When brothers Regan, Reid and Riley aren’t busy working the family-owned and operated Atha Bros. Seed/Chemical/Fertilizer in northern Missouri, there’s a good chance you’ll find these farm boys at the family cabin overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. Following in the footsteps of their hard-working father Raymond “Ray” Atha, on this farm the sons grow corn and soybeans and also supply wholesale chemicals, fertilizer and Becks Seed.
Those familiar with the agricultural business already understand how the long hours and demanding schedules can be challenging when it comes to balancing family time, and just how important it is for these farmers to find a recreational outlet.
In an attempt to create a temporary getaway from the tractor, the Atha brothers went in together on a vacation home as well as shared ownership in a new Manitou pontoon.
“If you look at the title, the boat is in my name, but in reality it’s owned by Atha Bros.,” explains Reid. “We went in on it together so we could get the boat we all wanted.”
That exact boat turned out to be a SES SHP Platinum 270 from Manitou with a Suzuki 300 four-stroke that the brothers purchased through Big Thunder Marine.
Customizing Their Pontoon
Reid and his wife Whitney knew they wanted a 27-foot Manitou SES after seeing it at the Overland Park Boat Show last year, but they didn’t like the display model. The couple ended up ordering one through the dealer so they could get it exactly how they wanted it.
“My wife picked out the colors and the flooring and thank goodness she did or we would have messed it up,” says Reid with a smile. “There’s honestly nothing I would do differently or change about this Manitou.”
Adds Whitney, “The color scheme and flooring all had to match and not be too hot in the summer. I’m more of a neutral type of a person and I wanted the pontoon to look nice and stay in style.”
With the Platinum package from Manitou you gain a blackout exterior with the rails, which the family loves, as well as added features like the JL Audio sound system that gets plenty of great use. As impressive as the pontoon looks, it’s the performance as well as the floorplan that sold them on the Manitou brand.
“We really like the layout and especially the walkthrough towards the back,” says Reid from his comfy elevated helm chair. “On some competitor boats you might find just a chain going across the back, but we like the safe enclosed rear deck that also looks good.”
Safety is even more important to Reid and Whitney now that their young family includes their daughter Frankie and son Raef. Having a safe layout sends a message to other family members and friends that children are always welcome aboard.
Must Have Power
As far as power, the 27-footer has plenty with the Suzuki 300hp four-stroke on the back. Combined with Manitou’s proven performance hull with a 27-inch diameter center pontoon and 25-inch diameter tubes on the outsides, this craft was built for a big lake like the Lake of the Ozarks that has a reputation of getting some big waves during peak boating season.
“When you have 12 people onboard you need the extra power,” says Reid. “Sam at Big Thunder Marine recommended the Suzuki and I typically trust people in their line of work. Plus it comes with a long warranty and we’ve really enjoyed it so far. When it comes to performance you can’t beat the Manitou hull with this engine. It just handles better than other three-pontoon setups.”
Known for a great selection of performance boats, Big Thunder Marine has created a solid reputation for itself by not only offering top-of-the-line boats that are ideal for this large body of water and neighboring lakes, but also for its customer service.
“They did everything they said they were going to do and actually went above and beyond,” says Reid. “The boat ended up coming in two weeks earlier than they promised and they followed up afterwards to make sure we didn’t have any questions. So yes, we’ve been very happy with Big Thunder.”
In 1996 Reid’s father Ray passed away at the young age of just 43 after a long battle with melanoma. The farmer of 25 years left behind his wife Patti and their five children. One must-have upgrade when they decided to buy the pontoon was the double Bimini top, which was a key option for this family who knows all too well the dangers of too much time in the sun.
“Dad died of melanoma so we try and stay out of the sun as much as possible,” says Reid. “We’re a bunch of vampires out here with our double Bimini and sun block,” jokes Whitney.
The brothers have decided to name the boat Ray after their father as a way of honoring him and his legacy. This is the family’s first pontoon boat after owning several open-bow boats over the years and they have no plans of ever going back.
“It drives better, it’s ideal for kids and having an outboard is a lot easier,” sums up Reid. “Plus pontoons hold their value, they’re great for families and it rides so much better than those other boats ever did.”
With limited time available away from the farm, Reid and Whitney anxiously grab their children and make their way to the boat as they set out to enjoy another beautiful day on the water aboard their Manitou performance pontoon.
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