During the summer months, avid boaters love to spend entire days out on the water. We run the gamut of the usual ski sports and tubing activities, still searching for ways to liven up the pontoon boat. It’s as if you think the fun’s over once you pull into your slip and come home to a quiet dock.
But what some boaters don’t realize is that we frequently miss opportunities to use our pontoons for more than simply being on the water. There are numerous occasions and everyday activities you can transport from home to boat instead.
If you have a family movie night planned, just take some equipment to the dock and set up a small cinema. You already pack lunches for a day on the water, so why not dine al fresco more often? And did I mention fireworks? They’re not just for Independence Day, ya know.
For the next cause for celebration, think outside the box and plan a party around your pontoon! Each suitable for both adults and kids, here are three ideas of how to do just that.
Our Favorite Pontoon Ideas:
1. Host a Movie Night!
Affordable cinema set-up
For projecting the movie, there are several options. You could just use a laptop with a larger screen, standing it up on a chair or table. Just make sure you’re good and charged or you might ruin a climatic ending.
Another affordable option is a projector that attaches to your phone. You can even check with your local library and find out if they have one for rent. (Maybe don’t mention that it’s going on a boat though, okay?)
If you really feel like investing in something—check out more affordable projectors like the mini CHEERLUX option shown above (click to see current price on Amazon).
When using a projector, you’ll need to have a screen. A simple and affordable way to do this is to hang a white bed sheet from your bimini with towel clips. Easy! Done!
If you don’t have Bluetooth marine speakers (check current price on Amazon), you’ll need an additional way to cast the sound. You can purchase a waterproof Bluetooth speaker and get more play out of it on the water. If you’re in the market for new speakers, check out this marine speaker review and comparison.
Who’s your audience?
You might want to ask yourself who your audience is going to be. Is the movie rating suitable for kids? Is the story’s plot about a fish named Nemo or Jaws? Make sure nothing is going to scare kids from going into the water (or bore parents out of their minds).
If it’s more of a family and friends gathering, find something everyone can enjoy. If it’s a date night for mom and dad, I’m sure you’re already used to compromising.
Treats and sodas are good for nibbles during a flick. Don’t bring anything you wouldn’t normally on your boat. If you have rules about red juices to keep your carpeting spotless, stick to that. And chocolate candy might be a big no-no.
2. Casual Weekend Brunch Cruise
Think no-mess meals
The biggest problem you could have with packing any meal on board is the mess it could potentially make. Don’t expect sunny side up eggs today—instead, keep it simple and bring along something a bit less messy.
Donuts work great (though maybe not the powdered kind) as well as foil-wrapped breakfast sandwiches or wraps. You might even manage some other finger foods, but I’d avoid anything syrupy with kids around.
Bring some handy wipes to clean up any messes. Or just take a jump in the water once it warms up.
Cooler of cocktails
Pack your cooler with a couple of plastic bottled juices (or some juice boxes for the kiddos.)
For adults, pop a bottle of Prosecco and top off that juice to make a bubbly Mimosa. Or if you’re more of a Bloody Mary fan, bring along canned tomato juice or cans of V8 and spice it up yourself.
For designated drivers and those of us who need to stick with coffee—or who just need coffee to survive the day—you can brew it at home and pour it out into a thermos or insulated carafe to keep it piping hot.
3. Fireworks Show
Check with your state and county to find out if fireworks (or certain types of them) are banned. It could be a temporary ban due to droughts or have restricted zoning, but make certain you wouldn’t be breaking any laws or sending out beacons to DNR or Coast Guard to come crash your party. That’s a hefty fine!
If fireworks are indeed banned, don’t fret! Sparklers aren’t considered fireworks. They’re nonhazardous, capable of shipping by mail, and you can pick them up almost anywhere. You won’t have the same stars and stripes and rockets’ red glares, but if you just want to see some glitter for a birthday celebration—sparklers are perfect!
Also be careful lighting fireworks! It’s best to light them on your dock and out toward open water. If you’re fearful of damaging your boat, don’t hold them in your hand. Just set them off at the dock! And always keep a fire extinguisher on board in case a rocket strays or backfires!
Of course, fireworks have to be set off in pitch dark, so if you’re considering taking the pontoon out, follow some nighttime navigation rules and make sure you have the proper safety lights and all the necessary safety equipment.
Fun for kids and adults!
There are many occasions to launch a few rockets: Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and Birthdays. But good fireworks can get expensive. What we do at our lake is invite the neighbors from community docks or down the shoreline to join the party. Let them know you’re going to light some fuses and invite them to watch and pitch funds into the pool if they want. Most people love a good fireworks display!
One thing to note here is while most people love fireworks, pets become very anxious. Loud sudden noises are just too much for them; I recommend leaving them at home with a chew toy. Even though you take precautions to keep your pet safe on the water, fireworks are another element!
A Few Extras Accessories You May Need
If you need more seating aboard your pontoon, purchase a few extra foldable deck chairs by Wise, shown on the left above (click to view on Amazon).
In fact, if it’s a movie night, create stadium seating with a few legless cushions by Rio Brands, shown on the right above (click to view on Amazon) so patrons down in front don’t block the view.
Blankets for night
In the morning for breakfasts and even at during nighttime fireworks, it could get a bit chilly. Pack a few blankets to keep warm.
At night especially you’ll need some bug repellent. Even during brunch, it could keep the bees from going after the sweet smells of the juices. If you go out in the middle of the lake far enough, you might not have this problem.
One Last Thought
With a little pre-planning and simple inexpensive touches, you can host a small group of friends and family for any occasion!
My aunts and cousins began a yearly girls-only weekend around Halloween, often hosted at our lakeside cabin. Although it’s typically a bit chilly in autumn, we encourage guests to use the pontoon and dock as an extension of the house. We set up the dock invitingly and decorate–although sometimes the cobwebs are real–and everyone has a crazy good time! The best part is it’s become a tradition!
And just like that—a one-off occasion can become a memorable tradition you’ll all look fondly back upon. I hope you come up with your own fantastic ways to keep boating fun for kids and adults alike!