BEST TIME TO COMPLETE BOAT MAINTENANCE
Written by: Skellner
Pic by: Lowe Boats
As the weather cools and you begin donning jackets and hats, don’t forget about your boat. Winter is the perfect time to complete annual maintenance on your boat. Here are four reasons why:
You’re already not using it
In North Idaho, it can be downright miserable to be out on the water in the winter. With winds, snow and a lack of sun, it’s much more fun to indoors! So since you’re not planning on using your boat anyway, winter is a great time to have routine marine maintenance done!
It’s in storage
If you’re storing your boat in Hagadone Marine’s indoor storage facility (LINK:https://www.hagadonemarine.com/storage/ ), it’s easy for our staff to complete routine maintenance, all while ensuring the safety of your craft. And if you’re storing your boat with us, we’ll even pick it up in the fall and drop it off in the spring.
Be ready when the sun comes out
Don’t wait in lines or take extra time to change fluids, run a fuel check or look over pumps and gauges. Instead, get this kind of annual maintenance during the winter. You won’t be vying for limited spots at your service provider — you can bet at the first sign of sun, people will flock to service providers like Hagadone Marine to get their boat services. Instead, be ready on your own schedule. You never know when the first nice day will be!
Don’t neglect your investment
Don’t forget that your boat is a big investment. You probably spent a lot of time and energy to find the right boat — don’t let that all go to waste by not maintaining it! Winter is an easy time to get this done in North Idaho, and it’s a simple way tin ensure your boat stays in ship shape for as long as possible. This helps maintain the resale value as well!
For all your accessories and/or vinyl flooring visit Pontoon Depot's shop site.
Tritoon vs Pontoon: The Buyer’s Complete Comparison Guide
I was wandering around the lake one morning and there it was in all its glory.
The vessel looked different at a glance and then it hit me—this baby has three air tubes instead of two!
I watched it glide over the water as it passed me with great speed, and I thought, is this something I should upgrade to? Are three ‘toons really better than two?
I began doing some research of my own. There’s a lot to consider.
But first, let’s look at the specifics of both tritoons and pontoons, so we know what we’re comparing.
Tritoon vs Pontoon: The Buyer’s Complete Comparison Guide
What’s the Difference?
A pontoon (as you may or may not know) is a vessel that’s supported by two tubes of air that allow it to float on the surface of the water.
They vary in size range, from about 16 to 27 feet long on average (though there are even “mini toons,” which can be much smaller).
An average pontoon requires a motor of 25 horsepower minimum and carries 8 to 20 people. Both the speed and motor depend on the size of the boat, the typical load it will carry and the types of activities you will be doing.
A pontoon boat motor arguably does more work than a monohull boat because a pontoon has more to steer and it requires more power to be moved due to its shape.
It’s definitely true that the more people you will carry on a pontoon, the more power you’ll need. You’d rarely want an engine with as little horsepower as 25 because it would be veryslow going.
To give you an example, my pontoon is 18 feet long and we have a 60 horsepower motor. I’d say that’s pretty average for the type of activities we do—just cruising and fishing on a rather calm lake. We often cruise with lots of people and getting across the lake would take a lot more time if our motor was less powerful.
Most people underestimate the amount of power they will need for their pontoon boat. Take our friends, for example: They also have an 18-foot pontoon and decided on the 40 horsepower motor. But after three years, they upgraded to 50 horsepower because they too carry lots of people when they cruise and the 40 was just too slow.
An average pontoon costs around $20,000. They can cost less or a lot more, but that would be an average price point for a pontoon of average length.
A tritoon is a vessel that—you guessed it—is supported by three tubes of air instead of two. On average, they’re 22 feet to 30 feet in length and are able to carry 14 to 25 people.
In other words, tritoons are much bigger and, if you’re considering a tritoon, you may need to ask yourself if you plan on cruising with that many people. Do you really need the larger size? Is it worth it?
Water conditions are also a factor when deciding whether or not you need a tritoon—but more on this later.
The minimum requirements for a motor are 250 horsepower and can go up to 350. This is because, with a bigger boat and more people being carried, you need a stronger motor to power the boat efficiently.
The average cost of a tritoon is $35,000 but they can go much higher for luxury models. That’s a price difference of $15,000 when compared to the average pontoon. That, to me, is a lot of money.
So, is the extra money worth it? Looking at weather/water conditions, watersports, trailering/boat storage and fishing, I’ll compare the tritoon and the pontoon, weighing the pros and cons to help you determine which vessel will best suit your needs.
Tritoon vs Pontoon: Weather and Water Conditions
Like I mentioned above, a pontoon may be just right for me, since I love to fish and cruise around an average-sized lake.
A tritoon may be a good option for the ocean, or anywhere the waters are less calm. This is because the combination of the three air tubes and the faster engine allows you to cut through the choppy water more efficiently, with less bouncing around and a much smoother and more pleasant ride.
If you boat on a calmer lake, like I do, you may not require a tritoon and it may not be worth the money, unless you plan on doing water sports which require the extra power (see below).
That being said, there have been times on our lake where boat traffic is heavy and the water turns pretty choppy. This makes our pontoon bob up and down, and water often washes up on the deck, making it uncomfortable for us on board. I wonder if this would be different in a tritoon or a larger, sturdier pontoon.
Stability aside, a word of caution: The tritoon is known to have more difficulty with handling and steering, so it may be difficult when navigating smaller spaces, making tighter corners or docking. This could require some getting used to and some patience on the part of a new tritoon owner—especially if you’re used to a pontoon.
Tritoon vs Pontoon: Watersports
With the increased speed and the fast motor, a tritoon may be a better option for those who do a lot of water sports such as wakeboarding and waterskiing.
Like I mentioned before, the size of the tritoon and the handling may be a challenge when pulling a skier or wakeboarder in tighter areas. If new to the “tritooning world,” I would definitely advise taking your boat out for a test run without the skier first, to make sure you can handle the steering.
Although tritoons tend to have more powerful motors, watersports aren’t unheard of on a classic, two-tube pontoon either. They’d probably just require a motor of 70 horsepoweror greater, to give you the lift you need. You’d need an even higher horsepower motor when carrying a lot of people on board.
And yes!—With the right horsepower requirements, you can go waterskiing behind a pontoon boat (and get a good baseline for other watersports).
Tritoon vs Pontoon: Storage and Trailering
When we think about boating, sometimes we forget about trailering. Maybe it isn’t necessary for everyone, but I definitely love the option of taking my pontoon out of the water if I need to or taking the boat with me if I’m visiting another lake.
A larger trailer may be required for a tritoon, and a special braking system may be required of the trailer because of its size. This is definitely a must and something I wouldn’t recommend skipping for your safety and the safety of everyone on the road.
It’s also worth mentioning that, the bigger the boat, the bigger the boat launch needs to be. Sometimes this isn’t an issue at all but other times it may be more difficult to find a launch big enough to accommodate boats of larger sizes.
A larger boat also needs a larger storage space for the winter months if you live in a region with seasons. If you’re like me and you have many harsh winters ahead to protect your boat from, you’re going to need to think about the costs of storing your tritoon and consider the fact that it will require more space than the average pontoon.
Tritoon vs Pontoon: Fishing
If you’re an avid angler and you love fishing on a calm lake—and this is something you do fairly often—you’re probably going to stick with a pontoon.
As mentioned before, it’s more difficult for tritoons to get into tight spots. A trolling motor made for lakes may not have the power to pull a tritoon because they’re generally designed to move slowly and in shallow waters.
On the other hand, tritoons may be great for fishing in oceans and large lakes that have deep waters. The three ‘toons make them more stable for deep sea fishing, when the boat is at anchor, when other boats are driving by or when the wind is creating some turbulent waves.
That faster motor is also awesome for getting from one fishing spot to the next in bigger waters, which avoids wasting time traveling and allows for more time fishing!
And there are plenty of accessories for 'tooning' and fishing, like trolling motors.
Tritoon vs Pontoon: Final Notes
So there you have it! A pretty detailed comparison of tritoons vs. pontoons.
To recap: In choppier, deeper and bigger waters, a tritoon would be beneficial, especially if doing water sports or deep sea fishing in large bodies of water.
Although tritoons can offer benefits in these areas, there are powerful and bigger pontoons that may do the trick, so always compare prices and weigh the pros and cons before buying.
For all your accessories and/or vinyl flooring visit Pontoon Depot's shop site.
Pontoon Tiny House: Considerations Before Building
Intrigued by owning or building a pontoon tiny house?
They could be your answer to low-cost houseboat living. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Especially when you can’t afford bigger liveaboard boats, don’t like the idea of marina living or want something more customized than cheaper boat living options.
With the tiny house trend on the upswing, growing interest is spreading across the world. (Check out this pontoon tiny home video.) While they seem practical and break the cuteness scale, there’s a lot to consider before investing in one. So let’s weigh your options.
What’s a Pontoon Tiny House?
Pontoon tiny houses are custom homes designed to fit onto a pontoon base (tubes). You can enjoy all the comforts of home on the water, without the huge cost (and labor) of owning an enormous houseboat.
You can buy one pre-built or have one custom designed, which all depends on your budget, desired size and how you plan to use it.
Investing in a Pontoon Tiny House
You love this idea, and I’m right there with you! But, like me, you still have questions: Is it safe? Are there special rules and regulations involved?
And then there’s the biggest question of all: How much will it cost?
This guide can help you with all that. You can read on to find information on state law and permit guidelines, types of tiny houses to consider, costs, transportation, and more.
If you’re as intrigued as I am (mine’s already built in my head!), read this guide to get answers and maybe even get started.
Types of Pontoon Tiny Houses
How do you plan to use your pontoon tiny house? Will it be solely for recreational and entertaining purposes, or do you plan to use it for extended fishing trips? Or both? Either way, there are a few considerations to think about.
Pontoon Tiny Houses for Leisure
If you plan to use it for leisure and fun, consider these optional accessories and features:
- An ample deck for lounge chairs, tables, umbrellas, and accessories (think coolers and grills)
- Extra storage (for those fun accessories above!)
- A portable/hidden clothesline for drying clothes and towels
- Or you can go big and install a stacked washer and dryer, like this Kenmore 1.6 unit(check price on Amazon)
- Ample windows for lots of light
Pontoon Tiny Houses for Fishing
If you plan to use your pontoon tiny house for fishing, there are various pontoon fishing accessories. Some of which may take pre-planning and/or installation during the building process. Consider these accessories and features for a tiny house built for fishing:
- Large deck for fishing chairs, accessories and equipment
- Ask your builder/dealer about installing a trolling motor, like this Newport Vessels brand (check price on Amazon)
- Install a live baitwell or cleaning station, like this Keepalive Tank with aerator(check price on Amazon)
- Specially-installed railing for fishing rod holders
- Downrigger for trolling, like this Cannon Manual Downrigger (check price on Amazon) that comes in six types and sizes
For a better idea, look at these series of custom pontoon tiny homes by, Le Koroc, which come in two designs: Fishing Series and Holiday Series.
Additional Pontoon Tiny House Features and Ideas
Interested in a kit? Check out these clever pontoon tiny house kits and ideas.
Solar power is another option to consider: Check out this solar-powered pontoon tiny houseboat. It’s awesome!
All these options are features you might wanna think about, depending on your needs and plans. But you absolutely need to plan ahead to avoid later regrets.
Building and Customizing Pontoon Tiny Houses
Once you decide how you intend to use your pontoon tiny house and have chosen some of the features mentioned above, you’ll next need to consider these basic underlying features.
Will you float in freshwater or saltwater? Will the house be used year-round or only in summers? These are important considerations before building or buying.
Saltwater vs. Freshwater Materials
Water types are an important consideration.
Plan to sail your pontoon tiny house in oceans? Make sure it’s saltwater worthy. This includes all hardware, electrical connections, plumbing, and even motors, which can all be affected by saltwater brine. Since saltwater causes erosion, you need to ensure your pontoon tiny house is saltwater worthy throughout. To do so, here are a few must-haves:
Use maritime paint and maybe corrugated steel roofing (check price on Amazon) to withstand the elements.
You can even install solar panels for the roof (if there’s room in your budget). Yes, these cost more up front, but save you money in the long-run. Not to mention, it’s these small investments that help protect your bigger investment.
Discuss this with your builder or dealer. Before making the final payment, or signing any final documents, consider having your new tiny house inspected to be certain it’s saltwater worthy. This is crucial if you’re sailing year-round. Your boathouse baby will be exposed to the elements for longer periods, so plan ahead for this to avoid later problems.
How to Choose the Right Pontoon Base
Your pontoon base and tubes will be determined by your pontoon tiny house’s weight and length.
It will also be determined by your budget. Can you afford new tubes or used tubes?
Consider a used pontoon tubes age and condition. Older tubes need to be thoroughly inspected for holes, dents and drainage problems. Generally, also, how it currently floats.
If it fails the test in any of these areas, it’s a major safety issue. This is when you should consider buying new bases for better safety and security. (Not to mention the investment in the house you might’ve already built!)
How Many Tubes?
Two tube or three tube pontoon?
Ask your builder or dealer to determine this. An assessment of your needs, along with the house size and weight, can help the builder/dealer make this call.
And here’s a pre-fab float system to consider: Look at this Pontoonz Modular Float System, created in New Zealand. This is an innovative option you may wanna think about. (For cost, you’ll need to contact the dealer.)
Attaching Your Tiny House to Pontoon Tubes
One overlooked cost is the cost of setting your new pontoon tiny house onto its new base.
Locate someone local who can do it and is willing to do it. But make sure to:
1) Get a quote
2) Ask for proof of insurance
Avoid working with someone who isn’t familiar with this procedure. And especially avoid someone without proper insurance to cover your boat, just in case.
Find a reputable company or individual. It’s worth the hassle to be worry-free and you’ll sleep better, too!
Legal Questions and Guidelines
State Laws and Permits
Just like regular boating, houseboat laws and permits vary from state-to-state. Even in each country.
Certain bodies of water, such as lakes and reservoirs, frown upon houseboat living, regardless of it being a pontoon tiny house. Although smaller than some yacht-like houseboats, they’re still considered houses in the eyes of the law. So restrictions vary.
Before building or buying, check with governing state authorities to verify precisely what’s allowed and what permits are needed. If you can’t have your tiny pontoon houseboat in the closest, most-convenient waters, it may not be worth pursuing.
To check your local laws, here are two places to start:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — information on regulatory permits, and more, for each state.
- United States Coast Guard (USCG) — helpful information for each state.
Check these sites for your state information, then check with the governing offices to ask any additional questions.
Houseboat insurance, big and small, varies from state to state. (Not to mention from agency to agency.) But, you’re required to buy it.
Your costs will be determined by many factors, like size and investment.
If you’re unsure who to contact for insurance quotes, check with the United Marine Underwriters for advice.
Additional Building Costs
If you’re handy with DIY projects, build a pontoon tiny house yourself. It may help protect your wallet.
But whether you plan to hire a builder, buy a custom-designed tiny home or use a kit, there are additional costs to consider.
When planning a budget, you need to determine costs for many areas, not just basics.
As with any newly-built house, you’ll have these initial building costs: Foundation, walls, flooring, roof, heating and air. (These costs can vary greatly depending on what you choose.)
Then you’ll need to purchase appliances, such as sinks, a shower and a toilet.
And then there’s decorating: Paint, cabinets, hardware and mirrors.
You’ll need special furniture: Hidden bed/storage beds, chairs with storage and folding tables.
Then there are annual costs: Yearly maintenance, as well as fees, permits and storage costs.
Oh, and then there’s this…
Transporting Your Tiny House
You new tiny boathouse will need to be transported, whether it’s on the base yet or not. You’ll have to transport it to the base to be attached, and you’ll have to transport it to its final destination. (Geez… so much to think about!)
So, like I said before, locate a reputable company who can transport it for you, including a transportation quote and proof of insurance.
Then, you’ll need to transport it to either a storage facility, dock or it’s base to be attached.
And it’s best to keep that transport company in your contact list to transport your pontoon tiny house to a service provider for maintenance or repairs. (Hopefully not, but it’s best to plan.)
Transportation costs and fees can all add up, so get quotes first to include in your budget.
Inspecting Your Pontoon Tiny House
Just chock it up. You may not want to pay those few final inspection costs, but it could protect your investment. And even protect lives.
When having a tiny house built, you’ll need it inspected for proper building codes, laws and permits—just like a regular house. Don’t forget about saltwater compliance inspections, as I mentioned earlier. If you’re not doing the building yourself (or hiring it out), ask your dealer about the final inspections. Are they included? Who’s responsible for handling it?
Check the fine print in your contract. Once your tiny house leaves the dealer, you may have no recourse if proper codes haven’t been met.
Before transporting your tiny house, have it inspected to make sure it’s properly attached to the bases/tubes. If it isn’t, it can become damaged during transit. And you sure don’t want any problems on the water.
Inspecting Each Phase
A smart option is to pay licensed inspectors for each building phase up until the point of base attachment. Safety is never worth saving just a few pennies.
Storing Your Pontoon Tiny House
You might need tiny house storage, either temporarily or in the winter. So start your search to locate a storage facility who can (and will) safely store it.
Most likely, they’ll need the weight and size before providing a quote. Once you get a quote, ask for proof of insurance. (Yep. I’m a broken record, but you can’t forget!)
If you can’t locate a viable storage facility close by, you’ll need to consider transportation costs to a neighboring city for storage.
This is a big deal, because safe, secure storage can protect your investment and give you peace of mind.
Pontoon Tiny House Ownership
This is an awful lot to consider before building, or buying, a pontoon tiny house. But when you consider that it’s truly a house (even though it floats), there are many costs and considerations to think about.
Who knows? Thorough planning, research and a simple financial plan can guide you on your way to tiny houseboat living on your pontoon.
Won’t that all be worth it?
For all your accessories and/or vinyl flooring visit Pontoon Depot's shop site.
What Do You Know About Using Household Cleaners On A Boat?
Keeping your pontoon or deck boat in showroom-like condition usually isn’t accomplished by using your run-of-the-mill household cleaners. For example, did you know that common dish soap can eat into gelcoat, remove wax and polish, and bring on early aging and oxidization? That’s why Shurhold Industries offers a set of Clean-N-Simple Tips to ensure you don’t use a product that’s not safe for your boat.
Shurhold's marine-specific concentrated Brite Wash is safe to use anywhere on board and still cuts through dirt, grease and salt residue. There’s no need for re-waxing or cleaning away water spotting. Environmentally friendly, it's completely biodegradable and can be rinsed overboard.
Rather than using bleach, which is effective but quickly dulls gelcoat, changes vinyl color, degrades fabrics, and corrodes fittings (even stainless steel), SMC Spray is the bleach-free and environmentally friendly alternative that removes the toughest of stains and is safe to use on all surfaces.
Likewise, the ammonia in home glass cleaners can make isinglass, Plexiglas, plastic or touchscreen electronics material brittle. Shurhold's Serious Shine is a one-stop detailer that cleans, polishes and protects any surface commonly treated with glass cleaner or spray wax in one breezy step. UV inhibitors and anti-static and water-repelling properties makes it an ideal marine maintenance product.
A great companion to Serious Shine, Microfiber Towels are very absorbent and can gently lift away dirt, moisture, grease and stains without scratching delicate surfaces.
And when a strong restoration compound is needed, Shurhold's Buff Magic is designed to do the job well; formulated with jewelers rouge, it actually breaks down as it's being used, effectively becoming finer with use until it's a polishing agent. Thus, this product gently and thoroughly removes oxidation, stains, rust, and surface scratches.
And last but not least, the Pro Polish Wax is designed to seal the pores of fiberglass with a long-lasting UV- and water-resistant finish – and, as a bonus, leaving a deep shine behind.
Price ranges are as follows: a 32-ounce bottle of Shurhold's Brite Wash is $11.98; a 32-ounce spray bottle of SMC is $11.98; a 14-ounce aerosol can of Serious Shine is $17.98; a 3-pack variety of Microfiber Towels is $18.98; and a 16-ounce bottle of Pro Polish Wax is $22.98.