Discover Boating | Buying A Pontoon Boat | Pontoon-Depot!!
By: Discover Boating
The pontoon boat has undergone quite an evolution in the past few decades, and what was once a simple boxy floating platform is now a luxury-laden pleasure-boat that can offer everything from a relaxing day on the lake to invigorating thrill rides. If you haven’t been on a modern pontoon you’ve got to step aboard one to believe just how amazingly advanced—and comfortable—the best pontoon boats have become.
Activities You'll Most Enjoy
Pontoon boats are loved in all corners of the nation because they can be used for so many different activities: watersports, swimming, day cruising, and of course just lounging about. There are fishing pontoon boats, performance pontoons with big outboard engines that will have you blasting across the lake or bay with the wind whipping in your hair, and luxury-oriented pontoons equipped with everything from a blender to a bathroom. There are big pontoon boats and small pontoon boats, you can get a pontoon trailer and explore far-flung waterways, and in all of these cases the options for what to do on your pontoon are essentially unlimited.
Perfect fishing platform
In some areas, you’ll discover that there are more fishing pontoon boats than other types of fishing boats. The reason why is simple: they are amazingly stable and comfortable, they hold large numbers of people, and they make an ideal fishing platform. Added bonus: modern fishing pontoon boats have all the angling accessories you need built right in, ranging from rod holders to aerated livewells to tackle boxes.
Used for skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding
If watersports are your thing, today’s pontoons won’t let you down. The best pontoon boats for skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding have tow-bits, storage lockers large enough to hold water skis or knee-boards, and swim platforms with large, stable ladders for climbing on and off the boat. They also have plenty of power and can give the kids a safe but spectacular thrill-ride. Even small pontoon boats usually have all the basics you need to enjoy watersports on some level.
”Party barge” to entertain family and friends
There’s a reason pontoon boats are often called party barges, and it’s quite simple: with oodles of deck space, excellent stability, and variable furniture arrangements, you can have a pontoon that’s just as ideal for relaxing as a lake-side patio. The one difference—and what makes a pontoon boat even better—is that you’re afloat instead of on land, and you can take the party wherever you’d like.
Pontoon Boat Brands
Explore brands to find more information on models and pricing.
Pontoon Boat Ownership Costs
Buying a modern pontoon boat can be just as expensive or as economical as you’d like, and there are pontoon boat prices that fit every budget. There are even some mini pontoon boats that cost far less than the most affordable new cars. When you research out the ownership cost of a specific pontoon boat, an important factor to figure in is storage or mooring costs, if you can’t keep it on a pontoon trailer at your house. Visit our Boat Loan Calculator to learn more about what fits with your budget.
You’re not likely to encounter maintenance costs on a new pontoon boat for several years, beyond basic care items like cleaning supplies. Its engine, however, will have a regular required maintenance plan. These vary from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer so to figure out just how much you’ll spend on items like oil and filter changes, you should refer to the manufacturer recommendations. Note that most pontoon boats on the market today and the engines that power them carry substantial warranties that should protect you from unexpected maintenance costs for years to come.
The main operational cost for a pontoon is fuel. Just how much you burn will depend on the size of the boat and engine, how often you use it, and how far you run it. You may also want to plan in insurance costs (see Insuring Your Boat for more information.
Of all the different boat types out there, pontoons have seen some of the biggest technological advancements in recent years. Today many boast touch-screens at the helm, and seats with space-age fabrics that are resistant to UV light, mold and mildew, and staining.
As pontoons have become more advanced they’ve also become better-equipped. You can find models with rather extreme stereo systems, fully-equipped wet bars, and even things like automatic sunshades that rise at the press of a button. In fact, if you look at the list of optional features on a high-end pontoon you’ll see that often goes on for pages and pages.
With Some Changes, Pontoon Boats Make a Comeback in The US!
Pic By: A pontoon boat at the Baltimore Boat Show at the Baltimore Convention Center (Kenneth K. Lam / The Baltimore Sun)
Written By: Baltimore Sun
Back this hitch up into the water, untie all the cables, and rope step onto the vinyl floor, and get yourself a coozie, Let's go….
Long before the pop-country group Little Big Town introduced its No. 1 hit, "Pontoon," pontooning has been a part of the boating community in the United States.
Its roots go back more than 60 years to a Minnesota farmer named Ambrose Weeres, who came up with the crazy idea of putting a wooden platform on two columns of welded steel barrels and spending his lazy summer afternoons fishing on a nearby lake.
But those no-frills pontoons, like Hula Hoops and Silly Putty, seemed to be a fading remnant from a simpler time.
Now, they're making a comeback with a few modern frills.
"It's exploded. Pontoons are selling much better than fiberglass boats," said Brian Schneider, whose Tradewinds Marina in Middle River has been selling pontoons for many years now.
In an industry that was struggling with a weak economy, pontoon boat sales now account for half of Schneider's income in boat sales.
Using the same Minnesota-based boat manufacturer that made the pontoon for Little Big Town's music video, as well as, for Kid Rock's video of the 2008 song "All Summer Long," Schneider said that popularity of pontoons is based largely around the fact "they're almost 100 percent usable space."
Who said anything about skiin'? Floatin' is all I wanna do, well you can climb the ladder just don't rock the boat while I barbeque…
Dan Naleppa of Salisbury is considering buying one of Schneider's pontoons after seeing them at the Baltimore Boat Show.
"It's like you're riding in your living room," Naleppa said while attending the show.
Certainly if your living room is stocked with plush couches and other accoutrements, though Naleppa said the 25-foot pontoon he is thinking about buying will not have a barbeque, minibar or some of the other amenities that seem to find their way on what many consider to be the best kind of party boats.
"They've come a long way," Naleppa said. "They're pretty roomy and they can go fast. I also like the fact that you can ride them year 'round, unlike some of the inboard-outboard motorboats I've had."
While a lot more high-tech than "The Empress" and the other boats that Weeres, who became known as "Mr. Pontoon," built en route to being inducted in Minnesota's Marina Hall of Fame, the modern pontoon industry has seen a revival in recent years. They're cheaper to make, easier to maintain, less than half the weight of comparably-sized fiberglass boats and more environmental-friendly because they typically need smaller engines.
"It seems like they're everywhere now," said Matt Finklestine, who sells pontoon boats in Lake Raystown, Pa. "Nothing is going to be a smoother ride than a pontoon boat because you don't ride on top of the water, you ride in the water. They're light, they're easier to trailer. The fiberglass chips don't break off and it makes it much easier to clean."
According to Finklestine, whose Full Performance Marine sells "everything from jet skis to 45-foot yachts," he has seen a resurgence in the past years. Finklestine said his 15-year-old company has gone from selling around two dozen aluminum pontoons in 2005 to five times that last year. The lakes around central Pennsylvania are among the most popular for pontoon boating.
"The difference between a pontoon and a regular boat is that with a pontoon, you have a lot more room. You can fit on twice as many people and you can pretty much cut the cost in half because they're very easy to make," Finklestine said at the Baltimore Convention Center, where a couple of his company's higher-end pontoons were on display and for sale during the Baltimore Boat Show.
Reach your hand down into the cooler, don't drink it if the mountains aren't blue, try to keep it steady as you recline on your black inner tube
The basic concept of the pontoon hasn't changed much since Weeres first introduced his boat, it's now a vinyl deck rather than wood attached to aluminum barrels, but pontoons have certainly been upgraded over the years to include everything like woven vinyl flooring for what essentially becomes the best under your feet feel, plus is slip resistant.
The size of the boats haven't changed (typically between 15 and 28 feet long) but they can be custom fit for whatever you need, fishing, cruising, skiing or racing.
The cost depends mostly on the size of the motor used, ranging from $15,000 to $80,000, according to industry experts. Pontoons can go as fast as 55 mph, but most are built to go a lot slower.
"The difference between a 50 horsepower and a 250 horsepower could be $20,000," said Finklestine, whose company typically sells pontoons with 90- to 115-horsepower motors. "A 28-foot fiberglass is more than $100,000, double what a pontoon costs."
Finklestine said pontoons are perfect for someone who "wants to fit a lot of people on the boat, wants some room for his kids to run around on and doesn't care about having the fastest boat on the lake."
Naleppa said he is looking forward to having his pontoon out on the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the Wicomico River and down to Ocean City this summer with family and friends, and was told that a 25-footer can comfortably seat around 10 and as many as 17, about double what can fit on a fiberglass motorboat.
Though mostly used on lakes, some pontoons have now become stable enough to operate on open bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay because of advanced technology. Schneider said he took "a gamble" bringing pontoons to local sailing aficionados who might be fearful that the pontoon would capsize in rougher seas.
Schneider said Premier Pontoons' development of a "PTX" center tube "lets the pontoon boats handle like a fiberglass boat." Though he doesn't recommend anything under a 20-footer on the Chesapeake Bay, "they're very stable, you've just got to get the bigger pontoons."
5 mile an hour with aluminum side wood panelin' with a water slide can't beat the heat, so let's take a ride on the pontoon makin' waves and catchin' rays up on the roof jumpin' out the back, don't act like you don't want to party in slow motion, I'm out here in the open Mmmmmmm...motorboatin' on the pontoon!
For all your accessories and/or vinyl flooring visit Pontoon Depot's shop site.
Should I Take a Pontoon Boat Offshore? Ask Sinclair Marina.
We have received a number of emails from BoatTEST.com members asking if it is advisable to take pontoon boats offshore or out into the Great Lakes.
Unfortunately, in their exuberance to sell boats, some boat dealers are telling customers that their boats are designed to go offshore, and we have seen one dealer’s videos that even quote a boating magazine to support this kind of usage.
Pontoons boats are designed for use in protected waters, where the sea state is such that the bow with its flat and wide deck forward will not bury itself in a wave. Simply put, pontoon boats were not designed to go offshore. However, this is not to say that there are not some times when they can venture out safely.
Pontoon Boat Caveat
Boat owners should never exceed the conditions for which a specific boat was designed. So, it is not the body of water that is so important, but rather the sea state.
On nice days, when the marine weather forecast calls for light zephyrs, pontoon boats are fine for venturing a few miles offshore on the Great Lakes or other large bodies of water. Keep in mind, conditions can change quickly. And remember, often the most difficult aspect of an offshore passage is running the inlet. Going out at slack tide may provide no difficulty, but coming in with a swift ebb or flow could be problematical and dangerous.
Low Freeboard is a Problem
In a light chop – say 1’ or so – a pontoon boat is more comfortable than any monohull for the simple reason that it has two or three narrow hulls slicing through the waves instead of one big, wide hull. But the pontoon boat’s weakness is its low freeboard and its wide foredeck. Those skinny hulls don’t have much dynamic lift or buoyancy to keep the pontoon foredeck above the waves when the wind starts blowing, in a confused sea state left over from a previous blow, or running an inlet with standing waves.
Pontoon Boats Are Vulnerable
So, if the waves are expected to be above 2’ or so high, stay in protected waters. Pontoon boats are especially vulnerable to stuffing the bow and being difficult to control running down-sea compared to a well-designed monohull with its greater freeboard forward. If a pontoon boat ships green water it can become difficult to handle, is easily susceptible to damage, and is vulnerable to capsizing despite its great initial stability. They are simply not intended for this kind of sea condition and to take one there is irresponsible.
The buoyancy of pontoon boats is limited by the size of their air chambers, which are two or three tube-shaped pontoons, and typically run from 24” to 28” in cross-section diameter. Obviously, the larger-diameter pontoon boats have more buoyancy. Tri-toons, with three longitudinal pontoons, are even more buoyant, which is why they can be used for towing sports at high speeds.
Pontoon boat owners must also realize that twin-toon platforms will rack in any kind of rough water condition. The athwartships structures between the pontoons are essentially designed to support the plywood deck, rather than to keep the pontoons in rigid position.
Captains Have Responsibilities
As with any boat, who you have onboard – and how many people – also determines seaworthiness. Fewer is better than more, physically fit are better than children or elderly. Remember, the reason to go boating is to have fun, and to keep the vessel’s passengers comfortable and safe.
While pontoon boats are very versatile, rougher seas are their biggest weakness and it’s important not to confuse the high form stability and smooth ride with rough-water capability.
For all your accessories and/or vinyl flooring visit Pontoon Depot's shop site.
Boating in the Winter Months | Pontoon-Depot
By: My Boat Life
If you are lucky enough to live in a warmer climate, boating in the winter is a common practice. But in more northern areas where boating is typically 6-8 months out of the year, there are few boaters that boat in the winter months. The ultimate boating die-hard is the boater that keeps their boat in the water year round – and may even be a live aboard!
Depending on your geographic area, boating in the winter months may not actually be “boating”. Keeping your boat in the water during the winter means docking at a marina that will provide protection from water freezing around your boat and will continue basic services for slip holders in the off season.
In northern areas, there are a lot of challenges associated with keeping your boat in the water during the winter. First, you’ll need to locate a marina that offers winter docking. Then you’ll want to make sure the marina offers bubblers and de-icers at the dock as well as snow removal on docks. Also make sure that they provide mobile pump-out and water tank refilling service throughout the winter (since you will likely not be able to cruise over to the pump-out facility and running water will likely be shut-off on the dock). Heating and cooling systems may need to be winterized so you’ll need to heat your boat with portable space heaters.
In other warmer climates, keeping your boat in the water year round has many advantages. Basically there is no off season for boating. You never feel obligated to go to the boat every weekend because you have many more weekends available to boat. When the weather is not so great, you can skip a weekend. And then when the weather is particularly nice you can head to the boat and enjoy a winter cruise.