Pontoon boats are used for recreational purposes as they have a large, flat deck space to cater to groups of people. They get the name from the structures called pontoons that they use to float which are usually filled foam but can also be hollow.
These pontoons structures are water-resistant and almost unsinkable, and you usually see two or more being used to keep a pontoon boat afloat. Pontoon boats with three pontoons are sometimes referred to as ‘tritoons’.
Using pontoons to keep the boat afloat allows for manufacturers to design many different deck layouts and add features that would be hard to find on other boats. They are made of aluminum, welded sheets which makes them less likely to tear, and if you do damage it, it is easy and cheap to fix.
The pontoon is the ultimate party boat as it can have sunbathing pads, stand-up bars, canopies, tow hooks for water sports, swimming ladders, and even slides to offer a fun way to get down from the second deck.
These boats used to be much slower, which was great for those who wanted to sunbathe or fish, but since they have become faster with a maximum speed of 31 mph, they have become more versatile and can even be used in watersports.
They have so much room on the desk space that you can even have a pull-up changing rooms right there for when you have had enough water skiing and want to get dry before enjoying a BBQ on the very same deck.
The pontoon boat is so stable that you can install all of these enrichments and they will not be at risk of falling over or causing damage but keep in mind that even on choppy seas, your boat will likely rock.
With all of this deck space, also comes plenty of storage space for ice coolers, blankets, and equipment that can stay out of sight until you need them.
How Wide Is A Pontoon Boat?
Pontoon boats can vary in size so that they can adapt to what you want to use it for. There are generally three different sizes of pontoon boats – small, mid-size, and large.
Other than the standard sizes, you can also get customized ones, they can reach 60 feet in width and are usually used for hosting parties and events.
Small pontoon boats generally are less than 20 feet in length and a width of around 8 feet. They have two pontoons with a diameter of around 25 inches each. Pontoon boats that are smaller than 7 feet wide or less are also known as mini pontoon boats.
Boats this size are usually used for navigating smaller waterways or fishing. Frameless pontoon boats are becoming more popular too which are powered by oars, paddles, and electric trolling motors.
You can get small inflatable pontoon boats that are designed to fit one or two people for the purpose of fishing or leisure. These boats may be small but they come with lots of useful features such as fishing rod holders, canopies, battery storage area, and a small anchor just to name a few.
You can easily inflate and deflate them and their frames can be assembled and taken apart in just minutes so you can spend more time on the water. Inflatable pontoon boats are also good options for wildlife photographers because the boat is easy to maneuver and is stable on the water.
However, because of their small size, they do not do as well with windy conditions or strong waves. Mid-size platoon boats are the standard and come at a length between 20 to 40 feet long with a width of 8 to 10 feet.
These boats can use two or three pontoons and can accommodate up to 18 people at a time which makes them a popular choice for sunbathing, partying, and for families.
If you are still looking for something larger, you could go with a large pontoon boat which is usually 12 feet wide and 31 feet long and can fit up to 26 people at a time. It is held afloat by 16-inch pontoons on the side and a big 42-inch pontoon in the center.
How To Choose The Right Pontoon Boat Size for You
There are different factors that you should take into consideration when you are looking to buy the right size of pontoon boat for you. Since they come in a lot of different sizes and can be customized you will need to do adequate research beforehand so that you do not run into any issues concerning the size of the boat down the road.
Keep in mind that manufacturers can measure their pontoon boat widths differently, such as measuring the tube width or the deck width. The tube width is relevant to the boats’ performance and power whereas the deck width is the amount of space you will have for people and storage.
On what bodies of water will you be using your boat? You will need to know this as each pontoon boat is designed to perform best in certain environments.
If you will be using the boat in small lakes then it does not have to be particularly sturdy against choppy waves or high winds, and a small pontoon boat is a viable option. However, if you are hoping to go long distances and travel on the open sea then you will need a pontoon boat that can handle those conditions.
Even if you are not looking to entertain and have lots of people on your boat, you should opt for a medium-sized pontoon boat that will be able to withstand the rougher waters.
A boat that has a width between 8.5 and 10 feet and a length between 23 and 28 feet is a good guideline to the sort of size to look for if you want a pontoon boat that can tolerate being thrown about a bit by the waves.
If you are still not sure what size to go for, you can get some professional guidance by working together with a boat designer or manufacturer, they will be able to build a customized boat that will fit your needs and you can use it with peace of mind that it will perform exactly as you need it to.
Caring For Your Pontoon Boat
It is advised that you should not leave your pontoon boat in the water during the winter months because it can lead to ice damaging the pontoons, and a build-up of algae and scum that will lead to expensive repair costs that could have been easily avoided in the first place.
To transport your boat from the water, it is best to use a bunk-style trailer as the pontoons can nestle into the bunks and stay secure for the duration of the journey. They can accommodate boats with two or three pontoon tubes and can even be used to transport more than one boat if it is long and wide enough.
To get the right size of trailer for your pontoon boat, you can find the carrying capacity information which refers to how much weight the trailer can hold on the VIN tag. To find out the accurate weight that your trailer will need to hold, you will need to add up the engine weight, dry weight, and the weight of a full tank of gas of your boat.
You should also consider the maximum weight that your vehicle can tow and check with the vehicle manufacturer to make sure. If you need to get your boat out of the water and you do not have a trailer, most marinas have a hoist system you can use but will have to pay a lot of money for.
Fortunately, there are some cheaper options though such as paying other people for the use of their boat trailer or creating your own DIY rolling skid or ramp.
This DIY option works best if there is an inline and beach and the only materials you will need are PVC piping and plywood sections, but you must be careful and have other people help you maneuver the boat as you can puncture the pontoons on sharp rocks.
If for example, you rented or borrowed a trailer to transport your pontoon boat but now are without one, you should know that you cannot store your pontoon boat grounded on land.
You may be able to do this with an ordinary boat but with pontoon boats, the deck can twist, and warp and pontoons can puncture as well as be home to thousands of nesting insects. All these detrimental issues can be avoided by putting into practice different ways of storing your boat.
Firstly, a cheap and easy option is to use pontoon boat storage blocks, which are easy to get a hold of from the internet or hardware stores. When you use these storage blocks, make sure to keep the weight of the boat spread evenly over them, and prepare it for winter (winterize).
There are options other than storage blocks that will keep your pontoon boat in good condition when you store it such as renting dry or covered storage at the dock.
Preparing For Winter
To winterize a pontoon boat, you need to clean it thoroughly inside and outside and apply polish that will protect the boat against dirt and rust. When you have cleaned your boat, wait until it has dried completely before storing otherwise you may find mildew in your carpet and vinyl when you uncover it in spring.
The moisture from equipment in the boat can also cause mildew so it is best to remove it entirely to be stored indoors. Next, you should prepare your engine as it will be sitting unused for a while.
This step includes removing the spark plugs and replacing them without connecting the wires and applying fogging oil. Fill the tank with gas so that it is at least three-quarters full and replace the oil and oil filters. Drain the coolant from the engine and replace it with propylene-based antifreeze.
Finally, you can cover up the boat. It is important to use a cover that is the correct size as it works best with being taught enough to stop rain and snow from resting on the cover in pools.
Instead of using a cover, you can shrink-wrap the boat instead which offers the best defense against moisture and will stay on your boat through thick and thin. If you have the correct tools and knowledge, you can do this yourself but for peace of mind, it can be left to a professional.