A hot summer day in a pontoon boat just might be a soothing way to spend leisure time with friends and family.
Pontoon boats have more space and more carrying capacity than any other boat in their category. Boating or purchasing a boat might be overwhelming for someone who has no experience — but knows that boating is fun and they need to get a boat.
Before you get confused, I’ve put together a checklist of things you need to know about pontoon boats in this guide. Read it gently.
A Pontoon boat is usually expensive
First of all, the obvious thing you will notice about a pontoon boat is the price. They are not cheap and you can expect prices ranging from $25,000 – 50,000.
They can get much more expensive as you add options or accessories to your boat.
These boats usually have costly spare parts and more maintenance expenses as compared to the other boat segments.
Deck size matters
The deck of a pontoon is quite different as compared to the tube length. The capacity and performance of the boat lie in the length of the tube, while the deck provides usable space to the individuals on board.
The selection of boat size is decided by the water body on which you’ll sail and the number of people you’ll transport.
If you need a boat suitable for a small, calm water body, then the ideal size is 16-19 feet. This size of boat can transport eight persons simultaneously.
It’s best suited for lakes and rivers. It would be a 20-23 feet boat that enables up to 13 passengers to comfortably use the boat. 23-27 feet boat is good for rough waters and accommodates up to 15 persons.
Match Outboard Engines to the Task
Pontoon boats are usually hard to drive faster. Thus, an outboard engine that has high torque in the low RPM ranges suits best.
If you want to engage in sporting activities, it would be better to consider a two-stroke engine. A two-stroke engine, well-known for greater torque at low RPM, together with 4-blade props will provide outstanding performance.
The Horsepower of the engine is also crucial to the level of comfort and/or thrill you want. If you are planning a family trip, then the best horsepower that suits will be between 115-150.
On the other hand, if you are setting out for rough waters or a sports competition then the higher horsepower would be a decisive factor. All is up to you where you really want to be.
Listed below is a chart that can help you to develop a basic understanding of the specifications:
- 50 HP ~13MPH
- 115HP = 25 MPH
- 150HP =35 MPH
- 200HP = 42MPH
- 250HP = 48 to 53 (depending on the model)
Pontoon Tube Size Matters
The greater the size, the diameter of the tube the more satisfying the experience will be. Pontoon boats get their buoyancy and speed from the pontoon itself.
The smallest diameter toons are the 23” pontoons and they have smaller tubes of about 20”.
Twin-toons and tri-toons generally have 24”-25” toons. However, the boats with the largest toon size of 26” are expensive.
There is a misconception that boats with 23” pontoons are inferior to boats with 25” pontoons. What we’ve found is that the heavier or bigger the boat, the bigger the pontoon diameter required.
Type of frame
You should consider the type of frame the boat has because as much as this feature shapes the boat, it also ensures your top-notch safety on the water.
A great bat has a strong but light frame, the one that won’t interfere with the equilibrium of the boat.
The frame of the boat is very important for many reasons.
The amount of quality the manufacturer has put into the frame can tell a lot about the boat’s durability. Therefore, a good frame is the first sign of value and reliability.
You should not overlook the frame of a pontoon boat. It is the most important factor to inspect as all the safety lies in the quality of the frame.
Comfort Amenities are Important
Make your boat more comfortable for your family and guests onboard. Pontoon boats have plenty of ways to make your outing more enjoyable by just considering a few key features of the boat.
Look for the marine-grade vinyl seating fabric which is more reliable in preventing the seat covers from fading, peeling, and cracking.
The availability of a changing curtain would make your guests happily wiggle out of wet bathing suits and get into dry outfits conveniently.
Plush carpets, pedestal tables, sinks, refrigerators, gas grills, and fixing a porta-potty can make your excursion more pleasant and relaxed.
However, the addition of amenities primarily depends on the model and size of the boat you hold.
Checking the quality of the boat
It is important to check the quality and reliability of all parts of your boat or your beautiful boat won’t stay beautiful as long as you thought.
Check out the carpets and fabric on your pontoon boat. Are these products of high grade? Do they hold a reliable warranty by the manufacturer?
Pontoon boats are very open and all parts are directly exposed to sunshine and water. Thus, it is more important to check whether the components will stand up against the harsh environmental conditions.
We suggest you inspect all places from inside the console to the material used for the deck.
The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) mandates a reboarding ladder for all kinds of boats especially recreational boats. The ladder should extend 22” below the waterline.
You need to grab a heavy-duty ladder; it would be easier for a large number of people to use it simultaneously.
There is a great difference in the reboarding ladder from one manufacturer to the other. Check it carefully before buying.
Seating configuration matters a lot. You need to consider the number of people to be carrying alongside, as well as their roles while onboard a pontoon recreational boat.
If you have teenage girls who want to sunbathe, grab a boat that has aft-facing lounges. Consider a large padded sun deck and a sound system for your favorite tunes.
Got some kids like fishing? Get the boat with a seating configuration feasible for fishing.
If you have to carry the maximum number of people, then get as much seating space as possible. Also, you need a boarding gate wide enough to board old salts or people with wheelchairs.
How to protect your boat
Mostly pontoon boats come equipped with a light fabric cover called a playpen cover. This cover protects your boat not only from rain getting into your boat, but also prevents the carpet from fading.
However, it is more important to note how much of the boat is really covered by your playpen cover. Make sure your playpen cover is sufficient to cover the complete circumference of the boat.
Make sure your playpen cover does its job.
Provision for Storing and Setting an Anchor
Usually, pontoon boat manufacturers make no provisions for anchor and a dedicated space to keep it. However, a typical boat should have one.
Having an anchor onboard not only prevents you from inconvenience but adds an in-waterboarding option to your boat. Truly, in-waterboarding is a fun experience — having no parallel.
Mostly, users take their pontoon boats from dock to dock, hence have no need to carry an anchor with them.
Can kids ski /tube/kneeboard behind our pontoon boat?
The approximate top speed of a 20-foot pontoon boat with a 50hp FourStroke is 15-18 mph.
This might be ideal for smaller children on a tube, but for older kids, the thrill may not be achieved with this horsepower.
Perhaps a 75hp or 90hp would be ideal if you want to pull your kids’ tubing or kneeboarding. The top speeds using these horsepower engines are approximately 22-25 mph.
Safety is a must
The law requires every person to have an appropriately fitting personal flotation device.
You also must have a fire extinguisher and visual distress signals such as flares or flags.
You’ll also want to keep a first-aid kit on board, an anchor, and a line so if your engine fails you can avoid drifting too far out.