Wife and I have been aboard several of these party barges at shows and showrooms. We've seriously considered buying one and using it seasonally. Our boat is used in protected water as a glorified day boat over 80% of the time anyway.
Craig - AKA Some Clueless Idiot
The person who is saying something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.
There is a time share type boat club near our marina, and of all the boats, I've been told the pontoons are the most used. Great for a fun day on the water, but I would not want to take one very far out of the no wake zone. I've seen them getting bashed all over the place right were the no wake zone starts (it is a very busy spot in summer). They are also able to be beached, which is something we won't do intentionally on our boat. For the price, they do serve a purpose.
There were some forerunners of course but the vehicle that put the SUV in the middle of the map was undoubtably the Ford Explorer.
Yep, agree... that was the name I was trying to think of when I said the little (not K5) Blazer, too.
Can't remember when I first heard the SUV moniker...
Sorta like "crossovers" -- that I've only just recently come to understand is a category. Folks have been talking about 'em for a while, but I was a little slow on figuring out the interpretation of what one might actually be.
So maybe that means a pontoon boat is either a floating SUV or a floating crossover.
I get a kick out of following 4WDs/SUVs over bumps, road humps, small gutters, etc. My Peugeot 508GT has seriously low profile 19" tyres but can easily tackle them. The SUVs crawl over them, as slow as possible, with great caution. So tempted to call out the window "It`s a 4WD, it`s designed to jump logs, gutters, boulders,deep ruts, come on, get on with it!"
Island Gypsy 36 Europa "Doriana"
In the mid-eighties, purchased a Jeep 4-by-4 Scrambler and then bought a semi-custom fiberglass top covering cab and pick-up bed as well as bench seat so to fit four. Think I was ahead of the times. Since then have purchased two SUVs: Ford 4-by-4 Explorer  and then all-wheel-drive Edge . Consider them very useful vehicles.
The SUVs crawl over them, as slow as possible, with great caution. So tempted to call out the window "It`s a 4WD, it`s designed to jump logs, gutters, boulders,deep ruts, come on, get on with it!"
I was taught to drive off-road by the foreman of the ranch in the Colorado Rockies I worked on for a couple of summers as a teenager. His name was Harry Warham, and at the time I'm guessing he was in his 60s. He'd worked huge irrigation and water system construction projects all over Colorado as a heavy equipment operator.
He had a Willy's pickup with what he called a mountain gearbox in it. Geared very low, the truck could idle along in gear slower than the person walking beside it.
There were a lot of places on the ranch that required 4wd low range and skillful driving to get to--- the gravel pit, the garbage dump, and some of the higher horse and cattle pastures. I had zero 4wd driving experience the first summer I showed up for work there, so Harry took it on himself to teach me.
He had a lot of specific techniques for specific situations, but he only had two absolute rules. One was to always go down a hill in the same gear you used to go up it. The other was to just let the vehicle idle along and crawl over the humps and bumps and walk through the ruts and gullies basically on its own.
He had two reasons for the second rule. One was I'd never scare the horses and cattle and wildlife by zooming and booming and roaring about. The other was that I'd never break anything on the vehicle.
I took both rules to heart and always followed them once I had my own 4wd (Land Rover Series III-88). I've taken that vehicle on some very tough roads in the mountains on Oahu in Hawaii (where I lived) and in the Yukon Territories and later in the Cascade Mountains after moving here.
Following Harry's two rules, I've almost always gotten through whatever we were trying to get through, and I've never broken anything on the vehicle in the process. Years later, when I started using a Range Rover for these kinds of trips and moose hunting in the interior of BC, I applied the same rules with the same results.
So I'm one you'd be tempted to yell out the window at if you were behind me.
I see no reason to leave the road or pay for the silly vehicles that open the door for that. No needs or desires there.
Nor am I interested in 4wd. With one exception. I have a 19' FG OB boat that is trailer launched and I'd like to have good options at unimproved launch sites retrieving the boat at low tide on the beach. Haha but I've never actually done that so my "need" is somewhat in question. We used 4wd 3 or 4 times in Alaska .. the suburban.
It's my opinion most 4wd vehicles are totally unneeded. Ther're bought just to be vogue. To pander to some kind of image requirement. Baugh humbug from this old man.
However after the terrible weather on the east coast more 4wd vehicles will probably be justifiably be bought.
It's my opinion most 4wd vehicles are totally unneeded. Ther're bought just to be vogue. To pander to some kind of image requirement..
When you need 4wd, you need it. I certainly don't need it driving around the Puget Sound area. But I most definitely do need it driving disused logging trails in BC on hunting trips. Also need it sometimes launching our trailer boat. Or when it snows.
(It used to snow in the Puget Sound area fairly substantially--- in my floatplane instructional book I have a photo I took in the early 1980s of Kenmore Air Harbor chopping a hundred-yard channel through the ice at the north end of Lake Washington to get their planes out to open water to take off. This used to be a regular occurance. Not anymore.)
Today the changing climate has rendered meaningful snow a thing of the past in the Puget Sound area.
But to your point, Eric, back in, I believe the mid-1990s Land Rover conducted a two year, worldwide study to determine how the buyers of 4wd vehicles-- all makes--- used them. And what they found was that about 98% of the buyers never take them off the pavement. Never.
So... that totally changed the mindset at Land Rover and they shifted their focus away from 4wd and off-road capabilities and onto on-road performance and handling,a nd comfort with vehicles like the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Discovery and now the Evoque. I'm sure the same thing occured at all the other SUV makers.
There is still a comparatively small market for a capable off-road 4wd, but it's reflected in only a handful of vehicles today. Jeep still makes the Wrangler, Land Rover until this year continued to make the Defender, and so on. You can get a pickup that's set up properly for off-road or at least off-pavement use if you're willing to pay for it.
But for the most part, I believe you're correct. 4wd SUVs are little more these days than gussied up cars. Even the Hummer was built on a Tahoe chassis. (I don't know what the Chinese are doing with it these days.)
Early 1970's I had 4WD plow truck for driveways in Maine.
Mid 70's I plowed roads in Denver.
Latter 70's and early 80's I had two plow trucks in upper Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Currently we have 4 WD Explorer for traveling to our Tolly and launching our tow behind runabout.
I also have hot-rod tuned headers 325 hp 350 engine, locker posi-traction front and rear ends, mechanical-lockout/in front hubs, 4 spd w/ full range grared transfer box for 8 available gears - 1 ton 4WD full sized fleetside classic 1985 Chevy Silverado PU with power everything custom interior and welded center frame off-road skid plates as well as tow apparatus front and rear. 33-16-16.5 deep ply M&S tires.
I know 4WD, years practice professionally as well as for private purposes.
Two Prime Points
1. Never use 4WD until necessary, and;
2. When you do... whisper it through its maneuvers.