Season-Extenders - 10 Products to Keep You Boating
Pontoon and Deck Boat logo
The 500R: Mercury Racing Launches New Outboard
Labor Day Getaway: 5 Options For Your Late Summer Vacation
Old Man Winter is Coming: How to Prepare for Season's End
September 2023
September 2023 | Volume 28, Number 9
THE 500R
Mercury Racing Launches New Outboard
Season-Extender Products
Labor Day Getaway Options
Lead By Camaraderie And Ambition
Monkey Bars
Connelly NEO Life Jacket
Waterless Wash And Wax
two boats cruising on the water side by side
Pontoon and Desk Boat Logo

Executive Editor Brady L. Kay
Editorial Staff Nicole Richens, Roy Sparks, Shelisa Melgaard, Braeden Krieger

Editorial Correspondents
Dan Armitage, Sky Smith, Bill Gius


Advertising Executives
Greg Larsen,
Kevin Malcom,
Taylor Bowen,


Marketing Director Stephanie Woods


Circulation Director Chuck Harris


Lead Designer Lavon Horne

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Publisher Brady L. Kay
Executive Editor Brady L. Kay
Circulation Manager Chuck Harris
Controller Clayton Ward


Founder Darryl W. Harris
President Jason Harris
Vice President Chuck Harris
Vice President Ryan Harris
Treasurer Clayton Ward


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By Brady L. Kay

Captain’s Chair
“We were half nervous, half excited, but the last thought that went through my head before the twin engines fired up was I probably should have called my wife one last time and told her I loved her.”
Brady Kay sitting in the drivers seat of a boat in a blue Pontoon and Deck Boat t-shirt
Back When 80.8 Was Untouchable
It was early in my career so at the time I didn’t fully realize just how dangerous a position I was putting myself and my co-worker Jason Macbeth in by agreeing to take a ride on the record-breaking pontoon boat. We were both given cheap orange life jackets–you know, the bulky kind that most likely were picked up at a local K-Mart earlier that day. I remember looking at the life jacket and thinking that if we did happen to crash there was no way it would save my life but at least it would make finding my body a little easier.

In September 2000, the Odyssey 2101 Millennium obliterated the previous speed record for a pontoon boat by reaching 80.8 mph with a pair of 225hp Evinrude outboards with Ficht Ram Injection. The weight of the outboards had the 21-footer sitting in the water at a steep angle and I remember thinking it was quite odd to see a triple tube pontoon sit like that at rest.

Better Boater title
For many of our readers, this year’s season is coming to an end which means it’s time to start preparing for our least favorite part of owning a boat: winterizing it. Not only do I find the process of preparing my pontoon for winter layup a tedious one, but it also reminds me of the long, cold days that are just around the corner. Alas, it’s something we must do and to get you started, we’ve rounded up some helpful tips to refer to when undertaking this task. Let me be clear from the very beginning: this isn’t meant to be step-by-step instructions for you to follow. It’s just an overview of many of the important parts of the process along with recommended products, so you can be sure you’re not forgetting anything. For a more step-by-step outline be sure to read Sky Smith’s backpage column in this issue.
NWZ typography
3/4ths view of a Boat Outfitters fishing tackle and rod storage container with its compartment door and drawers open
ICAST Award Winner
Boat Outfitters, a division of Teak Isle, was recently awarded the Best of Category Award in the new tackle management system section at ICAST for its Pontoon Tackle Center. The new line of fishing tackle and rod storage options – that are available in both standard and custom designs – gives you the versatility to have the best of both worlds. Whether you’re a hardcore fisherman or just want some rods and tackle on the boat for the grandkids, Boat Outfitters offers a variety of storage solutions to fit every need. (
two Shadow-Caster power modules
Control Your Underwater Lights
Whether OEM or DIYer, connecting and individually fusing underwater lights to a power source can be a time-consuming wiring nightmare. Shadow-Caster simplifies the installation process with the Digitally Controlled Lighting Switch SCM-PWR6 and 4-Position Power Control Module SCM-PD4CH.

Made in the USA, Shadow-Caster power modules are compatible with 12V or 24V systems. They accommodate up to 10 amps per channel with digital overcurrent fault protection and individual self-healing fuses. The SCM-PWR6 is a six-channel digital switch module that provides the ability to control any six vessel lights or fixtures. The Shadow-Caster Digitally Controlled Lighting Switch SCM-PWR6 has an MSRP of $389; the 4-Position Power Control Module SCM-PD4CH is $249. They come with a three-year warranty. (

The 500R typography

Mercury Racing flexes its outboard muscle with new V8

By Brady L. Kay
If you’re an outboard manufacturer there’s really only one way to celebrate 50 years in the industry: release a powerful new supercharged engine. However, when you’re Mercury Racing with a wide range of already impressive outboards, coming out with something new and innovative to add to the lineup might seem like a near impossible anniversary wish. Good news for the marine industry: the engineers at Mercury Racing simply saw it as a challenge to release something truly newsworthy and were clearly up to the task.

To kick off its 50th anniversary, Mercury Racing released its supercharged V8 500R outboard this summer. The 500R introduces a host of new components engineered to complement the raw power produced by this engine and the challenging demands of extreme-performance boating.

Our 10 Roundup department heading
By Braeden Krieger
Season Extenders
Products to keep you out a little longer this fall
Season Extenders
Products to keep you out a little longer this fall
There’s only a few more weeks of warm summer weather left, then before you know it, the cool air will arrive. Depending on what part of the country you live in, getting in a few more trips to the lake might be easier said than done. Getting out to view the fall foliage and autumn colors from the water is worth braving the cooler temperatures, especially if you’re prepared.

If you live up north, you know the cold weather can come without much warning. That’s why we’ve created a short list of products to help extend your boating season just a little bit longer.

Labor Day Getaway
5 Options for your late summer vacation
By Braeden Krieger
For many boaters, Labor Day weekend can be a bittersweet ending to your boating season. While it’s a great time to get the entire family out on the water, it can also be a sad reminder colder days are approaching. Maybe you feel you didn’t quite get to spend as much time on the water as you wanted, or maybe you wish you would have visited other popular boating spots across the country. Luckily, there’s still a bit of time left.

Boating in September can be the most beautiful time of year to be out on the water. Not sure where to go? We’ve compiled a list of five beautiful lake options to visit before the season officially ends.

man smiling on his pontoon
Camaraderie and ambition lead the Smiths to their pontoon
By Shelisa Melgaard
It’s not every day you get the opportunity to buy a pontoon, but there is something empowering and uplifting when you dive in and purchase your very own for the first time. At least that was how the Smith family felt when they finally bought their pontoon after years of encouragement from a dear family friend. Barrett Smith and his wife Michelle live in Atlanta, Ga., with their two teenage boys, Brock and Sawyer, ages 13 and 12 respectively, along with their dog Marshall. Barrett grew up in eastern Virginia near Chesapeake Bay with his good friend James “Jamie” Dodd. Needless to say, Barrett grew up with the water practically surrounding him.

When they were younger, Jamie frequently invited Barrett to join his family on their boat. As Jamie recalls, Barrett would always say, “One of these days I’m going to get myself a boat.” Virginia is the ideal place for water sports of all kinds, to which both young men were frequent participants, such as tubing. Jamie ended up owning a boat for well over 20 years and to this day still spends a great deal of time on the rivers and lakes.

Tackle box typography
Channeling Late Summer Catfish
By Dan Armitage
All species of catfish can be fooled this time of year by presenting a chunk of bait in deeper-water areas scoured by current.
Channeling Late Summer Catfish
By Dan Armitage
All species of catfish can be fooled this time of year by presenting a chunk of bait in deeper-water areas scoured by current.
According to a recent study of licensed anglers by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, some 7 million US fishermen and women claimed catfish to be their favorite target. That’s fewer than the 10 million anglers who choose to chase black bass – which is ten times the number of anglers who said walleyes are their primary focus. America’s love affair with catfish goes way back, with reports of 200- and 300-pound blue cats caught during the early 19th century. Mark Twain revered cats too, frequently romanticizing the species in print, and once writing of “a Mississippi River catfish that was more than 6 feet long.”

These days, hot fishing for big channel cats is in range of just about any interested angler. Their abundance and potential size are just two among many reasons for the popularity of the bottom feeders. Another reason for attempting a late-summer catfish adventure: there are as many ways to catch them as there are cupholders on your current deck or pontoon boat.

PDB 365 Tested Badge
Monkey Bars
By Brady L. Kay
Close-up top angle photograph of SeaSucker Monkey Bars crossbar roof rack system installed on top of a white truck parked outside on a house driveway/in front of the garage
PDB 365 Tested Badge
Monkey Bars
By Brady L. Kay
Close-up top rear photograph of SeaSucker Monkey Bars crossbar roof rack system product box on top of a white truck bed
For years we’ve been watching SeaSucker dominate the marine industry with its innovative vacuum mounts that are designed to attach to nearly any surface without drilling. For adding cupholders or just improving the location of your rod holders, no one does it better than SeaSucker when it comes to non-permanent additions to your boat. So naturally when we came across their redesigned crossbar system they refer to as their Money Bars, it caught our attention.

I don’t use our kayaks enough to justify needing a permanent roof rack on the top of my truck so this is why the Monkey Bars make so much sense. Available in both circle and oval-shape vacuum mounts to accommodate a variety of roof tops, the rack is easy to assemble and has an impressive hold. While going above the speed limit will violate the SeaSucker warranty, it is nice the manufacturer has speed tested the racks in controlled conditions at over 175 miles per hour!

PDB 366 Tested Badge
Bart’s Water Sports
Connelly Big/Tall Men’s NEO life jacket
By Brady L. Kay
Brady L. Kay grins and poses for a photograph outdoors on a sunny day as he sits back resting his hand/arm on a grey chrome colored sofa couch inside a motorboat vehicle wearing a blue/black striped Connely Big/Tall Men's NEO life jacket and dark navy blue water shorts
PDB 366 Tested Badge
Bart’s Water Sports
Connelly Big/Tall Men’s NEO life jacket
By Brady L. Kay
I tend to teeter between being able to buy off the rack and having to special order my clothes; it’s just the reality when you’re 6 feet, 5 inches tall. When the summer kicked off and I was in need of a new life jacket, my first stop was to the Big & Tall section at Bart’s Water Sports. The Indiana-based company has a nice selection of life jackets that are 3 inches longer than other jackets, which was exactly what I was looking for.

In the end I went with a Connelly Big/Tall Men’s NEO life jacket with oversized armholes. The Men’s NEO is a value-priced vest ($79.99) ranging from 2XL to 5XL and includes a traditional front zip closure for easy entry/exit with two adjustable belts for fine tuning the fit.

PDB 367 Tested Badge
Waterless Wash And Wax
By Roy Sparks
Close-up photograph perspective of a man's hands using the SRD20 Waterless Wash and Wax spray bottle product (in his right hand) onto the exterior surface of a pontoon boat with a green towel rag in his left hand
Close-up photograph perspective of the SRD20 Waterless Wash and Wax spray bottle product
Close-up photograph perspective of a man's hands using the SRD20 Waterless Wash and Wax spray bottle product (in his right hand) onto the exterior surface of a pontoon boat with a green towel rag in his left hand
PDB 367 Tested Badge
Waterless Wash And Wax
By Roy Sparks
“No hose or bucket needed.” That’s all I needed to hear and I was instantly intrigued by the Waterless Wash and Wax product from SRD20. A single application with no hoses, buckets, water or scrubbing required sounded perfect to me, yet I wasn’t sure how it would work on the exterior of a pontoon boat. At $22.99 for a 16-ounce bottle though, I felt it was worth the risk and the gamble paid off.
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Page #
  • Avalon/Tahoe Pontoons40

  • Bumpermate USA12

  • Conrad Marine37

  • Hampton Pontoons11

  • Kicker Audio13

  • PlayCraft Boats11

  • Skysmith Specialty Insurance4

  • Suzuki Marine Outboards2

  • Sylvan Marine39

By Sky Smith
Boating Tips and Observations with Sky Smith
Sky Smith Headshot
Not to burst everyone’s boating bubble, but it’s almost that time of year. What time is it, you say? Time to prepare your boat for cold weather. It might not be that time in your area, but it’s getting close for a lot of boaters. Our marina lets us stay in our slips until the end of October, although I don’t think I have ever made it that long. I’m always out earlier.

There are a lot of reasons for my early takeout, but the biggest reason is time. The days get shorter and the weather gets cooler. Meaning most of the good boating days for us are on the weekend, but balancing all our different activities gets tough. Something has to give, and cold weather boating is one. I suppose if I was retired it would be better; then I could boat during the week. But who really knows?

Pontoon and Deck Boat
Thanks for reading our September 2023 issue!