What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen floating atop a pontoon? Maybe you’ve witnessed a double-decker party boat full of good-timing people, a deck smack-dab in the middle of the lake or a military pontoon bridge supporting heavy-armor traffic. While those spectacles are all outstanding, none come close to Manitou’s list of 10 ingenious floating creations. Prepare for pontoon preeminence.
1. Pontoon submarine
What would be more fun on the water than a half boat, half submarine watercraft? Probably nothing—which is why such a vessel has earned a spot on our list of 10 best pontoon creations. The EGO compact semi-submarine is an electric-powered craft offering the amenities of both a boat and submarine. Developed by a company in Korea, the EGO features a cabin for two set between two floating pontoons and is easy enough for just about anyone to operate. The EGO needs between six to nine hours to charge and can operate at speeds of up to 5.7mph for several hours. These incredible vessels are available for sale, gaining popularity for both their underwater exploration abilities and opportunities for leisurely activities like fishing and sunbathing.
2. 100 percent trash boat
Made entirely of plastic bottles, old banners and other recycled materials, the “Polli-Boat” set sail in Taiwan to raise awareness for marine environments. This vessel is 23 feet long and is capable of floating thanks to pontoons made of 84 interlocking plastic bricks, made of bottles, whose hexagonal shape allows them to withstand the pressure of sailing. The Polli-Boat utilizes wind to feed its used-advertising-banner sails and also powers itself with six modules of soft solar panels. Although it may be made of trash, this boat is certainly not garbage.
3. Pop bottle boat
This 60-foot boat, named Plastiki, made of only discarded soft-drink bottles and completely recyclable plastic was created by a British adventurer and banking heir to change the public’s perception of a material most people just throw away. The catamaran consists of 12,500 plastic bottles held together with glue made of cashew husks and sugarcane to create pontoons similar in structure to a pomegranate. Together, these pontoons provide 68 percent of the vessel’s buoyancy.
4. Amphibious aircraft
Developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s with the intention of destroying U.S. Navy Polaris missile submarines, the VVA-14—a vertical take-off amphibious aircraft—was designed to take off from water and fly at high speeds over long distances. It could also fly just above the water’s surface using ground effect. The craft resembled a jet fighter with a front cockpit, large central wing and inflatable pontoons. Although these pontoons could retain their shape at the fastest of airspeeds, they couldn’t on water and were later replaced by rigid pontoons. Today, the VVA-14 remains partially disassembled at the Russian Federation Central Air Force Museum.
5. Floating bicycle
Li Weiguo of China designed this amphibious bicycle to both roam the streets and hit the water. Using eight water gallons that serve as pontoons and adjustable vane wheels for driving power, this two-wheeled dream can turn from land rover to sea creature in a matter of seconds. When the bike takes to the road, its water gallons are raised, and when it enters water, its wheels use attached paddles to propel it. The bicycle cost nearly $3,000 to develop and is in the process of being refined in hopes of its eventual mass production.
6. Spider boat
All it took was a love of insects and detestation of sea sickness for an engineer to design one of the most interesting boats in existence. Ugo Conti designed his spider boat, Proteus, for its fuel efficiency, materials efficiency and ability to nick sea sickness. Conti got his inspiration from insects, who are naturally skilled on water, before beginning to design his multi-purpose vessel. What makes the spider boat so unique is that rather than sitting in the water, the boat’s pontoons skim the water, allowing it to use less fuel. At the same time, the cabin also sits above the water and can be raised and lowered for entering and exiting. Conti’s invention has been tested by the U.S. Navy, whose interest is in the vessel’s fuel efficiency and agility.
7. Elephant water skis
What is more impressive than Queenie, the water-skiing elephant? Her massive, heavy-duty water skis, of course. Queenie, who charmed the United States with her skiing skill for decades, used a pair of fused-together hardwearing pontoons to take to the water with grace and balance. Although she passed away this spring at 59 years old, Queenie will be remembered as a crowd-pleaser and pioneer for water-skiing animals the globe over.
8. Solar-electric pontoon
This entry on our list of coolest pontoons, is a homemade solar-electric pontoon boat. For mechanical engineer Monte Gisborne, spending time on the lake with his family is important, and doing so in a fuel efficient and environmentally manner is equally imperative. Gisborne’s pontoon, the Loon, utilizes both a 738 watt solar panel and eight 6-volt batteries, depending on the clarity of the sky, and can cruise 30 to 40 miles before needing to be recharged. Usually, however, the Loon uses its solar panel canopy to power the boat, because it’s on clear, sunny days that Grisborne takes to the water.
9. Literal lake house
These cool pontoons are especially incredible considering their job is to keep a small lake home from going under. Just off the coast of a small Canadian island in Lake Huron floats a beautiful vacation home, accessible only by boat. Architects designed the house to float on steel pontoons to allow fluctuation with the lake as water levels rise and fall, so the home always remains stable and dry. Now that’s a lake house.
10. Hotel on water
Sweden’s first floating hotel, the “Salt & Sill,” provides a lodging experience unlike any other. The two-story, 23-room floating inn offers a luxury suite, five conference rooms and a restaurant—all supported by floating pontoons. Each room at the Salt & Sill contains its own separate entrance, outdoor seating area, Scandinavian décor and a theme selected from the spices used in the hotel’s kitchen. It gets better, too. The Salt & Sill also offers the world’s fastest floating sauna—a separate sauna boat capable of traveling 17pmh.
This post was contributed by Mike Hall