6 new boat design trends
What's happening to our favourite cottage rides
The crowd favourite [pontoon]
Pontoon boats have a cult-like following in certain parts of cottage country, particularly on the smaller, sheltered lakes of northern and eastern Ontario, the Kawarthas, and Haliburton. “Their popularity is a real lake-by-lake type of deal,” says Kevin Crittenden, operations manager of Sudbury-based pontoon manufacturer Legend Boats. “Someone buys a pontoon boat, their friends catch on, and it goes from there.”
Bigger is better
The most significant change in pontoon boats is the larger diameter of the pontoons, which float the boat higher to increase freeboard and carrying capacity. Wider pontoons also improve stability at higher speeds. “This has almost reinvented the pontoon industry,” says Mike Maynard of Hastings Marine, near Peterborough, which sells the boats. Bigger tubes, combined with features such as lifting strakes—“essentially, little channels on the tubes that get the boat up on plane,” explains Maynard—and a third, central tube, mean performance-oriented pontoon boats can handle 150-hp outboards and behave almost like a monohull. “Pontoons have gone from being barges to something you can ski or wakeboard behind,” he says.
A place to socialize
The greatest asset of a pontoon boat is its spacious, easy-to-access deck. “They’ve always been a perfect choice for the older crowd,” says Maynard, but now, he and Crittenden say they’re noticing a surge in their popularity among families. “For young kids, a pontoon boat is like an oversized playpen,” Maynard says.
Under the big top
More pontoon-boat users are requesting full or partial canopies, which in turn have been improved with heavy-duty canvas, metal fasteners, and stronger support tubing to withstand heavy wind and rain. As an added perk, “the top turns the boat into a floating gazebo when it’s tied to the dock,” Crittenden says, “giving you extra space to entertain.” And making it an oversized playpen for adults too.
This article was originally published on January 6, 2011