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CNN Today

Exploring the Depths of the Atlanta Boat Show

Aired January 5, 2001 - 2:51 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: As you know, Lou, who took off early today to do a little boat shopping at the South's largest indoor boat show -- it is just next door, so we couldn't resist. Here is Lou again.

How did you get this gig, and not me, Lou? What happened there?

LOU WATERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am not coming back, Natalie. I am getting into this now.

ALLEN: Bye, Lou.


WATERS: I am on A Pontoon boat, if you can imagine. It's like a cockpit on a 747, with all the gauges, the built-in compass. We have got a CD player down here, do we not? The bilge system, manual and automatic, lights, steering wheel -- who could ask for anything more? It's a pontoon boat. I don't know what your image of a pontoon boat is. But I had a different image before I came over here.

Tom Menne is with us.

You are with Premier Pontoons. I understand your mom and dad started this company. And how do you build on a couple of floating devices and come up with a premier pontoon boat?

TOM MENNE, PREMIER PONTOON BOATS: Well, let me tell you, one thing nice about a pontoon boat, you have got a nice, flat surface. So there is a lot of different things you can do with the boat: spread it out. You can put a galley in the back of the boat, like we have done here, with a refrigerator in it. You've got the port-a-potty changing rooms in here.

WATERS: We invite you to stand up here, Tom. Take us back there and show us what you got.

MENNE: OK. Right, here on the galley here, we have got a built- in refrigerator. We have got an inverter system for it, with an electric sink. We've got a built-in trash receptacle here.

WATERS: And this is a bread board over here?

MENNE: Yes, it is. It is a bread cutting board. And it's also designed to set a butane stove on here. We have got a single-burner stove that fits in here and allows you to cook things on the water and not have to worry about it spilling. We have got a 12-volt receptacle here, so you can bring the blender and a 12-volt vacuum onto the boat.

WATERS: And behind the seat, what's


MENNE: Back here, this is the changing room.

WATERS: Changing room.


MENNE: This allows you to stay on the water longer. It allows you to have a little port-a-potty sitting in there. And even if a person was not looking to use a restroom out there, it's a nice place for storage.

WATERS: Clark Kent could have used a boat like

(CROSSTALK) MENNE: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, pontoons have changed a lot over the last few weeks: designs in the console, and designs in the furnitures, longer warranties. You know, Premier has been in business for 10 years. And our goal was to build an upper-end product. And that's really where the industry has turned to in pontoon boats. You find a lot more luxury crafts.

WATERS: I don't know too much about it. I made a point of not knowing too much about it so I would ask you the dumb questions when I got here.

MENNE: Sure.

WATERS: But I heard this thing goes really fast.

MENNE: Well, the one we're standing on here has got a 4.3 liter MerCruiser engine in it. And it goes about 46 miles an hour. And that is a little unusual for pontoon boats of the past. But it has certainly becomes something of the present.

WATERS: Are you talking waterskiing behind a pontoon boat?

MENNE: We are talking waterskiing. As a matter of fact, I have a videotape that shows 10 skiers -- 10 skiers behind one of these pontoon boats.

WATERS: What an odd picture that brings to my mind. I noticed that the houseboat we were on is getting more sleek and streamlined, like the yachts we used to think about. And now it's pontoon boats. Is it all about the image of sportsmanship?

MENNE: Yes, it absolutely is. You know, one of the main things that people are trying to do is -- before, years ago, a person would have a speedboat at their dock, and the pontoon boat. The pontoon was the put-put. The speedboat took people skiing. What they have found is that you can stick your money into one craft and have a little bit of everything. You can have the whole family out there. You can literally ski behind this thing with 10, 12 people on the boat.

WATERS: Yes, 10, 12 people, that is the max?

MENNE: No, actually, this one is certified for 16 people. But...

WATERS: Really?


WATERS: What does it cost, Tom?

MENNE: This one is retailing for $33,000 at the Atlanta show.

WATERS: Thirty-three-thousand dollars. That is the price of a car these days.

MENNE: Absolutely.

WATERS: And you get that broken down. What is that a month, Tom?

MENNE: Well...

WATERS: My wife told me not to ask these questions. But I am going to ask you anyway.

MENNE: Lou, I could probably get you into one for about $299 a month.

WATERS: Oh, yes. Can I get mints with it?

MENNE: Absolutely. We'll throw in the mints.

WATERS: OK, Tom Menne, with Premier Pontoon Boats, down here at the boat show, 39th annual boat show, which is -- it's just only a couple of days old, right? We're getting into the weekend now.

MENNE: Yes, that's right.

WATERS: Are you are getting big foot traffic, people interested in boats this year?

MENNE: Well, typically, on Thursdays and Fridays before a night, it's more of the serious buyers. We've had a lot of good interest. We have sold a few boats. But the big traffic will show up tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.

WATERS: OK. That should tell us a lot about our economy, too, I would imagine.

MENNE: Yes, it will. WATERS: Tom Menne, thanks a lot. Good luck with Premier Pontoon Boats. I'm Lou Waters, Natalie, recreational reporter, down at the boat show. I will see you out there on the white caps.

ALLEN: Senior -- yes, senior recreation reporter. I'm just curious, are there canoes? Are there like bass boats out there as well, Lou -- lower-end boats?

WATERS: Yes, we have -- I know what a bass boat looks like. That's a little teeny boat. But we -- over here, these boats with the chairs on the front, those are fishing boats.

Tom, do you know anything about those?

MENNE: Yes, those are a deck-boat style. What they have is the fiberglass V-Hull underneath them. And it's a boat that is designed to have a little bit more speed to it, a lot like the pontoon boat we are standing on. But what they are designed for is a little bit more versatility. This one right in front of me has bass seats on the front of it, so a person can do little bit of fishing.

WATERS: OK. And it says $20,000 on there. That's it, Natalie.

ALLEN: Thanks, Lou.

WATERS: There are all sorts of things over here, if you want to come over and take a look around.

ALLEN: I just don't want to be one of those 16 skiers you pull behind your new pontoon boat. That is -- that does conjure up quite a vision. Thanks, Lou. You get back here next week, and it's back to work for you.



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