Pontoon boats are fast becoming popular in South Africa for their functionality – especially when the design can be absolutely customised according to what you want. Dean Castle travels to Namibia in search of this pontoon winner.
Believe it or not, this pontoon boat is designed and built in the German heritage style by one of SA’s neighbours. Like the people in the area, this Tusker aluminium party boat is ‘Namibian with German parts’. This is the first boat I’ve really come to know as being built in the country – and quite surprisingly to me, it’s not at all bad either!
In my youth I was always attracted to watching a TV show called ‘Pimp My Ride’ – perhaps it was to collect some of the ghastly and cringe-worthy ideas for my own whip, but the part that I did really love seeing was the endless ideas and possibilities you can do when customising. Naturally, this puts me in my element when meeting boat builders who claim that they are in the business of tailor-making to suit every customer. Sometimes, this only means you can choose the boat colour – but every once in a while, a company like EdelStahl Bau (ESB), comes along and lets you choose everything – and I mean everything. Of course, it all comes at a price, but that’s what I like – it allows you to build a boat that you will love AND can thus afford. The pontoon boat you see alongside this review has been kitted out to the new owner’s specs and has had a lot of ideas incorporated into the design, so while you could buy one to this exact spec, take it rather as a sample of what is possible. In simpler terms; the Tusker comes in a base configuration that is virtually just the deck alone and you can add on where you please. Heck, even the boat length is customisable!
Made from aluminium and checker plate, this pontoon boat is light and strong. She’s pretty much maintenance-free too; simply spray her down with a hosepipe after use and she’ll be looking top notch for the next trip! It’s also good to note that she’s robust. The builders, ESB, have gained their popularity in building people- and 15-ton car carriers for use on the rocky ‘into Africa’ rivers where dents and bumps are inevitable – showing me that these boats are built as you might expect from anything German-crafted.
Again, the Tusker pontoon boat you see in these pages is to her owner’s spec, but let’s see what she has on board; on the bow you’ll find a neat boarding platform which is suspended by chain and allows you to pull up to the dock or shoreline and have the platform as a neat and pretty entrance to the boat. The rest of the craft is encompassed by rails found all around to ensure that no one (young or old) might unexpectedly fall overboard. For ease of use, a section of the railing on either side of the craft can be removed when other boats are moored alongside.