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Motor-boatin': Experience Nacimiento with Pontoon Wild



If you want to explore a place, what better way to do it than to have a local show you around? Fortunately, for those who want to spend the day on Lake Nacimiento, Pontoon Wild does exactly that.

“At a young age I knew how fortunate we were to grow up in that lake lifestyle,” said Pontoon Wild’s owner and operator, who asked to be referred to simply as Mel. “It’s sort of a safe haven.”

B.B. CUE :  Pontoon Wild owner Mel will get your Lake Nacimiento tour cooking with food, wine, and whatever else you need. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PONTOON WILD
  • B.B. CUE : Pontoon Wild owner Mel will get your Lake Nacimiento tour cooking with food, wine, and whatever else you need.

Mel was introduced to this lifestyle thanks to her grandmother and great uncle, both of whom purchased property at Lake Nacimiento during the early 1970s. From learning to waterski at age 7 to acquiring her captain’s license in 2014, Mel has fully embraced all aspects of lake life.

“I’m definitely a Naci native,” she said.

Though this is the first summer that Pontoon Wild has started giving tours of the lake, the project has been about 4 1/2  years in the making. Mel was inspired to start the company not only because of her upbringing, but also because of her fascination with boat production, including types of engines.

“A couple of my friends started up something similar, and we were like, ‘There’s nothing like that on Lake Nacimiento!’” she said. “From there I moved on, seeing if it was realistic, if it was something I could actually do.”

At the time, Mel was working at a brand management company, but she knew that it wasn’t her calling.

“I’ve always been a tomboy,” she said. “I belong outside. It’s where my passion is.”

Mel loves to share this passion not only with her two sons but also, through Pontoon Wild, with the public as well. One of her favorite parts of taking people out on her 24-foot pontoon boat is being able to create that “exciting, relaxing” atmosphere for them, as well as educating them about various aspects of the lake, including its history.

“I love being able to be part of their happy time,” she said.

The Pontoon Wild experience isn’t just a typical lake tour, either. Each tour is a unique, private, group event that can include barbecued meals, meat and cheese platters, wine, fishing, and countless other enhancements.

“We do bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, birthdays, and it’s all customized,” Mel said. “Every tour is different. We do our best to put their vision to reality. It could be a surprise.”

One such bachelor party occurred during the recent Chimney Fire. They anchored the boat and watched the ash fall, stunned and emotional, all while grilling hot dogs.

“It was so surreal and really put a lot into perspective,” Mel said. “And of course just an abundance of appreciation for those firefighters. None of us had ever seen anything like that.”

Fortunately, the experience has not diminished Mel’s enjoyment of being on the water.

“I think any body of water puts out this energy,” she said. “That being out there makes you feel … ,” she paused for a moment here, as if searching for the right word, “… reset.”

The Pontoon Wild website is currently under construction, but if you are interested in booking a tour, you can contact Mel at 610-9096 or [email protected].

“It’s like the whole Central Coast is one big backyard, and hopefully Pontoon Wild will be a pushpin on that map,” she said.

Fast fact

Nominations opened Sept. 12 for Verdin’s third annual 24-Hour Give, an event in which a deserving nonprofit organization in the San Luis Obispo community receives a complete rebrand for free. With the support of community partners and sponsors, the Verdin team works around the clock to complete the rebrand in 24 consecutive hours. The event concludes with a big reveal in which the nonprofit recipient is presented with their new brand. The recipient is decided through a community nomination and voting process. Nominations will be open through Sept. 23. The 24-Hour Give will take place from Nov. 10 at 8 a.m. to Nov. 11 at 8 a.m. The combined estimated value of donated time, products, and services from Verdin and partners is over $80,000. To learn more, visit

New Times intern Katrina Borges wrote this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send story ideas to [email protected]. 

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