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Quick Tips for the New Captain | Pontoon-Depot

Quick Tips for the New Captain | Pontoon-Depot

Drive a pontoon boat like a boss:

  • Leave the dock being aware and in a controlled manner.

  • Point the drive unit first, and then shift.

  • Use a short applications of power, re-direct the drive, then use another. Repeat as necessary.

  • Now in open water, make sure the engine is trimmed down to mitigate bow rise.

  • Apply power smoothly and slowly.

  • Watch for the bow to level out as the boat breaks onto plane.

  • Changing direction, always “check your six” first.

  • Try avoiding sudden turns, avoid making them too sharp or abrupt.

Now that you’re zooming across the water, you may want to change direction—either just for fun, or to follow the shoreline. Always “check your six” first. There are no lanes on the water, and you never know when another boat will be overtaking from astern, will change its course without warning, or will even turn into your path.

Every boat is different, but as a general rule of thumb pontoon boats tend to stay flat or bank out, unlike the inward bank of a V-hull. (The exception is high-performance tri-toons, which are sometimes designed with the center pontoon lower, causing the boat to bank inward.) Remember that sudden turns can send coolers, gear, or even people sliding across the deck, so try to avoid making them too sharp or abrupt. And again, warn your passengers about any intended course change that might throw them off balance.

If you make a relatively sharp turn and suddenly hear that propeller howling, or notice a dramatic loss of speed, you’ve just experienced “blowing out” the propeller. It’s gasping air instead of grabbing water, and this situation is resolved by either trimming the engine down a bit or backing off on the turn.

What about flipping or rolling the boat? Is this a danger when you go into a turn? Probably not. Most modern pontoon boats are amazingly stable and properly powered, and the chances of flipping one over are remote at best. But any boat does inherently become less stable when turning, and depending on sea conditions, speed, and weight distribution, the possibility can’t be ruled out—particularly with fast, high-powered performance pontoon boats. So if you ever go the least bit beyond your comfort level, simply reduce your speed and the tightness of the turn.

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  • Scott Reynolds