It always has been for me. I started going with family, my sister and her husband had a pontoon and my brother had a speed boat. We'd head out onto one of the many lakes in the area, loaded up with snacks and cold beverages. Sometimes they would fish, I was never much of a fisherman. With my brother's boat someone would usually want to do some waterskiing. I had tried that when much younger and found out on the first try that it was nothing that I'd ever be good at. Did you know that when you fall, you're supposed to let go of the tow rope? No body told me that and I jokingly tell stories now of taking a tour of the bottom of Lake Wissota.
My sister's pontoon was a different story. It was an older 20 foot Playbuoy with a 25 horse power Evenrude 2 stroke engine. It was much slower that my brother's boat but I found it to be much more enjoyable. You could actually have a conversation without shouting and sit your drink on a table without the fear of it topping over and spilling on the carpeting or in my lap. In my brother's boat on the other hand, you could be holding your drink firmly in hand, then suddenly hit a wave going full speed and the liquid would fly out of the opening at the top of the can. Then the wind would catch the liquid and spew it all over whatever was in it's way.
Needless to say, when the time came for me to purchase my own boat I went with the pontoon. A speed boat is great if you want to get from point A to point B in a nanosecond, but I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere that fast. My first boat was my sisters old Playbuoy. A good starter boat, but I knew the time would come for me to upgrade. My current boat is a 20 foot, 2007 Bennington with a 90 horse power Yamaha 4 stroke engine, and I absolutely love it. The 4 stroke is much quiter than the old Evenrude and the boat itself is heavier so it rides a lot smoother. The toons are also larger and I believe that helps with the stability. I had always heard good things about Bennington pontoons being called "the Cadillac of pontoons". Another reason for going with Bennington is that the dealer is right on the lake, so if I ever have problems, which I have not so far, I can call them and they'll come to my aid. There are some things about the boat that I would change if I could do it over again, and I blame myself for this. I can not explain why but I never asked the dealer what options were available. For example, my pontoon is equipped with two fishing seats in the front that can not be used when under power, due to safety concerns, and a live well, and as mentioned previously, I am not a fisherman.
Now on to the reason for writing this. A couple of years ago I called an old friend to see if he'd like to go out for a day on the lake. We had gone through 12 years of school together and had always been friends but had not seen each other for quite a few years. I figured that a day on the water would be the perfect way to get caught up. He told me that he was busy that day, but that I should call him another time. That's one problem with boating, you can not make plans too far ahead of time because everything is dependent on the weather. I never called him again. Then last summer I returned to my home town for the annual celebration and parade. I met my friend and we sent a couple of hours catching up, and during the conversation he confessed to me that he really was not busy the day that I had called but he told me that when he used to go boating with his wife's family it was always a hassle. Who's bringing what, what time are you going, I thought you were driving, and well, you get the idea. I told him that when I go pontooning the only thing anyone going along has to worry about is bringing their own cooler filled with whatever they like to drink and any snacks they may want. To be fair I did tell him about the cover and what a pain it is to remove and then put back on at the end of the day, but it is something that has to be done.
We never got get out, but I hope to someday show him that boating can and should be a fun and relaxing experience. It does not have to be a white knuckle, hang on tight, do not spill your drink, dash across the water, or a family squabble about who did or should have done what, but a fun and relaxing way to spend the day with friends.