Every nook and cranny will have some. They may be moving about or just sitting still.

We’re talking pontoons and Kentucky Lake has pretty much become a “pontoon paradise” the last few years. If you don’t believe it, just venture to any launch ramp, resort, marina, bay or cove and start observing. They’re everywhere.

From private boat houses to public boat ramps and marinas, they’ll venture out during the Fourth of July long weekend holiday. Parades of them in different colors and sizes will stir up the waterways.

And why have they become so popular in the last few years? It wasn’t too long ago some people referred to pontoons as a poor man’s houseboat but that label has long been abandoned.

Today’s pontoons can range in price from $25,000 to $125,000 depending on the length of the rig, its motor, upholstery package and trailer. Some are quite luxurious donning abundant amenities.

Tritoons are the big thing now as the triple flotation adds stability and allows the user to move up to bigger rigs that accommodate more people.

Modern day tritoons are fast, too, courtesy of the huge outboard motors they can use. It’s not unusual nowadays to see some rigs darting across the water at 50-plus miles per hour being pushed by the likes of a 400-horsepower outboard motor.

Big boats and big motors are dominating today’s market in the pontoon arena.

There was a time in the infancy of the pontoon surge that boats were purchased by older age groups, people who wanted to move about the lake at a slow speed with a host of family members on board.

Slowly cruising along the shorelines and watching birds and all sorts of wildlife was the objective. Swimming and pulling kids on tubes was always popular, too, but often folks just pulled up into coves and anchored, watching the world go by.

Other attributes of pontoons were — and still are — the safety of the rigs. They’re practically unsinkable and take rough water quite well although there are limitations.

Fast forward to modern times and it appears a younger generation has entered the buyer’s market and the need for speed has changed the whole pontoon picture out there.

Pulling kids on tubes is all part of the day and perhaps taking a trip 20 miles or more down the lake is but a short thought. 

Users have the room and tables on board to have a picnic without the ants. These larger rigs can move fast and carry a crowd to wherever the action is.

There are pontoons used for fishing, too, as most rigs allow for the placement of trolling motors and additional swivel seats up front, rendering the recreational party barge into a fishing boat. So the units are multi-purpose.



Practically all the marinas along the lake offer rental units, too. So, you don’t have to drop a bundle and buy a boat to splash away on Kentucky Lake — you can just rent these recreational rigs for a few days and not have the worries of ownership, payments, storage and maintenance.

Sound pretty good? Well, it is if you can find one.

During the popular warm weather holiday periods, it’s not unusual for just about every marina’s fleet of rental pontoons to be booked up and spoken for weeks in advance. Demand is very high.

If you’d like to go that route, best to plan ahead and book a boat well in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute and expect to find availability. It’s not going to happen.

There are exceptions when someone might have a last minute cancellation, but you get the idea.

As one of the year’s busiest boating holidays arrives, look for the pontoon navy to be out in force all across Kentucky Lake. Observe and marvel at just how many you’ll see and how fancy some have become as to their cosmetics.

Maybe there’s a pontoon in your family’s future. If so, there’s no better place to shop and get the feel or look than during the Fourth of July holiday as every brand, length, model and color will be out there on display.

Quiz the owners and get their opinions. While some have limitations, there is no limit to the fun and enjoyment you’ll have on one of these floating playgrounds.

You’ll also pick up a lot of friends once you obtain a pontoon. Folks just love to go out on new boats and feel the wind blow through their hair.

Here’s hoping you have a happy holiday on the waterways of Kentucky Lake this weekend.

STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is stevemc@charter.net.

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