Pontoon boats have been cruising around in freshwater since the early 1960s. If you're new to the boating world, you may not have heard the word pontoon all that often. Pontoon boats have become increasingly popular because they are fun, versatile vessels that can serve a variety of purposes.
Here is a guide to these wonderful boats and all the ways they can be used out on the water.
One of the first things you'll notice about a pontoon is how much different it looks from other types of boats. So what sets a pontoon boat apart from other vessels?
What Are Pontoon Boats?
A pontoon boat gets its name from the buoyant airtight tubes that are mounted beneath the large, flat deck. Most pontoon boats have two of these tubes, but some have three. These are sometimes referred to as “tri-toons.”
Why Should You Buy a Pontoon?
There are many benefits of owning a pontoon boat. The large deck has lots of comfortable seating options with plenty of space to move around, making it ideal for day trips on the water. They can even be retrofitted to be wheelchair accessible.
Due to the buoyant tubes, a pontoon boat sits on the water and offers a smoother ride. They are also much more stable than other types of boats, which makes them much safer for families with kids.
To the untrained eye, most pontoon boats will look essentially the same. However, the fine details and accessories will differ depending on the primary function of the boat.
Pontoons may be best known for being “party barges.” The large deck can hold a big group of people with plenty of seating.
To assist in the floating festivities, these boats can be equipped with extras like wet bars, built-in refrigerators, and grills. You can party all day, anchor, and party all night on one of these boats in comfort and style.
One of the best things about pontoon boats is how adaptable it is to suit your needs. In order to turn a regular pontoon into one made especially for fishing, you only need to remove some of the seating and trade it out for swiveling fishing chairs, live wells, and tackle storage. There is also ample space to store extra fishing rods.
Fishing pontoons can also come equipped with special fish-hunting technology as well as rail-mounted fishing rod holders. These special touches will turn your pontoon into a fisherman's paradise. Just make sure you have the appropriate fishing licenses before you cast your line.
It used to be that pontoons were only for taking a leisurely cruise around the lake. They were designed with families in mind, so they weren't known for going very fast. With updates to design and building materials, these boats can now support more outboard engines, which means increased power and speed.
The design of these vessels makes them perfectly suited for water sports like skiing and tubing. They can also be fitted with slides for more fun in the water. Read up on your state's boating laws before you plan your day.
If you just want to sit and relax, there is a pontoon style for you, too. High-end stereo systems and speakers, cushioned daybeds, and even TVs take the pontoon boating experience to a whole new level.
The best part about these deluxe accommodations is that they can still be used for fishing, gathering, or sitting back and enjoying the view.
Cost of Ownership
Outside of the initial purchase, there are other things that add to the cost of a pontoon boat. You'll want to take a look at all of these costs when you put together your initial budget before buying a pontoon.
How Much Are Pontoon Boats?
Depending on the bells and whistles you add on, a pontoon can cost anywhere between $30,000-$60,000. You may be able to find boats a little lower than that by selecting fewer extras or even purchasing one that has been pre-owned.
With a pre-owned pontoon, you have no control over how it is outfitted. There are plenty of add-ons available to you even if you purchase one that is not brand new.
Unless you live directly by the water, one cost you will need to consider is storing your boat. There are many options available, so the one that works best for you will depend on where you live and how often you plan to take your boat out on the water. You can choose to store it in the water or at a separate storage facility that offers indoor and outdoor storage options.
Care and Maintenance
Beyond the cost of buying the boat, there are things you will need to buy to keep your investment running and looking like new. A pontoon is actually one of the easiest boats to maintain, so the costs of caring for one may not be as much as with other types of boats. Special cleaning supplies and engine servicing will protect your boat but will also add to the expense of owning it.
Using the boat will add to the cost as well. You will need to keep the gas tank filled so you can get out on the water.
If you plan to really trick out your boat with lots of fun extras, these can add to the cost of your boat. Grills, inflatable slides, and LED lighting can add to the unique charm and experience of your boat. Watch out though, going overboard on these accessories can really drain your wallet.
Tech and Features of Pontoon Boats
In addition to the built-in fridge and thumping stereo system, there are other pontoon boat features that will make your time on the water even better. Knowing the ins and outs of the features can also help when figuring out how to buy a pontoon boat.
The biggest key to having fun out on the water is sun protection. Bimini tops come standard or as an option on most pontoon boats, and many of them are powered.
Choosing the right materials for the floor can also enhance your boating experience. Some pontoon boats come with a carpeted floor, but you may want to consider vinyl flooring since it's much easier to keep clean.
There is also technology behind the pontoons themselves. The larger the diameter of the tube, the more weight it can hold. This means increased seating capacity and more storage for your boat.
Two pontoons are great, but three make for an even more stable ride. Tri-toons can also hold more outboard engines and therefore have more horsepower and speed. If you're looking for the maximum amount of speed, the tri-toon is the way to go.
Ready to Go?
Pontoon boats are a popular water vessel because they offer a wide variety of uses. These boats can be used for swimming, lounging, fishing, and just all around having a good time.
For more helpful articles about all things boating, check out the rest of our website. No matter whether you're new to boating or a seasoned veteran, we have tips and resources to help you have the best time possible out on the water!