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Party Pontoon Boat Becomes Revered Work Horse

Jun 6, 2008
When you think of Pontoon boats, you probably think of cruising around the lake. Not anymore. These versatile boats have been put to work and have actually earned a fantastic reputation. These boats are not only good at being party boats on the lake. They can easily adapt and perform in various tasks such as fire fighting, commercial recreation, wildlife protection, marina construction, fish and game research and management, and marine demolition or construction.

Pontoon boats, particularly Chinook Boats from Metalite Industries, have earned respect because they can be designed and built for your wants and needs. These boats can be tailored to weight demands, payload capacity, and work environment. The length, width and buoyancy can be customized to meet your working requirements. And even the bow and stern shapes can be modified and adjusted to make the best of surface space.

In short, each pontoon boat user starts off with a platform that is designed and honored for its durability and flotation stability. But the end product requires the customization of everything from riggings, cleats, tie-downs, steering and enclosures - cabins, tarps or canopies to make this boat yours. All based on the simple or complex nature of the enterprise.

Ken Hagman's firm, Copper Bay Construction, has been a fixture on Idaho's Priest Lake since 1977. He links the escalated use of his pontoon boats to the demand and call for greater longevity of marine construction. "We're using more aluminum framing and composite decking. Because of that, transporting equipment and materials to the site has become much more critical over the years."

In Hanman's work, one thing he does is remove damaged boat lifts and he replaces them with fresh equipment. He wanted to make this job more efficient, so Hagman went looking for a large high-speed pontoon boat that could install heavy machinery easily and readily. He chose a Chinook Pontoon Boat that was built to spec by Metalite Industries, a subsidiary of NewMax Incorporated. The 12 x 32-foot boat he chose has a 15,000-lb capacity and carries a gantry crane that can lift and position 8,000 to 12,000-lb boat lifts. His new boat's speed and size saves him time and labor costs. "With it being 12 feet wide, which is extremely wide for its size, it allows us to deliver and set boat lifts with a two-man crew. As opposed to the old method, a slow moving boat that needed four people to jockey and set the lift in place."

In fact, Hagman has calculated that since purchasing the Chinook Pontoon five years ago, he has saved half the cost of the boat in labor savings alone. Even as fuel costs rise, Hagman has calculated that he has saved even more money because of the boat's four-stroke engines operate at one-third the cost of powering the large and heavy semi-displacement work boat Copper Bay previously used.

He said, "We've been very impressed with the performance of the boat. It's common to travel fifteen miles over water to get to a job site. Most work boats are semi-displacement vessels that plow through the water at a slow pace. The Chinook Pontoon work boats incorporate an angular, flat pontoon design that has a higher displacement and better surface planning capability. The design provides better hydro-dynamics to allow the vessel to plane on the water's surface, where it can move quickly and more efficiently. We specifically wanted this boat so it would save money in labor costs by getting people to the job faster. We've had a lot of competitors, some who come from five hundred miles away, looking at the boat for design ideas for their operations."

Hagman's Copper Bay Construction crew is working on replacing Priest Lake's oldest marina. A new breakwater will be installed and a hundred boat slips will be replaced. Full attention will be given to the on-shore construction of a bar and restaurant when the marine aspects of the project are completed in latter part of 2008.

Hagman's Chinook Pontoon Boat was outfitted with aluminum ramps that attach to the front of the boat. These ramps allow the crew to easily transport and disembark mini excavators. The on-shore work requires the machinery that must be done in the winter months, when Priest Lake, a reservoir lake is drawn down. Standing snow may arrive as early as the end of October and remain on the ground until April. The pontoon boats are still in the water year round. "The aluminum gets cold, but the boat performs well," he said.

Though Hagman keeps his people and boats busy throughout the year, when the season allows he's not averse to a little fun. "In the summer, we throw an annual crew party for our twenty-five employees. We turn the pontoon into a floating party barge. We festoon it out and cruise around the lake, waving at everybody. We've had in excess of 30 people on that boat," he said.
About the Author
Chinook Boats is the premiere manufacturer of pontoon boats and work boats for a wide range of applications. Each boat is custom designed and precision crafted to meet the the customer's needs. Chinook also builds recreational pontoon boats.
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