From the Forums- Family Boating at its Best

Published in the August 2009 Issue August 2009

The PDB Forum is a place where fellow pontoon and deck boat owners can become like family. Recently, the family added a new member, and he arrived with a slew of questions. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful folks willing to offer their advice on everything from life vests to lifts. Here's what happened when MaxfaceKC approached the group:


I Jumped! I took the plunge! I pulled the trigger! I wrote the check (ouch) and signed the papers, although I haven't actually taken delivery yet. I still need to purchase and install a lift. My slip is 16 by 44 feet in rough water here at Lake of the Ozarks (LOTO).  
I'm planning on a 6,000-pound offset lift with six arms and reinforcement, including a walk-plank on the lift to reach the non-boarding side. Any other thoughts here?
Where does everyone buy the required life vests? Any benefits over the orange "horse collars" versus ski vests?
I'm 50 years old (Hmm. is this a mid-life crisis thing?). Been married for 20 years, with three children, not yet teenagers. I've been here lurking in the shadows for a few months learning a lot from everyone's posts and questions. I know, I know, I'll post pictures when I have the boat.

firelitemarine welcomed the new member: Welcome! Wow, that's quite a lift. What area of the lake are you on? A vest is a vest as long as it does its job. I prefer the PWC vests; I don't wear it, but it's always within reach. If you've been lurking on here for a while, you most likely know this is the best place for any `toon info. Glad to have you aboard.

offered some thoughts: Welcome to the board, Gary, looks like good fun is ahead thanks to your mid-life. I think if you put wings on that thing it will double as a plane! Places to spend your money on your new toy include Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shop, West Marine, Overton's, etc. and a million other places you have never heard of. Enjoy.

was helpful, as always: Welcome to the party! I drove that same `toon last year for my dealer at an "in water" boat show here on the lake. I was really impressed with the speed and handling; you're gonna love it.

had a different take on life vests: Welcome to the `toon' world, new here myself.  
The comment above that "a vest is a vest" is wholly inaccurate. Ski vests, or Type III vests as they are designated, are designed for freedom of motion when participating in "active" sports. A vest with a "horse collar," or a Type I or II vest, is designed to be more buoyant and is far more likely to keep an unconscious person's head out of the water.

Check this link for more details about vests:
My advice to you would be to take a Coast Guard or US Power Squadron safety course where you will learn things such as rules of the road, safety equipment, weather, knots and much more. This is a great investment in you and your family's safety. Also, you will most likely get a discount on your insurance too!
Have fun and be safe out there!

OldePharte shared his experience: Welcome Max from another Laker. I carry enough of the old orange vests for everyone on board. Children and non-swimmers must wear them when underway, while keeping the "extras" for the rest out and easily accessible. I also keep a couple of the vest types for flotation while in the water.

If you have already not done so, I second taking a boat safety course. Even though I had been boating for over 50 years, the wife and I took the US Power Squadron course over one winter. I just wish it were mandatory to all operators. The only thing that I wish that the USPS had included was covering Missouri's boating regulations.
Here is a link for Missouri boating education classes-

I am still trying to sell my old deck boat so I can get a pontoon myself.

rrhodes stocks the `toon full: In the `toon I carry a ton of the cheap Wal-Mart vests Type IIPFD, and then I have about six ski vests in different sizes for tubing or just swimming. On the SeaCat I carry Type I PFD's, because if I ever need those I am in big trouble and I need a jacket that will keep me afloat and face up for an extended period of time.

Moser made a suggestion: Welcome to the forum Gary, and I agree about the power squadron or Coast Guard course. I took a Boating Skills and Seamanship USCG Auxiliary/PA Fish and Boat Commission course and it was very good. It covered boating safety and rules of the road in general, as well as PA specific laws and regulations. I think it was a very good investment of 24 hours.

clarified about the law: Since you said the kids are younger than teens, they are required to wear their PFD's when away from the slip. Take the time to find vests that the kids can wear all day in the sun without complaining (too much). Make it as fun as you can, since they will need to keep them on and you need to keep your sanity!

The orange horse collar Type II's float well, but are not comfortable for all day. Type III's are the vest types. Neoprene vests float well, keep you a little warmer in cold water and are crazy hot in summer! Look for the nylon covered vests with good size armholes and adjustable straps. Out of the water, looser is more comfortable, but not good in the water (kid can slip out). Bring the kids along to try them on and you should be fine.
Besides being a crusty old Coast Guard guy, I have four kids ranging from 24 to 3 and 1/2. Been there, been through all that.

firelitemarine shared experience about kids: My two sisters fought every time I told them they needed to wear vests on the boat. They're at that age where they brag and claim they know how to swim, but everyone knows that's far from true. I did find vests that they didn't complain about as much with, however; I think Wally World still has them. They are known as neoprene. Very comfortable.

shared a tip: The best time to get a vest is when Wal-Mart switches from summer stuff to fall. Every year I see $45 vest marked down to $15 and $10. I have more than I need now.

To read this thread in its entirety, visit the forum page at and search for the "New to Tooning" thread.

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