Title:
Pontoon-type watercraft
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable, pontoon-type watercraft includes a pair of pontoons interconnected by a pair of cross members to maintain the pontoon members in spaced relation. The bottom surface of each pontoon member defines at least one concavity for providing increased stability to the watercraft by increasing surface tension between the water and the bottom surface of the pontoons. A number of internally threaded metallic sockets are integrally formed into each of the pontoons to allow various components and accessories to be mounted thereto. The pontoons are formed of a lightweight, semi-rigid material and define a hollow interior that can be pressurized to provide internal support to the walls of the pontoons. The seat includes a yoke section that can be slid over the neck and shoulders of the user and handles that can be grasped by the user to facilitate transportation of the watercraft from one site to another.



Inventors:
Newton, Stephen T. (Wanamaker, IN, US)
Newton, Lori (Wanamaker, IN, US)
Application Number:
09/785739
Publication Date:
10/25/2001
Filing Date:
02/16/2001
Assignee:
NEWTON STEPHEN T.
NEWTON LORI
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
114/292
International Classes:
B63B1/12; B63B7/04; B63B7/06; B63B29/06; B63B35/38; (IPC1-7): B63B1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080245285SELF CONTAINED INTEGRATED MOORING SYSTEMOctober, 2008Driscoll et al.
20100032951Mooring SystemFebruary, 2010Collee et al.
20080216732AUTOMATIC BOAT WASHING ASSEMBLYSeptember, 2008Doyle
20080302290Membrane Body and Relative Production MethodDecember, 2008Molta et al.
20060254486Winged hull for a watercraftNovember, 2006Ashdown
20080146137Multi Purpose Refrigerated Box Hold and Container Cargo Carrier with One or More Cargo HoldsJune, 2008Mosunic
20090211512BOAT WINDSHIELD WITH VENT STRUCTUREAugust, 2009Mason et al.
20070051294Submarine emergency evacuation systemMarch, 2007Pike
20030007839Strake receptor for a pipeJanuary, 2003Brown
20060096512Sailing method and systemMay, 2006Monrad
20070079742Dirty paper precoding with known interference structure at receiverApril, 2007Liu et al.



Primary Examiner:
WRIGHT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Brad A. Schepers (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A pontoon-type watercraft, comprising: a pair of pontoon members; at least one cross member extending between said pontoon members to maintain said pontoon members in spaced relation; and wherein each of said pontoon members includes a bottom surface extending along a longitudinal axis, said bottom surface defining at least one concavity to increase surface tension between the water and said bottom surface to provide increased stability to the watercraft.

2. The watercraft of claim 1, wherein said bottom surface defines a plurality of said at least one concavity, said plurality of concavities being formed from a series of alternating convex ridges and concave grooves extending transversely across said longitudinal axis.

3. The watercraft of claim 1, wherein said bottom surface is corrugated so as to form a series of undulating curves extending along said longitudinal axis.

4. The watercraft of claim 1, wherein said at least one concavity comprises a lateral curvature extending along at least a portion of said bottom surface.

5. The watercraft of claim 4, wherein said lateral curvature comprises an inverted keel.

6. The watercraft of claim 5, wherein said inverted keel is bounded by a downwardly extending edge defined about the entire periphery of said bottom surface.

7. The watercraft of claim 4, wherein said bottom surface defines a plurality of said at least one concavity, said plurality of concavities being formed from lateral curvature and a series of alternating convex ridges and concave grooves extending transversely across said longitudinal axis.

8. The watercraft of claim 1, wherein said bottom surface defines a plurality of said at least one concavity, said plurality of concavities comprising a plurality of spherical-shaped recesses disposed intermittently along said longitudinal axis.

9. The watercraft of claim 1, wherein each of said pontoon members includes a substantially flat top surface.

10. The watercraft of claim 9, wherein said substantially flat top surface is roughened to provide increased traction for a user when standing on said pontoon members.

11. The watercraft of claim 1, wherein each of said pontoon members includes a number of walls defining a hollow interior, said number of walls being formed of a lightweight semi-rigid material, said hollow interior being pressurized to provide internal support to said number of walls.

12. A pontoon-type watercraft, comprising: a pair of pontoon members; at least one cross member extending between said pontoon members to maintain said pontoon members in spaced relation; and wherein each of said pontoon members includes a bottom wall having surface means for increasing surface tension between the water and said bottom wall to provide increased stability to the watercraft.

13. The watercraft of claim 12, wherein each of said pontoon members includes a number of walls defining a hollow interior adapted to be pressurized, each of said pontoon members including connection means for attaching various components thereto, said connection means being formed integral with at least one of said walls.

14. The watercraft of claim 12, further comprising means for adjusting a lateral distance between said pontoon members.

15. A pontoon-type watercraft, comprising: a pair of pontoon members; at least one cross member extending between said pontoon members to maintain said pontoon members in spaced relation; and wherein each of said pontoon members includes a number of walls defining a hollow interior and a number of attachment members formed integral with at least one of said walls.

16. The watercraft of claim 15, wherein said hollow interior is pressurized to provide internal support to said number of walls.

17. The watercraft of claim 15, wherein said pontoon members are formed of a plastic material, said number of attachment members being molded into said at least one of said walls.

18. The watercraft of claim 17, wherein said pontoon members are formed by roto-molding.

19. The watercraft of claim 18, wherein a plastic encasement is formed about said number of attachment member during said roto-molding to provide an air tight seal between said number of attachment members and said hollow interior.

20. The watercraft of claim 17, wherein said plastic material is a high-density polyethylene material.

21. The watercraft of claim 17, wherein said connector members are internally threaded metallic members adapted to provide a wear resistant arrangement for the attachment of various accessories to the watercraft.

22. The watercraft of claim 15, further comprising a seat and a foot rest, said foot rest being adjustably positionable relative to said seat.

23. The watercraft of claim 22, wherein said foot rest is attached to said pontoon members by way of said attachment members.

24. The watercraft of claim 15, wherein each of said pontoon members includes a top wall, said top wall defining at least one semi-cylindrical recess, said at least one cross member being disposed within said at least one semi-cylindrical recess and being retained therein by a clip attached to said top wall by way of at least one fastener engaged to a respective one of said attachment members.

25. A pontoon-type watercraft, comprising: a pair of pontoon members; at least one cross member extending between said pontoon members to maintain said pontoon members in spaced relation; and wherein each of said pontoon members includes a number of walls defining a hollow interior, said number of walls being formed of a lightweight semi-rigid material, said hollow interior being pressurized to provide internal support to said number of walls.

26. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein each of said pontoon members includes a top wall defining a substantially flat top surface to allow a user to stand on said pontoon members.

27. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein each of said pontoon members includes a bottom wall, said bottom wall defining a bottom surface having at least one concavity formed therein to increase surface tension between the water and said bottom surface to increase stability of the watercraft.

28. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein said hollow interior is pressurized within a range of about 1 psi to about 5 psi.

29. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein each of said pontoon members includes an air valve in communication with said hollow interior to permit adjustment of the pressure within said hollow interior.

30. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein each of said pontoon members includes an air fitting formed integral with one of said walls and in communication with said hollow interior, said air fitting being adapted for connection to said air valve.

31. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein each of said pontoon members is formed of first and second longitudinal sections, said first longitudinal section being removably coupled to said second longitudinal section.

32. The watercraft of claim 31, wherein said first longitudinal section includes a first end portion and a pair of flanges extending from said first end portion, each of said flanges defining an opening, said second longitudinal section including a second end portion and a sleeve extending through said second end portion, said sleeve defining a passage, said second end portion of said second longitudinal section being disposed between said pair of flanges with said passage in said sleeve aligned with said openings in said flanges, said first longitudinal section being removably coupled to said second longitudinal section by passing a pin through said openings and said passage.

33. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein said at least one cross member is configured to permit adjustment of a lateral distance between said pontoon members.

34. The watercraft of claim 25, wherein said at least one cross member is comprised of: a pair of outer tubes, each operably attached to a respective one of said pontoon members; an inner tube telescopically received within each of said outer tubes; and means for releasably locking said inner tube in position relative to said outer tube.

35. A pontoon-type watercraft, comprising: a pair of pontoon members; at least one cross member extending between said pontoon members to maintain said pontoon members in spaced relation; and a seat coupled to said at least one cross member, a portion of said seat defining a yoke adapted for positioning over the neck and shoulders of a user to facilitate transport of the watercraft.

36. The watercraft of claim 35, wherein said seat includes a pair of handles coupled to said seat to aid in maintaining the watercraft on the neck and shoulders of the user during transport of the watercraft.

37. The watercraft of claim 36, wherein said handles are adjustably positionable between a transport position and a stored position.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims the benefit of United States Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/183,526 filed Feb. 18, 2000, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to a pontoon-type watercraft. More particularly, the present invention relates to a pontoon-type watercraft used for fishing, hunting or other recreational activities.

[0003] Flotation devices are well known in the recreational fishing industry as a means for permitting convenient off-shore fishing. Although full-size or multi-person fishing boats are commonly used in recreational fishing, there is a population of individuals who do not have sufficient space to store a full-size fishing boat, or lack the means necessary to transport a full-size boat to a fishing site. Additionally, some fishing sites may be remotely located, presenting limited accessibility to the water. In such cases, an individual is often required to transport his or her own boat to the remote fishing site without assistance from others. Thus, smaller, more portable watercraft are sometimes desired to accommodate an individual fisherman for use on lakes, streams or other similar bodies of water where such watercraft are appropriate.

[0004] Float tubes are well known in recreational fishing, generally comprising a relatively large, donut-shaped inflatable member, similar to a large inner tube, having a suspended seat in the center area which is designed to support a fisherman in an upright, sitting position, with the fisherman's legs being partially submerged in the water. Typically, the fisherman is equipped with fins to aid in propelling the float tube through the water. For this reason, float tubes are not well suited for colder environments or for individuals who wish to remain out of the water. Additionally, float tubes are cumbersome to carry, particularly by hand, and are inconvenient to use when a substantial amount of walking is required to reach the desired fishing site. Float tubes are typically circular, which is sometimes disadvantageous in use, providing limited space for fishing. Further, float tubes which are non-circular are often not very stable in the water and are prone to tipping.

[0005] Pontoon-type watercraft have also been used in association with recreational fishing. These watercraft usually comprise a pair of inflatable or rigid pontoons disposed side-by-side and interconnected by a transverse cross member which in turn supports a seat section. Similar to float tubes, prior pontoon-type watercraft typically require the fisherman's legs to be at least partially submerged in the water, with fins strapped to the fisherman's feet to provide mobility in the water. The seat section is suspended a short distance above the water level such that by kicking his feet, the fisherman can manipulate the watercraft as desired. As with float tubes, these types of pontoon-type watercraft are also not well suited for colder environments or for individuals who wish to remain out of the water. Other types of pontoon-type watercraft are equipped with an elevated seat section, allowing the fisherman to remain above water level. However, by raising the seat section a significant distance above water level, the center of gravity of the watercraft is correspondingly raised, thereby leading to increased instability and a greater likelihood of tipping. Moreover, the problems associated with instability are compounded if the fisherman attempts to stand in an upright position, such as might be desired during casting or reeling.

[0006] Another drawback associated with prior floatation devices of the types noted above is that their construction does not provide for a quick and convenient method of assembly and disassembly. Additionally, prior flotation devices do not include means for attaching or mounting various accessories thereto, and therefore the fisherman is not provided with the conveniences that are either desired or required for a satisfactory fishing experience. Such accessory items may include motor mounts, anchor systems, fishing rod holders, rack assemblies, oar locks, or other devices typically used by a recreational fisherman.

[0007] Heretofore, there has been a need for a portable, pontoon-type watercraft which addresses some or all of the drawbacks discussed above with regard to prior floatation devices. An effective means for satisfying this need has escaped those skilled in the art. The present invention satisfies this need in a novel and unobvious way.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] One form of the present invention contemplates a watercraft comprising a pair of pontoon members and at least one cross member extending between the pontoon members to maintain the pontoon members in spaced relation. Each of the pontoon members includes a bottom surface defining at least one concavity to increase surface tension between the water and the bottom surface to provide increased stability to the watercraft. In one aspect of the present invention, the concavity comprises an inverted keel having a lateral concave curvature running along at least a portion of the length of the bottom surface of each of the pontoon members. In another aspect of the invention, the concavity comprises a series of alternating convex ridges and concave grooves running along at least a portion of the length of the bottom surface of each of the pontoon members. In a further aspect of the invention, the concavity comprises both an inverted keel and a series of alternating convex ridges and concave grooves running along at least a portion of the length of each of the pontoon members. In yet another aspect of the invention, the concavity is bounded by a downwardly extending edge defined about the entire periphery of the bottom surface of each of the pontoon members.

[0009] In a further form of the present invention, a watercraft comprises a pair of pontoon members and at least one cross member extending between the pontoon members to maintain the pontoon members in spaced relation. Each of the pontoon members includes a number of walls defining a hollow interior and a number of attachment members formed integral with at least one of the walls.

[0010] In yet another form of the present invention, a watercraft comprises a pair of pontoon members and at least one cross member extending between the pontoon members to maintain the pontoon members in spaced relation. Each of the pontoon members includes a number of walls defining a hollow interior, with the walls being formed of a lightweight semi-rigid material and the hollow interior being pressurized to internally support the walls.

[0011] In still another form of the present invention, a watercraft comprises a pair of pontoon members and at least one cross member extending between the pontoon members to maintain the pontoon members in spaced relation. A seat is coupled to the cross member, with a portion of the seat defining a yoke adapted for positioning over the neck and shoulders of a user to facilitate transport of the watercraft. In a further aspect of the invention, the seat includes a pair of handles coupled thereto to aid in maintaining the watercraft on the neck and shoulders of the user during transport of the watercraft.

[0012] Further forms, embodiments, objects, features, advantages, benefits, and aspects of the present invention shall become apparent from the drawings and descriptions provided herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of a pontoon-type watercraft according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a top view of the watercraft illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view of the watercraft illustrated in FIG. 1, taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1.

[0016] FIG. 3a is a partial cross-sectional view of the watercraft illustrated in FIG. 3, taken along line 3a-3a of FIG. 3.

[0017] FIG. 3b is a partial cross-sectional view of the watercraft illustrated in FIG. 3a, taken along line 3b-3b of FIG. 3a.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a side elevation view of one embodiment of a pontoon for use with the watercraft illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a top view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 4.

[0020] FIG. 6 is an end elevation view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 4.

[0021] FIG. 7 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 5, taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 5.

[0022] FIG. 8 is a transverse cross-sectional view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 7, taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 7.

[0023] FIG. 9 is a partial cross-sectional view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 5, taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 5.

[0024] FIG. 10 is a partial cross-sectional view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 5, taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 5.

[0025] FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 5, taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 5.

[0026] FIG. 12 is a top view of an alternative embodiment of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 4.

[0027] FIG. 13 is a side elevation view of the pontoon illustrated in FIG. 12.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0028] For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principals of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiment illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is hereby intended, and any alterations and further modifications of the illustrated device, and any further applications of the principals of the invention as illustrated herein being contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.

[0029] With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is illustrated a portable, pontoon-type watercraft 20 according to one embodiment of the present invention. Although watercraft 20 is suitable for fishing, hunting, and other general recreational activities, it should be understood that watercraft 20 may be used for any purpose requiring a lightweight watercraft. The watercraft 20 generally comprises a pair of elongate pontoon members 22 which are interconnected and retained in a substantially parallel, spaced relationship by pair of transverse cross members 24. It should be understood that any number of cross members 24 may be used to interconnect the pontoon members 22, including a single cross member 24. The combination of the pontoon members 22 and the cross members 24 form a substantially rigid base assembly 26. A seat assembly 28 is centrally mounted on the base assembly 26 for user comfort and maneuverability. Although the cross members 24 are shown as being substantially straight, it should be understood that cross members 24 can alternatively be configured to include an offset central portion extending upwardly, away from pontoon members 22, to allow the seat assembly 28 to be mounted at a higher elevation relative to the water.

[0030] Preferably, the components of watercraft 20 are formed of lightweight materials, such as, for example, plastic or aluminum, to provide a readily portable watercraft which can be easily manipulated and transported by a single person. In one embodiment of the present invention, pontoon members 22 are made of a roto-molded, high density polyethylene, which is a lightweight, rugged material resistant to inadvertent damage. However, it should be understood that pontoon members 22 may be formed of other types of materials, such as other plastic materials, fiberglass, aluminum, thin sheet metals, or any other lightweight, marine suitable material. A polyethylene material is particularly well-suited for the formation of pontoon members 22 because it is lightweight, yet rigid enough to provide adequate structural support to watercraft 20, and is resistant to damage such as might be encountered through engagement with rocks or other objects found in bodies of water. The roto-molding process allows pontoon members 22 to achieve a symmetrical shape and a substantially uniform wall thickness.

[0031] In one embodiment of the present invention, the outer skin of the pontoon members 22 is formed from individual sections of material which are machined, bent and attached together by methods known to those skilled in the art. Plastic material is then blown into the interior of the pontoon members 22, and the outer skin is rotated so that a substantially uniform, dense layer of plastic is formed over the exposed interior surfaces of the outer skin. The roto-molding process provides a semi-rigid, air-tight hull, the importance of which will become apparent below. In one form of the invention, the interior of the pontoon members 22 is pressurized during the roto-molding process to minimize the effects of material shrinkage during cooling of the plastic material. For this purpose, an air fitting 30 is formed in the upper wall of each pontoon member 22, configured to accept a standard air valve (not shown) for pressurizing and depressurizing the interior of pontoon members 22. Further details regarding the air fitting 30 and the air valve will be discussed below.

[0032] In one particular embodiment of the invention, during the roto-molding process, the interior of the pontoon members 22 is pressurized in a range of about 1 to 25 psi. During the roto-molding process, various surface features can be incorporated into the pontoon members 22, such as the formation of concavities defined by the bottom surface of the pontoon members 22. Notably, the shape, size and configuration of these surface features can be at least partially controlled by varying the air pressure within the pontoon members 22 during the roto-molding process. The nature and purpose of these surface features will be described in greater detail below and illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

[0033] Each of the pontoon members 22 includes a number of connection locations for the attachment or mounting of various components and/or accessories. A pair of substantially parallel, semi-cylindrical channels or recesses 32 are formed across the width of each pontoon member 22 along a top wall thereof, with each channel 32 being sized to receive a respective one of the transverse cross members 24 therein. Internally threaded connection members or sockets 34 are molded into the top wall of the pontoon members 22 on opposite sides of the channel 32. At least one substantially U-shaped clip 36 extends over the transverse cross member 24 and is attached to the top wall of the pontoon member 22 by fasteners 38, such as, for example, bolts. The bolts pass through openings (not shown) in the clips 36, and are threaded into the connection members 34 to securely maintain the cross members 24 within the channels 32. In the illustrated embodiment, the cross member 24 are attached to each pontoon member 22 by a pair of clips 36, however, it should be understood that any number of clips 36 can be used. It should further be understood that the channels 32 enhance the strength and rigidity of the base assembly 26 by increasing the amount of surface area of cross members 24 in direct contact with the top wall of the pontoon members 22. In the illustrated embodiment, the adjacent ends of the transverse cross members 24 are interconnected by a longitudinally extending support member 39 to further enhance the strength and rigidity of the base assembly 26. The longitudinally extending support members 39 may also be used to support oar mounts (not shown) or other components or accessories.

[0034] In addition to the connection members 34, a number of internally threaded attachment members or sockets 40 are also molded into the top surface of the pontoon members 22 at various connection locations. Although attachment members 40 are shown uniformly spaced across the top surface of pontoon members 22, it should be understood that attachment members 40 can be positioned anywhere on pontoon members 22, including the side and bottom surfaces. Various accessories can be attached or mounted to the pontoon members 22 by way of fasteners that are threaded into the attachment members 40. For example, a foot rest or brace 41 may be attached to each of the pontoon members 22 for use by the operator when in a seated position. Alternatively, the foot rests 41 could be supported by a cross members 24 or any other portion of base assembly 26 or seat assembly 28. Each foot rest 41 comprises a mounting bracket 42 and a foot peg 43. The mounting bracket 42 is attached to a top surface of the pontoon member 22 by way of a plurality of fasteners, such as bolts, which engage respective attachment members 40. The foot peg 43 is attached to an upwardly extending portion of bracket 42 by way of a fastener, such as a bolt. As shown in FIG. 1, the bracket 42 includes a number of attachment locations 44a, 44b, 44c for foot peg 43 so that the location of foot peg 43 can be adjusted to accommodate for the specific leg reach of the user.

[0035] Loop straps 45 may be attached to the front and/or back portions of each pontoon member 22 by way of a fastener, such as a bolt, which engages a respective attachment member 40. In this particular application, the loop straps 45 may be used to aid in the handling and/or transporting of watercraft 20, or may serve as a hull tie-up, a rope tow, or as a means for connecting multiple watercraft 20 end-to-end to form an integrated string of watercraft. A loop strap 45 may also be used to further secure the framework of watercraft 20 to the pontoon members 22 by looping about the longitudinally extending support member 39 (as shown) or either of the cross members 24. Additionally, a loop strap 45 may be looped about the center portion of one of the cross member 24 to serve as a centrally located anchor attachment location. In one embodiment, the loop straps 45 are fabricated from nylon; however, other materials are also contemplated.

[0036] Loop rings 46 are also attached to each pontoon member 22, preferably along the outer periphery of the top surface of each pontoon member 22, by way of a fastener, such as a bolt, which engages a respective attachment member 40. Each loop ring 46 comprises a strap 47a and an O-ring 47b. In one embodiment, the straps 47a are fabricated from nylon and the O-rings 47b are fabricated from aluminum or steel; however, other materials are also contemplated. The loop rings 46 can be used for purposes similar to those described above with regard to loop straps 45 or for other purposes. In lieu of or in addition to loop straps 45 and loop rings 46, integral mounting holes 48 may be formed through a lip extending from the bow and stem ends of pontoon members 22.

[0037] Attachment members 40 can be used for a variety of purposes in addition to those discussed above. For example, gear bags 49 may be attached to pontoon members 22 by way of fasteners, such as bolts, which engages respective attachment members 40. In one embodiment, the gear bags 49 are made of nylon or fabric and include a zippered access opening; however, other materials and configurations are also contemplated. Attachment members 40 may also be used to connect other components and/or accessories to watercraft 20, including but not limited to platforms, motor mounts, anchor systems, rack assemblies, flotation devices, rudder assemblies, fishing rod holders, electronic fish finders, oar locks, a canopy or blind, gun holders, an outrigger assembly, transport wheels or handles, stabilizing poles, lights, coolers, and cup holders. Additionally, a toggle or mounting strip, having a flange defining multiple mounting hole locations, can be bolted to pontoon members 22 by way of attachment members 40, or can alternatively be molded directly into the pontoon members 22.

[0038] Referring collectively to FIGS. 1-3, the seat assembly 28 is comprised of a pair of mounting bars 50 extending transversely across cross members 24 and securely attached thereto by a number of fasteners 52. A swiveling pedestal section 54 is securely attached to mounting bars 50 by a number of fasteners 56, and a seat section 58 is securely attached to the swiveling pedestal section 54 by a number of fasteners 60. Cross members 24 and mounting bars 50 are preferably rigid, tubular members made of aluminum, plastic, or any other suitably strong, lightweight material. Each of the mounting bars 50 includes a pair of flattened end portions 62 which are compressed tightly against the cross members 24 by tightening fasteners 52, thereby providing a rigid mounting grid for pedestal section 54. An example of a suitable pedestal section 54 is manufactured by Swivl-Eze Marine of Lancaster, Tex. under Part No. 90720. However, other suitable pedestals are also contemplated as would occur to one of ordinary skill in the art. It should also be understood that swiveling pedestal section 54 may include a locking mechanism for maintaining the seat section 58 in a selected rotational position. Additionally, pedestal section 54 may be configured to provide vertical adjustment to seat section 58 to comfortably accommodate users of different heights. Further, pedestal section 54 may be hinged to mounting bars 50 to allow the pedestal section 54 and the seat section 58 to pivot forward or backward during periods of non-use.

[0039] Seat section 58 includes a horizontal seat 64 and a back support 66 pivotally mounted to horizontal seat 64 by pivot pins 68. The back support 66 has a contoured surface for engagement with a user's back and is configured to pivot between two operating positions. During use, the back support 66 is in a substantially vertical orientation (shown in solid), but is pivotable in the direction of arrow A to a substantially horizontal position (shown in phantom) suitable for transportation or storage. Horizontal seat 64 and back support 66 are each formed of molded plastic; however, other suitable materials are also contemplated, such as a cushioning material wrapped in fabric. An example of a suitable seat section 58 is manufactured by Wise Co. under Part No. WD139LS-717. However, other suitable seat sections are also contemplated, as would occur to one of ordinary skill in the art.

[0040] Seat section 58 also incorporates various features, which aid in the transportation of the watercraft 20 by an individual user from one site to another. Referring specifically to FIG. 2, horizontal seat 64 includes a substantially U-shaped cut-out section or yoke 70. Yoke 70 has substantially parallel flat portions 72, spaced apart to define an opening width w. Flat portions 72 extend toward back support 66 and transition into an arcuate or bow-shaped portion 74. The width w of yoke 70 is sized to receive the neck of the user between flat portions 72, and the arcuate portion 74 has a shape substantially complimentary to the back of the neck and shoulders of the user. Seat section 58 also includes a pair of sleeves 76 mounted to the underside of horizontal seat 64 on opposite sides of yoke 70. A tubular handle 78 is inserted in each of the sleeves 76, with the exposed ends of the handles 78 preferably being covered by a protective rubber cap 80 to avoid inadvertent injury to the user during transportation of the watercraft 20.

[0041] Watercraft 20 can be conveniently transported by the user by pivoting the watercraft 20 to a substantially vertical orientation, with the opening of yoke 70 facing downwardly. The user then squats down and positions his neck within yoke 70 and firmly grasps each of the handles 78. The user may then extend his legs and balance the watercraft 20 on his neck and shoulders. The handles 78 allow the user to retain the watercraft 20 on his neck and shoulders and maintain proper balancing during transport. Although handles 78 are illustrated and described as being removable from sleeves 76, it should be understood that handles 78 could be telescopically received and stored within sleeves 76 when watercraft 20 is not being transported. Alternatively, the handles 78 may be pivotally attached to the underside of the horizontal seat 64 such that the handles 78 fold away during periods of non-use, and can be swung out during transportation of watercraft 20. Additionally, a foam or rubber pad (not shown) may be attached to the flat and arcuate portions 72, 74 of yoke 70 to cushion the user's neck and shoulders during transport of watercraft 20. Additionally, seat section 58 may include means for provisionally maintaining handles 78 within sleeves 76 during periods of non-use, and for locking handles 78 in a selected position during periods of use. Such means may comprise a set screw extending through the wall of each sleeve 76 and contacting the outer surface of handles 78.

[0042] As illustrated in FIGS. 3, 3a, and 3b, the watercraft 20 is configured to permit adjustment of the lateral spacing between the pontoon members 22. Specifically, each of the cross members 24 is comprised of two outer tubes 90 and an inner tube 91 telescopically received and axially displaceable within each of the outer tubes 90. The outer tubes 90 are disposed within the channels 32 formed in the top wall of the pontoon members 22 and are secured to the pontoon members 22 by way of the mounting clips 36. Each of the outer tubes 90 defines two upwardly facing openings 92a, 92b the purpose of which will become apparent below. It should be understood, however, that the outer tubes 90 could define any number of upwardly facing openings.

[0043] Each end portion of the inner tube 91 defines an upwardly facing opening 93. A biasing member 94 is disposed within opposite end portions of inner tube 91 and includes a button 95 sized to pass through opening 93 in inner tube 91. The biasing member 94 biases button 95 in an upward direction such that button 95 will snap into either of the opening 92a, 92b in outer tube 90 when aligned therewith. The positioning of button 95 within either of the openings 92a, 92b locks inner tube 91 into position relative to outer tube 90, thereby preventing axial displacement of inner tube 91 relative to outer tube 90.

[0044] However, by depressing button 95, the inner tube 91 may be axially displaced within outer tube 90 to reposition button 95 in the other of the openings 92a, 92b in outer tube 90. It should therefore be apparent that the lateral spacing between pontoon members 22 can be quickly and easily adjusted by depressing button 95 of biasing members 94 and axially displacing the inner tube 91 relative to the outer tubes 90 until the button 95 is aligned with the proper opening 92a, 92b in each respective outer tube 90. When button 95 is aligned with the proper opening 92a, 92b, button 95 will automatically snap into a locked position due to the resilient nature of biasing member 94. In one embodiment, the openings 92a, 92b in each outer tube 90 are separated by a distance d of approximately six (6) inches, thereby permitting adjustment of the lateral spacing between pontoon members 22 of up to twelve (12) inches. However, other distances d between openings 92a, 92b are also contemplated as being within the scope of the invention.

[0045] In the illustrated embodiment, the biasing member 94 is configured as a leaf spring. However, it should be understood that other types of springs can be used, such as, for example, a coil spring. In should also be understood that the biasing member 94 could be replaced by a fastener, such as a pin or bolt, that extends through the proper opening 92a, 92b and opening 93 to lock inner tube 91 into position relative to the outer tube 90. It should further be understood that other telescopic arrangements of cross members 24 are also contemplated. For example, the outer tubes 90 could alternatively be configured to be slidably received within the inner tube 91 to provide adjustment of the later spacing between pontoon members 22. It is also contemplated that cross members 24 could alternatively be comprised of a first tube attached to one of the pontoon members 22 and a second tube attached to the other of the pontoon members 22, with the first tube slidably received within the second tube to provide adjustment to the later spacing between pontoon members 22.

[0046] Referring now to FIGS. 4-11, shown therein are various details regarding pontoon members 22. Each pontoon member 22 has a length extending along a longitudinal axis L, and includes an upper top surface 100, a lower bottom surface 102, and opposite lateral side surfaces 106, 108 extending between upper and lower surfaces 100, 102. Lateral surface 104 includes opposite curved end portions 108a, 108b which converge with corresponding curved end portions 110a, 110b of lateral surface 106, respectively, so as to define opposite leading edges 112, 114. In the illustrated embodiment, leading edges 112, 114 taper outwardly from lower surface 102 toward upper surface 100 at an angle α. In one embodiment, angle α is approximately 45°; however, other angles are also contemplated as being within the scope of the invention. Additionally, edges 112, 114 are preferably rounded. Pontoon members 22 are thus configured to have an aerodynamic shape in both the bow and stern directions, allowing the user to move through the water in either direction with minimal drag on the watercraft 20.

[0047] Top surface 100 is substantially flat, allowing the user to easily stand and maneuver on pontoon members 22 while maintaining proper balance. Top surface 100 is preferably roughened, such as by sandblasting, to provide a non-slip surface. The roughened top surface 100 provides traction for the user when standing or maneuvering on pontoon members 22, especially when the top surface 100 is wet. Upper surface 100 has a shape corresponding to the outer profile of lateral surfaces 104, 106, with the exception of the longitudinal end portions of upper surface 100, which extend slightly beyond lateral surfaces 104, 106 so as to define a pair of longitudinally extending flanges or lips 116a, 116b and 118a, 118b. Referring to FIG. 11, it can be seen that lips 116a, 116b are formed of substantially solid sections of material, with mounting holes 48 being defined therethrough. Thus, mounting holes 48 are not in fluid communication with the interior of the pontoon members 22, the importance of which will become apparent below.

[0048] Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 8, shown therein are longitudinal and transverse cross sections taken through a pontoon member 22. As most clearly illustrated in FIG. 7, the bottom surface 102 has a wavy or corrugated shape, defining a series of alternating convex ridges 120 and concave grooves 122 extending along longitudinal axis L. Preferably, each of the alternating ridges 120 and grooves 122 is arcuate-shaped so as to form a series of undulating curves extending along longitudinal axis L. Referring to FIG. 8, it can be seen that the alternating ridges 120 and grooves 122 do not extend the full width of pontoon members 22. Instead, the amplitude of ridges 120 and grooves 122 gradually diminishes as each extends toward lateral surfaces 104, 106, eventually transitioning into lower longitudinally extending rounded edges 124, 126. In one embodiment of the present invention, the ridges 120 and grooves 122 are formed in bottom surface 102 during the roto-molding process.

[0049] As most clearly illustrated in FIG. 8, bottom surface 102 defines a concave lateral curvature C, extending between longitudinal edges 124, 126 and running along longitudinal axis L. Bottom surface 102 thus defines what can be described as an inverted keel 128 having a curvature C. The inverted keel 128 does not extend the entire length of bottom surface 102, but instead gradually transitions into rounded transverse edges 130, 132, which in turn extend between rounded longitudinal edges 124, 126. In one embodiment of the present invention, the inverted keel 128 is formed in bottom surface 102 during the roto-molding process. Longitudinal edges 124, 126 and transverse edges 130, 132 thus cooperate to define a continuous, rounded edge extending about the entire periphery of bottom surface 102 and defining the outer boundary of an oblong shaped recess or void 134 formed by ridges 120, grooves 122 and the inverted keel 128. The formation of the alternating ridges and grooves 120, 122 and the inverted keel 128 along the lower surface 102 cooperate to define spherical-shaped recesses or cups disposed intermittently along the longitudinal axis L.

[0050] In use, when the watercraft 20 is placed in the water, the recess 134 formed by lower surface 102 will fill with water. If the user of watercraft 20 stands upright on pontoon members 22, as is sometimes preferred during fishing or hunting activities, the center of gravity of the watercraft 20 is significantly raised and the pontoon members 22 may become unstable and have a tendency to tip. However, the surface tension existing between the water and the bottom surface 102 of pontoon members 22 provides stabilization to the pontoon members 22, thereby resisting the tendency of pontoon members 22 to tip. More specifically, the surface tension causes the water to adhere to the lower surface 102, thereby creating a suction effect, tending to hold the pontoon members 22 to the water, and in turn increasing the stability of watercraft 20. This suction effect creates a draw-down force, which will continue to exist as long as the surface tension remains in tact. The surface tension will be broken only if one of the longitudinal edges 124, 126 or transverse edges 130, 132 is raised up off of the surface of the water. If this occurs, the suction will be broken and the pontoon members 22 will no longer tend to hold to the water.

[0051] Although surface tension would exist between the water and a flat lower surface of the pontoon members 22, by incorporating one or more concavities into lower surface 102, the surface area of pontoon members 22 in contact with the water is increased, thereby correspondingly increasing surface tension and the ability of pontoon members 22 to hold to the water. The spherical-shaped cupping of lower surface 102, formed by the convex ridges 120, concave grooves 122, and inverted keel 128, also has a tendency to increase surface tension between the water and lower surface 102, thereby providing increased stability to watercraft 20.

[0052] Although the inverted keel 128 has been illustrated and described as extending continuously along a substantial length of each pontoon member 22, it should be understood that the inverted keel 128 can alternatively extend along any portion or portions of the length of pontoon members 22. For example, the inverted keel 128 may be formed at intermittent locations along the bottom surface 102, or could alternatively extend the entire length of bottom surface 102, thereby eliminating the rounded transverse edges 130, 132 of bottom surface 102. It should also be understood that the concave lateral curvature C need not necessarily have a circular shape, but can take on other shapes as well, such as, for example, an arcuate or oblong shape. Further, it should be understood that the depth of the inverted keel 128 can be varied. Additionally, a number of inverted keels could be defined along bottom surface 102, preferably aligned in a substantially parallel arrangement.

[0053] In another embodiment of pontoon members 22, the inverted keel 128 is eliminated, and bottom surface 102 includes only the convex ridges 120 and concave grooves 122, with no concave lateral curvature C. Although the illustrated embodiment of pontoon members 22 depicts the alternating convex ridges 120 and concave grooves 122 as extending virtually the entire length of lower surface 102, it should be understood that the convex ridges 120 and concave grooves 122 may extend along any portion or portions of lower surface 102. Additionally, the ridges 120 and grooves 122 could be configured to extend the entire width of pontoon members 22. Further, it should be understood that the depth or amplitude of the ridges 120 and grooves 122 can be varied. In another embodiment of pontoon members 22, the ridges 120 and grooves 122 are eliminated, and bottom surface 102 includes only the inverted keel 128 defining the concave lateral curvature C. In yet another embodiment of pontoon members 22, the convex ridges 120, the concave grooves 122 and the inverted keel 128 are eliminated, and bottom surface 102 is substantially flat.

[0054] Referring once again to FIG. 8, shown therein is the air fitting 30 integrally molded into the upper surface 100 of pontoon member 22. Air fitting 30 is a brass fitting having an upper hexagonal region 136, a lower hexagonal region 137 and an intermediate cylindrical region 138 disposed between upper and lower hexagonal regions 136, 137. An internally threaded opening 139 extends entirely through air fitting 30. In one embodiment, the internally threaded opening 139 is configured with ⅜″ NPT pipe threads; however, pipe threads having other sizes and configurations are also contemplated as being within the scope of the invention. It should also be understood that other types of air fittings are also contemplated as would occur to one of ordinary skill in the art, and the configuration of air fitting 30 is not limited to the precise configuration described above. In one embodiment of pontoon member 22, a hole is initially drilled through the upper surface 100 and the air fitting 30 is inserted therein with the top surface of the air fitting 30 positioned substantially flush with the upper surface 100 of pontoon members 22. During the roto-molding process, plastic material accumulates around the entire exterior of air fitting 30, thereby creating a plastic encasement 140 surrounding air fitting 30 and providing an air tight seal between air fitting 30 and the interior 142 of pontoon member 22. The threaded opening 139 in air fitting 30 is then placed in fluid communication with the interior 142 of pontoon member 22 by forming an opening 146 through plastic encasement 140, such as, for example, by drilling or punching.

[0055] An air valve 148 may then be threaded into air fitting opening 139. In the illustrated embodiment, air valve 148 is configured similar to a tire stem valve, allowing for convenient pressurization and depressurization of the interior 142 of pontoon member 22. The air valve 148 allows the user to add air to the interior 142 of pontoon member 22 by way of an air compressor, a manual air pump, a portable compressed air tank, or by any other means known to those of skill in the art. Because the interior 142 of pontoon member 22 is sealed, absent a change in air temperature, the internal air pressure will remain constant. It should be understood that other types and configurations of air valves could alternatively be used to pressurize and depressurize pontoon members 22 including, for example, a standard on-off ball valve. It should also be understood that air fitting 30 could be eliminated and the air valve 148 integrally molded directly into the upper surface 100 of pontoon members 22.

[0056] One function of pressurizing the interior 142 is to provide internal support to the walls of the pontoon members 22 to help maintain the shape and profile of pontoon members 22. By providing internal support, the wall thickness of pontoon members 22 can be reduced without jeopardizing strength and rigidity. A reduction in wall thickness correspondingly decreases the weight of pontoon members 22 and the overall weight of watercraft 20, thereby providing a distinct advantage in the manual transport of watercraft 20 by the user from one site to another. However, reducing the wall thickness of pontoon member 22 correspondingly reduces its structural integrity. Thus, if the interior 142 of pontoon members 22 were not pressurized, any weight applied to the top surface 100, such as the weight of the user, would tend to cause the upper surface 100 to inwardly deflect. However, by pressurizing the interior 142 of pontoon members 22, the user can stand on the upper surface 100 without causing appreciable inward deflection. The upper surface 100 will remain substantially flat, thus reducing the likelihood of the user losing his balance when standing or maneuvering on pontoon members 22.

[0057] In one embodiment of the present invention, the interior 142 of pontoon members 22 is pressurized in a range of about 1 psi to 5 psi. However, it should be understood that the internal pressure of pontoon members 22 can be adjusted to accommodate the needs of a particular user. Increasing the internal pressure of pontoon members 22 not only has the effect of stiffening the walls of the pontoon members 22, but also has the effect of increasing the buoyancy of the pontoon members 22 by the outward deflection of the bottom surface 102 and the lateral surfaces 104, 106. More specifically, the outward deflection of bottom surface 102 and lateral surfaces 104, 106 increases the volume of water displaced by pontoon members 22, which correspondingly increases buoyancy. However, by increasing the pressure within pontoon members 22, the depth of the concavities formed in bottom surface 102 will be reduced by the outward deflection of bottom surface 102. Thus, increasing the pressure within pontoon members 22 may increase buoyancy, but may also have the effect of reducing the ability of pontoon members 22 to hold to the water. By way of a non-limiting example, larger, heavier users may choose to pressurize the interior 142 of pontoon members 22 to about 4 to 5 psi, while smaller, lighter users may choose a somewhat lesser air pressure. Further, the user can easily and conveniently reduce the internal pressure in pontoon members 22 by actuating the air valve 148 and releasing a selected amount of air. This may be necessary, for example, if the temperature of the air in pontoon members 22 is significantly increased, thereby causing the air to expand, resulting in increased air pressure within pontoon members 22.

[0058] Referring now to FIG. 9, shown therein is a connection member 34 integrally molded into the upper surface 100 of pontoon member 22 on both sides of the channel 32. As discussed above, the mounting clips 36 which secure the cross members 24 to the pontoon members 22 are attached to the pontoon members 22 by a plurality of fasteners which threadingly engage the connection members 34. The connection member 34 is a brass fitting having an upper hexagonal region 152, a lower hexagonal region 154, and an intermediate cylindrical region 156 disposed between upper and lower hexagonal regions 152, 154. An internally threaded opening 158 extends through upper hexagonal region 152 and intermediate region 156, and partially through lower hexagonal region 154, but does not extend entirely through connection member 34. In one embodiment, the internally threaded opening 158 is configured with ¼-20 machine threads; however, machine threads having other sizes and pitches are also contemplated as being within the scope of the invention. It should be understood that other types of connection members are also contemplated as would occur to one of ordinary skill in the art, and the precise configuration of connection member 34 is not limited to the particular configuration described above. It should also be understood that the connection members 34 need not necessarily be threaded, but can alternatively be configured to connect to non-threaded fasteners.

[0059] In one embodiment of the invention, a hole is initially drilled through the upper surface 100 of the pontoon member on each side of channel 32, and a connection member 34 is inserted therein with the top surface of the upper hexagonal region 152 being positioned substantially flush with upper surface 100. During the roto-molding process, plastic material accumulates around the entire exterior of connection member 34, thereby creating a plastic encasement 160 surrounding the connection member 134 and providing an air-tight seal between connection member 34 and the interior 142 of pontoon member 22.

[0060] Referring now to FIG. 10, shown therein is an attachment member 40 integrally molded into the upper surface 100 of pontoon member 22. Attachment member 40 is configured identical to connection member 34; however, other types of attachment members 40 are also contemplated as would occur to one of skill in the art. For example, it should be understood that the attachment members 40 need not necessarily be threaded, but can alternatively be configured to connect to non-threaded fasteners. In one embodiment of the invention, a hole is initially drilled through upper surface 100, and the attachment member 40 is inserted therein with the top surface of upper hexagonal region 152 positioned substantially flush with upper surface 100. During the roto-molding process, plastic material accumulates around the entire exterior of attachment member 40, thereby creating a plastic encasement 162 surrounding the attachment member 40 and providing an air-tight seal between attachment member 40 and the interior 142 of pontoon member 22.

[0061] As shown and described above, connection members 34 and attachment members 40 can be integrally molded into the upper wall of pontoon members 22, providing a quick and convenient means for attaching or mounting other components of watercraft 20 or various accessories directly to the pontoon members 22. Additionally, since the connection members 34 and attachment members 40 do not protrude above the upper surface 100, they avoid potential trip hazards. Further, because connection members 34 and attachment members 40 are integrally molded in pontoon members 22 within plastic encasements 160, 162, there is no need to provide for additional means for achieving an air-tight sealing arrangement. Additionally, since connection members 34 and attachment members 40 are preferably formed of a metallic material, such as brass or steel, there is a reduced risk that the internally threaded openings 158 will gall, strip out or become damaged, as otherwise might occur if the threaded openings were formed directly in the walls of the pontoon members 22. Instead, connection members 34 and attachment members 40 provide a strong, wear resistant attachment arrangement which can be repeatedly used to attach and detach various components and accessories to the pontoon members 22, such as, for example, those components and accessories discussed above.

[0062] As should now be appreciated from the above discussion and illustrations, the watercraft 20 is constructed in such a way as to provide a sturdy and stable platform from which a user, such as a fisherman or hunter, can be safely supported while performing various activities, such as, for example, casting, reeling or shooting. Due to the stability of the pontoon members 22, the user can stand on the upper surface 100 of pontoon members 22 and move about without tipping the pontoon members 22 and capsizing the watercraft 20. Additionally, the watercraft 20 can be quickly and conveniently assembled and disassembled for transportation or storage. Further, watercraft 20 is designed in a manner so as to facilitate ready attachment and detachment of numerous accessory items thereto, particularly to the outer surfaces of pontoon members 22. Not only can the accessory items be easily attached and detached from the watercraft 20, each item can be mounted in a position that is readily accessible to the user. Also, watercraft 20, and more particularly pontoon members 22, are formed of a lightweight material, thus facilitating transportation of the watercraft 20 by an individual user from one site to another. The watercraft 20 is also configured to be placed in a condition for manual transport on the user's back, which is particularly useful if the watercraft 20 is to be used in remote locations and/or transported without the assistance of others.

[0063] To better illustrate the construction of pontoon members 22, certain weights and dimensions of one embodiment are hereafter listed. It should be understood, however, that these weights and dimensions are exemplary and are not intended to limit the scope of protection sought. The use of weights and dimensions other than those listed are contemplated as being within the scope of the invention. In one specific embodiment of the invention, the pontoon members 22 have an overall length of about 7′-6″, and bottom surface 102 has a length of about 6′-6″. Additionally, pontoon members 22 have an overall width of about 14″ and a height of about 6″. Due to their lightweight construction, each of the pontoon members 22 has a weight of about 16 pounds, and the assembled watercraft 20 has a total weight of about 45 pounds. In another specific embodiment of the invention having the same outer dimensions as the embodiment described above, the wall thickness of pontoon members 22 is increased by about 50%, thus resulting in a weight of each pontoon member of about 24 pounds, and a total weight of the assembled watercraft 20 of about 61 pounds.

[0064] Referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, shown therein is another embodiment of the invention, wherein each pontoon member 22 is comprised of two separate longitudinal sections 170, 172 that are removably coupled together to form pontoon member 22. In one embodiment, the longitudinal sections 170, 172 are longitudinal halves. It should be understood, however, that pontoon member 22 could be divided into any number of longitudinal sections having various shapes and configurations. One purpose of providing multi-piece pontoon members 22 is to reduce courier or shipping costs of the watercraft 20. Another purpose of providing multi-piece pontoon members 22 is to aid in the transport of the watercraft 20 from site to site.

[0065] In a specific embodiment, longitudinal section 170 includes an end portion 174 and a pair of flanges 176a, 176b extending from end portion 174 in a longitudinal direction and defining a gap 178 therebetween. Longitudinal section 172 includes an end portion 180 and a sleeve 182 extending transversely across end portion 180. Preferably, the sleeve 182 is formed integral with end portion 180 of longitudinal section 172. Longitudinal section 170, 172 are removably coupled together by positioning end portion 180 of longitudinal section 172 within the gap 178 between flanges 176a, 176b of longitudinal section 170 and passing a pin 184 through openings 186 in flanges 176a, 176b and a passage 188 extending through sleeve 182. Pin 184 is held in position by a lock pin 190 extending through an opening in an end portion of pin 184. Preferably, the longitudinal sections 170, 172 are coupled together by a pair of pins 184, each passing through a respective sleeve 182. Alternatively, pins 184 and 190 could be replaced by a bolt and nut arrangement.

[0066] Although a specific method of removably connecting longitudinal sections 170, 172 together has been illustrated and described above, it should be understood that other methods are also contemplated as being within the scope of the invention. For example, longitudinal sections 170, 172 could be coupled together by one or more pins extending vertically through end portions 174, 180 of longitudinal sections 170, 172. Additionally, instead of using pins, webbing straps could be used to removably couple longitudinal sections 170, 172 together.

[0067] While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that the preferred embodiment has been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected. For example, pontoon members 22 could be formed with a number of recesses or compartments having different shapes, sizes and configurations to hold various accessories, such as, for example, a beverage container, fishing rod handles, a trolling motor battery, an anchor, or other fishing or hunting gear, such as a tackle box or ammunition. Such recesses could be formed anywhere on pontoon members 22, but would preferably be formed in upper surface 100. Additionally, such recesses would preferably be integrally molded into pontoon members 22 to maintain the capability to pressurize the interior 142 of the pontoon members 22. Further, although watercraft 20 has been illustrated and described as a single-person watercraft, it should be understood that watercraft 20 may be modified to accommodate multiple users. For example, additional seat assemblies 28 can be added to accommodate two or more users. However, for a multiple-person watercraft, the length and possibly the width of the pontoon members 22 should preferably be increased to provide additional buoyancy force and stability to the watercraft.