Pimping the Pontoon Boat
June 6, 2016 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Mom & Dad just bought a new pontoon boat. I'm putting together a boat necessity package for them. What should I include for both safety and convenience? So far I have a fire extinguisher, lifejackets for all possible occupants, oars, wet wipes and a corkscrew.
posted by sarajane to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A red/green flashlight with spare batteries, just in case they are out at night and the lights burn out?
posted by zebra at 9:29 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

First aid kit. Some sort of shelf-stable instafood--granola bars etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:31 AM on June 6, 2016

Flare gun? Emergency weather band radio! We have one that has am, fm, noaa, several signal lights/flashlight built in, and can run of a charger, batteries or a hand crank.
posted by vrakatar at 9:31 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If the boat doesn't already have one, a cooler--measure and get one that fits nicely in one of the gaps between seats. Bonus if it can double as a seat.

If you want to get fancy and make them extra safe, a VHF radio.

Less expensive, an emergency weather radio.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:33 AM on June 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: A few lengths of marine rope (good for all sorts of purposes) and a good dry bag for license, first aid kit, and other things that shouldn't get wet.
posted by zebra at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

A headlamp or two. They'll probably have to fix something in the dark with two hands.
posted by gyusan at 9:36 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Rope, lots and lots of rope. Nylon rope that is brightly colored and floats. A hand cranked winch and mounting for it as a bonus.
posted by bartonlong at 9:36 AM on June 6, 2016

One time I went out with some relatives on their pontoon and jumped into the water, and it turned out they'd forgotten the ladder, and boy was it a pain to get back in the damn boat. So I would propose a spare emergency ladder!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:45 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Something to bail with - a big water scoop. If any electronic bailing things fail, you'll want something that can scoop water out.
posted by brainmouse at 9:46 AM on June 6, 2016

Best answer: Some locations have stricter boat safety equipment requirements than others. We routinely boat in Canada, and here is their list of requirements:
Boating Safety Equipment Requirements

Along with your Pleasure Craft Operator Card, you are required by law to carry marine safety equipment. At a bare minimum, you should always have with you:
  • Canadian-approved flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each passenger on board
  • Buoyant heaving line at least 15 metres in length
  • Watertight flashlight OR Canadian approved flares – Type A,B or C
  • Sound-signaling device
  • Manual propelling device (i.e. paddle) OR an anchor with at least 15 metres of rope, chain or cable
  • Bailer OR manual water pump
  • Class 5 BC fire extinguisher
For more information, please refer to the Office of Boating Safety

In addition to the safety equipment listed above, we highly recommend that you carry the following items – enough for everyone on board:
  • Marine First Aid Kit
  • Drinking water
  • Sun-screen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Dry clothing (i.e. long-sleeved shirt)
  • Snacks
  • Waterproof matches
  • Knife
What I would add to the list are:
  • Waterproof maps of local lakes
  • A few cheap plastic ponchos for unexpected rain
  • weather radio
  • waterproof cribbage board and playing cards
  • swimming ladder (if there isn't one attached to the boat already)
  • a fun inflatable towable

posted by jillithd at 9:49 AM on June 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: A few water noodles. Pontoon boats are great for swimming from and the noodles are perfect for lounging around in the water.

Safety depends on if this is a lake boat of an ocean-going vessel.
posted by bondcliff at 9:50 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

A grill that hangs from the railing
posted by SyraCarol at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

A set of basic tools in a water proof case. Beach towels.
posted by HuronBob at 10:18 AM on June 6, 2016

Best answer: Floating keychain. Absolutely #1 necessity.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2016 [15 favorites]

10 foot grappling pole...very useful when docking or extending to a swimmer in trouble.
posted by HuronBob at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2016

In my state we are also required to have a distress flag and a whistle or horn and, depending on the size of the boat, a throwable flotation device.

Seconding the cooler. Since it's a pontoon boat, I assume it has built-in cupholders, but if not they make some with suction cups for boats.

You mentioned corkscrew but what about a bottle opener?
posted by thejanna at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2016

Best answer: If they (or you) have a dog, get a harness in the right size. Dog overboard is easier to get back on board if he's wearing a harness. Get one with an actual handle on the back.
posted by yesster at 11:50 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some of this depends on the expected use. Is it going to live in the same lake all year long, or will it live on a trailer to be dropped into various lakes as the summer goes on? Or will it be used in back bays on the ocean? How big is the body of water it'll usually be on? Some pontoons never travel more than a couple hundred yards from a shorline -- in those circumstances a flare gun may be a little overkill.

Many pontoons have a shade awning of some sort, but if theirs doesn't, shade can be a godsend.

When looking at coolers, now you can find lots of Yeti knockoffs (Black Rock coolers etc.). I'd recommend one of those if you're in a hot climate, since it'll keep ice a lot longer than a cheapo Igloo.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the answers so far, please keep them coming, if there's something not addressed! It will be kept on a smallish lake (300 acre) in Northern Wisconsin; it has a bimini top and an integrated ladder.
posted by sarajane at 1:14 PM on June 6, 2016

Best answer: You most definitely want a spider web brush. My in-laws had a small powerboat and the first thing we did every time we took it out was to grab "the webber" as they called it and sweep off all the accumulated spiders and their webs. There were always a lot. This was on a lake in southwestern Wisconsin. I don't know what brand it was, or if it was just a long handled brush they used for this purpose but it was essential.
posted by Kangaroo at 1:37 PM on June 6, 2016

If they want to drink wine, plastic, dishwasher safe stemware.
posted by Candleman at 1:43 PM on June 6, 2016

Best answer: I've never had as much fun on a pontoon boat as when I was onboard a pontoon boat with a combination compressed air potato gun / water balloon slingshot. YMMV with your parents on this one. Don't shoot potatoes at people or houses - a potato will go right through siding which is then very expensive for the shooter to replace. I may or may not know something about this.......

Get a floating cooler for enjoying refreshing beverages while hanging in the water. The easiest way to do this is to drill fun-noodles into the side of a cheap cooler. Don't sweat the details, once you are in the water it's too much effort to get another beer from the boat.

Also, be prepared for Fourth of July boat parades on the lake so stock up on flags and bunting..... and make sure you are 110% invested in decorating or else your lake reputation will suffer and they will poke fun at you at the local watering hole.

(Also, I'm chuckling a bit about all the recommendations about safety gear etc for a pontoon boat, then we find out it's in northern Wisconsin. If it floats and the motor works, a true Cheesehead is off to lake, regardless! Which is why my recommendations are a bit off center.)
posted by lstanley at 2:11 PM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lstanley has it. Water guns are a must as are pool noodles and floaty rings. I'd also suggest those battery powered LED lights, those are awesome for twilight drinks.

I too am lol'ing at the thought of a pontoon boat on the ocean. Not enough safety gear in the world.
posted by fshgrl at 5:22 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

A decent-sized bucket with a lid, containing toilet paper -- maybe stash first aid stuff and sunscreen in there too, but definitely toilet paper and zip-lock bags for it when it's been used.

(I know, I know, but not everybody is agile enough to hang their arse over the side, and you can also get into situations where there is too much traffic on the water for it to be polite/desirable to hang your arse over the side...)

If there is a lot of space to stash stuff -- cozy blankets. Medium storage: woolly sweaters. Nearly none -- those emergency 'space blankets.'

I think I'll stop offering advice now because some of these suggestions confused me, especially the ones for bailers. I grew up with a pontoon boat. I just did a Google image search for 'pontoon boat.' I can see that pontoon boats are rather different nowadays. What we had was basically an extra dock that happened to detach and motor around. They all looked like that! And now somebody has gone and turned them into boats. The jealousy. The sheer jealousy. I couldn't stand that pontoon boat -- I wasn't old enough to operate it alone, and felt we looked like a bunch of weirdos on our mobile dock...

Be sure to tell any visiting children that it is very dangerous to swim near the end with the motor, just in case. I was in my teens before I realised you didn't see any news stories about kids getting sucked into Evinrudes and churned to bits.
posted by kmennie at 5:49 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure you don't need to bail even modern pontoon boats tho.
posted by fshgrl at 6:25 PM on June 6, 2016

Seeing as how you usually don't go too far from shore on these, several of those quadruple-zip waterproof phone dry bags, like this.

I've stayed at a friends place on a small island a couple times recently, and everybody had them. Nothing fancy either, just the cheapo ones. Most phones will even rudimentary work through the bag. You wont be writing any novels, but you can mash the phone app and call someone on speaker phone with wet hands if you have to.

Obviously you should have a cheapo-but-decent VHF radio too, but i thought that was a great option. Especially if you want to pull it out, take a couple pictures, and pop it back in.
posted by emptythought at 3:04 PM on June 7, 2016

Battery-powered LED light strings, maybe even solar ones. I have bought them at Big Lots and at Ikea.
posted by theora55 at 8:14 PM on June 8, 2016

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