Tales from the Cabin
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A Day in the Life of a Family's Beloved Pontoon

By Sue Sondreal
Published: May 1, 2007
Photo by Sue Sondreal

I own a pontoon, a sweet white and green machine that is part glamour boat, party venue, reading lounge and parade float. It’s in constant use, never spotless.
Lake Tour Boat for Ladies of Leisure
As matriarch and pontoon owner, I have first dibs. My favorite pontoon activity is to fill the boat with food, friends, cold beverages and two poodles, then launch for a leisurely lake tour. Sunscreen slathered, my friends and I cruise the shoreline, trying to appear the ladies of leisure we’d truly like to be. Basking in the warmth of a summer day, we are – for just awhile – sun goddesses.
Once back at the dock, we like to slowly gather our sun hats and Wayfarers before sauntering off the pontoon and toward the Adirondack chairs on shore.
Party Barge
But alas, we are often forced to skitter aside as shirtless young men in cutoffs, laden with coolers, towels and MP3 players storm the dock, transforming the setting for our lovely summer soiree into – a    party barge!
“Any gas left, Mom?” yells son Jack as he, brother Joe and their friends stow gear and claim space.
These tall, tanned young men speed away toward the opposite shore, where one of them vaults overboard and dashes across the street. 
Minutes later he returns – juggling a stack of large, square boxes that can only contain fresh, hot pizza. Dinner stowed, they motor to the lake’s middle, drop anchor and jump, shattering the quiet with not-so-manly screams as their bodies hit chilly water.
This is a typical summer day in the life of my family’s pontoon. But sometimes the pontoon doesn’t have to venture out into the lake to be in use.   
Docked for the Day
There are days when I don’t even need to rev up the outboard; instead I choose reading or napping on board my tethered pontoon as it bobs gently alongside the dock. This earns me ridicule from my speed-loving sons, but I just smile. It’s my boat.
This is our second pontoon; the first was smashed by a storm-felled oak. Tears fell at its destruction. But we eventually realized that this loss afforded us a chance to buy a larger craft better suited to heavy use by a lot of family and friends with varying ideas of pontoon fun.

Parade Float
Nothing’s more fun on a pontoon than July 4th weekend. For the annual Independence Day water parade we bedeck our pontoon with streamers, balloons, stars and stripes, then don corny “Uncle Sam” top hats and practice our “queen waves” as we traverse the shoreline. I always feel like a spectacle thus festooned, but it’s only once a year. On our lake, if you have a  pontoon, you have to be in the parade.
It’s a small price to pay, really.

Writer and high school teacher, Sue Sondreal actually does practice her parade wave prior to the Independence Day boat parade.
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