The Story I Thought Would Never Happen! Pontoon Boats Are Kinda Cool!


Flote Bote Brochure

WHAAAAAAAT? Has Woody Boater lost it’s mind? Well of course this sort of question suggests that we at some point had a clear mind. While cruising ebay we came across this 1970’s Pontoon boat brochure. And if you are like me…. sorry BTW…. you will look at these pages and think. Hey… that’s kinda cool.

Cool colors

Note, not pure cool, just kinda cool, The kinda part is all I will grant the Pontoon industry, and only in reference to the old stuff. The design, and colors are part of the charm.

I will add that the outdrive is a bit of a downer. Not because of the outdrive, but sadly may cause some to to not want to restore one of these. Plopping on a new outboard is a far easier fix.You gotta admit like I am here, if one of these was at a boat show next year, it would be the most talked about boat at the show. Not to mention be out on the water as a floating party. You can now say when that happens, you saw it here first on Woody Boater of all places. We are making the call right now!

Yeah I can see myself on one of these. ISH!


And happy header day!

38 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    I’m kinda a pontoon boat hater, but that advertisement could turn me around. It really is cool in 70’s sort a way. Sure looks like Hugh Hefner lounging in the back corner. Wonder if any of those kids became future pontoon boaters?

    • Shep
      Shep says:

      I must say guys I felt the same way 25 yrs ago. Then the kids came along and the family & friends would not fit in the 20′ ski boat any more. Now we are on our 3rd 24′ tri toon with a 225 Honda outboard. It’s a great way to get 16 of your close friends on the lake.
      But I still would rather be in the GarWood anytime we can.
      Congratulations Matt on 10yrs! I do enjoy reading your posts when I can. You do a great job of promoting our hobby.
      Thanks again!

  2. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    Pontoon boats are great for someone you know to own. Here’s a picture of the “Bad Ship Lollipop” (an I/O converted to straight drive) that is regularly seen on Keuka.

  3. Rick
    Rick says:

    I’ve rented them for the day to act as a floating bar for other boats to draft up to and the situation was cool but can’t say the toon was. I’ve just wrapped my mind around plastic boats at shows would need some psych therapy to accept seeing one of these there and being judged.

  4. Matt
    Matt says:

    HAHAHAH! Yes, I am jet lagged and been thinking crazy stuff latley. Between italy, DC, now LA, then back to DC, NY, then Canada all in a short span, and NO boat rides, maybe I am getting desperate for anything. Hopefully this weekend, I will get my mojo back on the water.

  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Classic pontoons definitely belong at shows. ACPS shows.

    There is no arguing the utility of a pontoon, but driving one gives very little pleasure. They lack the soul…and the rumbling inboard…of a real boat. That said, I am happy to have one around as part of the fleet as long as no one sees me out on it. I need to find out where Johnny V is on Keuka so I can avoid him or wear a disguise when pontooning!

    • Johnny V.
      Johnny V. says:

      I have nothing against pontoon boats-neighbors have them and I’m always happy to go on a cocktail cruise when invited. They certainly promote sociability. BTW-we’re on the west side of the Branchport branch about 1 1/2 miles south of Camp Good Days. The Bad Ship Lollypop is docked in the basin in Branchport which is why you may have never seen it.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        Oh, I have seen it. I have a coworker who has a place on West Bluff just south of the park. If you see someone who looks like me heading up that way on a pontoon, don’t take any pictures to post online. 🙂

  6. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    anyone else catch boating magazine this month, they have a story about pontoons and they have 3 or 4 they tested that are just below $200,000.00 each!!!!! they have dual 400 engines but my God. for that kind of dough im not buying a pontoon. maybe a nice used streb!


    • Jim Staib
      Jim Staib says:

      I went to the Gull Lake show early a couple years back. Stopped by Bar Harbor for lunch and there were a pair of pontoons there for sale in the $150K range.
      This summer at the Lake of the Ozarks shootout Brad Rowland won his class with a 110MPH pontoon.

  7. Stenz
    Stenz says:

    With 3 Golden Retrievers & a wife that loves to take them on boat rides, adding a pontoon to the stable was a logical solution. I still wear a hat and and try to “sort of hide” when using it – but I have to admit; i’m coming around. The best part is, no more dog hair & scratches on the Chris Craft or Century – and a happy wife (i guess we all know how important the happy wife part is…)

  8. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    My Dad got into pontooning way back in the early 70’s, with the bare bones, “Bring your own chair” layout. Then in the late 80’s he upgraded to what we all referred to as his “PIMPED” out Pontoon, with cushy seating, wet bar, oil injected, electric start Yamaha 40 hp. My brother now has it on Lake Minnetonka. I did not want anything to do with it…

  9. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    The closest I came to a pontoon set up was our 1987 Sea Ray 240 Sundeck. Could seat 12, had a head, wet bar, and front loading ladder to get off when beaching up. We had that boat for 15 years. I never felt like I was driving a “BOAT” tho, just a barge, even tho it had the same hull as any other Sea Ray 24 footer, like a Sundancer, etc…
    I will take my 22 ft Coronado now, with the 454 inboard rumble, and fast comfortable ride, with six inch thick cushy seating.

  10. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Ha, when I was a kid we made a really cool pontoon boat…it seems that back in the day Jet fighters on practice flights would just jettison these pontoon type extra fuel tanks…yep…drop em…from the air…over wooded places in rural va…..we dragged two out and made our boat….looked like a supper large pallet on top of two bombs. cool.
    John in Va.

  11. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    Two hollowed out logs for the pontoons, teak decking, mahogany sides and railing, flat head V8 with a disappearing out drive…. Now we’re talking

  12. Lee Wangstad
    Lee Wangstad says:

    Sometime in the mid to late fifties, our neighbor at the lake built his own pontoon boat. It was not your usual “home-made” boat. He was a millwright, and an excellent one at that, able to craft most anything with his two hands and a high degree of skill. Anyway, my dad thought that this was a splendid idea, so he had a welder friend build one for us too. It had a transom that you could pull up or down with a lever, depending on passenger load. It was just a big deck with a railing around it. No furniture, no driver seat, nothing. Powered by our trusty 1956 7-1/2hp Johnson outboard, it was perfect for carrying large groups (boy scout and girl scout troops) on long excursions out on the lake. At times it seemed that only the deck was above water. It would also prove its greatness in handling large fishing parties. There were even a few occasions when my parents would tie-up with our neighbor’s pontoon for late night party/dances out on the lake. 7-1/2hp? It was a time built at a slower pace. It was more about the relaxation. We had our Larson Thunderhawk to set a more exciting pace, but the pontoon definitely had its own purpose. And the fact that whenever I think of it and the great times we experienced while on it, a smile comes to my face. A classic boat? Not hardly, but one that can bring to mind a more peaceful time in my life, full of fun and carefree living on the lake.

    • woodydiva
      woodydiva says:

      DITTO!—only thing cool was the fact it was 2 women on that boat with all those kids-and their groovy hairdo’s!

  13. John F
    John F says:

    My ACBS chapter told me that they wouldn’t have allowed me on the delta cruise if I’d come in a pontoon!

    • Dave Nau
      Dave Nau says:

      And yet, about one third of all new boats are pontoons. Another one third are PWCs, which are water motorcycles in my book. The last third are everything else, and most of those are outboard-powered aluminum fishing boats or outboard-powered fiberglass center-console fishing boats, with a fair number of competition ski tow sport boats. Even regular family bow-riders, either outboard or stern drive models are not sold as much anymore. let alone anything with a closed deck. Sales of inboard boats of all type (regular or I/O) have fallen to around 15,000 per year, way off from the 100,000+ per year of just 15-20 years ago, and 200,000+ per year in the 1980’s. Total outboard motor sales are around 150,000 per year, with 20-25% of those going for re-powering older boats.

      What will happen 25-30 years from now, when people had boats of this type growing up maybe go back to their youth and get a classic boat of the type sold today? No answers, just thinking a bit about the future of the hobby. And I may rent a pontoon once in a while, but never plan to own one, not even one from the 60’s or 70’s.

  14. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    There is one cool pontoon boat in Lake Union here in Seattle – It’s a bar, serving beer to the patrons, who sit and pedal as they try various brews… Pretty cool business model: Paying customers who provide the motive force as they tour the lake! The insurance policy must be interesting, though… 🙂

  15. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Back in the late 70s we had a 24′ Tracker with a 48 hp Johnson outboard. The grandkids would drive it “full power”. Guess what now at 25 + years they like the ole woodies. So maybe pontoon are good for getting kids into boating.

  16. Thom Head
    Thom Head says:

    A pontoon boat is just one arrow in the quiver, one must have a comfort rig for the family along with a vintage fiberglass and a vintage woody.

  17. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    Broken computer so late to this great story. I just brokered the purchase of this beautiful 28 foot 1982 San Pan double decker for a friend. Stay tuned for a story next Spring about its transformation.

  18. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    i bought the wife a pontoon. makes it a lot easier on my nerves when she is heading toward the boat house at 30mph in the runabout and asks where the brake is…. again. I plan on putting some varnished mahogany on it next spring.

  19. Chris
    Chris says:

    Country music star Alan Jackson used to have a place at our lake in Georgia. Along with his fleet of wooden boats, he had a pontoon with wooden (ok, probably fake wood) sides. For a pontoon I’d have to say it was pretty cool.

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