The new pontoons have come a long way from the pontoon my uncle remodeled in the sixties. I can remember him bending the pipe for the railings. He was a plumber by trade and could construct just about anything. My uncle had the great idea to build a diving platform on top of the pontoon. When he was finished a nine-foot tower stood over the middle of the boat. It didnít look very tall until one climbed the stairs and stood upon it. By the time people were on top of the tower their eyeballs were about thirteen feet from the water. It was plenty high.
My uncle used a three-horse motor to power the pontoon. We often headed to a place near Windmill Point where he dropped anchor. My brother recalled that on a windy day the pontoon seemed to stand still in its fight to reach our destination. When we would reach the perfect spot, the anchor went down and the fun began.
My uncle had only one rule: everyone who used the tower had to dive at least once. I preferred jumping, since my diving ability was never great. Usually, I waited until the last possible moment to dive, just before the anchor was hoisted and we headed back to shore.
Even the youngest relatives enjoyed the pontoon. All the reminiscing brought up a memory of me at about thirteen years of age being in the water urging my cousin to jump. She must have been about four or five years old. Once she went, there was no stopping her.
My brother, Steve, was famous for his ďdead manís dive.Ē He would stand at the edge of the tower, his arms tight to the sides of his body, and fall head first into the water. Without using his arms to break the water he did look like a stunt man for a movie. Recently I asked him if it hurt his head to break the water. He acknowledged that it did, but evidently the flattery from all the cousins made it worthwhile.
Whether or not everyone used the tower, the pontoon was a great place from which to swim. My aunt always dove from the railings (about five feet off the water) claiming the tower was too high. Many others just lowered themselves into the water and floated on air mattresses. Some preferred to stay on the pontoon and not get wet at all. It was a great social gathering place.
Over the years, the pontoon had hundreds of fun hours logged on it. Eventually, it began to deteriorate and our diving tower days were over. It has been years since we swam from that pontoon. But things have a way of circling around again. My aunt and uncle bought a new pontoon this summer. Itís a fancy one with upholstered seats, a matching canopy, and fast motor. Now my children have been able to ride, anchor, and swim from the pontoon. Instead of air mattresses, we have ďnoodlesĒ (long Styrofoam tubes which float and can hold up a person.) The kids dive from the deck and my brother taught my son to dive from the wooden casing over the motor. This action brought up the subject of the diving tower on the old pontoon. By the end of the weekend I could see the gears turning in my uncleís creative mind and I knew he would dream up something.
Sure enough he told us about plans to build a collapsible tower, to be erected when the need arose. As he talked I could picture another generation benefiting from his creativity. I just hope he doesnít require everyone to dive off of it at least once...Iím getting chicken in my mid-years! But I can imagine the kids having the time of their lives experiencing new heights from which to glance upon a view from the lake.
Return to Archives