Growing up in the Lowcountry, fishing, boating and spending time in the local creeks and waterways was a way of life in our family. Many weekends were spent on day cruises in historic Charleston Harbor and nearby points of interest. Occasionally, we would venture out to areas like Cape Romain for surf fishing for redfish. Year after year, my dad and brother would venture out, leaving me behind because I was too young for a specific trip. Finally the day arrived, a little over 30 years ago, that I was invited to join them. We made the long boat ride to our destination, which was a makeshift wooden shack atop two large pontoons of some sort, which would be our accommodations for the weekend. Needless to say, the engineering was a little sketchy, but we survived and the fishing was fantastic. I realized then that pontoon boats or “crafts” of that sort really weren’t my cup of tea. Right about that time, an innovator from Nebraska was making revolutionary designs that would reshape my thoughts on the use of pontoons.
Approximately 32 years ago, Kevin Houtwed left college after just a year. Shortly thereafter, he had five employees implementing and building his designs. Houtwed, a “self-taught engineer,” produced his first aluminum pontoon boat. The design used only one “float” under the deck on each side. They quickly realized that this design would not offer enough stability, so back to the drawing board they went and came up with a unique, aluminum pontoon boat design including not just two “logs” or pontoons but four. The four-log approach made a world of difference in the performance of the craft.
“Our pontoon boats, with their four-pontoon design, makes them perfect to fish from as well as trolling the lake for those evening rides,” Houtwed said. “The stability is unmatched, as we keep the center of gravity down and carry a wide footprint on the lake.”
Hotwood’s Boats boasts a robust line of five different models: 12-foot Lil Sport, 15-foot Fish N Sport, 12-foot Aluma Sport 612, 15-foot Aluma Sport 615 and the new 16-foot Aluma Sport 716. Customers may customize the designs to include railings, seating and seating arrangements, canopies and even color options. Each Hotwood’s boat is made in Nebraska.
To date, Hotwood’s Boats has sold approximately 40 boats in the Mount Pleasant area over the last seven or eight years, each boat delivered to the customer from the manufacturing plant in Nebraska.
Houtwed is all about customer service. According to the company’s website, “When you call Hotwood’s, you get a live voice immediately that is ready to help with any situation.”
What makes Hotwood’s Boats so popular in the Lowcountry, specifically in Mount Pleasant? The low-profile design of the boats make them perfect for housing developments and neighborhoods with lakes and ponds. Most of these developments, according to Houtwed, have strict rules and regulations regarding the use of watercraft. Hotwood’s Boats are designed to be powered with electric trolling motors, which for the most part meet these requirements. Additionally, the low-profile design allows the boat to navigate with ease under low bridges and walkways.
To learn more, visit www.protatch.com or call 308-384-1456.
By Michael Cochran