temperatures as the evening sets in, you essentially get double the show because of the reflections off the surface of the water. If this is your first time to venture out on the water at night, let’s just say it will be tough to spend an Independence Day on terra firma ever again.

Sure, it takes a little planning to get ready for an on-the-water fireworks display, but the extra effort is worth it to ensure that your crew will have a fun, safe and memorable night. The two biggest challenges? Well, it will be dark, of course, and more than likely, you won’t be the only one out there with this great idea. As long as you keep those two things in mind and follow these tips, things should go smoothly. 

SAFETY CHECK

Well before you get underway, take time to check that all running and anchor lights are working properly. And make sure you have all of your safety equipment including a whistle (or other approved noise-making advice) and a life jacket for everyone on board. Sometimes you’ll have more passengers than usual for a special trip like this, so a life-jacket count is important. Remember that boating law enforcement authorities will be out in force.

PROTECT YOUR EARS & PETS

Make sure you have ear protection for children or hearing-sensitive adults. The sound of exploding fireworks is greatly amplified across open water. And while they may love being part of the action on most boat trips, please leave your pets at home. The disorienting lights and loud sounds can cause anxiety in even the calmest animal. And there are already enough distractions for the captain and crew.

GET THERE EARLY

Find a good spot well before the show starts. Whether you’re beaching, rafting with other boats, or dropping anchor in open water, you will not regret getting there a little early and staking your claim (well outside the restricted area around the launching platform) while there’s still some daylight. This will help ensure that you’ve chosen a spot well out of the main channel where all the latecomers will be rushing in to find any remaining anchorages.

JUST SAY NO 

For the safety of your passengers and other boaters, keep libations off limits for the captain and vital crew. You will have plenty of things to keep track of before, during and after the show. Keep your wits about you and don’t “be that guy.”

LIGHTS OUT

Don’t add to the show. That means turning off all non-required lights onboard and never launch your own fireworks from the boat. No spotlights, no flashlights, no sparklers. It just detracts from the viewing experience for your boat and everyone around you. And keep your radio off or turned down. There will be plenty of ambient noise and sounds to keep you occupied.

TAKE IT EASY

Finally, after the show, don’t be in a hurry to leave. Most accidents happen when there’s a mad dash back to the dock. Often it's the ones in a hurry have not heeded the advice to stay away from the holiday “spirits.” You’ve already taken the time to get set up and properly anchored. Enjoy the mass exodus and a sky full of stars while the crowds file out of the area.

Enjoying a fireworks show from the water is one of the great delights for any boating family. It’s an experience you won’t forget. And with a few precautions and a little planning, you can make it a memorable experience you can enjoy safely.

Master The Raft-Up With These Simple Tips

June 20, 2013

At one time or another, you’ve probably seen a group of boats banded together in a floating, fun-loving, makeshift community.  And when you see everyone swimming, grilling, laughing, dancing and generally having a great time, you might just ask yourself: How can I join the party?

Raft-ups are great way to enjoy spending time with friends, family and, occasionally, complete strangers. As with any worthwhile endeavor, however, there are both time-honored traditions and unwritten rules one must abide in the quest of boating fun. And once you master a few easy techniques, you’ll be a raft-up master in no time.

Gear Up

You’ve probably already got the necessary gear on board. If you don’t, a quick stop at any marine retailer can help you fill in the gaps. Before you pull up to a raft-up, make sure you have at least two fenders, four bow lines, two spring lines, a good anchor appropriate for your body of water (sand, mud, rocks, etc.), and anchor line equal to about 10 times the length of your boat. One optional piece of equipment is a boat hook, which really helps with close-quarter pulling and pushing to keep your hands safely inside the boat.

Step Up

Well, it never seems to work out this way, but in an ideal world, you want the biggest boat to set a good, strong anchor, then have all the other, presumably smaller, boats start tying up from either side outward. About every third boat then will set anchor and ease into the raft-up. If you’ve got a raft-up veteran directing the show, things will move quickly and efficiently. If not, don’t worry…figuring out each individual raft-up layout is half the fun.

Heads Up

Assuming you’ve been invited, pull up within hailing distance and get your host or other appointed dignitary on the VHF radio or cell phone. If technology fails you, which it has been known to do, look for the wildly waving arms of a friendly guide telling you what side you’ll be hooking up to.

Set Up

Spring into action by getting your fenders out on both sides of your boat, securing your bow and stern lines to the cleats, and getting your spring lines out and available. Make sure everyone on your boat has a job. You need your lines manned, but don’t toss them to the other boat until you’re almost in place. Those well-meaning souls can tug you out of position in a hurry. Trim up your engine and trim tabs to make it easier to glide into place.

Pull Up

You want momentum, but not speed. Bump the throttle as needed to keep your forward motion, but careful not to create a wake and slosh the raft-up. You should be approaching the line astern, and if things are going as planned, everyone’s bow should be into the wind. Be on the lookout for any swimmers, your first priority is safety for everyone inside and outside your boat. If you’ve got kids or other guests that aren’t helping with the raft-up approach, they need to be seated and quiet. Pull up easy and stop at idle next to the boat you’ll tie off with, but don’t turn off your engine until you’re securely attached.

Lines Out

Toss bow and stern lines to the adjacent boat and adjust forward and aft so your stern lines up with the other boat. This makes it easier to step from one boat to the other. Use spring lines between boats to make sure you don’t shift forward and aft. Now you can shut down the engine and allow passengers to move. Make sure children are wearing life jackets at all times.

Party On

Now for the social aspect of rafting. You should have brought enough food, beverages and appetizers for your boat and extras to share with the other members of the raft-up. Be considerate about your music volume, splashing, language and anything else that may rankle your new neighbors. Be willing and able to lend a hand as new boats arrive or leave.

Take Off

Just like with jumper cables, your departure should operate in reverse order of your arrival. Help the folks on the end if needed and be patient for your turn. If you’re one of the first boats out, take off slowly with no wake so you don’t disturb the other rafters. If you (or another boat) need to leave from a spot in the middle of the line, tie two long bow lines to boats on either side of you, and a long stern line to one of the boats. Take off your spring lines, then the bow lines, then the stern lines and back up and out. Toss the stern line from one remaining boat to the other, pull them together, and secure lines between them. 

Godfrey Pontoons Summer Kickoff Photo Contest

June 14, 2013

Summer is finally here! And to celebrate the chance to get back out on the water, we just launched the Godfrey Pontoons Summer Kickoff Photo Contest! Through July 7, just click here to upload your favorite pics taken onboard or near your Sanpan, Aqua Patio or Sweetwater pontoon.

One winner will receive a $50 gift card and a full summer of bragging rights! It’s never been easier to participate because now all entries and voting will be done via Facebook. We invite you to enter up to 10 photos and vote up to once each day for your favorites. There are also some great options for you to share your photos with your friends and encourage them to vote for you and the other best entries.

Once the contest period is over, we’ll give the Top 3 to our illustrious panel of judges who will determine the final winner based on four key criteria: 1) Creativity 2) Inspiring to other boaters
3) How well photo depicts boat brand 4) Quality of photo.

We want this to be a fun contest and to challenge everyone to take some great photos of their friends and family out on the water. Of course, there is no purchase or payment of any kind necessary to enter or win this contest. Just read up on all the Official Rules to make sure your entry is eligible for the prize.

Let’s get this party started!

 

What To Do When You Run Aground

June 11, 2013

It’s not if…it’s when. No matter how prepared you are, no matter how alert you are, no matter what your chart plotter/sonar/depth gauge says, one of these days, you’re going to come to an abrupt stop against your will. And if it hasn’t happened yet, you just wait. But it doesn’t have to be the end of your boating day. And if you follow these steps, you can limit the damage done and the time it takes to free your vessel from its embarrassing perch.

EVALUATE

We’re power boaters, and the first thing we’re going to want to do is power up and through the problem. Wrong. That is a recipe for making things worse and digging yourself in even deeper. The first course of action is to have everyone on board put on a life jacket if they haven’t already. Then, evaluate your situation. And to do that safely, go ahead and put the boat in idle. Obviously if your prop is striking something, you want to shut the motor off. But idle may be enough to see what’s going on and still give you the ability to maneuver quickly if there’s a ripping current, outgoing tide or heavy boat traffic.

EXAMINE

Rocky shoal, marshy muck or sandbar? This is going to determine your next move. If you throw the boat into reverse and try to blast your way off this darned impediment backwards, you run the risk of filling your water intake with all sorts of engine-fouling badness. Plus, that metal propeller is no match for submerged boulders. If you’re in a tidal basin or on a managed lake with water-level fluctuations, or a river that you’ve run safely all summer, remember it may now be littered with unseen obstacles. Make sure you take a minute to make sure you know what you’re dealing with.

HARD OR EASY?

Are you aground hard or easy? That is, deep into the mess or just barely into the mess? This has a lot to do with your speed at impact and what it is you’re on. Time to do a visual inspection of the hull. Lean over the sides or, if it’s safe to do so, hop in wearing a life jacket and paddle over. If you’ve got a damaged or punctured hull, the safest thing to do is anchor and call for assistance. The last thing you want is to work your boat free, only to find that you’re taking on water.

FIND DEEP WATER

Best-case scenario is that you’re on easy and the current, tide or another boat’s wake may help set you free. Anchors should be set upwind. Use a tube or life jacket to help swim it into position if it’s safe to do so. Make sure you know where the deeper water is, so you can move in that direction.

REDUCE DRAFT

If you’re on hard, though, it may be necessary to get busy. In that case, reduce draft as much as possible by offloading weight. Start with any water you may be holding. That’s the really heavy stuff. Or reposition your passengers as needed. Other items that may make sense to offload, such as full propane tanks, can be loaded onto a tube or dingy and tethered alongside. If the tide is running out, consider that you may need to support or cushion the hull as the boat loses float.

NEVER DO THIS

As a last resort, before getting professional help from a tow service or local boating law enforcement, you may be tempted to try getting help from another recreational boater. Don’t do it. Most pleasure crafts don’t have deck hardware strong enough for such feats. And even if the cleats hold, the lines you have aboard will likely break under the stress, creating a dangerous situation for everyone aboard both boats. 

Tips For Boating After The Sun Goes Down

June 3, 2013

Even with endlessly long summer days, sooner or later you may want to stretch your boating fun past sunset and into the evening. And while there are some things you need to consider before you take this step, you are missing out on half the fun if you only hit the water under blue skies. Here’s what you need to know to be safe when the sun goes down.

SLOW DOWN

Cruising under the moonlight can make you feel like you’ve got the place to yourself. More than likely, you don’t. You’ll need to be on the lookout for the running lights of other vessels, aids to navigation in the water, and 100 others things that inevitably pop up out of nowhere at night. Since your reaction time will be slower, and your eyes will be working overtime to distinguish all kinds of different shapes, ease up on the throttle. By the way, that creature you see in the water is more than likely not a mermaid: If you’re cruising the Intracoastal Waterway down South…it’s probably a manatee.

SEE & BE SEEN

You may be tempted to shut off your running lights sometimes…especially if you’re drifting (or at anchor). This is a big mistake if you’re anywhere near the channel. Many times you will justify going incognito because there’s a decent moon, and once your eyes adjust, you can see just fine. But it’s critically important that you leave your lights on when you’re out on the water. They are not for you, after all. They’re for the other boaters to be able to spot you from a distance. The more reaction time, the better.

NO SUDDEN MOVES

Even with the required running lights, your eyes can still play tricks on you. Boats running in your line of sight can confuse your senses at times and convince you that you’re seeing something you’re not. For that reason, always try to maintain a fairly consistent track at night. Doing donuts, figure eights, and zigzagging across the water is asking for trouble. Plus, any passengers onboard may not be ready for abrupt maneuvers and could be tossed overboard. Since they will they be tougher to spot in dark water, you risk striking them with the boat or propeller.

CRANK IT DOWN

Music and boating go together like peanut butter and jelly during the day. But after hours, it’s more like peanut butter and anchovies. In other words, it’s really bad form to blast your tunes above background level. Sound carries extremely well over water, and even a moderate volume can be an annoyance to folks who have already packed it in for the night. Keep your tunes at a level where you can have a normal conversation. You can cut loose again the next day when you break out the watersports gear.

TOP IT OFF

It is a real bummer to run out of gas any time and any place. But when you’re out on the water at night, it’s an entirely new level of trouble. Being in a position where you can’t avoid other objects and get yourself home is bad enough, but it is a long, difficult process for someone else to have to find your position in the dark, down some off-the-beaten-path canal. Make sure you top the tank off before the sun goes down, while the fuel stations are still open and easy to see.

SWIM...DON’T DIVE

There is something really thrilling about sliding into the water at night. Note the word “sliding.” Diving into dark water at night is a really bad idea. Because no matter what that depth finder says, you never know what submerged tree, Pinto fender or ridiculously tall rock lurks beneath the surface. And since you’re going into the water at night, don’t take a chance that your head will be the first hard object that makes contact. Whatever you do, just go gentle into that good night (swim).

KEEP YOUR WITS           

You already know that your reaction time will be diminished because of the darkness. You’ll add to those effects exponentially with every cocktail. And if that wasn’t bad enough, reduced inhibitions will increase the hey-watch-this instinct that can turn a fun cruise under the stars into an evening that is best avoided. Stay off the booze. It’s your responsibility as captain.

All-New Godfrey Pontoons Owner's Club Forum

May 30, 2013

Attention Godfrey Pontoon Boat Owners!

We invite you to join other owners and the Godfrey Pontoons Customer Support Team to help get your questions answered promptly so you can spend more time on the water.

The new Godfrey Pontoons Owner’s Club Forum (click here to join) makes it simple to get answers to your questions, but also to help other owners by using your boating experience. And, you can get dependable advice from our network of experts, all in one easy-to-use website.

If you already have previously registered with our former Godfrey Pontoons Owner’s Club Forum, the account should transition automatically the next time you log in. If you’re new to the forums, we’ve made registration as simple as possible, with only an email, username and password required to get you going.

If you have any questions or comments, simply leave a post in the Godfrey Pontoon Boats Forum category.

We look forward to sharing some incredible new features with you as we continue to upgrade and improve your Godfrey Pontoons Owner's Club Forum experience! 

See you on the water!

 

Capt. Steve

The ABCs Of Using Your VHF Marine Radio

May 22, 2013

Leave it to those Hollywood movies to teach all us boaters a bad habit or two. When they've run out of gas and are running late for a wedding, the first response for actors on the big screen seems to be to grab the radio microphone and start shouting MAYDAY! But while that may be fine for dramatic effect, it's the last thing you should do in real life. More on that in a minute.

For now just understand that if there’s one piece of safety equipment on your boat that rivals a life jacket in terms of being valuable for you (and your guests) in an emergency, it’s your VHF marine radio (either handheld or fixed-mount).  When you’re out of cell phone service coverage (or the battery’s dead or you left it on your charger at home), your VHF radio can summon the help you need in the case of an accident. Certain frequencies, such as channels 9 and 16, are monitored by the Coast Guard (or other boating law enforcement agency) and, when used properly, a marine radio can be an effective way to communicate with other vessels, along with harbormasters and marinas, for various reasons. 

And it’s important to know and respect the appropriate etiquette for using a VHF radio to make sure your messages are clearly understood and a proper response can be put into effect. Here are some key points to remember when using your marine radio.

Know Where It Is

 Although recreational power boats under 65 feet in length are not required to have a marine radio on board, it’s really a good idea to have one whenever you go out. Fixed-mount radios are just that, fixed to the helm like your CD player. Handhelds can be stowed out of the way, but always know where it is. Emergencies can happen quickly, whether it’s aboard your boat or on another vessel. 

Monitor Channel 16

When your radio is on but not transmitting, keep it on Channel 16. You are required to come to the aid of other vessels and Channel 16 is used for hailing other boaters. You can switch to another agreed-upon channel after contact is made. This channel is also used for weather alerts and reports of hazards to navigation. 

Radio Checks

Rather than use "blind" radio checks, the current preferred methods for determining if your radio is working properly are to call another boat directly (by name) or contact a known shore station (marina, fueling station, etc.). Another idea is to tune to a weather frequency. Chances are that if you can hear the weather broadcast, your radio is working, and the antenna is likely sound.

Keep It Clean 

Don’t use bad language or broadcast anything besides clear, easy-to-understand requests or instructions. For that reason, make sure you supervise use by children and anyone not familiar with the rules.

Speak, Release, Wait

VHF radios work like walkie-talkies, not telephones. For that reason, only one person can talk at a time. You press the button, send your message (boat name, radio channel, location, and “over”), release the button and wait for a response. Remember that others may be trying to use the channel as well, so make sure you listen first and make sure they are finished before starting your transmission. 

Hooked On Phonetics

Because of the technology and the less-than-perfect conditions in which VHF radios are often used, remember that it’s often hard to understand numbers and certain letters. When stating numbers, say each number individually. If you’re at channel marker 316, say “three-one-six” instead of “three-sixteen.” Also, there’s a reason the phonetic alphabet has been around a long time. It works. Study up! Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu

Mayday Is The Last Resort

Don’t ever say “mayday” unless you have a real emergency that threatens someone’s life or puts property in immediate danger. Other boaters and the Coast Guard will converge on a mayday distress call, and you will not be popular if a child or crew member is goofing around with the radio. Mayday is a 911 call on the water. Make sure everyone on board knows the rules. If you do have a legitimate mayday call, say it three times, followed by your location and your situation.

Putting Kids At Ease On The Water

May 15, 2013

As the skipper of your boat, you’re responsible for the safety of everyone on board. And, if you’ve got children on deck, it’s easy to come across as intimidating when you’re really just trying to make sure they’re not in harm's way. If that’s the case, consider using these tips to encourage their love of the water and make sure they want to be out on the boat as much as you do.

While most kids are naturally drawn to the water, sometimes it’s a tough leap for them to go from the shore to the ship. The best way to ease those concerns? Just like with anything else they may be apprehensive about, the key is to get them involved in every part of the day—from the planning to hands-on crew responsibilities. Let them help you and learn from you, and you will likely have a crewmember for life.

Whether it’s your own children (and their friends), grandkids, nieces and nephews, or neighbors, remember that any tasks you assign will need to be appropriate to their age. Expecting too much too fast will tend to have the opposite result. And be prepared to add new responsibilities when they’ve honed their skills. Being able to contribute as a member of the crew will build confidence and teamwork while making them more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.

Pre-Launch Checklist

Get the kids involved in creating a pre-launch checklist. If they have a hand in putting it together, they will be especially vigilant about checking for the appropriate number of life jackets, checking the battery charge, and always verifying a properly secured drain plug. This perfect for anything you tend to overlook every trip.

Everything In Its Place

Teach children the right way to tend the fenders and dock lines and how to stow them the proper way. Make sure they see you communicating with the dock hands at a marina or gas pump station so they understand how the system works. Once they master the hand signals and nuanced gestures, they will get in the proper position to help before you have to say a word.

Talk The Talk

Make sure the kids are familiar with the basic boating terminology. You wouldn’t take them to a foreign country without coaching them on basic communication skills, would you? Take the time to clarify fore and aft, port and starboard, lee and windward, etc. It will help them feel like they’re one of the “insiders,” especially if they can help educate others on the next trip.

Teachable Moments

Always look for an opportunity to reinforce the “why.” Children are learners. And, you may have noticed they don’t respond well to “because I said so.” Why not explain how the safety equipment works? Or show them how the trim affects the ride of the boat. They thrive on “behind the scenes” knowledge.

Mind Their Manners

Show older kids how to operate the VHF radio to communicate with other vessels, the dock master or the local boating law enforcement. It’s important they know the proper etiquette, plus they will love the chance to communicate with others via an “official” microphone.

Keep A Record

Kids will love their own “log book,” to keep an unofficial record of their adventures on the water. Encourage them to record destinations, time of departure, passengers, and to draw pictures to remember their trips. Later, they can add photos from the day to remind them of the highlights.

As the captain of your boat, it’s only natural for you to want to handle all (or nearly all) the duties yourself. But remember that children thrive when given a task to complete that helps make the outing a success. As long as you clearly explain what needs to happen, and resist the urge to constantly “advise” the kids, you’ll have a dedicated crew for life.

Understanding Boating Superstitions (Knock On Wood)

May 7, 2013

Let’s face it…boaters are a superstitious bunch. You’ve got to believe that storied history goes all the way back to the days of the earliest ocean-going vessels, when everything from bad weather to scurvy were connected to various perceived transgressions by crewmembers and (more likely) unknowing passengers. String enough of those coincidences together, and the word spreads quickly that something as innocent as bringing a banana onboard can wreak havoc on a voyage that would otherwise be smooth sailing.

Whether you view boating superstitions as solemn, don’t-ever-mess-them laws, or if you get a chuckle out of the seemingly outrageous notions that have sprung up over the years, they are part of nautical folklore. And, being notoriously nostalgic, those of us with a love for boating and the water tend to embrace even the nuttier superstitions—even if it’s done with a sly wink of the eye.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most-popular, boat-related myths that still rule the seas even today.

BANANAS ON BOARD

If you head down to any of Florida’s coastal fishing villages in search of a fishing charter, there’s one thing you need to remember. Leave the bananas at home. That’s real bananas, banana nut muffins and even Banana Boat sunscreen. You’re even asking for trouble if you show up in Fruit of the Loom underwear. And even if, for some reason, you feel like ignoring the no-bananas rule that exists aboard nearly all fishing charters—let’s say you smuggle aboard a banana smoothie—don’t plan on coming home with many trophy fish. Of course, there’s nothing but anecdotal evidence to prove this is true, but you’ll hear those anecdotes walking every dock from Pensacola to Islamorada.

History: Looking past the obvious things like cartoon injuries caused by slipping on a discarded peel, the more likely source of the banana superstition is that ocean-going vessels would stop at tropical islands for provisions during their months-long excursions. In addition to fresh water and other necessities, they would frequently take on crates of bananas. Good source of potassium aside, these crates nearly always came with the added bonus of deadly spiders, snakes and other critters that don’t mix well in the close-confines of a boat.

RENAMING YOUR BOAT

As if you didn’t have enough to think about when considering a name for your boat, you will probably get an earful from some wise mystic of the sea (the guy in the marina slip next to yours) about the hazards of changing the name of a boat that’s been previously named. Fortunately, since it’s a long shot that you and the prior owner BOTH dreamed of owning a boat called “My Pretty Petunia,” there are certain ceremonial steps you can take to avoid offending the sea gods. Not surprisingly, the ceremony revolves around high-quality domestic sparkling wine (only use the French stuff if you’re anxious to help THEIR economy rebound). Get rid of all evidence of the boat’s previous name. Just draw a line through the name on all logbooks and maintenance records. Make sure all traces of the name are gone from the transom. Notify your local boating law enforcement of the name change as required, and apply your new carefully chosen new name to the boat. Invite your family and friends, and distribute plastic glasses (bare feet and broken glass do not mix). Unless you’re renaming a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, best to just pour a generous portion of bubbly over the bow instead of smashing the bottle Queen Elizabeth-style. When everyone’s glasses are full, say something like: “For thousands of years, we have gone to sea, and we have called our vessels by name. For all that have gone before us, we humbly raise a glass in their honor and ask for blessings in the name of YOUR BOAT NAME.” If you’re into flowery (and overly long) ceremonies, a quick Internet search will reveal plenty

History: This business about it being bad luck to rename a boat actually has a pretty reasonable explanation. Back in the day, when sailing vessels would travel to far-flung ports-of-call, boats and crews would carry a certain reputation. Good reputations meant easy, uncontested passage into friendly harbors. Changing a boat’s name could easily raise suspicions simply because it wasn’t recognized.

OTHER COMMON BOATING-RELATED SUPERSTITIONS

• Have you ever known anyone who threw salt over their left shoulder? That’s an old pirate trick to “keep the devil at bay.” The bay, of course, is literally where they wanted the devil to stay as they headed out to sea.

• Have you ever “knocked on wood” to prevent bad luck? That came from sailors thumping the hulls of their wooden ships to check for rotten areas. This is also the origin of the phrases “ship shape” and “touch wood.” It all comes down to having a boat that will hold together during a voyage.

• As perhaps the easiest superstition to understand, the form of a naked woman on the bow was said to calm the seas and guide the vessel to safety. If you’ve been out at sea for months on end with a ship full of hygienically challenged men, surely any naked woman aboard would seem like good luck.

• Dramatic bodily embellishments such as tattoos, brands and piercings have long been thought to ward off evil spirits. The wilder the design, the better it allegedly worked.

• It’s a no-no to whistle anywhere aboard a boat, for fear that you will summon bad weather. This is where the phrase “whistling up a storm” comes from.

The Unwritten Rules of Boating Etiquette

April 30, 2013

Even if you’re new to boating, you probably already know the basics about the “Rules of the Road.” Those are the general things you need to know when operating your boat, especially when there are other boats in the area such as how to know who has the right of way and when it’s okay to pass another vessel. But there is another category of customs and traditions that help us, as boaters, get along independently while respecting that right for others. We’ll just call it basic boating etiquette.

Just as there are social norms you’re expected to know on land, you’ve got to know certain basic rules of boating etiquette if you’re going to be spending any time at all on the water. While you are definitely the master of your own nautical domain aboard your boat, remember that a little consideration for your fellow boater can go a long way toward avoiding any misunderstandings or conflicts.

As stated above, there are basic rules of the road that show you how to operate your boat, and you shouldn’t leave the dock until you’ve spent some time getting to know what you’re doing. It’s the same method you would follow with a car (on an actual road) except you don’t have brakes. The following pointers are really more to fill in the gray areas of boat operation that you’ll come across at one time or another.

Watch Your Wake

You are responsible for your own wake and any damage done by it. You’re cruising across a channel and you avoid striking a cruiser by swinging into a shallow anchorage while traveling at a pretty good speed. That’s great, but look at how much wake you’ve churned up for the other boaters on the hook. If you’ve caused boats to bang into each other or knocked someone’s grill off their deck or otherwise harmed their property, you’re the one on the hook for the damages. Big wakes in crowded spaces is bad news.

Go Easy

Slow down if another boat is trying to overtake you. This is boating, not The Fast & The Furious. Tight channels, marina entrances, etc. should be single file. But if there’s room to pass and another vessel is coming alongside you, ease off the throttle and avoid a drag race. The faster your speed, the faster they’ll have to go to get around you. For safety and the serenity of everyone around you, just slow down and let them go around.

Anchor In Order

The first one in blazes the trail. If you’re entering an anchorage, mimic the other boats in how you tie off, how you anchor, how much line to use and how much distance you allow between the other boats.

Respect Your Neighbors

If you have a loud boat (kids, music, barking dogs, smoky grills), make sure you leave plenty of space. Sound carries much farther on the water, and you can be heard clearly from a good distance away. Downwind is your friend. You never know who’s got an early getaway and is turning in early. Just like on terra firma, respecting your neighbors is the first step toward everyone “getting along.”

Be Efficient

If you’re launching or retrieving your boat at a ramp, do it efficiently. Load your boat in the parking lot. Pull your boat over to a temporary dock to bring passengers aboard. Don’t drain, don’t clean, and don’t waste time. Everyone wants to be either on the water or off the water, just like you. Think in advance about how you can cut down your ramp time. Delegate responsibilities and practice them before you get to the ramp.

Fuel And Go

As long as we’re on this subject, the same rules go for fuel docks. Get your fuel, pay your bill and move out of the way. If you need to buy groceries or a lake chart or bait, relocate your boat to the temporary docks. Again, fueling is a necessary part of your boating experience, but be considerate of other boaters who would also rather be out on the water.

Lend A Hand

This is one of the unwritten laws that can say more about you as a boater than almost anything else. You should be willing to assist other vessels as they arrive and depart. While this courtesy shouldn’t necessarily extend to the entire marina, you should be alert to help out you folks in the adjoining slips. They toss you a line and you hold it or help guide them in. Then you hand them back the line and they tie off. It just takes a minute, and you’ve shown everyone what a standup boater you are.

Keep It Clean

Marinas have enough hazards as it is without having to step over draining coolers, half-deflated tubes and sloppy dock lines. Buckets, shoes, carts and other items need to be stowed properly. And if you’ve used a piece of equipment intended for common use, put it back where you found it.

2013 Sanpan Brand Video

April 30, 2013

As the leading ultra-luxury pontoon line, Sanpan welcomes you aboard by setting the standard in cutting-edge design, high-end comfort and incredible entertainment options. The pillow-top furniture calls to mind your home media room and the wide selection of seating layouts means you can get the perfect boat for your lifestyle. Whether you're hosting a party on the water for a spectacular sunset cruise or taking your grandchildren out for an afternoon of tubing, you will always travel in classic, refined style. When you're ready for the best, you're ready for Sanpan.

2013 Sweetwater Brand Video

April 30, 2013

Sweetwater is all about maximum value for any budget. That means you can get your family on the water quickly and comfortably without breaking the bank. No pontoon line offers more floorplan options than Sweetwater, so you can find just the right layout for your crew. Whether you enjoy boat camping, watersports or a refreshing cruise, Sweetwater has you covered. Lots of models even come with angler-friendly features such as rod storage, livewells, pedestal seats, and prep stations. That means you can get a boat that's absolutely packed with standard features so you have everything you need. That means you can have a great time while keeping your eye on the bottom line with Sweetwater.

2013 Aqua Patio Brand Video

April 30, 2013

Who says you can't have it all? Aqua Patio is all about superior performance, cutting-edge design, unbelievable comfort, and cool features you can't find anywhere else. With an incredible number of upgrade options available, you can create exactly the boat you want. Whether it's interior and exterior lighting packages, striking rail skin inserts, integrated wake towers or luminescent Carbon Fiber Pearl vinyl, you can enjoy all the seating, storage and ease-of-operation that pontoons are known for — but now you can do it in style. So when you're looking for a pontoon that checks all the boxes and gives you everything you're looking for, go ahead...live the liquid lifestyle with Aqua Patio.

2013 Godfrey Pontoons Full Line Brand Video

April 30, 2013

Godfrey Pontoon Boats represent everything that family boating is all about. And no one offers a bigger range of deck layouts, comfortable easy-care furniture, entertainment centers, and high-performance options that will run with any boat on the water. You see it's not about getting away from it all. It's about getting out there and getting to the good stuff.

When it comes to pontoon performance, quality and innovation, Godfrey Pontoons is the industry leader. But that only makes sense. You see, Godfrey built the very first aluminum pontoon back in 1958. And the driving force behind our 50 years of success has been to pull together the best designers, engineers and craftsmen to create products that will excite you, thrill you and give your family the best ride possible.

Let's take a look at some of the things that make Godfrey Pontoons' Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater lines stand out.

 

Godfrey Pontoons Construction Pt 1 — Upholstery

April 30, 2013

How does Godfrey Pontoons make sure the seating on your pontoon is the highest quality in the industry? We have our own Upholstery & Sewing Shop with experienced, professional craftsmen working on each and every boat.

http://204.232.205.47/~nauticgl/content/blogartwork/SW_2286_FC_24.jpg

Godfrey Pontoons Construction Pt 4 — Quality Control

April 30, 2013

See for yourself the detailed quality control process all Godfrey Pontoons go through before they ever leave the factory!

http://204.232.205.47/~nauticgl/content/blogartwork/Aqua_Patio_250_Express_Running_LO-RES.jpg

Godfrey Pontoons Construction Pt 3 — Final Assembly Stages

April 30, 2013

Go behind the scenes with the production team from Godfrey Pontoons to see the finishing stages of construction for Sanpan, Aqua Patio & Sweetwater Pontoons!

http://204.232.205.47/~nauticgl/content/blogartwork/AP_240_OB_Elite_running_LO-RES.jpg

Godfrey Pontoons Construction Pt 2 — Initial Assembly Stages

April 30, 2013

Get an up-close look at the first stages of assembly for Sanpan, Aqua Patio & Sweetwater pontoons!

http://204.232.205.47/~nauticgl/content/blogartwork/Aqua_Patio_Running_Turn.jpg

The ABCs of Launch & Retrieve

April 22, 2013

With the exception of docking, the one part of trailer boating that strikes the most fear in the hearts of new boaters has got to the launch ramp. Sure, it can be stressful the first few times, but here’s the good news: As long as you follow these easy tips, launching and retrieving your boat will become second-nature in no time.

Before You Hit The Road

Don’t even leave your driveway unless you check a few things first. Make sure your trailer tires are inflated to the correct pressure. If you pulled out the drain plug for the ride home, now would be a great time to put it back in. Check the charge on your battery…it seems like someone always leaves the radio on with the volume turned all the way down! Think about the sequence you’ll want to detach the boat from the trailer, leaving (of course) the bow hook on until the boat is in the water.

Practice In Peace

The best way to reduce stress before your moment in the spotlight is to trailer over to the ramp one early morning or evening during the middle of the week. You’ll have the place to yourself, and you can take your time backing down, correcting and dialing in your entry strategy. Take a few passes. If someone shows up, pull up and out of the way, and resume your practice run in peace. And if you have any questions about what you’re doing, now would be the time to ask a fellow boater.

Load Before Launching

You might be surprised by how many folks wait until they are at the end of the ramp to load up their coolers, floats, pets, and whatever else they’ve lugged to the lake on this beautiful Saturday. The better move is to go ahead and park (hey, that shady spot looks good) and take your time transferring your gear from the SUV to the boat. This might even give the kids time to inflate their tube, the dog to do his business and Mom time to feed the baby. That way everyone’s good to go and focused on the task at hand.

Play Nice

Everyone’s anxious to be out on the water enjoying their boat. It’s probably hot outside. There may be people who haven’t read this article and are struggling with, ummmm, “efficiency of motion.” Put a smile on your face. Give a nod or a wave to the other “good guys” and maybe even lend a hand to help move things along.

Use Your Crew

Think ahead about what ramp line feels more comfortable for you. Some folks like the left side, some folks like the right. Give everyone on your crew a job. Your buddy can be your guide on the ramp. Your kids can relay messages and let you know if you’re getting too close to the curb. Everyone can help undo the straps. Mom can pull the tow vehicle up and park while you pull the boat over to the temporary dock for passenger loading.

Best Launch Ramp Tip EVER

Put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel while backing the trailer up…then turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.

Trailering your boat can be the perfect solution for you and your boating lifestyle. By taking a few minutes to master the “unwritten rules,” you can make launching and retrieving your boat almost as enjoyable as a day on the water. Almost. 

Docking Anxiety? These Tips Will Ease Your Trip To The Slip

April 15, 2013

You can ask any group of new boaters what they like least about boating, and nine out of 10 will say docking. That’s everyone from twin-screw cruiser pilots all the way down to the tiller-handled outboard jon boat fisherman. Your heart starts pounding, your palms start sweating, and you are desperately trying to remember all the “advice” you’ve ever been given about how to do it properly. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Nope. There are a few things to remember, sure, but the main thing is to take it slow (or as slow as the prevailing current and boat traffic allows) and keep your cool. Many good and experienced boaters take more than one shot to back their boat into a slip. You shouldn’t feel too much pressure to get it perfect every time. Life’s too short, and that sort of self-imposed anxiety flies in the face of everything that boating should be about. So there you go. Read these tips, and remember to take your time. You’ll be fine.

• Practice. It sounds a little obvious, but the folks that are really good at docking a boat have done it hundreds of times. Pick a time when nobody’s around (except a trusted dockhand) and take a run at it. Shoot too far? Cut the wheel sooner. Come in too fast? Uh…slow down. You’ll get it quicker than you think.

• Use what you’ve got. Windy day? Let it push you where you want to be. Strong, ripping current? You won’t be the only one with docking problems. Plenty of room? Ahhhh….take a big, easy angle and work your way in slowly. Always cut a good tight corner on the side of the boat closest to the dock and turn the wheel with authority.

Don’t lose your momentum. Most docking efforts go awry when you try to pull back too early. If you drop your momentum, you wind up over-compensating and making things worse. Pick a target speed that’s a little slower than you think it should be and stick to it. You can always pull out and start over, but don’t panic and drop the throttle before you get the position you need.

Understand your prop. You may not know it, but your propeller is your friend. But like any friend, you’ve got to spend some time getting to know it…understanding how it ticks, so to speak. First — and this is where your practice comes in — you should know that your prop-driven boat will tend to “walk.” That means it will want to thrust toward one side more than the other. And it’s not uncommon for that to happen more in reverse than forward gear. If you’ve ever been backing up and felt like you were moving sideways instead of backwards, you know the drill. As long as you respect that phenomenon (it’s different for nearly all boats) then you can compensate and be that much closer to a stress-free trip to the slip.

Basic Boating Behavior For Beginners

April 10, 2013

 

Okay new boaters…why do you think they call it the “Rules of the Road” if you’re on the water? Well, despite the confusing name, it’s all about relating your boat-operating experience to something you’re likely already familiar with…driving a car. But, although they may have some things in common, it’s important that you take some time to understand the differences.

You see, these rules are all about avoiding the single biggest critical incident that can happen on the water…a collision with another boat. Just as you instinctively know that the first person to arrive at a four-way stop in a car will be the first one to proceed, there are boating equivalents that need to be followed.

The biggest difference, of course, is that automobiles have one key safety feature that’s missing from boats. On a boat, you don’t have brakes. When one vessel is bigger or under power (as opposed to under sail), or is on a course that will intersect with another vessel, you have to know who goes where and who does what to keep everyone on both boats safe. Nobody wants to have an accident so just as we all learned in driver’s education, it pays to practice a little defensive boating.

Here are some of the basic rules you should know if you’ll be piloting a boat. Remember, the more traffic and the tighter the channel, the more alert you should be at the helm. As important as these rules are, however, let common sense be your guide. If the captain of the other boat is not paying attention or is otherwise impaired, do what you have to do to avoid a collision. In other words, use these rules as a guide right up until your real-life scenario dictates otherwise.

1. Know the order. There’s a pecking order for boats regarding their right-of-way and yielding obligations. Generally speaking, you can go by the rule of thumb that the bigger the engine and the more maneuverability a boat has, the more it has to give way to smaller, less maneuverable vessels. That being said, here is the basic order:

a)     Boats being passed by another vessel.

b)    Boats being towed by another vessel or otherwise restricted.

c)     Sail boats or any other non-powered vessel.

d)    Power boats that are not restricted in their ability to maneuver.

e)     Sea planes.

2. Meeting situations. When coming up (head to head) with another boat, you should generally pass port to port. That’s your left to the other vessel’s left. This typically gives you more visibility and maneuverability to avoid a collision. The boat with the right of way (see above) is required to maintain its course and its speed until the boats pass each other.

3. Overtaking situations. When one boat is passing another, there are requirements for both vessels. Remember that the boat being passed always has the right of way (see above). The boat that is being passed also must hold it course and speed if possible until the overtaking vessel has safely passed.

4. Crossing situations. For the most part, a boat approaching from your right has the right-of-way. However, vessels restricted in maneuverability have the right-of-way over sailing vessels, and sailing vessels have the right-of-way over power vessels that are not restricted in maneuverability.

5. Signaling your intentions. Even with these widely accepted and well-followed basic rules of the road, there are still sometimes when a little boat-to-boat communication will come in handy. Using the horn or whistle on your boat, here are the most common ways to signal another boat.

a)     One whistle blast: Pass port to port.

b)    Two whistle blasts: Pass starboard to starboard.

c)     Three whistle blasts: My engines are in reverse.

d)    Five or more rapid whistle blasts: Danger!

Sure, there are some things you need to understand to be safe out on the water. That’s true of just about any new activity you dive into. But with a little common sense and practice, all this will become instinctive and second nature, just like when you get behind the wheel of a car.

 

Could Your Boat Pass A Vessel Safety Check?

April 4, 2013

 

You’re out enjoying a great day on the water when all of the sudden you get approached by the local boating law enforcement. Whether it’s a DNR agent, a sheriff marine patrol or the U.S. Coast Guard, they will know exactly what to look for to see if you pass a basic vessel safety check. Do you know, without a doubt, that you’ve got everything covered? If not, the time to make sure is now, before you ever leave your driveway or marina.

Here are some of the basic items that are sure to be checked. But remember that your local laws may vary, so when you make sure these are taken care of, it’s a good idea to check out www.uscgboating.org and click on the “Regulations” tab.

Registration

• Are your boat's registration numbers permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the boat? They must be plain, vertical, block characters, not less than three inches high, and in a color that contrasts with the background. A space or hyphen must separate the letters from the numbers. Follow your state’s policies regarding placement of tax sticker.

• Do you have your state registration papers on board and easily accessible?

Life Jackets

• Do you have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every passenger on board, and are they in good condition and of an appropriate size? Children must have life jackets that are designed for their age and weight and they must be worn any time you’re underway. Do you know the life jacket age requirements for children in your state? Are your adult life jackets "readily accessible." Do you know that life jackets can’t be stored in unopened plastic packaging? If your boat is more than 16 feet, do you have at least one Type 1V (throwable) personal flotation device? Is it “immediately available?”

Signaling Devices

• If your boat is over 16 feet and used on coastal waters or the Great Lakes, do you have EITHER a minimum of three day and three night pyrotechnic signaling devices, one day non-pyrotechnic device (such as a flag) and one night non-pyrotechnic device (such as an auto SOS light) OR an acceptable combination of those devices? If your boat is less than 16 feet on coastal waters or the Great Lakes, do you have night visual distress signals when operating from sunset to sunrise?

• Are you carrying a sound-producing device, such as a whistle, horn or siren, capable of a four-second blast audible for at least a half mile? If your boat is longer than 39.4 feet, do you also have a bell?

Fire Extinguishers

• Do you have permanently mounted, properly serviced and accessible fire extinguishers if you have any of the following: Inboard engine; Closed compartments that store portable fuel tanks; Double-bottom hulls not completely sealed or not completely filled with flotation materials; Closed living space; Closed storage compartments that contain flammable materials; or permanently installed fuel tanks?

Navigation Lights

• Are you able to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and in conditions of reduced visibility? Boats 16 feet or more in length must have properly installed, working navigation lights and an all-around anchor light capable of being lit independently from the red/green/white "running" lights.

 

A Closer Look: Sanpan 2200 BC

April 3, 2013

When you're ready to step up to an ultra-luxury pontoon, there's really only one option: Sanpan. And with the Sanpan 2200 BC, you get all the incredible standard features, high-quality construction, and the most comfortable, hand-built furniture on the market. This particular model is popular because of addition of a beautiful table in the bow, which has a hard-surface countertop, molded in cupholders and an oversized cooler built right in!

A Closer Look: Sanpan 2500

April 3, 2013

As the unrivaled, industry-leading luxury pontoon model, the Sanpan 2500 represents the pinnacle of quality and style. With sumptuous furniture-style seating and a beautiful upgraded details throughout, you know you've made it when you're at the helm.

A Closer Look: Sanpan 2500 FE

April 3, 2013

If you've got a big family, the Sanpan 2500 FE just might be the answer you've been looking for to get everyone together and create some priceless memories. Loaded with luxurious standard features, the 2500 FE has something for everyone to make the most of your precious time together.

A Closer Look: Sanpan 2500 SL

April 3, 2013

With an stylish and practical new room-for-two Sun Lounge design, the Sanpan 2500 SL is perfect for catching some rays or just relaxing while the youngsters are swimming. And with the numerous upgraded standard features, you will know that comfort and style go hand-in-hand.

A Closer Look: Sanpan 2500 UL

April 3, 2013

Don't leave anyone at the dock when you get underway aboard the new Sanpan 2200 UL, with dozens of upgraded features including a unique U-shaped oversized lounge that brings everyone into the conversation.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 200

April 3, 2013

Featuring some of the favorite features of its larger siblings in a more compact package, the Aqua Patio 200 is big on style.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 220

April 3, 2013

Ready to kick back and enjoy your day on the water? The Aqua Patio 220 has everything you need to relax including oversized chaise lounges.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 220 AD

April 3, 2013

With an oversized aft deck, plenty of room to move around, overstuffed chaise lounges, and easy water access to the water, the Aqua Patio 220 AD is built for fun.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 220 DF

April 3, 2013

Got a family that likes to fish as much as they enjoying cruising and watersports? The Aqua Patio 220 DF is guaranteed to give you the best of both worlds.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 220 SL

April 3, 2013

Designed for the perfect day in the sun, the Aqua Patio 220 SL is an amazingly refined pontoon with the best list of upgraded standard features in the industry, and clever rear-facing lounges that ensure everyone has a great view and a comfortable seat.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 220-4

April 3, 2013

Make the most of every sunny day with the trailerable Aqua Patio 220-4, featuring plenty of storage and four convenient entry gates.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 240

April 3, 2013

When you're looking for the perfect performance-oriented family cruising pontoon, it's time to check out the incredible Aqua Patio 240.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 240 SL

April 3, 2013

Designed with rear-facing lounges contoured to be the ultimate in comfortable seating, the Aqua Patio 240 SL takes relaxation to a whole new level on GX50 soft-touch vinyl.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 240 OB Elite

April 3, 2013

With a head-turning design and a performance-oriented triple-toon package, the all-new Aqua Patio 240 OB Elite is a new milestone in pontoon refinement. And with a distinctive rear-facing rumble seat that converts to an oversized sunpad with the push of a button, this boat is an exciting look at the future of pontoons.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 240-4

April 3, 2013

Providing convenient access in and out, the Aqua Patio 240-4 features four gates for an active family and loads of seating for relaxing after a hard day of play.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 250 WB

April 3, 2013

If you're ready for the ultimate entertaining pontoon, look no further than the Aqua Patio 250 WB with a full wet bar with two stools, LED-lit cup holders, even an amphitheater sound system.

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 250 Express

April 3, 2013

Sometimes you just need to pull out all the stops and design a boat that's beyond anyone's wildest expectations. A boat that makes everyone who sees it stop and say...WOW! That's just what Godfrey Pontoons has done with the amazing new Aqua Patio 250 Express. From the gleaming metallic silver fiberglass forward and rear fenders that reveal comfortable and functional rear-facing rumble seats, to the standard blue LED interior lights and striking optional under deck and swim lights, to the aggressive and functional bright-dipped aluminum wakeboard tower (optional board rack and tower speakers), the 250 Express is a head-turning G Force III triple tube that handles as good as it looks. And with an outboard rating of up to 300 horsepower, it sets the new standard for performance pontoon. Other standard features include a revolutionary Aqua Patio-exclusive easy fold out tower-supported bimini top, a specially designed new lightweight aluminum ski tow bar, a unique stainless steel front gate, amphitheater sound system with wired stern remote, stunning carbon fiber pearl upholstery, stainless steel corner castings at each deck corner with LED docking and navigation lights along with Aqua Patio logo and integrated pull-up cleats, gray vinyl on the fore and aft decks with silver Versa Teak option, dual cockpit pedestal tables which keep a center walk-through aisle, and an all-new stainless steel easy-access boarding ladder design. If you want to see the future of pontoon design, just check out the incredible all-new Aqua Patio 250 Express. Best to get on board early, however, there's already a waiting list for this cutting-edge model.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 200

April 3, 2013

When it comes to a day on the water, you can't have too much comfortable seating or too much storage. The Sweetwater Premium Edition 200 is designed to provide plenty of both.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 200 DF

April 3, 2013

Whether you're casting a line from one of four standard fish seats conveniently placed in the bow and stern or kicking back the cozy stern chaise lounge, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 200 DF has something for everyone.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 220

April 3, 2013

With oversized chaise lounges, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 has a perfect spot for everyone to kick back and enjoy the day out on the water.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 DF Coastal Edition

April 3, 2013

Designed specifically for fishing in saltwater environments, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 Deluxe Fish Coastal Edition features an all-new aft fishing prep and storage area, a Lowrance fish finder and a full vinyl decking option for easy maintenance. 

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 SL

April 3, 2013

Featuring the perfect combination of high-quality construction, upgraded comfort and incredible standard features, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 SL is an inspired addition to the Godfrey Pontoons family. With twin, aft-facing sun lounges, the 220 SL is all about fun in the sun. Add in performance features like the Sweetwater Total Package performance system and luxury touches like optional synthetic teak decking, and you're ready to take on any adventure in style!

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 WB

April 3, 2013

Capt. Steve walks us through the incredible Sweetwater Premium Edition 220 Wet Bar from Godfrey Pontoons.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 240-4

April 3, 2013

The ultimate in convenience, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 240-4 offers four convenient entry gates for the active family, and lots of comfortable seating and storage options to make the most out of your day on the water.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 240

April 3, 2013

The Sweetwater Premium Edition 240 represents all the incredible value of Godfrey Pontoons Sweetwater Series, but adds plenty of refined upgraded features such as luxurious soft-touch vinyl, head-turning graphics and finely crafted trim details.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 240 DF Coastal Edition

April 3, 2013

With industry-leading quality and a surprising number of built-in fishing features, the Sweetwater Premium Edition 240 DF Coastal Edition is the angler-friendly version of Sweetwater's best-selling pontoon. While you have all the upgraded, refined features of the Sweetwater Premium series including higher-grade vinyl, decking materials and amenities, you'll also enjoy the incredible fishing-ready aft deck. The oversized deck features a carpet-to-vinyl, easy-care transition, pedestal seats, lockable rod storage, livewell, and an all-new prep station.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Premium Edition 240 Wet Bar

April 3, 2013

Capt. Steve walks us through the incredible Sweetwater Premium Edition 240 Wet Bar from Godfrey Pontoons. 

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 1570

April 3, 2013

It's the best of the Sweetwater line in a more compact design! The Sweetwater 1570 is an easy-to-operate, easy-to-trailer small pontoon that's big on style.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 1770

April 3, 2013

Making the most of every bit of space, the easy-to-trailer Sweetwater 1770 is designed to make the most of every available sunny day opportunity.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 1880

April 3, 2013

Don't miss out on any fun during your boating season with the Sweetwater 1880, which has a compact, trailerable design to get to the water and back with ease.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 1880 FC

April 3, 2013

Catering to every kind of boater, the Sweetwater 1880 FC has a lot to offer with four standard fish seats and an ultra-comfortable chaise lounge.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 2086 BF

April 3, 2013

Looking for the perfect combination of full-featured fishing boat and family-friendly cruiser? Look no further than the Sweetwater 2086 BF, which covers all the bases with style.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 2286

April 3, 2013

Designed to maximize open deck space and easy access to the water, along with comfortable chaise lounges, the Sweetwater 2286 is the perfect boat for entertaining friends and family.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 2286 TT

April 3, 2013

Built for high-performance pontooning, the Sweetwater 2286 TT features a triple-toon package, along with the Sweetwater-exclusive T.O.T.A.L. package with full underdeck aluminum skin. This boat is also configured with the Launch Pad system for quick-planing and superior handling.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Sunrise 186 F

April 3, 2013

The sweetest 18-foot fishing pontoon out there, the Sweetwater Sunrise 186 F comes complete with a livewell, three removable fishing chairs and a rear boarding platform.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater Sunrise 206 C

April 3, 2013

Cruise in the Sweetwater 206 C with confidence knowing that you're driving the best 20-foot pontoon value on the water with plenty of seating and a pop-up changing room.

Get Your Boat Ready For Spring Launch!

March 26, 2013

 

You’ve spent all winter dreaming about getting your boat back in the water. But are you really ready? Some of the things you may take for granted once the season is under way have a way of getting misplaced, out-of-date or run down during those months of inactivity. So what’s the best way to make sure you’ve got everything properly squared away for a fun and “uneventful” first launch? Just follow this handy pre-launch checklist!

• Keep it legal. In the weeks leading up to launch, make sure your boat registration is up to date (including hull identification decals), along with current fishing licenses for all your mates, and any required parking permits for your launch ramp. If you’re angling for a new wet slip at your marina, get started early to lock in a good deal and the best location.

• Take inventory. Take the boat cover off and give your boat a good airing-out. This will give you access to all the things you forgot you stored aboard in the off-season. Make sure you have life jackets (PFDs) for your crew. Remember those kids probably grew over the past months, so check to make sure they don’t need a bigger size jacket. Also, check the jackets carefully for wear. A proper-fitting PFD in good condition is the best way to keep everyone safe out on the water.

• Examine carefully. If you gave the boat a proper winter lay up, either at your local dealer or as a do-it-yourself project, your first cold start should be fairly easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s something you should take lightly, and the longer it’s been sitting, the more important it is to do it right. Since you probably removed your battery during the off-season, make sure it’s properly charged and connected. Check your fluid levels, make sure your belts are in good condition and tight, and check your throttle linkages.  

• Get fired up. Next, cover your cold-water intakes with “muffs” or “flushers” and connect to your garden hose (outboard or sterndrive…don’t skip this step or you’ll ruin your impeller!). Also, remember to lower your outdrive to the lowest position possible before turning the key. If it’s tilted up (like you would normally have it on your trailer), you risk engine damage because the oil can’t circulate properly. After starting, let the motor warm up for several minutes while you check for leaks, and give the entire boat a careful walk-around, looking for anything usual. Turn the engine off and wait several minutes before repeating the previous steps.

• Get ready to roll. Before you hook up to your tow vehicle, check the condition and air pressure on your trailer tires. If it hasn’t been moved in months, make sure they haven’t developed “flat spots,” which can affect the way it handles on the road. Check your bow and stern straps (and bow cable) for wear. Unscrew your drain plug and screw it back in to make sure it’s properly seated.

• Take a brake. After hooking up, have someone step on the brake pedal while you make sure the trailer brake lights are working. While still in your driveway, make sure your brakes feel (and sound) secure.

• Pre-launch prep. After arriving at the launch ramp parking area, pull off to the side and disconnect your brake lights (hot light bulbs and plastic do not play well with cold water). Remove and store your boat cover and stern straps. Recheck your drain plug and turn your blower on.

• Down the ramp. Back your trailer down the ramp until your outdrive contacts water. Lower your drive and fire up your engine. Unhook your bow strap and safety cable, then back the boat off the trailer and tie up at the courtesy dock for passenger loading, or to pull up and park your tow vehicle if you’re by yourself.

Whether you’re a veteran boater or this will be your first exciting season, following these steps (every time you launch) will help ensure you get the most out of your time on the water. Oh, and you might want to check that drain plug again!

 

The Man Behind The Weld

March 14, 2013

Frank Andrews is a man who works with purpose and pride. As a TIG welder in the Godfrey Pontoons facility since 1982, Frank literally builds the boat’s foundation, joining the seams of the aluminum tubes, and adding the keels, splash fins and saddle brackets. In fact, it’s skilled craftsmen like Frank that allow us offer the best warranties in the industry, and give you such a dependable high-and-dry ride. 

But that’s not the only foundation that Frank is responsible for building. As the pastor of Calvary Praise & Worship Center, Rev. Frank stays pretty busy on the weekends as well, leading his congregation of around 150 members. It’s a calling he heard as a young man, around the time he was learning the welding trade. And he says there are definitely similarities in the way he approaches both of his occupations. 

For Frank, it all comes down to the joy found in a job well done, whether it’s a church member encouraged or a metal seam perfectly united. Because when you work hard and strive for excellence in everything you do, the result can be amazing. It’s a philosophy that runs through Godfrey Pontoons because of Frank and the dedicated men and women that work next to him. It’s a creed that says we will do everything we can to make the next boat our best ever. Because that boat might be yours. And around here, that means something. 

 

Heading To A Boat Show? Remember These 3 Key Tips

February 4, 2013

All throughout the spring, summer and fall months, most of us are out on the water. If the weather’s nice, we’re boating. Every weekend, for sure, and maybe even a quite a few “personal” days when the opportunity arises. But when the weather gets colder, our thoughts turn from boating to boat shows. 

Whether you’re looking for your first boat or you’re in the market to upgrade, winter boat shows help us keep the fire burning until our glorious spring launch finally rolls around. In addition to the fun atmosphere, gleaming gel coat and new gadgets you just can’t live without, there’s something else that should be drawing you right through the front door. The deals!

Think about it. Since the boating season is over in most parts of the country, and boats have been serviced and stored during the fall, your local dealer will be wheeling and dealing with all kinds of special offers and manufacturers’ incentives. If you’re looking for a boat, you owe it to yourself to attend a boat show. 

To help you navigate the aisles like a pro, here are the Top 3 things to think about as the boat show rolls through your community:

1) Do your homework and narrow down your search before you get there. It adds to the experience if you walk in with a good idea about the type of boat that best fits your lifestyle. Do you need seating and storage for lots of family and friends? Are you more into performance and styling? Do your kids spend most of their time tubing, skiing or wakeboarding? Will you spend a lot of time on big water? Have you always dreamed of anchoring and overnighting in a serene cove? There will be lots of terrific distractions…be prepared!

2) Get to know your dealer. Nearly as important as the type of boat you buy is the feeling you get from your dealer. They will be instrumental in helping you get a great deal. They will be delivering your boat. They will be there for routine service, storage and anything else you need after your purchase. Talk to the salesperson at the booth. Ask to speak to the owner of the dealership. Chances are, they are one of your neighbors. A good dealer knows that your relationship begins with the sale, not ends with the sale.

3) Shop for value, not just price. This is a simple idea, but it’s harder than it sounds. Cheaper does not mean value. There are price wars at just about every boat show between competing lines. Ask about quality construction. Ask about resale value. Ask about financing offers. The cream rises to the top, as they say. You will pat yourself on the back a year or two (or 10) down the line when you make quality a priority over price alone.

Finding The Right Dealer Is Key To A Great Boating Experience

January 31, 2013

 

While there are some similarities between a car dealership and a boat dealership, you may be surprised at how much they don’t have in common.

Sure, they both have showrooms, shiny new vehicles and salespeople. But with few exceptions, a car purchase comes down to function and price. And even if you wind up getting your automobile serviced at the dealership, it tends to be a fairly anonymous event. Buying a boat, however, could easily be characterized as starting a relationship. And because of that, it’s worth putting a little time into finding the “right one.” 

Here are some pointers for narrowing down your choices and settling down with a boat dealer who will be by your side for the long haul.

• Do you feel comfortable? If you’re feeling pressured or stressed or tense in the showroom or at the boat show booth, you may want to keep looking. Anxious excitement is part of the boat-buying experience and should be enjoyed. Those other things, well, who needs them? 

• Do their customers rave about them? Good dealers would love for you to meet and talk to their customers. Nobody does a better job of selling a dealership than satisfied customers. Remember, this is a relationship that will last for years. Longtime customers are a sure sign that the dealership appreciates their patronage and support.

• Do they have a busy service department? This one may seem a little counter-intuitive because you want to be first in line. But think about it. Who has more experience solving common issues? Who has a well-staffed, well-trained crew? Who can offer great rates because they are doing volume business? More than likely it’s the busy service bay. 

• Do they host events on the water or showroom? Many times a dealer will gather customers of a certain brand for an afternoon of socializing with other owners. Sometimes there’s a parking lot cookout with face-painting for the kids. Other times, they turn their showroom into a movie theater in the middle of winter. There is just something wonderful about mingling with others that share your love for the water. 

The point is that your boat-owning experience can be and should be just as exciting, fun and rewarding as your boat-buying experience. Good boat dealers get that. More importantly, good boat dealers go out of their way to make sure that you get that!

 

Check Out This Week's Boat Shows!

January 15, 2013

Boat shows this week featuring Godfrey Pontoon Boats include...Toronto (Dundas Marine, Riverside Marine, The Cove, Campbell's Landing Marine & Fenelon Falls Marina), Austin (Lake LBJ Marineland), Cleveland (Atwood Lake Boats), Milwaukee (Lauderdale Lakes Marina & Summerset Marine), Cedar Falls (Coralville Lake Marina), Providence (Ocean House Marina), Sioux Falls (Soo Sports), Huntsville (Russell Marine), Cinncinati (Captain's Cove Marine & Dave Arbogast Marine), Lake City SC (Marshall's Marine), Eau Claire WI (Zacho's Sports Center) & Orlando (BMC Boats).

Now get out there and have some fun!

Huge Week For Boat Shows!

January 10, 2013

If you live in Toronto (Dundas Marine, Riverside Marina, The Cove, Campbell's Landing Marina & Fenelon Falls Marina), Little Rock (Trader Bill's Marine & Red River Boat Center), Denver (Island Lake Marine), Myrtle Beach (Marine Service Center), Nashville (The Boat Locker), Atlanta (Atlanta Marine), Sacramento (Liquid Wrenches), Chicago (Huber's Marine & Lauderdale Lakes), Columbus (Paul's Marine), Kansas City (Table Rock Boats), Houston (Ron Hoover RV & Marine), Belton TX (Lake LBJ Marineland), Raleigh NC (Chatlee Boats), Davenport IA (Coralville Lake Marina) or Eau Claire WI (Zacho's Sports Center)...you're in luck.

There's a boat show this weekend! Come check out what's new with Sanpan, Aqua Patio & Sweetwater...you know you love that new pontoon smell!

 

Triple-Tubes Ramp Up Performance!

January 8, 2013

With a growing customer demand for high-performance pontoon boats, Godfrey Pontoons continues to refine and expand its lineup of boats featuring an optional center pontoon, including the exclusive TOTAL Package and G-Force III technologies for its popular Sweetwater line.

The increasing popularity of triple-tube packages continues to be driven by customers who are demanding more speed and performance than ever before. Of course, pontoon owners can still enjoy a leisurely cruise or on-water picnic, but now they can just as easily fire up the motor with six to eight people aboard and effortlessly pull a skier at 30 mph.

 “The great news is that today’s pontoon boats can do far more today than ever before,” said Godfrey Pontoons Brand Manager Bob Wachs. “And when you add the reassuring comfort, stability and handling of a well-designed triple-tube system like TOTAL Package, these pontoons stack up against any other boat on the water.”

 This year’s TOTAL Package (Triple Outperforming Tube And Launchpad) for the Sweetwater line includes:

• Chambered G-Force III center pontoon with in-floor ski locker

• Sleek Godfrey premium nose cone and all-welded V-keel

• Performance lifting strakes

• Stay-dry, no-splash fins

• Smooth-riding aluminum under-deck skin

• Quick-to-plane G-Force III LaunchPad motor pan

• Full-day 50-gallon fuel tank

• Optional extended center pontoon

• Power-assist steering system

Not only does the added center tube improve watersports performance, but it also makes the boat much easier to handle, with a stable ride, even in rough water and when making hard, high-speed turns.

Increasing the stability and handling has also lead to the ability to add outboard power up to 300 horsepower, which means that consumers looking for top speeds of up to 50 mph now can consider 24- to 25-foot triple-tube pontoons such as Sanpan and Aqua Patio when making a buying decision.

Even value-oriented buyers have options like a triple-tube equipped 22-foot Sweetwater, which is rated for up to 150 horsepower. A recent test by Mercury Marine, with a 22-foot Sweetwater and Mercury Verado 150 hp 4-Stroke, resulted in a top speed of 40 mph, making it one of the fastest 22-foot triple-tube pontoons on the water!

 

Winter Boat Show Season Begins!

January 2, 2013

Happy New Year...and welcome to another season of winter boat shows! If you're in Houston or Columbus this weekend, please stop by and see our partners at Ron Hoover's and Paul's Marine!

 

Nautic Global Group Dealers Earn Top Industry Awards

December 13, 2012

Nautic Global Group is proud to recognize its retail partners named to Boating Industry’s Top 100 program this year, including Dealer of the Year Legendary Marine — with multiple locations on Florida’s Gulf Coast carrying Hurricane Deck Boats, Rinker Sport Boats and Express Cruisers, and Godfrey Pontoons.

“As we continue to expand our dealer network, we’ve been fortunate to partner with some of the strongest marine retailers in the world,” said Doug Sexton, Nautic Global Group’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “These awards are a fitting tribute to the hard work and dedication of these business owners and their teams.”

The 14 Nautic Global Group dealers represented on this year’s Top 100 list include: Atwood Lake Boats, BMC Boats, Colorado Boat Center, Davey Marine Center, Deep Creek Marina, Gordon Bay Marine, The Great Outdoors Marine, Legendary Marine, Lynnhaven Marine, Maple City Marine, Omaha Marine Center, Russell Marine, Ski & Sports, and Woodward Marine.

Other Nautic Global Group retailers receiving key awards at the 2012 Marine Dealers Conference & Expo event include:

· The Great Outdoors Marine: 5-Star Dealer Certification (Best Practices)

· BMC Boats: Best in Class (Marketing)

“One thing all these dealers have in common is their superior customer service,” said Sexton. “And it’s a commitment to their local boating communities that translates into success. These companies demonstrate how positive experiences at the dealership can help grow boating while growing sales.”

 

Best Time To Buy? December...BEFORE Boat Shows

December 13, 2012

We all know that the Winter Boat Show season is a great time to get a deal on a new boat, right? But it might surprise you to know that December might actually be the best time of the entire year to make a deal. Think about it...when are dealers receiving truckloads of inventory? Right before boat shows! High inventory levels, winter moving in fast, AND the holidays around the corner...that's a win-win. Just check out these boats leaving the factory and heading to a dealer near you. Thinking about a new boat? Think December!

 

Got Pontoon Performance?

November 26, 2012

Nautic Global Group Creates New High-Level Customer Service Role

October 5, 2012

In response to increasing boat sales and a rapidly expanding worldwide dealer network, Nautic Global Group has named Natalie Thomas to the newly created position of Director of Customer Service.

Thomas, who has extensive customer service process experience with Harmon Automotive, NIBCO and Delta Faucet Company, will design, implement and oversee customer service initiatives across many areas including parts, sales coordination, warranty and process improvement. 

"We are seeing a tremendous increase in business, and that presents all kinds of new challenges," said Jim Orbik, Chief Operating Officer for Nautic Global Group. "In an effort to stay ahead of these challenges and continue to deliver the high level of service expected by our dealer partners, we have created this new position. Natalie will bring a fresh new vision and an incredible amount of energy to this important role." 

While individual departments have previously been responsible for integrating customer service programs, Thomas will now oversee all initiatives to ensure consistency and proper accountability. She will be located in the company's Elkhart, Indiana, corporate offices, and will report directly to Orbik. 

"It's refreshing to see a company as committed to delivering superior customer service as Nautic Global Group," Thomas said. "I'm excited and honored to be here, and I am ready to hit the ground running to help raise the bar for both our dealers and consumers." 

 

New Brand Manager for Polar Kraft & Parti Kraft

September 25, 2012

 

Nautic Global Group has named boating industry veteran Conrad West as the new Brand Manager of its Parti Kraft pontoon and Polar Kraft aluminum fishing boat lines.

 Conrad, who has worked with Sea Ray, Monterey and Chris-Craft, most recently held a number of different roles at Forest River, helping that company launch and grow its Berkshire pontoon business. 

"There are some great opportunities with the Polar Kraft and Parti Kraft brands, and Conrad is the perfect choice to help take them to the next level," said Doug Sexton, Nautic Global Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "He will be focused on growing our dedicated dealer network in specific markets, and guiding the development of exciting new designs."

Built in Nautic Global Group’s Syracuse, Indiana, Aluminum Boat facility which has been building boats since 1954, the two brands are known for their quality and rugged construction.  

"There is a real excitement surrounding this new initiative, and I am thrilled to be a part of it," said West. "It's not often you get the chance to reshape the future of two classic American boat brands. While maintaining the extremely high existing quality, the new direction means we can be even more responsive to our dealers and boat-buying consumers, and develop products that are perfect for their particular markets."

 

Godfrey Pontoons Photo Contest Winner!

September 10, 2012

Congratulations to Larry Anderson for his winning entry in the latest Godfrey Pontoon Boats Owner's Club Photo Contest! He wins a $50 Visa Gift Card for his shot "Sophia Gets A Boat Driving Lesson." Have you got a great picture you'd like to share? Just click here to enter!

 

Introducing the Aqua Patio 240 OB Elite!

September 7, 2012

When you’re looking for the perfect combination of performance, comfort and innovative features, the all-new Aqua Patio 240 OB Elite has everything wrapped up in a single package.

Even when it’s sitting at the dock, this boat turns heads. The stylish rail design with a choice of contrasting rail skin insert colors (great selection of five base colors available), the beautiful soft-touch vinyl, a specially designed ski tow bar and 27-inch diameter outer tubes are incredible standard features that would be pricey options on other boats.

With seating for 14, the 240 Elite really is designed to take the party to the water. With the push of a button, you can even transform the rear cockpit bench into an expansive rear sunpad that can be further converted into rear-facing sun lounges by propping up the front cushions. Returning the bench cushions back to the upright position with another push of the button creates a rear-facing aft-deck rumble seat that’s perfect for gearing up for watersports or keeping an eye on the kids while they’re swimming. Key options include a triple-tube performance upgrade (with 27-inch diameter center pontoon), Versa Teak flooring and a booming Sony or Fusion Amphitheatre Sound System with Polk Audio speakers.

The incredible size of this boat means there’s plenty of room to stretch out, and space for all the gear you’ll need for an unforgettable day on the water. When you are looking for a do-everything, bring-everyone, head-turning performance pontoon, the Aqua Patio 240 OB Elite is the boat for you.

 

What’s New For 2013? In A Word…Versatility!

September 6, 2012

In checking out the latest trends for new boats that will be coming to a boat show near you, there is one word above all others that stands out: versatility. Where dedicated-purpose vessels (fishing, wakeboarding, day boating) might have been all the rage in the previous decade, there is a definite move toward innovative designs that help you get a variety of uses out of your boat. And it's easy to understand why...you just get more bang for your buck.

It’s a trend that has quickly taken hold of boat buyers as boat builders challenge their engineers and designers to find new and exciting ways to integrate details such as quick-change floor plans, hideaway storage options, and entertainment features to maximize your time on the water. Where as before you may have felt as though you had to compromise, now you can really get a boat that truly fits your lifestyle.

Take the all-new Aqua Patio 250 Express by Godfrey Pontoons, for instance. Pontoon lovers have always enjoyed the cruising performance and upgraded amenities of the Aqua Patio brand, but now you can go from serious watersports boat to a comfortable and luxurious party on the water in the same afternoon. The integrated wake tower with optional board racks, custom-designed aluminum tow bar, G Force triple tube, and an outboard rating of up to 300 horsepower says this pontoon is up for anything you can dish out. But when it’s time to kick back and cruise, enjoy the exclusive tower-supported bimini top, dual cockpit pedestal tables, and stunning carbon fiber pearl upholstery.

The days of one boat for this and one boat for that are done. You use your boat in so many different ways…why not get everything that fits your lifestyle all in one package? These days it’s easier than ever to get exactly what you want. The time has come to say NO to compromise and YES to customize!

Introducing the Aqua Patio 250 Express!

September 5, 2012

Sometimes you just need to pull out all the stops and design a boat that’s beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. A boat that makes everyone who sees it stop and say...WOW! That’s just what Godfrey Pontoons has done with the amazing new Aqua Patio 250 Express.

From the gleaming metallic silver fiberglass forward and rear fenders that reveal comfortable and functional rumble seats (forward-facing on the forward deck, and rear-facing on the aft deck), to the standard blue LED interior lights and striking optional under deck and swim lights, to the aggressive and functional bright-dipped aluminum wakeboard tower (optional board rack and tower speakers), the 250 Express is a head-turning G Force III triple tube that handles as good as it looks. And with an outboard rating of up to 300 horsepower, it sets the new standard for performance pontoon.

Other standard features include a revolutionary Aqua Patio-exclusive easy fold out tower-supported bimini top, a specially designed new lightweight aluminum ski tow bar, a unique stainless steel front gate, amphitheater sound system with wired stern remote, stunning carbon fiber pearl upholstery, stainless steel corner castings at each deck corner with LED docking and navigation lights along with Aqua Patio logo and integrated pull-up cleats, gray vinyl on the fore and aft decks with silver Versa Teak option, dual cockpit pedestal tables which keep a center walk-through aisle, and an all-new stainless steel easy-access boarding ladder design.

If you want to see the future of pontoon design, just check out the incredible all-new Aqua Patio 250 Express. Best to get on board early, however, there’s already a waiting list for this cutting-edge model. 

 

 

Nautic Global Group Introduces Eight All-New Boats

September 4, 2012

 

Nautic Global Group introduced new models for each of its primary boat lines at its annual international dealer conference. The new boats were developed based on ongoing requests from consumers for models with specific features. 

"It's important that we continue to set the bar higher and keep working to develop innovative products to inspire our dealers and our boat-buying consumers," said Doug Sexton, Nautic Global Group Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "By adding new offerings to each one of our boat lines, we are demonstrating a commitment to maintain our leadership role in the industry.”

Nautic Global Group manufactures Rinker Express Cruisers and Captiva Sport Boats, Hurricane Deck Boats, Polar Kraft Aluminum Fishing Boats and Parti Kraft Pontoons, as well as Godfrey Pontoon Boats including Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater.

New models announced at the conference were the Rinker Captiva 186 Fish & Ski, Rinker Captiva 220 MTX Extreme, Rinker Captiva 236 BR, Hurricane SunDeck 2220 DC (available as outboard or I/O), Hurricane SunDeck Sport 203 OB, Aqua Patio 250 Express, Aqua Patio 240 OB Elite, and Polar Kraft Kodiak Sport 170 Fish & Ski. The company also made significant improvements to the entire Sweetwater Pontoon Boat series.

“These new boats fit perfectly with our existing brand lineup, and they truly represent our forward-thinking design,” Sexton said. “Nothing is off the table as far as we’re concerned when it comes to developing exciting new products. Whether it’s creating a full-featured fishing boat using our wildly popular Rinker Captiva 186 or completely re-imagining the future of pontoons with the incredible Aqua Patio 250 Express, our goal is to lead through innovation.”

 

Most Comfortable Pontoons?

August 20, 2012

You've probably heard about the legendary comfort of Godfrey Pontoons, and here is some indisputable evidence!

True American Hero

July 31, 2012

What an incredible honor to be joined by American hero and football legend, Rocky Bleier for our annual dealer conference! Mr. Bleier won a college football national championship in 1966 while attending the University of Notre Dame and went on to join the Pittsburgh Steelers before being drafted into the U.S. Army and being sent to Vietnam following his rookie season. After being seriously wounded in the leg while on a mission, doctors gave him no chance of ever being able to play again in the National Football League. However, hard work and determination enabled him to beat the odds, and he went on to make the team and eventually win four Super Bowls with the Steelers. His message of overcoming adversity through perseverance and dedication was absolutely exhilarating!

Wedding PARTY!

July 19, 2012

What an honor for Sweetwater to be included in such a great milestone! Congrats to Paul & Erika on their one-year anniversary coming up July 30!

Discount On Godfrey Pontoon Gear!

July 19, 2012

Lots of new merchandise to choose from at www.godfreypontoongear.com!

 

Reputation To Build On

July 17, 2012

What's almost as awesome as a Sanpan 2500 SL? How about one made out of legos...

Rockets Red Glare! A Guide To Enjoying Fireworks On The Water

June 25, 2012

About the only way to make a Fourth of July fireworks display even more spectacular is to watch it from your boat. Not only do you get to enjoy the relatively cooler temperatures as the evening sets in, you essentially get double the show because of the reflections off the surface of the water. If this is your first time to venture out on the water at night, let’s just say it will be tough to spend an Independence Day on terra firma ever again.

Sure, it takes a little planning to get ready for an on-the-water fireworks display, but the extra effort is worth it to ensure that your crew will have a fun, safe and memorable night. The two biggest challenges? Well, it will be dark, of course, and more than likely, you won’t be the only one out there with this great idea. As long as you keep those two things in mind and follow these tips, things should go smoothly. 

SAFETY CHECK

Well before you get underway, take time to check that all running and anchor lights are working properly. And make sure you have all of your safety equipment including a whistle (or other approved noise-making advice) and a life jacket for everyone on board. Sometimes you’ll have more passengers than usual for a special trip like this, so a life-jacket count is important. Remember that water-enforcement authorities will be out in force.

EAR PROTECTION

Make sure you have ear protection for children or hearing-sensitive adults. The sound of exploding fireworks is greatly amplified across open water. And while they may love being part of the action on most boat trips, please leave your pets at home. The disorienting lights and loud sounds can cause anxiety in even the calmest animal. And there are already enough distractions for the captain and crew.

GET THERE EARLY

Find a good spot well before the show starts. Whether you’re beaching, rafting with other boats, or dropping anchor in open water, you will not regret getting there a little early and staking your claim (well outside the restricted area around the launching platform) while there’s still some daylight. This will help ensure that you’ve chosen a spot well out of the main channel where all the latecomers will be rushing in to find any remaining anchorages.

JUST SAY NO 

For the safety of your passengers and other boaters, keep libations off limits for the captain and vital crew. You will have plenty of things to keep track of before, during and after the show. Keep your wits about you and don’t “be that guy.”

LIGHTS OUT

Don’t add to the show. That means turning off all non-required lights onboard and never launch your own fireworks from the boat. No spotlights, no flashlights, no sparklers. It just detracts from the viewing experience for your boat and everyone around you. And keep your radio off or turned down. There will be plenty of ambient noise and sounds to keep you occupied.

TAKE IT EASY

Finally, after the show, don’t be in a hurry to leave. Most accidents happen when there’s a mad dash back to the dock. Often the ones in a hurry have not heeded the advice to stay away from the holiday “spirits.” You’ve already taken the time to get set up and properly anchored. Enjoy the mass exodus and a sky full of stars while the crowds file out of the area.

Enjoying a fireworks show from the water is one of the great delights for any boating family. It’s an experience you won’t forget. And with a few precautions and a little planning, you can make it a memorable experience you can enjoy safely.

 

7 Golden Rules For Being A Good Marina Neighbor

June 25, 2012

Being a good marina neighbor basically comes down to doing for them what you would have them do for you. That’s right…it’s the Golden Rule. Be gracious, be helpful, be generous, and be considerate. But you knew that already. It’s the others who might need a helping hand, right? Here are some pointers to help guide you in building a great relationship with the folks in your surrounding marina slips and in the process set a good example for everyone else.

SLOW DOWN

It’s easy to rush at the end of the day. You’re tired, it’s getting dark and cocktail hour is rapidly approaching. But when you’re pulling into the marina, take care to slow down. No wake speed is top speed. Creeping along is better. You have more time to react, you won’t create a disturbing wake, and you will give others a chance to help guide you in.

STERN IN

 Yes, it takes a little more time to back into your slip, but not only is it much easier to get on and off your boat aft, but you provide a clearer walking path along the docks. This is especially important for boats with large bows or pulpits.

DECLUTTER

Coil your dock lines, organize your shore power cords, stow watersports gear and life jackets, and put away your cleaning supplies. It’s getting dark, remember? It’s hard to see those hazards, and tripping on a hose on a splintery wooden dock while wearing flip-flops is not a fun way to end a fun day on the water.

SHUT IT DOWN 

Going up to the marina restaurant for a catfish dinner? Shut down your gear. That means turning off your lights, your marine radio, CD player, television and everything else that can annoy your neighbors while you’re gone. A shrieking radio or television can quickly put the damper on a relaxing evening.

GO WITH THE FLOW 

You had a big day. You’re probably worn out and tired. Others probably are too. Some marinas seem to have a bigger nightlife than a daylife, but many wind down after hours. Don’t be too rowdy if everyone’s turning in early. Don’t be too whiny if there’s a party a couple of boats over.

BE EFFICIENT

Need gas? Get it and move along. Need to pack or unpack the boat? Use the designated areas. Don’t dawdle around fuel docks or launch ramps. Boaters are generally patient people, but this can be a big source of irritation, especially among the “regulars.” Do some advance planning and think about your strategy for dealing with fuel and launching/retrieving efficiently.

KNOW THE RULES

Most marinas have established policies to help ensure a peaceful community. Some rules are common to all marinas and some are “house” rules that deal with special situations that have come up before in that location. Many times you can get the “lay of the land” by having a quick, friendly conversation with the marina manager or your neighboring boaters. One of the most important things to remember is to respect the marina’s “quiet hours.” 

Stuck In The Muck? Here’s What To Do When You Run Aground

June 19, 2012

It’s not if…it’s when. No matter how prepared you are, no matter how alert you are, no matter what your chart plotter/sonar/depth gauge says, one of these days, you’re going to come to an abrupt stop against your will. And if it hasn’t happened yet, you just wait. But it doesn’t have to be the end of your boating day. And if you follow these steps, you can limit the damage done and the time it takes to free your vessel from its embarrassing perch.

EVALUATE

We’re power boaters, and the first thing we’re going to want to do is power up and through the problem. Wrong. That is a recipe for making things worse and digging yourself in even deeper. The first course of action is to have everyone on board put on a life jacket if they haven’t already. Then, evaluate your situation. And to do that safely, go ahead and put the boat in idle. Obviously if your prop is striking something, you want to shut the motor off. But idle may be enough to see what’s going on and still give you the ability to maneuver quickly if there’s a ripping current, outgoing tide or heavy boat traffic.

EXAMINE

Rocky shoal, marshy muck or sandbar? This is going to determine your next move. If you throw the boat into reverse and try to blast your way off this darned impediment backwards, you run the risk of filling your water intake with all sorts of engine-fouling badness. Plus, that metal propeller is no match for submerged boulders. If you’re in a tidal basin or on a managed lake with water-level fluctuations, or a river that you’ve run safely all summer, remember it may now be littered with unseen obstacles. Make sure you take a minute to make sure you know what you’re dealing with.

HARD OR EASY?

Are you aground hard or easy? That is, deep into the mess or just barely into the mess? This has a lot to do with your speed at impact and what it is you’re on. Time to do a visual inspection of the hull. Lean over the sides or, if it’s safe to do so, hop in wearing a life jacket and paddle over. If you’ve got a damaged or punctured hull, the safest thing to do is anchor and call for assistance. The last thing you want is to work your boat free, only to find that you’re taking on water.

FIND DEEP WATER

Best-case scenario is that you’re on easy and the current, tide or another boat’s wake may help set you free. Anchors should be set upwind. Use a tube or life jacket to help swim it into position if it’s safe to do so. Make sure you know where the deeper water is, so you can move in that direction.

REDUCE DRAFT

If you’re on hard, though, it may be necessary to get busy. In that case, reduce draft as much as possible by offloading weight. Start with any water you may be holding. That’s the really heavy stuff. Or reposition your passengers as needed. Other items that may make sense to offload, such as full propane tanks, can be loaded onto a tube or dingy and tethered alongside. If the tide is running out, consider that you may need to support or cushion the hull as the boat loses float.

NEVER DO THIS

As a last resort, before getting professional help from a tow service or local boating law enforcement, you may be tempted to try getting help from another recreational boater. Don’t do it. Most pleasure crafts don’t have deck hardware strong enough for such feats. And even if the cleats hold, the lines you have aboard will likely break under the stress, creating a dangerous situation for everyone aboard both boats. 

 

Join The Party! A Guide To Boat Raft-Ups

June 6, 2012

At one time or another, you’ve probably seen a group of boats banded together in a floating, fun-loving, makeshift community.  And when you see everyone swimming, grilling, laughing, dancing and generally having a great time, you might just ask yourself: How can I join the party?

Raft-ups are great way to enjoy spending time with friends, family and, occasionally, complete strangers. As with any worthwhile endeavor, however, there are both time-honored traditions and unwritten rules one must abide in the quest of boating fun. And once you master a few easy techniques, you’ll be a raft-up master in no time. 

Gear Up

You’ve probably already got the necessary gear on board. If you don’t, a quick stop at any marine retailer can help you fill in the gaps. Before you pull up to a raft-up, make sure you have at least two fenders, four bow lines, two spring lines, a good anchor appropriate for your body of water (sand, mud, rocks, etc.), and anchor line equal to about 10 times the length of your boat. One optional piece of equipment is a boat hook, which really helps with close-quarter pulling and pushing to keep your hands safely inside the boat.

Step Up

Well, it never seems to work out this way, but in an ideal world, you want the biggest boat to set a good, strong anchor, then have all the other, presumably smaller, boats start tying up from either side outward. About every third boat then will set anchor and ease into the raft-up. If you’ve got a raft-up veteran directing the show, things will move quickly and efficiently. If not, don’t worry…figuring out each individual raft-up layout is half the fun.

Heads Up

Assuming you’ve been invited, pull up within hailing distance and get your host or other appointed dignitary on the VHF radio or cell phone. If technology fails you, which it has been known to do, look for the wildly waving arms of a friendly guide telling you what side you’ll be hooking up to.

Set Up

Spring into action by getting your fenders out on both sides of your boat, securing your bow and stern lines to the cleats, and getting your spring lines out and available. Make sure everyone on your boat has a job. You need your lines manned, but don’t toss them to the other boat until you’re almost in place. Those well-meaning souls can tug you out of position in a hurry. Trim up your engine and trim tabs to make it easier to glide into place.

Pull Up

You want momentum, but not speed. Bump the throttle as needed to keep your forward motion, but careful not to create a wake and slosh the raft-up. You should be approaching the line astern, and if things are going as planned, everyone’s bow should be into the wind. Be on the lookout for any swimmers, your first priority is safety for everyone inside and outside your boat. If you’ve got kids or other guests that aren’t helping with the raft-up approach, they need to be seated and quiet. Pull up easy and stop at idle next to the boat you’ll tie off with, but don’t turn off your engine until you’re securely attached.

Lines Out

Toss bow and stern lines to the adjacent boat and adjust forward and aft so your stern lines up with the other boat. This makes it easier to step from one boat to the other. Use spring lines between boats to make sure you don’t shift forward and aft. Now you can shut down the engine and allow passengers to move. Make sure children are wearing life jackets at all times.

Party On

Now for the social aspect of rafting. You should have brought enough food, beverages and appetizers for your boat and extras to share with the other members of the raft-up. Be considerate about your music volume, splashing, language and anything else that may rankle your new neighbors. Be willing and able to lend a hand as new boats arrive or leave.

Take Off

Just like with jumper cables, your departure should operate in reverse order of your arrival. Help the folks on the end if needed and be patient for your turn. If you’re one of the first boats out, take off slowly with no wake so you don’t disturb the other rafters. If you (or another boat) need to leave from a spot in the middle of the line, tie two long bow lines to boats on either side of you, and a long stern line to one of the boats. Take off your spring lines, then the bow lines, then the stern lines and back up and out. Toss the stern line from one remaining boat to the other, pull them together, and secure lines between them.

Out After Dark? A Guide To Boating At Night

May 30, 2012

Even with endlessly long summer days, sooner or later you may want to stretch your boating fun past sunset and into the evening. And while there are some things you need to consider before you take this step, you are missing out on half the fun if you only hit the water under blue skies. Here’s what you need to know to be safe when the sun goes down.

SLOW DOWN

Cruising under the moonlight can make you feel like you’ve got the place to yourself. More than likely, you don’t. You’ll need to be on the lookout for the running lights of other vessels, aids to navigation in the water, and 100 others things that inevitably pop up out of nowhere at night. Since your reaction time will be slower, and your eyes will be working overtime to distinguish all kinds of different shapes, ease up on the throttle. By the way, that creature you see in the water is more than likely not a mermaid: If you’re cruising the Intracoastal Waterway down South…it’s probably a manatee.

SEE & BE SEEN

You may be tempted to shut off your running lights sometimes…especially if you’re drifting (or at anchor). This is a big mistake if you’re anywhere near the channel. Many times you will justify going incognito because there’s a decent moon, and once your eyes adjust, you can see just fine. But it’s critically important that you leave your lights on when you’re out on the water. They are not for you, after all. They’re for the other boaters to be able to spot you from a distance. The more reaction time, the better.

NO SUDDEN MOVES

Even with the required running lights, your eyes can still play tricks on you. Boats running in your line of sight can confuse your senses at times and convince you that you’re seeing something you’re not. For that reason, always try to maintain a fairly consistent track at night. Doing donuts, figure eights, and zigzagging across the water is asking for trouble. Plus, any passengers onboard may not be ready for abrupt maneuvers and could be tossed overboard. Since they will they be tougher to spot in dark water, you risk striking them with the boat or propeller.

CRANK IT DOWN

Music and boating go together like peanut butter and jelly during the day. But after hours, it’s more like peanut butter and anchovies. In other words, it’s really bad form to blast your tunes above background level. Sound carries extremely well over water, and even a moderate volume can be an annoyance to folks who have already packed it in for the night. Keep your tunes at a level where you can have a normal conversation. You can cut loose again the next day when you break out the watersports gear.

TOP IT OFF

It is a real bummer to run out of gas any time and any place. But when you’re out on the water at night, it’s an entirely new level of trouble. Being in a position where you can’t avoid other objects and get yourself home is bad enough, but it is a long, difficult process for someone else to have to find your position in the dark, down some off-the-beaten-path canal. Make sure you top the tank off before the sun goes down, while the fuel stations are still open and easy to see.

SWIM...DON’T DIVE

There is something really thrilling about sliding into the water at night. Note the word “sliding.” Diving into dark water at night is a really bad idea. Because no matter what that depth finder says, you never know what submerged tree, Pinto fender or ridiculously tall rock lurks beneath the surface. And since you’re going into the water at night, don’t take a chance that your head will be the first hard object that makes contact. Whatever you do, just go gentle into that good night (swim).

KEEP YOUR WITS           

You already know that your reaction time will be diminished because of the darkness. You’ll add to those effects exponentially with every cocktail. And if that wasn’t bad enough, reduced inhibitions will increase the hey-watch-this instinct that can turn a fun cruise under the stars into an evening that is best avoided. Stay off the booze. It’s your responsibility as captain.

Victor Hotel Foxtrot! Know How & When To Use Your Marine Radio

May 22, 2012

Leave it to those Hollywood movies to teach all us boaters a bad habit or two. When they've run out of gas and are running late for a wedding, the first response for actors on the big screen seems to be to grab the radio microphone and start shouting MAYDAY! But while that may be fine for dramatic effect, it's the last thing you should do in real life. More on that in a minute.

For now just understand that if there’s one piece of safety equipment on your boat that rivals a life jacket in terms of being valuable for you (and your guests) in an emergency, it’s your VHF marine radio (either handheld or fixed-mount).  When you’re out of cell phone service coverage (or the battery’s dead or you left it on your charger at home), your VHF radio can summon the help you need in the case of an accident. Certain frequencies, such as channels 9 and 16, are monitored by the Coast Guard (or other boating law enforcement agency) and, when used properly, a marine radio can be an effective way to communicate with other vessels, along with harbormasters and marinas, for various reasons. 

And it’s important to know and respect the appropriate etiquette for using a VHF radio to make sure your messages are clearly understood and a proper response can be put into effect. Here are some key points to remember when using your marine radio.

Know Where It Is

 Although recreational power boats under 65 feet in length are not required to have a marine radio on board, it’s really a good idea to have one whenever you go out. Fixed-mount radios are just that, fixed to the helm like your CD player. Handhelds can be stowed out of the way, but always know where it is. Emergencies can happen quickly, whether it’s aboard your boat or on another vessel. 

Monitor Channel 16

When your radio is on but not transmitting, keep it on Channel 16. You are required to come to the aid of other vessels and Channel 16 is used for hailing other boaters. You can switch to another agreed-upon channel after contact is made. This channel is also used for weather alerts and reports of hazards to navigation. 

Radio Checks

Rather than use "blind" radio checks, the current preferred methods for determining if your radio is working properly are to call another boat directly (by name) or contact a known shore station (marina, fueling station, etc.). Another idea is to tune to a weather frequency. Chances are that if you can hear the weather broadcast, your radio is working, and the antenna is likely sound.

Keep It Clean 

Don’t use bad language or broadcast anything besides clear, easy-to-understand requests or instructions. For that reason, make sure you supervise use by children and anyone not familiar with the rules.

Speak, Release, Wait

VHF radios work like walkie-talkies, not telephones. For that reason, only one person can talk at a time. You press the button, send your message (boat name, radio channel, location, and “over”), release the button and wait for a response. Remember that others may be trying to use the channel as well, so make sure you listen first and make sure they are finished before starting your transmission. 

Hooked On Phonetics

Because of the technology and the less-than-perfect conditions in which VHF radios are often used, remember that it’s often hard to understand numbers and certain letters. When stating numbers, say each number individually. If you’re at channel marker 316, say “three-one-six” instead of “three-sixteen.” Also, there’s a reason the phonetic alphabet has been around a long time. It works. Study up! Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu

Mayday Is The Last Resort

Don’t ever say “mayday” unless you have a real emergency that threatens someone’s life or puts property in immediate danger. Other boaters and the Coast Guard will converge on a mayday distress call, and you will not be popular if a child or crew member is goofing around with the radio. Mayday is a 911 call on the water. Make sure everyone on board knows the rules. If you do have a legitimate mayday call, say it three times, followed by your location and your situation.

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along? Basic Boating Etiquette

May 15, 2012

Even if you’re new to boating, you probably already know the basics about the “Rules of the Road.” Those are the general things you need to know when operating your boat, especially when there are other boats in the area such as how to know who has the right of way and when it’s okay to pass another vessel. But there is another category of customs and traditions that help us, as boaters, get along independently while respecting that right for others. We’ll just call it basic boating etiquette.

Just as there are social norms you’re expected to know on land, you’ve got to know certain basic rules of boating etiquette if you’re going to be spending any time at all on the water. While you are definitely the master of your own nautical domain aboard your boat, remember that a little consideration for your fellow boater can go a long way toward avoiding any misunderstandings or conflicts.

As stated above, there are basic rules of the road that show you how to operate your boat, and you shouldn’t leave the dock until you’ve spent some time getting to know what you’re doing. It’s the same method you would follow with a car (on an actual road) except you don’t have brakes. The following pointers are really more to fill in the gray areas of boat operation that you’ll come across at one time or another.

Watch Your Wake

You are responsible for your own wake and any damage done by it. You’re cruising across a channel and you avoid striking a cruiser by swinging into a shallow anchorage while traveling at a pretty good speed. That’s great, but look at how much wake you’ve churned up for the other boaters on the hook. If you’ve caused boats to bang into each other or knocked someone’s grill off their deck or otherwise harmed their property, you’re the one on the hook for the damages. Big wakes in crowded spaces is bad news.

Go Easy

Slow down if another boat is trying to overtake you. This is boating, not The Fast & The Furious. Tight channels, marina entrances, etc. should be single file. But if there’s room to pass and another vessel is coming alongside you, ease off the throttle and avoid a drag race. The faster your speed, the faster they’ll have to go to get around you. For safety and the serenity of everyone around you, just slow down and let them go around.

Anchor In Order

The first one in blazes the trail. If you’re entering an anchorage, mimic the other boats in how you tie off, how you anchor, how much line to use and how much distance you allow between the other boats.

Respect Your Neighbors

If you have a loud boat (kids, music, barking dogs, smoky grills), make sure you leave plenty of space. Sound carries much farther on the water, and you can be heard clearly from a good distance away. Downwind is your friend. You never know who’s got an early getaway and is turning in early. Just like on terra firma, respecting your neighbors is the first step toward everyone “getting along.”

Be Efficient

If you’re launching or retrieving your boat at a ramp, do it efficiently. Load your boat in the parking lot. Pull your boat over to a temporary dock to bring passengers aboard. Don’t drain, don’t clean, and don’t waste time. Everyone wants to be either on the water or off the water, just like you. Think in advance about how you can cut down your ramp time. Delegate responsibilities and practice them before you get to the ramp.

Fuel And Go

As long as we’re on this subject, the same rules go for fuel docks. Get your fuel, pay your bill and move out of the way. If you need to buy groceries or a lake chart or bait, relocate your boat to the temporary docks. Again, fueling is a necessary part of your boating experience, but be considerate of other boaters who would also rather be out on the water.

Lend A Hand

This is one of the unwritten laws that can say more about you as a boater than almost anything else. You should be willing to assist other vessels as they arrive and depart. While this courtesy shouldn’t necessarily extend to the entire marina, you should be alert to help out you folks in the adjoining slips. They toss you a line and you hold it or help guide them in. Then you hand them back the line and they tie off. It just takes a minute, and you’ve shown everyone what a standup boater you are.

Keep It Clean

Marinas have enough hazards as it is without having to step over draining coolers, half-deflated tubes and sloppy dock lines. Buckets, shoes, carts and other items need to be stowed properly. And if you’ve used a piece of equipment intended for common use, put it back where you found it.

Hitting The Road? Here’s How To Find Fish Away From Home

May 11, 2012

Since so many of you are planning to take your boat on vacation with you this summer, we thought it might help to go through a few ideas to help you make the most of your time on the water. Today, let’s take a look at some ways you can tap into “local knowledge” when you decide to wet a line in a new area.

Sure, you know your home fishing hole like the back of your hand. You know what bait to use and when to use it. You know exactly where everyone dumps old Christmas trees in the lake to build up a perfect fish structure. You know where the hardcore, on-the-water-at-4 a.m. guys go — mainly because you’re one of them. You know all that. What you may not know is where to find those honey-holes while you’re on the road.

Use The “Other” Net

Whether you’re hitting the Gulf Coast, Flaming Gorge or Lake Texoma, you’ll do yourself a favor by doing a little legwork before you get there. Spend some time on the Internet, and you’ll be amazed at what you find. Many times the Chamber of Commerce or the local fishing guide association will have posted some great information to influence anglers like you to spend some time (and money) in their community. You may not find too many specifics, but you’ll likely track down what’s biting when and get a good idea about the proper bait and gear you’ll need. Also, check out www.takemefishing.org. You won’t believe how much good information they have, plus you can download a free smartphone app that uses your location to find launch ramps, bait shops and just about anything else you’d need for your trip.

Talk It Up

Once you’ve done your computer research, it’s time to go old school and start “talking” to people. You know that bait shop you found? It’s in their best interest to put you on some fish. You’ll be back. And you’ll buy fuel, snacks, ice, and, of course, more bait. And anything else you forgot. Just make sure you’re listening to the guy behind the counter, and not the silver-tongued angler who’s just hanging around the shop. He may have a vested interested in steering you the wrong way. Another great source for information is local guides. In fact, you can take some of the pressure off and get to the fish faster if you hire a guide for your first day. For a reasonable fee, they can get you to the secret fishing holes quickly, and you can spend more time hauling in your catch.

Be A Good Visitor

If you’re on vacation, chances are other anglers might have the same idea. As you spend time with the locals, show them the appropriate respect. You’re a visitor. Be a good one. That means paying up for current fishing licenses for you and your family (as required) and knowing the keeper species and catch limits. Practicing a catch and release policy for any fish you don’t plan on consuming during your trip is the responsible thing to do. And it provides a good lesson for the young anglers on your crew. And make sure that you pack out a little more than you packed in. Nothing can ruin a great fishing hole like out-of-towners who leave a body of water more polluted than they found it. Go beyond “No Littering” and pick up extra trash you see.

GPS Has Changed How We Navigate…Here’s How It Works

May 4, 2012

By now, you’ve no doubt come in contact with Global Positioning System (GPS) in one form or another. After all, if you’ve got a smartphone, you’ve probably already got an app for that. But what is GPS? And, more importantly, how has it changed the way we approach boating?

From the days when ancient mariners practiced coastal “landmark” navigation, through the complicated process of “dead reckoning” using a compass, ship’s speed and the hope you’ll get close, it wasn’t until we looked to the sky that our position was something more than a guess. While celestial navigation wasn’t exactly foolproof (not much help during the day or on cloudy evenings), a clear night sky and a sextant were definitely a huge step forward.

The technology we know today as GPS began as land-based radio signaling (some are still used today) and position was calculated by determining how far the boat is away from a known source signal. Now, of course, we use primarily satellite-based, high-frequency signaling and new receivers that are easy-to-use and extremely accurate.  

So now, no matter where you are in the world (assuming you can get a signal) your course and position data is right in front of you and usually right on the money. This makes it easy and convenient to calculate your proximity to land, other vessels and approaching weather. For recreational boaters, this has provided a new level of comfort and security when underway.

It’s amazing, really. There are satellites orbiting the Earth, constantly transmitting signals that contain position and time information. All your GPS has to do is grab a few of those signals and make an quick calculation to determine the differences between those signals (the same way old-school mariners “triangulate” their position using a known fixed point like a lighthouse) and you’ve got yourself a spot on the map you can trust. And because the information is continuously updated, you can see an accurate heading, along with your speed and, sometimes most importantly, where you’ve been.

Of course, all GPS systems work a little differently, and all have their own bells and whistles, but they all essentially work the same way and provide the same basic information. Generally, you’ll have some sort of graphic display to see your location, and many, especially a GPS that’s designed for boaters, will offer a charting feature to put your location in context with your surroundings. They come in different shapes and sizes from handheld to fixed-mount but, again, the basic functionality is the same.

One feature you want to make sure you master before hitting the water is the Waypoint function. This can be as basic as marking your point of departure (usually “Home”) and giving your self a virtual crumb trail back to port. Or you can program in a few stops you want to make during the day, which helps you determine when you’ll arrive at, say, a dockside restaurant for lunch. Fisherman can also mark their favorite “honey holes” so they’re easy to find the next time out.

While GPS systems won’t completely eliminate the need for more traditional charts (they’re not much good if your electrical system fails), they have made it easier for boaters to get more adventurous and confident out on the water.

Freedom, Fellowship And Free Stuff? Join The Club!

April 26, 2012

As a Godfrey Pontoon owner, you are invited to join a great community that will not only help you share your experiences with other owners, but will give you exclusive access to special contests, incredible discounts and even the chance to earn free Godfrey Pontoons gear, cash rebates and fuel cards. Yes, fuel cards.

When you sign up for your complimentary membership in the Godfrey Pontoons Owner’s Club here, you are immediately linked to a terrific network of fellow owners who also enjoy living their life to the fullest aboard a Godfrey Pontoon. Whether you’re looking for answers to common questions or you want to share boat-handling tips you’ve learned along with way, the Owner’s Club Forum will soon become your favorite stop on the web.

Another fun reason to join is the quarterly Special Moment Photo Contest, which encourages friendly competition among your fellow owners while everyone attempts to capture the best image of their family and friends aboard their Godfrey Pontoon. Entries are pouring in for the next contest, so don’t miss your chance to claim the top prize of a $50 Visa gift card!

If you’re thinking about moving into a new boat, you owe it to yourself to join the Godfrey Pontoons Owner’s Club to take advantage of a generous trade-in allowance that’s only available to club members. Cash rebates of up to $1,500 are yours for the taking...what have you got to lose? Two key things to remember: You must be a club member BEFORE your new boat purchase; and your new boat must be warranty registered through your local dealer.

Chances are, you’re spending at least part of your boating season out on the water with friends. And when non-boaters (or former boaters) get a taste of the lifestyle that you and your family enjoy so much, it’s not uncommon for them to want to join the party. As a member of the Godfrey Pontoons Owner’s Club, you will be eligible for the Refer-A-Friend program, which provides incentives to you for steering them toward a new Godfrey Pontoon purchase. Simply, if your friend buys a new Godfrey Pontoon within six months of your referral, you will receive special gifts such as fuel cards and gift cards to purchase Godfrey Pontoons Merchandise, valued at up to $900, depending on the model purchased!

In addition to these awesome benefits, you will also be the first to receive valuable information on local getaways, raft-ups, parties and cruises, as well as any pending warranty issues that will help you maximize your time on the water. Regular updates via the Godfrey Pontoons Owner’s Club e-newsletter will help you keep up with all the latest news. And discounts from club sponsors will help you save money every day on everything from boat insurance to boat care products.

So whether you have enjoyed several Godfrey pontoons over the years or you’re new to our family, our mission is to help you take your ownership experience to a whole new level. If you’re not already a member, please take a minute to join the Godfrey Pontoons Owner’s Club today! 

 

Wake Up! An Up-Close Look At Boat Watersports

April 20, 2012

As much as we all enjoy a leisurely sunset cruise, part of the fun of boating is the opportunity to not only get out on the water, but also to get wet once in a while. And if you’ve got younger passengers, your boat will likely be decked out with a hefty collection of different equipment…some familiar and some not so familiar.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular watersports today. Please remember to ALWAYS wear a life jacket when participating in any of these activities.

Tubing

Nothing puts a smile on the face of a kid like the freedom found clinging tightly to an inflatable tube as it skitters across the water. Although they come in a huge variety of styles, the basic idea is pretty simple. A bladder made of flexible PVC is inflated with air, and the tube is attached to a nylon towrope, which is then attached to a boat. The rider (or riders) then sits or kneels inside the tube or holds on to handles attached to the surface of the tube. One of the appealing things about tubing is that the boat driver has plenty of control over the experience the riders will have. Slower speeds and a straight track will be great for even the most timid children, while higher speeds and sharper turns add more thrill to the ride. For the best (and safest) ride, always make sure the tube is properly inflated.

Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding involves riding a fiberglass board over the surface of the water with your feet tightly anchored to the surface with a binding. You hold the handle of a ski rope (usually attached to a wake tower “pull point” that’s about 7 feet from the water’s surface) and criss-cross the wake wave at around 18-24 miles per hour. Enthusiasts can launch themselves into the air or perform a number of exciting tricks. Beginners who try these maneuvers will quickly learn what the term “face plant” means.

Wakeskating

Wakeskating is an adaptation of wakeboarding that employs a similar design of board manufactured from wood or fiberglass. Unlike wakeboarding, the rider is not bound to the board in any way, which gives the sport its own unique challenges. Instead, the top surface of the board is covered with grip tape, (similar to a skateboard) or a soft, high-traction, foam covering that is kinder to riders in the inevitable wipeouts. Riders usually wear grip shoes while riding behind the boat at 16–20 miles per hour. However, this depends on water conditions, the weight of the rider and their proficiency in the sport.

Kneeboarding

It’s gone by a number of different names over its 40-year history (Knee Ski, Glide Slide and Hydroslide were pioneering styles), but no matter what you call it, kneeboarding is a blast. As the name suggests, you kneel down on a surf-style board, while holding on to a towrope handle and the boat pulls you along at about 15-20 miles per hour. Starts are pretty easy, and once you reach plane, you can pull a strap securely across your knees to hold you on the board. As with tubing, the driver has a great deal of control over the rider’s experience, adjusting speeds as needed as directed by a “spotter” on the boat who keeps their eye on the rider at all times. More advanced riders can perform tricks such as the Side Slide, Back Roll and Surface 360.

Waterskiing

Waterskiing is the oldest and most familiar mainstream watersport. A skier slips his feet into rubber bindings, and is pulled up and out of the water while holding the handle of a towrope attached to a boat. With the skis under water pointing toward the boat, the skier signals the driver to accelerate, while a “spotter” monitors the progress and lets the driver know when to speed up, slow down or come around to pick up a downed skier. More advanced skiers sometimes “drop” one ski and ride with both feet on a single (or slalom) ski. Invented in 1922 by Ralph Samuelson on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota, the sport has evolved from two boards and a clothesline to modern fiberglass skis to suit any skill level.

Safety First

Watersports are a great way to enjoy your boat, but safety should always come first. Remember to check the towrope at the boat connection point (ski-tow eye, wakeboard tower, or ski pylon) and the tube itself. Replace the rope at the first sign of fraying because it could breakk under strain. Also, take up rope slack slowly to prevent knots and to avoid jerking the rider. Know the abilities of your riders, and start slowly...working up to a manageable speed. Check tubes for age and weight capacities, and always know local speed limits and regulations for tow sports. Never abruptly change your course when other boats are present, and always slow down when your riders are crossing the wake.

Making Kids Comfortable On The Water

April 16, 2012

As the skipper of your boat, you’re responsible for the safety of everyone on board. And, if you’ve got children on deck, it’s easy to come across as intimidating when you’re really just trying to make sure they’re not in harm's way. If that’s the case, consider using these tips to encourage their love of the water and make sure they want to be out on the boat as much as you do.

While most kids are naturally drawn to the water, sometimes it’s a tough leap for them to go from the shore to the ship. The best way to ease those concerns? Just like with anything else they may be apprehensive about, the key is to get them involved in every part of the day—from the planning to hands-on crew responsibilities. Let them help you and learn from you, and you will likely have a crewmember for life.

Whether it’s your own children (and their friends), grandkids, nieces and nephews, or neighbors, remember that any tasks you assign will need to be appropriate to their age. Expecting too much too fast will tend to have the opposite result. And be prepared to add new responsibilities when they’ve honed their skills. Being able to contribute as a member of the crew will build confidence and teamwork while making them more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.

Pre-Launch Checklist

Get the kids involved in creating a pre-launch checklist. If they have a hand in putting it together, they will be especially vigilant about checking for the appropriate number of life jackets, checking the battery charge, and always verifying a properly secured drain plug. This perfect for anything you tend to overlook every trip.

Everything In Its Place

Teach children the right way to tend the fenders and dock lines and how to stow them the proper way. Make sure they see you communicating with the dock hands at a marina or gas pump station so they understand how the system works. Once they master the hand signals and nuanced gestures, they will get in the proper position to help before you have to say a word.

Talk The Talk

Make sure the kids are familiar with the basic boating terminology. You wouldn’t take them to a foreign country without coaching them on basic communication skills, would you? Take the time to clarify fore and aft, port and starboard, lee and windward, etc. It will help them feel like they’re one of the “insiders,” especially if they can help educate others on the next trip.

Teachable Moments

Always look for an opportunity to reinforce the “why.” Children are learners. And, you may have noticed they don’t respond well to “because I said so.” Why not explain how the safety equipment works? Or show them how the trim affects the ride of the boat. They thrive on “behind the scenes” knowledge.

Mind Their Manners

Show older kids how to operate the VHF radio to communicate with other vessels, the dock master or the local boating law enforcement. It’s important they know the proper etiquette, plus they will love the chance to communicate with others via an “official” microphone.

Keep A Record

Kids will love their own “log book,” to keep an unofficial record of their adventures on the water. Encourage them to record destinations, time of departure, passengers, and to draw pictures to remember their trips. Later, they can add photos from the day to remind them of the highlights.

As the captain of your boat, it’s only natural for you to want to handle all (or nearly all) the duties yourself. But remember that children thrive when given a task to complete that helps make the outing a success. As long as you clearly explain what needs to happen, and resist the urge to constantly “advise” the kids, you’ll have a dedicated crew for life.

Understanding Boating Superstitions (Knock On Wood)

April 13, 2012

Let’s face it…boaters are a superstitious bunch. You’ve got to believe that storied history goes all the way back to the days of the earliest ocean-going vessels, when everything from bad weather to scurvy were connected to various perceived transgressions by crewmembers and (more likely) unknowing passengers. String enough of those coincidences together, and the word spreads quickly that something as innocent as bringing a banana onboard can wreak havoc on a voyage that would otherwise be smooth sailing.

Whether you view boating superstitions as solemn, don’t-ever-mess-them laws, or if you get a chuckle out of the seemingly outrageous notions that have sprung up over the years, they are part of nautical folklore. And, being notoriously nostalgic, those of us with a love for boating and the water tend to embrace even the nuttier superstitions—even if it’s done with a sly wink of the eye.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most-popular, boat-related myths that still rule the seas even today.

BANANAS ON BOARD

If you head down to any of Florida’s coastal fishing villages in search of a fishing charter, there’s one thing you need to remember. Leave the bananas at home. That’s real bananas, banana nut muffins and even Banana Boat sunscreen. You’re even asking for trouble if you show up in Fruit of the Loom underwear. And even if, for some reason, you feel like ignoring the no-bananas rule that exists aboard nearly all fishing charters—let’s say you smuggle aboard a banana smoothie—don’t plan on coming home with many trophy fish. Of course, there’s nothing but anecdotal evidence to prove this is true, but you’ll hear those anecdotes walking every dock from Pensacola to Islamorada.

History: Looking past the obvious things like cartoon injuries caused by slipping on a discarded peel, the more likely source of the banana superstition is that ocean-going vessels would stop at tropical islands for provisions during their months-long excursions. In addition to fresh water and other necessities, they would frequently take on crates of bananas. Good source of potassium aside, these crates nearly always came with the added bonus of deadly spiders, snakes and other critters that don’t mix well in the close-confines of a boat.

RENAMING YOUR BOAT

As if you didn’t have enough to think about when considering a name for your boat, you will probably get an earful from some wise mystic of the sea (the guy in the marina slip next to yours) about the hazards of changing the name of a boat that’s been previously named. Fortunately, since it’s a long shot that you and the prior owner BOTH dreamed of owning a boat called “My Pretty Petunia,” there are certain ceremonial steps you can take to avoid offending the sea gods. Not surprisingly, the ceremony revolves around high-quality domestic sparkling wine (only use the French stuff if you’re anxious to help THEIR economy rebound). Get rid of all evidence of the boat’s previous name. Just draw a line through the name on all logbooks and maintenance records. Make sure all traces of the name are gone from the transom. Notify your local boating law enforcement of the name change as required, and apply your new carefully chosen new name to the boat. Invite your family and friends, and distribute plastic glasses (bare feet and broken glass do not mix). Unless you’re renaming a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, best to just pour a generous portion of bubbly over the bow instead of smashing the bottle Queen Elizabeth-style. When everyone’s glasses are full, say something like: “For thousands of years, we have gone to sea, and we have called our vessels by name. For all that have gone before us, we humbly raise a glass in their honor and ask for blessings in the name of YOUR BOAT NAME.” If you’re into flowery (and overly long) ceremonies, a quick Internet search will reveal plenty

History: This business about it being bad luck to rename a boat actually has a pretty reasonable explanation. Back in the day, when sailing vessels would travel to far-flung ports-of-call, boats and crews would carry a certain reputation. Good reputations meant easy, uncontested passage into friendly harbors. Changing a boat’s name could easily raise suspicions simply because it wasn’t recognized.

OTHER COMMON BOATING-RELATED SUPERSTITIONS

• Have you ever known anyone who threw salt over their left shoulder? That’s an old pirate trick to “keep the devil at bay.” The bay, of course, is literally where they wanted the devil to stay as they headed out to sea.

• Have you ever “knocked on wood” to prevent bad luck? That came from sailors thumping the hulls of their wooden ships to check for rotten areas. This is also the origin of the phrases “ship shape” and “touch wood.” It all comes down to having a boat that will hold together during a voyage.

• As perhaps the easiest superstition to understand, the form of a naked woman on the bow was said to calm the seas and guide the vessel to safety. If you’ve been out at sea for months on end with a ship full of hygienically challenged men, surely any naked woman aboard would seem like good luck.

• Dramatic bodily embellishments such as tattoos, brands and piercings have long been thought to ward off evil spirits. The wilder the design, the better it allegedly worked.

• It’s a no-no to whistle anywhere aboard a boat, for fear that you will summon bad weather. This is where the phrase “whistling up a storm” comes from.

Going The Distance? Prepare A Float Plan

April 11, 2012

A float plan is kind of like jumper cables. You won’t need it at all until you really need it. Then, you will look like the smartest boater on the water. Until then, however, you should get into the habit of using a float plan, if not every time you’re on your boat, at least every time you plan on venturing beyond your well-populated comfort zone.

So, what is a float plan? Simply put, it’s a way to let someone know where you’re going and when you’re likely to return and/or check in. Float plans can cover a few hours, a few days or even months for extended voyages, such as The Big Loop. The idea is that, in the case of an emergency, someone will know where to come look for you or, if needed, help the authorities narrow down the search area.

The best way for a float plan to help (again, when you really need it) is to be short, to the point, and in writing. That way, there’s less room for misunderstanding if your plan is needed. Here are some tips for creating an effective float plan.

Put It In Writing

Telling someone over the phone leaves too much to chance. Your plan should be in writing (either on paper, email or even a text). Give (or send) the plan to a family member or friend. It will help if they live in the area you’ll be boating. If you don’t have family or friends close by, you can leave your written plan or with a marina neighbor or dockmaster.

There’s An App For That

If you’re under a certain age (or readily embrace outdated forms of communication like “paper”), there are a few great float plan apps that are convenient and easy to use. The benefit is that you can store your boat/contact information and just change the trip data as needed. Plus, if your phone has a GPS function, you may be able to automatically “check in” when you reach certain coordinates. Every time you shove off, the app will email your plan to one or more friends and family members. Just type in “float plan” from your smart phone, and check out the different options.

Be Specific

The plan should include a description of the general area where you’ll be boating, any stops you plan on making, when you’ll be returning and a list of anyone who is going with you. Make sure you include your boat’s brand, model, year, boat name (if you have one), hull identification numbers, and anything else that could help someone spot you on the water. Dark hull? Wake tower? Flag or burgee? Racing graphics?

Launch Details

If you’re trailering, include the name and location of your boat launch ramp, along with your tow vehicle make, model, and tag number. If you’re leaving from a marina, include the marina’s contact information.

Map It Out

If you’re making a fishing run out to a weather buoy, you can get the exact coordinates from the National Data Buoy Center website (www.ndbc.noaa.gov) and include those in your plan. It is not uncommon for boaters to use a sea mark like a buoy when making a run. The idea is to make it easy to find you if you run into any problems.

Remember To Check In

This is the easiest way to make sure you get help if you need it. If you are consistently late checking in as your plan describes, you run the risk of delaying help when you have a legitimate emergency. A quick call that you’ve make it to your destination or check-in spot will let everyone know that you’re okay and help send up a red flag the one time you don’t call. If you’re running late and the authorities have been alerted, make sure someone calls to let them know you’re okay. This helps them close the case and prioritize the other calls they’re working on.

Easy Tips For Launch Ramp Success

April 9, 2012

With the exception of docking, the one part of trailer boating that strikes the most fear in the hearts of new boaters has got to the launch ramp. Sure, it can be stressful the first few times, but here’s the good news: As long as you follow these easy tips, launching and retrieving your boat will become second-nature in no time.

Before You Hit The Road

Don’t even leave your driveway unless you check a few things first. Make sure your trailer tires are inflated to the correct pressure. If you pulled out the drain plug for the ride home, now would be a great time to put it back in. Check the charge on your battery…it seems like someone always leaves the radio on with the volume turned all the way down! Think about the sequence you’ll want to detach the boat from the trailer, leaving (of course) the bow hook on until the boat is in the water.

Practice In Peace

The best way to reduce stress before your moment in the spotlight is to trailer over to the ramp one early morning or evening during the middle of the week. You’ll have the place to yourself, and you can take your time backing down, correcting and dialing in your entry strategy. Take a few passes. If someone shows up, pull up and out of the way, and resume your practice run in peace. And if you have any questions about what you’re doing, now would be the time to ask a fellow boater.

Load Before Launching

You might be surprised by how many folks wait until they are at the end of the ramp to load up their coolers, floats, pets, and whatever else they’ve lugged to the lake on this beautiful Saturday. The better move is to go ahead and park (hey, that shady spot looks good) and take your time transferring your gear from the SUV to the boat. This might even give the kids time to inflate their tube, the dog to do his business and Mom time to feed the baby. That way everyone’s good to go and focused on the task at hand.

Play Nice

Everyone’s anxious to be out on the water enjoying their boat. It’s probably hot outside. There may be people who haven’t read this article and are struggling with, ummmm, “efficiency of motion.” Put a smile on your face. Give a nod or a wave to the other “good guys” and maybe even lend a hand to help move things along.

Use Your Crew

Think ahead about what ramp line feels more comfortable for you. Some folks like the left side, some folks like the right. Give everyone on your crew a job. Your buddy can be your guide on the ramp. Your kids can relay messages and let you know if you’re getting too close to the curb. Everyone can help undo the straps. Mom can pull the tow vehicle up and park while you pull the boat over to the temporary dock for passenger loading.

Best Launch Ramp Tip EVER

Put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel while backing the trailer up…then turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.

Trailering your boat can be the perfect solution for you and your boating lifestyle. By taking a few minutes to master the “unwritten rules,” you can make launching and retrieving your boat almost as enjoyable as a day on the water. Almost. 

Need A Boat Name? Puns Still Seas The Day

April 5, 2012

Boy, things are really cranking back in the Godfrey Pontoons plant. This is the time of year when all those winter boat show orders are getting built, shipped and delivered. And when your new boat arrives, remember it comes with an enormous responsibility — you will need to choose a boat name!

Okay, maybe it’s not SUCH a big burden, but lots of folks feel pressure to come up with the latest, greatest boat- or water-related turn of phrase to dazzle the rest of the marina with their cleverness. It’s for those people, we’ve come up with a few pointers to help you narrow down the choices.

As you can see by this list of last year’s top boat names (compiled by our friends at Boat U.S.) the most popular ideas are puns of one kind or another. In fact, one could argue that the boat name is the last acceptable bastion of the cheesy pun. That’s something us boaters take pride in, after all. And whether it’s your personal style or not, you’ve got to admit that a funny boat pun will put a smile on your face.

So, in the spirit of the adventurous boaters who came before us, let’s turn the wheel toward well-charted territory and see if we can navigate the confused seas before us. According to our extensive research (really just one page that has all the annual top 10 boat names since 1991), there are a handful of categories that can help you narrow down your search.

Partying

One name, above all others, has dominated the last decade of boat names: Aquaholic. While booze and boat operation do NOT mix, apparently booze puns and boat names blend just fine. Some of the other classics along these lines include On The Rocks, Happy Hours (or the variation Happy Ours), Southern Comfort, Shaken Not Stirred, Beeracuda, and Comfortably Numb. Be aware that any of these could lead to more than your fair share of visits from local boating law enforcement!

Attitude

Getting sassy on the high seas is a well-established method of boat naming. Just ask the folks aboard Mojo, Damifino, Life Is Good, Sea Ya, Miss Behavin’, Nauti Buoy, Blew ByYou, Footloose, Liquid Asset, What’s Up Dock, Bow Down, and Trim This.

Language

Meaning something to the effect of “let’s go” in Italian, the name Andiamo was pretty hot back in 2010. Also making the non-English greatest hits are Ohana, a Hawaiian term which emphasizes the importance of family ties; Carpe Diem (plus its Anglicized pun, Seas The Day); and another Italian phrase La Belle Vita, which can be used to mean “the beautiful life” or, more ironically, “someone who only thinks about having fun.” Of course, you have to give careful consideration to this last phrase because rumor has it that Hollywood bad girl Lindsay Lohan now has it tattooed somewhere on her person. Clearly, Ms. Lohan leans toward the latter definition.

Relaxation/Therapy

One of the best things about boating, of course, is the ability to get away from it and just unplug from “real” life (or Reel Life or Reel Time). And along those lines, there is a legacy of boat names that attempt to capture that feeling. Out on the water, you see lots of names like Solitude, Escape, AWOL, Freedom, Island Time, Diversion, No Worries, Mental Floss, Lazy Daze, Summer Wind, Amazing Grace, Liberty, Wanderlust, Dream Weaver, and Therapy (or the like-minded pun Hydrotherapy). Of course, if things have gone too far, you can always choose a classic like Luna Sea.

Pop Culture

Lots of good material to be found here. Movies, TV shows, music…you name it. Literally. Just think about these classic pop-culture references such as Licensed to Chill (with grateful nods to both James Bond and The Beastie Boys), Captain Hook, Hakuna Matata, Black Pearl, and Serenity Now (with a humble nod to Frank Costanza).

Mythology

Top names here include Pegasus (a flying horse sired by king of the sea Poseidon), Boreas (Greek god of the North Wind), Notus (South Wind), Eurus (East Wind), and Zephyr (West Wind). Another popular choice is Odyssey. Hey, thanks Homer!

Money

These days, it seems like there are fewer and fewer money references on the back of the boat, but in certain circumstances, it may be the right move. For instance, if you’re buying your boat on the winnings from your recent Mega-Millions quick pick, Whole Lotto Fun, would have to make your short list. And if your not-so-lucky poker buddies lost enough to you for a decent down payment, it may be tough to resist Dough Buoy.

Water

It’s hard to resist the urge to sing the praises of the open water when naming your boat. So it's okay if you’re leaning toward Splish Splash, Fantasea, Seaduction, Sea Breeze, Tide Runner, and Sea Spirit. And, have mercy, you just know there is one boater/American Idol fan out there somewhere who’s at the helm of Ryan Sea Quest. Clear skies, friend. Clear skies.

Family

Just to get serious for a minute. Is there anything more important than your family? Of course not. You can’t ever go wrong with a tribute to your lovely wife or your wonderful kids. You will be spending the best quality time with your family aboard your boat, after all. Why not celebrate your time on the water by naming your boat after the most important people in your life?

There you go. You’ve got a good start on your boat-naming quest. Remember, this should be FUN. When it becomes work, you’ve gone too far.

Aluminum=Happiness

April 4, 2012

In addition to aluminum, canvas, and upholstery, there's something else we measure every day at the Godfrey Pontoons boat plant. It's morale. Because happy workers are motivated workers and motivated workers build the best boats in the industry. Look closely at this chart. You can see that right now, during our busiest time of year, morale is right at 100%. You'd think that having a full pipeline of orders that need to be shipped out might affect morale in less-than-positive way. But it doesn't. These are hard-working Americans that take pride in what they do. The busier, the better. Because they know where these boats are going. They know the boat they're working on is meant to be somewhere else. It's meant to be on the water. After all, is a boat really a boat unless it's on the water? And to take it a step further, can a boat truly reach its full potential unless a family like yours is laughing and splashing and making memories you will talk about for generations? Around here, we build every boat with that in mind. You could say that, for us, boat building is not so much a job as it is a calling. You see, our destiny is to create these amazing boats so you can create amazing memories. Why is morale so high around here? The way we see it, every boat that rolls out of the building is heading to its happy place. And since most of us are boaters, just like you, we understand what that means. For you AND the boat. Does aluminum equal happiness? Around here, you better believe it.

This Clock Keeps On Ticking

April 3, 2012

Talk about vintage...this Sanpan clock has been around a while. Assuming it was born around the same time as the very first Sanpan in 1958 (the very first aluminum pontoon boat in fact), we can safely say that this classic timepiece has ticked in the neighborhood of 28 million minutes. Just think about all the pontoons, all the designs, all the craftsmanship that has gone on under this clock. And think about all the generations of hard-working Americans who took time to make sure each boat was put together the right way before it left the plant, headed for dealerships out there somewhere. Headed for your family's dock. And think about all the memories that have been made over the years out on the water aboard one of our boats. We believe we build the best pontoons, and we take a lot of pride in that. But we are every bit as proud to be part of so many stories. Generations of great stories, funny stories, stories that help us remember where we came from. Stories that link us to families all around the world. We've been around for more than 50 years. And in all that time, throughout all those 28 million minutes, one thing hasn't changed. We want the next boat — maybe your boat — to be the best one we've ever put together. We're just as committed to quality and innovation today as the very first time someone climbed up on that beam in the factory and hung this clock for everyone to see. But maybe it's not just a clock. Maybe it's a time machine.

Before You Hit The Water...Do You Know The Rules?

April 2, 2012

Okay new boaters…why do you think they call it the “Rules of the Road” if you’re on the water? Well, despite the confusing name, it’s all about relating your boat-operating experience to something you’re likely already familiar with…driving a car. But, although they may have some things in common, it’s important that you take some time to understand the differences.

You see, these rules are all about avoiding the single biggest critical incident that can happen on the water…a collision with another boat. Just as you instinctively know that the first person to arrive at a four-way stop in a car will be the first one to proceed, there are boating equivalents that need to be followed.

The biggest difference, of course, is that automobiles have one key safety feature that’s missing from boats. On a boat, you don’t have brakes. When one vessel is bigger or under power (as opposed to under sail), or is on a course that will intersect with another vessel, you have to know who goes where and who does what to keep everyone on both boats safe. Nobody wants to have an accident so just as we all learned in driver’s education, it pays to practice a little defensive boating.

Here are some of the basic rules you should know if you’ll be piloting a boat. Remember, the more traffic and the tighter the channel, the more alert you should be at the helm. As important as these rules are, however, let common sense be your guide. If the captain of the other boat is not paying attention or is otherwise impaired, do what you have to do to avoid a collision. In other words, use these rules as a guide right up until your real-life scenario dictates otherwise.

1. Know the order. There’s a pecking order for boats regarding their right-of-way and yielding obligations. Generally speaking, you can go by the rule of thumb that the bigger the engine and the more maneuverability a boat has, the more it has to give way to smaller, less maneuverable vessels. That being said, here is the basic order:

a)     Boats being passed by another vessel.

b)    Boats being towed by another vessel or otherwise restricted.

c)     Sail boats or any other non-powered vessel.

d)    Power boats that are not restricted in their ability to maneuver.

e)     Sea planes.

2. Meeting situations. When coming up (head to head) with another boat, you should generally pass port to port. That’s your left to the other vessel’s left. This typically gives you more visibility and maneuverability to avoid a collision. The boat with the right of way (see above) is required to maintain its course and its speed until the boats pass each other.

3. Overtaking situations. When one boat is passing another, there are requirements for both vessels. Remember that the boat being passed always has the right of way (see above). The boat that is being passed also must hold it course and speed if possible until the overtaking vessel has safely passed.

4. Crossing situations. For the most part, a boat approaching from your right has the right-of-way. However, vessels restricted in maneuverability have the right-of-way over sailing vessels, and sailing vessels have the right-of-way over power vessels that are not restricted in maneuverability.

5. Signaling your intentions. Even with these widely accepted and well-followed basic rules of the road, there are still sometimes when a little boat-to-boat communication will come in handy. Using the horn or whistle on your boat, here are the most common ways to signal another boat.

a)     One whistle blast: Pass port to port.

b)    Two whistle blasts: Pass starboard to starboard.

c)     Three whistle blasts: My engines are in reverse.

d)    Five or more rapid whistle blasts: Danger!

Sure, there are some things you need to understand to be safe out on the water. That’s true of just about any new activity you dive into. But with a little common sense and practice, all this will become instinctive and second nature, just like when you get behind the wheel of a car.

Need To See A Shrink?

April 2, 2012

Here's what happens to new boats before they're loaded on the truck for delivery. Yep, it IS pretty cool. Of course, this takes place in the quality control center after SEVEN different inspectors sign off on the boat. That's every single boat that leaves the plant. The shrink wrap, of course, keeps the gel coat from getting scratched and keeps the boat clean for the duration of the trip, and during the time before you fall in love with it and strike a great deal with your local dealer. Think about the best things you've ever gotten in your life. They probably came wrapped. And if it's wrapped, you know it's special. It's probably something that will change your life. It's your new boat.

Who's Got The Fever This Weekend?

March 30, 2012

If you've got boating fever in upstate New York this weekend, you're in luck! The 2012 Great Upstate Boat Show is being held at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury, and our friends from Saratoga Boat Works will have a great selection of Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater pontoons. There will be activities for the whole family, and you can register to win prizes throughout the weekend. Click here for a coupon for discounted tickets.

Love Boating But Hate Docking?

March 29, 2012

You can ask any group of new boaters what they like least about boating, and nine out of 10 will say docking. That’s everyone from twin-screw cruiser pilots all the way down to the tiller-handled outboard jon boat fisherman. Your heart starts pounding, your palms start sweating, and you are desperately trying to remember all the “advice” you’ve ever been given about how to do it properly. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Nope. There are a few things to remember, sure, but the main thing is to take it slow (or as slow as the prevailing current and boat traffic allows) and keep your cool. Many good and experienced boaters take more than one shot to back their boat into a slip. You shouldn’t feel too much pressure to get it perfect every time. Life’s too short, and that sort of self-imposed anxiety flies in the face of everything that boating should be about. So there you go. Read these tips, and remember to take your time. You’ll be fine.

• Practice. It sounds a little obvious, but the folks that are really good at docking a boat have done it hundreds of times. Pick a time when nobody’s around (except a trusted dockhand) and take a run at it. Shoot too far? Cut the wheel sooner. Come in too fast? Uh…slow down. You’ll get it quicker than you think.

• Use what you’ve got. Windy day? Let it push you where you want to be. Strong, ripping current? You won’t be the only one with docking problems. Plenty of room? Ahhhh….take a big, easy angle and work your way in slowly. Always cut a good tight corner on the side of the boat closest to the dock and turn the wheel with authority.

Don’t lose your momentum. Most docking efforts go awry when you try to pull back too early. If you drop your momentum, you wind up over-compensating and making things worse. Pick a target speed that’s a little slower than you think it should be and stick to it. You can always pull out and start over, but don’t panic and drop the throttle before you get the position you need.

Understand your prop. You may not know it, but your propeller is your friend. But like any friend, you’ve got to spend some until getting to know it…understanding how it ticks, so to speak. First, and this is where your practice comes in, you should know that your prop-driven boat will tend to “walk.” That means it will want to thrust toward one side more than the other. And it’s not uncommon for that to happen more in reverse than forward gear. If you’ve ever been backing up and felt like you were moving sideways instead of backwards, you know the drill. As long as you respect that phenomenon (it’s different for nearly all boats) then you can compensate and be that much closer to a stress-free trip to the slip.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 220 DL

March 28, 2012

Designed around an innovative rear-facing contoured double lounge, the Sweetwater 220 DL is literally built for comfort. Whether your day on the water calls for fishing, cruising or tubing with the kids, this versatile pontoon boat will serve you well. Captain Steve gives us a close-up look...

Pontoon Spy Pic...shhhhhhh

March 22, 2012

What's one of the advantages of a triple-tube set-up? How about being able to rig 300 ragin' horses on the back of the boat for unbelievable performance and handling that competes with anything else on the water? We caught this Aqua Patio 240 out back before it was shipped out on top-secret assignment to parts unknown. You saw nothing...

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 2086

March 21, 2012

Captain Steve walks us through the Sweetwater 2086...an incredible value pontoon that's packed with standard features, plenty of seating and tons of storage. In fact, this boat can be configured with several different seating and storage options so it's a boat you can adapt for your own boating lifestyle.

Is Your Boat Ready For A Safety Check?

March 20, 2012

You’re out enjoying a great day on the water when all of the sudden you get approached by the local boating law enforcement. Whether it’s a DNR agent, a sheriff marine patrol or the U.S. Coast Guard, they will know exactly what to look for to see if you pass a basic vessel safety check. Do you know, without a doubt, that you’ve got everything covered? If not, the time to make sure is now, before you ever leave your driveway or marina.

Here are some of the basic items that are sure to be checked. But remember that your local laws may vary, so when you make sure these are taken care of, it’s a good idea to check out www.uscgboating.org and click on the “Regulations” tab.

Registration

• Are your boat's registration numbers permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the boat? They must be plain, vertical, block characters, not less than three inches high, and in a color that contrasts with the background. A space or hyphen must separate the letters from the numbers. Follow your state’s policies regarding placement of tax sticker.

• Do you have your state registration papers on board and easily accessible?

Life Jackets

• Do you have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every passenger on board, and are they in good condition and of an appropriate size? Children must have life jackets that are designed for their age and weight and they must be worn any time you’re underway. Do you know the life jacket age requirements for children in your state? Are your adult life jackets "readily accessible." Do you know that life jackets can’t be stored in unopened plastic packaging? If your boat is more than 16 feet, do you have at least one Type 1V (throwable) personal flotation device? Is it “immediately available?”

Signaling Devices

• If your boat is over 16 feet and used on coastal waters or the Great Lakes, do you have EITHER a minimum of three day and three night pyrotechnic signaling devices, one day non-pyrotechnic device (such as a flag) and one night non-pyrotechnic device (such as an auto SOS light) OR an acceptable combination of those devices? If your boat is less than 16 feet on coastal waters or the Great Lakes, do you have night visual distress signals when operating from sunset to sunrise?

• Are you carrying a sound-producing device, such as a whistle, horn or siren, capable of a four-second blast audible for at least a half mile? If your boat is longer than 39.4 feet, do you also have a bell?

Fire Extinguishers

• Do you have permanently mounted, properly serviced and accessible fire extinguishers if you have any of the following: Inboard engine; Closed compartments that store portable fuel tanks; Double-bottom hulls not completely sealed or not completely filled with flotation materials; Closed living space; Closed storage compartments that contain flammable materials; or permanently installed fuel tanks?

Navigation Lights

• Are you able to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and in conditions of reduced visibility? Boats 16 feet or more in length must have properly installed, working navigation lights and an all-around anchor light capable of being lit independently from the red/green/white "running" lights.

Is Your Boat Ready For The Water?

March 16, 2012

You’ve spent all winter dreaming about getting your boat back in the water. But are you really ready? Some of the things you may take for granted once the season is under way have a way of getting misplaced, out-of-date or run down during those months of inactivity. So what’s the best way to make sure you’ve got everything properly squared away for a fun and “uneventful” first launch? Just follow this handy pre-launch checklist!

Keep it legal. In the weeks leading up to launch, make sure your boat registration is up to date (including hull identification decals), along with current fishing licenses for all your mates, and any required parking permits for your launch ramp. If you’re angling for a new wet slip at your marina, get started early to lock in a good deal and the best location.

Take inventory. Take the boat cover off and give your boat a good airing-out. This will give you access to all the things you forgot you stored aboard in the off-season. Make sure you have life jackets (PFDs) for your crew. Remember those kids probably grew over the past months, so check to make sure they don’t need a bigger size jacket. Also, check the jackets carefully for wear. A proper-fitting PFD in good condition is the best way to keep everyone safe out on the water.

Examine carefully. If you gave the boat a proper winter lay up, either at your local dealer or as a do-it-yourself project, your first cold start should be fairly easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s something you should take lightly, and the longer it’s been sitting, the more important it is to do it right. Since you probably removed your battery during the off-season, make sure it’s properly charged and connected. Check your fluid levels, make sure your belts are in good condition and tight, and check your throttle linkages.  

Get fired up. Next, cover your cold-water intakes with “muffs” or “flushers” and connect to your garden hose (outboard or sterndrive…don’t skip this step or you’ll ruin your impeller!). Also, remember to lower your outdrive to the lowest position possible before turning the key. If it’s tilted up (like you would normally have it on your trailer), you risk engine damage because the oil can’t circulate properly. After starting, let the motor warm up for several minutes while you check for leaks, and give the entire boat a careful walk-around, looking for anything usual. Turn the engine off and wait several minutes before repeating the previous steps.

• Get ready to roll. Before you hook up to your tow vehicle, check the condition and air pressure on your trailer tires. If it hasn’t been moved in months, make sure they haven’t developed “flat spots,” which can affect the way it handles on the road. Check your bow and stern straps (and bow cable) for wear. Unscrew your drain plug and screw it back in to make sure it’s properly seated.

Take a brake. After hooking up, have someone step on the brake pedal while you make sure the trailer brake lights are working. While still in your driveway, make sure your brakes feel (and sound) secure.

Pre-launch prep. After arriving at the launch ramp parking area, pull off to the side and disconnect your brake lights (hot light bulbs and plastic do not play well with cold water). Remove and store your boat cover and stern straps. Recheck your drain plug and turn your blower on.

• Down the ramp. Back your trailer down the ramp until your outdrive contacts water. Lower your drive and fire up your engine. Unhook your bow strap and safety cable, then back the boat off the trailer and tie up at the courtesy dock for passenger loading, or to pull up and park your tow vehicle if you’re by yourself.

Whether you’re a veteran boater or this will be your first exciting season, following these steps (every time you launch) will help ensure you get the most out of your time on the water. Oh, and you might want to check that drain plug again!

Boat Show Fever Continues!

March 15, 2012

It's not too late to catch a boat show this season...go have some fun and get a great deal. The time is right to get your boat delivered in time to enjoy a looooooong summer on the water.

This week, you can find YOUR Godfrey Pontoon at:

The All Valley Boat Show, McAllen, Texas — March 14-18 — Ron Hoover Marine

Spring Boating Expo, Novi, Michigan — March 15-18 — Hideaway Yacht Sales, Freeway Sports Center & Krupa's Boat Mart

Edmonton Boat & Sportsman Show, Edmonton, Alberta — March 15-18 — Free Spirit Marine

Midland Boat Show — Midland, Michigan — March 15-17 — Stryker's Lakeside Marina

Boat & RV Show, Hendersonville, Tennessee — March 16-18 — Anderson Marine

Cape Fear Wildlife Expo, Wilmington, North Carolina — March 16-18 — Captain's Venture

And the winner is...

March 11, 2012

Congratulations to George Bowersox for winning the most recent Godfrey Pontoons Owner's Photo Contest! George won a $50 Visa Gift Card just for taking a great shot of his boat in action. To enter the next round, just upload your best pic here...

Pontoon & Deck Boat Video Review: Aqua Patio 220

February 28, 2012

Pontoon & Deck Boat editor Brady Kay takes us through the Aqua Patio 220, and upscale pontoon that's built for comfort with two oversized, forward chaise lounges!

Who Will Win The Godfrey Pontoons Photo Contest?

February 25, 2012

Will you help us pick the winners for the March 2012 Godfrey Pontoons Photo Contest? To vote click here and “LIKE” or comment on any photo in the March 2012 Contest Entries Album on the Godfrey Pontoons Facebook Page. Voting ends March 5th. The photo will be featured in the exclusive Godfrey Pontoons Insider Newsletter. Good luck to all the finalists and thanks to you for being a judge this quarter!

A Closer Look: Aqua Patio 240-4

February 22, 2012

Providing convenient access in and out, the 240-4 features four gates for an active family and loads of seating for relaxing after a hard day of play. Captain Steve walks through the features of this roomy pontoon boat.

Time To Gear Up Godfrey Pontoons Style?

February 22, 2012

Did you know there’s an online store that’s dedicated to making sure you’re decked out in the latest Godfrey Pontoon apparel and accessories? It’s fast and easy, and we’re adding new items to the spring collection every day for men, women and children. You’ll find everything from t-shirts and hats to jackets and koozies. There are even great boat gift ideas like Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater and Parti Kraft cozy hoodies and dock lines. And if you’re looking for a great deal, check out the clearance page where last-season’s awesome visor or polo shirt can be yours at a huge discount! To see what all the fuss is about, zip on over to www.godfreypontoongear.com and check out the great selection.

A Closer Look: Sweetwater 2486 FC

February 15, 2012

Captain Steve goes through the Sweetwater 2486 FC, the largest Sweetwater model, complete with a full-featured fishing package.

This boat is perfect for any family that enjoys pontoon cruising as much as they like to fish, with plenty of space, seating and storage!

 

Where In The World Is Godfrey Pontoons This Week? 2.16.12

February 15, 2012

Detroit Boat Show – Feb. 10-19 – Krupa’s Boat Mart & Hideaway Yachts

We’ll have more than 100 of Michigan's best boat dealers and marine businesses under one roof for nine days of great prices, selection and services. This is your chance to see new 2012 products, and get great prices on new non-current boats, motors, trailers and accessories.

New England Boat Show – Feb. 11-19 – Rockingham Boat

The New England Boat Show attracting thousands of visitors from the New England seaboard. The show fills 300,000 square feet with hundreds of the newest boats from the region’s top dealers, along with a wide selection of marine accessories and special features – creating a marine marketplace and boater’s paradise like no other!

Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel & RV Show — Feb. 15-19 — Resort Marine

The Duluth Boat Sports Travel and RV Show is a very strong consumer-based Sport Show with good representation of tackle, resorts, marine and RV.

Central New York Boat Show — Feb. 15-19 — Fremac Marine

The CNY Boat Show and Sale will showcase more than 500 all-new models of power and sail boats, including cruisers, sport boats, pontoon boats, and personal watercraft, along with a few luxury motor yachts on display.

Miami International Boat Show — Feb. 16-20 — Unique Marine

See what’s new at the Greatest Boat Show in the World! Florida's largest annual event spans three locations—the Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina and Yachting Center and Miamarina At Bayside—and features more than 3,000 boats and 2,000 exhibitors from all over the globe.

Kansas Boat, Sport & Travel Show — Feb. 16-19 — Mid Kansas Marine

For years, The Kansas Sports, Boat & Travel Show has been one of the most popular shows in the Heartland. Whether you enjoy the water, the adventure of riding an ATV, hunting, fishing, camping, or the freedom of traveling in an RV, you’ll love this year’s show!

Central Wisconsin Sports Show — Feb. 17-19 — Amherst Marine & Plowman’s Marine

NW Arkansas Boat Show — Feb. 17-19 — Ski & Sports

Carolina Powerboat Show & Sale — Feb. 17-19 — Chatlee Boat & Marine

Hamilton Boat Show — Feb. 17-20 — Maple City Marine, Riverside Marina & Dundas Marine

Show goers will see hundreds of exhibits of new boats for sale and boating accessories and services at the Careport Centre  with three acres of show space. Take advantage of the exclusive show deals or if you are new to boating, start your research at the show - bring your questions for our boat dealers and product specialists.

West Virginia Sport Show — Feb. 17-19 — The Great Outdoors

Indianapolis Boat Show — Feb. 17-26 — The Boat Place

Find your adventure at the Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show with over 650,000 square-feet of pure, outdoor goodness in six super-sized buildings.  Acres of boats, RV’s, fishing tackle and hunting gear!

Coralville Lake Marina Open House — Feb. 18 — Coralville Lake Marina

Ocean City Boat Show — Feb. 17-19 — North Bay Marina

The top indoor boat show on the Eastern shore with 350 boats from more than 50 dealers!

Arkansas Marine Expo — Feb. 20-22 — Trader Bill’s

South Beach in February? Miami Boat Show Time!

February 13, 2012

If it's the week of Valentine's Day, it must be time for the Miami International Boat Show! And while the who's who of the boating industry will converge on South Beach this week, we want you to know that the show's all about YOU. This is a great chance to stop by and say hello to Nautic Global Group team members. Some of the best ideas we get come from the folks who use our products every day.

So, if you're coming to the show, please come and see us. We'd love to be able to shake your hand and thank you in person for your support of Rinker Sportboats and Express Cruisers, Hurricane Deck Boats, and Godfrey Pontoons, including Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater.

It's loyal fans like you who keep us striving to innovate and build boats that are the highest quality and offer the best value you'll find anywhere. Thank you, and we hope to see you on Miami Beach!

Where In The World Is Godfrey Pontoons This Week? 2.9.12

February 9, 2012

Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show – Feb. 4-12 – Ducky’s Boats

Calling all outdoor sports enthusiasts! Welcome to the 2012 Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show, the largest event of its kind in North America! Join fellow outdoor sports buffs for up to nine days of testing the latest hunting and fishing products, planning outdoor sport and camping vacations, shopping for Boats, RVs, SUVs and ATVs, meet your favorite outdoor celebrities, and much more!

St. Louis Boat, Sport & Travel Show – Feb. 8-12 – St. Charles Boat & Motor

Whether you’re an avid outdoorsman or are just looking for a way to escape winter for the day, this is YOUR show! The annual five-day event turns America’s Center & Edward Jones Dome into a one-stop marketplace for outdoor fun— the best place to see and buy everything you need for your outdoor adventures! See nearly one thousand boats—from fishing to cruising to family fun there are boats for every activity, lifestyle and budget.

Treasure Valley Boat Show – Feb. 9-12 – Allan Marsh RV & Boat Center

Attention western Idaho…your boat show is coming to Expo Idaho in Ada County this week! Allan Marsh RV & Boat Center has YOUR Godfrey Pontoon…please stop by and say hello.

Kentucky Sport, Boat & Recreation Show – Feb. 9-12 – C & P Marine & Arnolds Boats & Motors

All the top boat dealers in the area…PLUS the chance to ride a free zip line across Rupp Arena? Count us in!

Cedar Rapids Sportshow — Feb. 10-12 — Coralville Lake Marina

See a huge display of 2012 boats including pontoons, sportboats, fishing boats, family runabouts, ski boats, and performance boats.

Columbia Boat Show – Feb. 9-12 – Captains Choice Marine

As in years past, wall-to-wall boats and marine accessories will pack the state fairgrounds. Hundreds of boats, from a wide variety of manufacturers will be on site. The show will feature deck boats, runabouts, sport boats, fishing boats, cruisers, personal watercraft, jet boats, and high-performance boats—everything from 12 to 30 feet will be ready to board and buy!

Mid-Atlantic Boat Show — Feb. 9-12 — Huntley Marine

The largest marine product event in the Carolinas celebrates 2012 by showcasing more boats and marine services than ever! For 40 years the Mid-Atlantic Boat Show has been the place to get your family ready for the boating season that's just around the corner.

Fort Wayne Boat Show & Sale – Feb. 9-13 – Hamilton Lake Marine & West Lakes Boat Mart

You’re invited to the 31st Fort Wayne Boat Show and Sale, where you’ll find over 50 exhibitors, including 20 marine dealers from Indiana and Michigan, all in one place. Incredible prices, low financing and special incentives on boats, personal watercraft, accessories, piers and much more!

Mid Atlantic Sports & Boat Show – Feb. 10-12 – Centerville Waterway & Lynnhaven Marina

Whether you want to see the latest and greatest 2012 models or want a great deal on an unused 2011, you don't want to miss the boat show with all the big dealers and all the boats under one roof. Don't miss it.

Grand Strand Boat Show – Feb. 10-12 – Marine Service Center

This year marks the 28th year for the Grand Strand Boat Show! This show has always been the best place to preview the new boating season, and now we will have anything and everything to interest the outdoor enthusiast!

Biloxi Boat & RV Show – Feb. 10-12 – Ocean Marine & Rough Water Marine

This year promises to be another great year for boating and RVing along the Gulf Coast. The show will feature a great selection of 2012 model of boats, motors, personal watercraft, RVs, campers and marine and RV accessories.

Detroit Boat Show – Feb. 10-19 – Krupa’s Boat Mart & Hideaway Yachts

We’ll have more than 100 of Michigan's best boat dealers and marine businesses under one roof for nine days of great prices, selection and services. This is your chance to see new 2012 products, and get great prices on new non-current boats, motors, trailers and accessories.

New England Boat Show – Feb. 11-19 – Rockingham Boat

The New England Boat Show attracting thousands of visitors from the New England seaboard. The show fills 300,000 square feet with hundreds of the newest boats from the region’s top dealers, along with a wide selection of marine accessories and special features – creating a marine marketplace and boater’s paradise like no other!

A Closer Look: Sanpan 2500 SL

February 7, 2012

Captain Steve walks through the new Sanpan 2500 SL from bow to stern, giving us a closer look at this luxurious cruising pontoon. With an stylish and practical new room-for-two Sun Lounge design, the Sanpan 2500 SL is perfect for catching some rays or just relaxing while the youngsters are swimming. And with the numerous upgraded standard features, you will know that comfort and style go hand-in-hand.

 

Congrats to New Jersey Outboards!

February 4, 2012

Not only did our friends at New Jersey Outboards win the 2012 Marketing Partner of the Year Award from the Atlantic City Boat Show, but they are actually giving away (you heard it right), a new Sweetwater 2086 with a 40-horsepower Yamaha Outboard at the show this weekend. WOW! 

 

So, you have to ask yourself the old Dirty Harry question...are you feeling lucky? Good luck to everyone heading to the show this weekend from South New Jersey, Philadelphia and all throughout the area!

If you still haven't made it over to the Atlantic City Convention Center, the show is open 10am to 5pm Sunday.

 

Where In The World Is Godfrey Pontoons This Week?

February 3, 2012

Atlantic City Boat Show – Feb. 1-5 – New Jersey Outboards

See what's new, NOW! Find the boat of your dreams and everything to go with it—see and shop hundreds of new boats and an unbeatable assortment of marine gear at the Atlantic City Convention Center. From luxury motor and sailing yachts to sport fishers, performance boats, and personal watercraft, there are boats for every lifestyle, activity and budget.

Rochester Boat Show – Feb. 2-5 – Ballantyne RV & Marine

Most people don't realize just how affordable owning a boat really is. For instance, the average payment ranges between $8 and $10 dollars per $1,000. That means a $20,000 boat loan would normally cost less than $200 per month! No matter how you try…you'll likely never take your family vacation for a week in Orlando for as little as $2,400 — much less bring along your friends and relatives!

Nebraska Boat, Sport & Travel Show – Feb. 3-5 – Omaha Marine Center

For more than 40 years, the Nebraska Boat, Sports and Travel Show has been a must-attend event for outdoor enthusiasts and sportsmen from all over Nebraska, Northern Kansas and Western Iowa.

Knoxville Boat Show – Feb. 3-6 – Madisonville Marine

This is not just an Expo, it’s the best place to BUY those boats and products. Held annually at the Knoxville Expo Center on Clinton Highway THE Boat Show is easily accessible and has plenty of well-lit FREE parking.

Raleigh Convention Center Boat Show – Feb. 3-5 – Chatlee Boat & Marine

The Raleigh Convention Center Boat Show is this weekend! Come see a wide variety boats and boating gear, represented by the best local marine dealers. Discount coupons available online.

Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show –Feb. 4-12 – Ducky’s Boats

Calling all outdoor sports enthusiasts! Welcome to the 2012 Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show, the largest event of its kind in North America! Join fellow outdoor sports buffs for up to nine days of testing the latest hunting and fishing products, planning outdoor sport and camping vacations, shopping for Boats, RVs, SUVs and ATVs, meet your favorite outdoor celebrities, and much more!

Spokane National Boat Show – Jan. 28-Feb. 4 – Mark's Marine

We have really had a lot of changes in the Boat show for this year. This year will again be an eight-day show from Saturday Jan. 28th through February 4. There will be fishing guides and seminars nearly every hour during the show.

Seattle Boat Show – Jan. 27-Feb. 5 – Puget Marina

The Seattle Boat Show, Indoors + Afloat, is the West Coast's Largest Boat Show featuring more than 1,000 recreational watercraft, seminars and the latest accessories indoors at CenturyLink Field, plus afloat on South Lake Union.

Sanpan Line Gets Full Redesign

February 2, 2012

Nautic Global Group has unveiled a full-line update of its ultra-luxury Sanpan line, once again redefining the category and re-establishing its role as the leader in premium pontoon innovations.

After several years in development, the entire Sanpan lineup has been completely reimagined, with nearly every detail of every boat updated from the deck up. Whether you prefer a sunset cruise, a day of tubing with the grandchildren, or just welcoming friends and family dockside, the Sanpan line delivers more entertainment options than ever with all-new innovative layouts, helm stations and standard features.
 
A new, modern rail design catches your eye well before you even step on board, and luxurious pillow-top furniture provides the most comfortable seating you have ever enjoyed on a boat.  Never-before-seen layout options mean boat buyers can really find the boat that works best for their lifestyle, whether it’s a beautiful and functional bar on the aft-deck, rear-facing double chaise lounges, or an oversized “U” lounge that brings everyone into the conversation.

“Sanpan is and always has been the top-of-the-line pontoon,” said Godfrey Pontoon Brand Manager Bob Wachs. “We wanted to give these boats a unique look that I describe as ‘casual luxury.’ The furniture is similar to what you would find in a high-end media room. The graphics are classy and understated, and the helm is cutting edge, with blue ice LED lights that call to mind luxury aircraft designs. The Sanpan is built for a pontoon buyer that has owned one or two pontoons already and is now is ready to have the best.”

 

Where In The World Is Godfrey Pontoons This Week?

January 27, 2012

Milwaukee Boat Show – Jan. 20-29 – Lauderdale Lakes Marina &  Summerset Marine

This is Wisconsin's largest boating exposition with over 300 boats from over 75 manufacturers - motor yachts, runabouts, aluminum boats, pro style fishing rigs, pontoon boats, cruisers...you name it!

Louisville Boat RV & Sportshow – Jan. 25-29 – Arnold’s Boats & Motors & Fentress Marine

Celebrating its 54th year as the mid-South’s premier outdoors show, this annual 5-day event turns the Kentucky Exposition Center into a one-stop marketplace for outdoor enthusiasts! Whether you love boating, fishing, hunting, camping or RVing, there’s no better place to shop, compare and save!

San Antonio Boat & RV Show – Jan. 26-29 – Lake LBJ Marineland

We are gearing up for another year filled with something for everyone. From travel trailers and fifth wheels, truck campers to bay boats, center console fishing boats, and world-class wakeboard boats, the 2012 show is a must-see.

Pittsburgh Boat Show – Jan. 26-29 – Pittsburgh Boat Sales & Indian Lake Marina

The Pittsburgh Boat Show turns 52 this year! Come celebrate at the Monroeville Convention Center with a wide variety of boat lines represented by the best local marine dealers.

Upstate South Carolina Boat Show – Jan. 26-29 – Gunnells Marine 

The year’s show will host the latest models of boats including: fishing, pontoon, speed, ski, cruisers, and personal watercraft. Additionally, you’ll find boating accessories and everything that you need to start the season off right!

Oklahoma City Boat Show – Jan. 26-29 – H&H Marine

The longest-running boat show in Oklahoma history returns to Oklahoma State Fair Park for the 57th year with hundreds of boats and watercraft, special show pricing and factory representatives.

Huntington RV & Boat Show – Jan. 27-29 – The Great Outdoors

The Huntington RV & Boat Show has been held at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena for nearly 30 years. And, our founding belief still rings true, that quality recreation with family and friends is priceless.

East Texas Outdoor Expo – Jan. 27-29 – Shipps Marine

The East Texas Outdoor Expo provides the perfect venue for families from across Texas to have a one-stop shopping experience for their outdoor recreational needs. Nearly 10,000 attendees are expected over the weekend.

Fargo Boat Show – Jan. 27-29 – McLaughlins Boat & RV

The Fargo Boat and Marine Product Show includes the latest models of deck boats, fishing boats, pontoons, runabouts, and personal watercraft. See the newest innovations in marine electronics and accessories GPS, Docks, Trailers, Riggings and so much more!

Hartford Boat Show – Jan. 27-29 – Echo Bay Marina

The Fargo Boat and Marine Product Show includes the latest models of deck boats, fishing boats, pontoons, runabouts, and personal watercraft. See the newest innovations in marine electronics and accessories GPS, Docks, Trailers, and so much more!

Knoxville Boat Show – Jan. 27-30 – Madisonville Marine

This is not just an Expo to see boats and other products, it’s the best place to BUY those boats and products. Held annually at the Knoxville Expo Center on Clinton Highway THE Boat Show is easily accessible and has plenty of well-lit FREE parking.

Spokane National Boat Show – Jan. 28-Feb. 4 – Mark's Marine

We have really had a lot of changes in the Boat show for this year. This year will again be an eight-day show from Saturday Jan. 28th through February 4. There will be fishing guides and seminars nearly every hour during the show.

Seattle Boat Show – Jan. 27-Feb. 5 – Puget Marina

The Seattle Boat Show, Indoors + Afloat, is the West Coast's Largest Boat Show featuring more than 1,000 recreational watercraft, seminars and the latest accessories indoors at CenturyLink Field, plus afloat on South Lake Union.

Shop With Confidence With These 5 (Not So) Secret Boat Show Tips

November 22, 2011

If you’re in the market for a new boat, the boat show can be a great place to work a deal. Of course, it can also be a dizzying and confusing experience if you’re not prepared. The good news is that with a little research and some easy planning, you can head through the front door with confidence.


1)    Start early. That’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? The anticipation. The build-up. The excitement. Make that a key part of your experience. The more time you spend thinking about how you’ll use your boat, the more time you spend comparing features, and the more time you arm yourself with research, the more confident and focused you will be on the boat show floor.

2)    Ask around. To say that boaters like to talk about their boat  is the understatement of all time. If you got into boating, like most people, through family or friends, start there. Ask about the amenities they use on their boat and the ones they could live without. You’ll find all kinds of information about gas mileage, top speed and other “specs.” Once you get past all that, however, it comes down to how happy other folks seem with their purchase.

3)    Make a list. It can be something as simple as a sticky note or as detailed as a notebook. You’ll soon discover that list is getting pretty long. Enclosed head, swim platform, space for a cooler, full galley, oversized sunpad, top-of the-line stereo, etc. Now, once you have your list together, start organizing into “must-haves,” “would-be-nice,” and “don’t really need.” This will help you really wind up happy with your boat, rather than jumping at a “good deal” in the heat of the moment.

4)    Go ahead and climb aboard. You’d be surprised at how many folks are too intimidated to really give a boat a thorough inspection at a boat show. You should feel welcome to spend some time acquainting yourself with the boat you’re about to buy. Sit in all the seats, not just the helm. Is the backrest at a comfortable angle? Open the cabinet doors. Do they open and close securely. Does the boat feel solid?

5)    Remember there are no dumb questions. Repeat, there are no dumb questions. If you’ve gone through these first four steps and you’re still confused about something, just ask! The dealership has an entire team of people at the show. A reputable dealer will want you to be just as confident about your purchase as you walk out the door as you were when you walked in.

How To Find The Right Boat Dealer For You

November 20, 2011

While there are some similarities between a car dealership and a boat dealership, you may be surprised at how much they don’t have in common.

Sure, they both have showrooms, shiny new vehicles and salespeople. But with few exceptions, a car purchase comes down to function and price. And even if you wind up getting your automobile serviced at the dealership, it tends to be a fairly anonymous event. Buying a boat, however, could easily be characterized as starting a relationship. And because of that, it’s worth putting a little time into finding the “right one.”

Here are some pointers for narrowing down your choices and settling down with a boat dealer who will be by your side for the long haul.

• Do you feel comfortable? If you’re feeling pressured or stressed or tense in the showroom or at the boat show booth, you may want to keep looking. Anxious excitement is part of the boat-buying experience and should be enjoyed. Those other things, well, who needs them?

• Do their customers rave about them? Good dealers would love for you to meet and talk to their customers. Nobody does a better job of selling a dealership than satisfied customers. Remember, this is a relationship that will last for years. Longtime customers are a sure sign that the dealership appreciates their patronage and support.

• Do they have a busy service department? This one may seem a little counter-intuitive because you want to be first in line. But think about it. Who has more experience solving common issues? Who has a well-staffed, well-trained crew? Who can offer great rates because they are doing volume business? More than likely it’s the busy service bay.

• Do they host events on the water or showroom? Many times a dealer will gather customers of a certain brand for an afternoon of socializing with other owners. Sometimes there’s a parking lot cookout with face-painting for the kids. Other times, they turn their showroom into a movie theater in the middle of winter. There is just something wonderful about mingling with others that share your love for the water.

The point is that your boat-owning experience can be and should be just as exciting, fun and rewarding as your boat-buying experience. Good boat dealers get that. More importantly, good boat dealers go out of their way to make sure that you get that!

Top 3 Things To Remember At The Boat Show

October 21, 2011

All throughout the spring, summer and fall months, most of us are out on the water. If the weather’s nice, we’re boating. Every weekend, for sure, and maybe even a quite a few “personal” days when the opportunity arises. But when the weather gets colder, our thoughts turn from boating to boat shows.

Whether you’re looking for your first boat or you’re in the market to upgrade, winter boat shows help us keep the fire burning until our glorious spring launch finally rolls around. In addition to the fun atmosphere, gleaming gel coat and new gadgets you just can’t live without, there’s something else that should be drawing you right through the front door. The deals!

Think about it. Since the boating season is over in most parts of the country, and boats have been serviced and stored during the fall, your local dealer will be wheeling and dealing with all kinds of special offers and manufacturers’ incentives. If you’re looking for a boat, you owe it to yourself to attend a boat show.

To help you navigate the aisles like a pro, here are the Top 3 things to think about as the boat show rolls through your community:

1) Do your homework and narrow down your search before you get there. It adds to the experience if you walk in with a good idea about the type of boat that best fits your lifestyle. Do you need seating and storage for lots of family and friends? Are you more into performance and styling? Do your kids spend most of their time tubing, skiing or wakeboarding? Will you spend a lot of time on big water? Have you always dreamed of anchoring and overnighting in a serene cove? There will be lots of terrific distractions…be prepared!

2) Get to know your dealer. Nearly as important as the type of boat you buy is the feeling you get from your dealer. They will be instrumental in helping you get a great deal. They will be delivering your boat. They will be there for routine service, storage and anything else you need after your purchase. Talk to the salesperson at the booth. Ask to speak to the owner of the dealership. Chances are, they are one of your neighbors. A good dealer knows that your relationship begins with the sale, not ends with the sale.

3) Shop for value, not just price. This is a simple idea, but it’s harder than it sounds. Cheaper does not mean value. There are price wars at just about every boat show between competing lines. Ask about quality construction. Ask about resale value. Ask about financing offers. The cream rises to the top, as they say. You will pat yourself on the back a year or two (or 10) down the line when you make quality a priority over price alone.