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Bargain Pontoon Boat Wraps Not Always A Bargain

Bargain Pontoon Boat Wraps Not Always A Bargain

Does taking shortcuts for winter storage pay off?

By: Dan Armitage

As many of my fellow pontoon boat club members readied their craft for the off-season, I grew intrigued by the DIY, alternative and after-market solutions some came up with for protecting their boats and related gear. Some of these non-traditional apps are put into use by my resourceful fellow boaters during the boating season as well, and are of value for those lucky pontoon boaters south of the Mason-Dixon Line who don’t know the meaning of “off” season and may enjoy their craft year-round.

For example, you will find covers intended for back yard use on chaise lounges and Adirondack chairs protecting the furniture of some members’ boats. The patio furniture covers are less expensive than semi-custom covers designed for the job, wear well under typical conditions, and the fact that the generic one-size-fits-all covers don’t fit all that tight allows air to circulate and the upholstery to breathe a bit, which can help prevent mildew in the damp environs the boats are subject to. And when conditions aren’t typical, and a loose-fitting captain’s (aka: Adirondack) chair cover goes gone with the wind, it’s less expensive to replace.

If you’ve run across any non-traditional uses for items aboard a pontoon —or any other watercraft – we’d like to see ‘em. Meanwhile, here are a few I stumbled across during a recent late-season walk around the local pontoon boat club – and one photo I snapped last winter that reminded me that going with cost cutting alternatives may not be the bargain you, well, bargained on…

A Zip-Lock bag provides protection from the elements for an exposed fish-finder while this pontoon boat is docked between trips.

This pontooner garbage-bags the head of his bow-mounted electric motor to protect it from rain and the damaging UV rays of the sun.

Another follower of the Glad Bag protection school covers his helm-mounted sonar.

A garden hose rack makes a fine anchor line reel for this free-thinking ‘tooner.

Protective boat covers are one instance when a custom made top is hard to beat compared with the qualities of common “blue tarp” alternative. Comparing the two in the face of even a minor snow load, it’s easy to see what’s going to transpire aboard the boat on the right as the icy stuff melts. Meanwhile, the factory top custom-fit to the boat on the left does a better job of shedding the wet stuff before it can do any damage.

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12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat

By: Boat Test

First and foremost, a pontoon boat is about having plenty of seating space.

Pontoon boats have been among the most popular models for the past few years and there are no signs of that trend slowing down. Manufacturers are listening to consumer requests for more performance, more styling and more luxury. Regardless of whether a family is looking for a boat to putt around the lake at sunset or a do-everything model that can run fast enough to surprise some bowriders and tow watersports, there are some features that we would want in any pontoon boat.

1. Match Boat Size to Number of Guests

A smart captain knows how many people he’s going to have aboard. As boats increase in size, their passenger capacity usually goes up. For example, Sun Tracker’s Party Barge 18 DLX is 20’ long and it is rated for nine people. Step up 2’ and the passenger capacity goes up by one. In other words, it’s a good idea for a captain to know how many passengers he’s planning to have on board before deciding on a size. Most boats have a capacity plate. Check it to verify a boat’s passenger capacity. Do not exceed it.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat capacity

A capacity plate is the best way to know how many passengers a boat can hold.

2. Seating Configuration

Not only should an owner know how many people he’s going to be carrying, he needs to know what his passengers want to do when they’re on board. If maximum numbers are the priority, get as much seating space as possible. If the family is made up of teenage girls who like to sunbathe, get a boat like the Regency 220 LE3 that has aft-facing chaise-style lounges. Got some kids who like to fish? Get a fishing package that has two fighting chairs up front.

What grade of captain’s chair is required? They vary wildly from the basic to the super luxurious.

Where to put the wheel chair? Pontoon boats are idea for old salts, but you will need a gate wide enough to get them aboard and then once aboard a place to lock them in place.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat aft lounges

Sunbathers would love the aft-facing lounges on the Regency 220 LE3.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat layout

Shown here is the bow of the Sun Tracker Fishin’ Barge 22 DLX, complete with fishing chairs, rod racks and a trolling motor.

 12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat floor plan

This is a pretty conventional floorplan layout for a pontoon boat with the focus on providing as much seating capacity as possible.

3. Raised Helm

A captain needs to be able to see over the passengers sitting in front of him, so we prefer boats with a raised helm like the one found on the Regency 220 LE3 Sport. The captain’s chair mounts to the elevated fiberglass console, putting the driver in a position that gives him better all-around visibility.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat helm

This helm station is raised 3” off the deck, which puts the driver in a better position to see over the people seated on the lounge ahead of him.

4. Boarding Gates

Pontoon boats are about convenience and one of their most attractive attributes is that they are easy to board. Most have a minimum of three gates, bow, stern and port ( or starboard) side. Additionally, you should also make sure that side boarding gates are wide enough (32”) to accommodate a wheelchair.

Gate latches can be easy or somewhat difficult to operate. Make sure you like the device on the boat you buy.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat side gate closed

Side gates make it easy to board from the dock and should be at least 32” wide to accommodate a wheelchair.

5. Bow Deck

It is surprising how many pontoon boats are on the market that have no bow deck. That is to say that the fencing or superstructure goes right up to the bow so there is no deck upon which to walk to tie-up or to set an anchor. Obviously this has been done to maximize seating space and keep costs down. That is a trade-off we don’t recommend. Every boat needs a bow deck, and 12” in the minimum fore and aft for this purpose.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat bow deck

A small platform on the bow makes it much easier to board a pontoon and to work with docklines. The deck seen here is minimum size we recommend.

6. Provision for Storing and Setting an Anchor

Every boat should have an anchor and a dedicated place to keep it. That includes pontoon boats. Yet, virtually no pontoon boat builder makes provision for one. Obviously, one reason for this is that most users take their pontoon boats from dock to dock, or from the launch ramp, back to the launch ramp -- and don’t anchor out much.

Required for Safety. Nevertheless, there are times -- even on protected lakes when going from marina to marina -- when an anchor might be a required item of safety equipment. What if the engine fails and the boat is being blown onto a rocky shore, a marina, or the toward a dam on a water reservoir? What if the boat is being used in a river, the engine has failed, and the current is strong? The times when an anchor is a necessity are too numerous to mention.

Further, there is no boating pleasure quite so fine as anchoring in a cove for lunch, or anchoring for sundown cocktails with family and friends. How do you do that without an anchor?

We recommend that the forward, portside seat locker be used as the dedicated anchor locker. Be careful to keep the rode coiled properly and not tangles with the anchor. Most pontoon boats have small cleats for mooring lines on the two corners of the bow, and they will have to do, as we almost never see a proper anchor cleat on the bow centerline. We would like to see a stout pull-up cleat for this purpose. Alternatively, a bridle using the port and starboard cleats will probably work best.

7. Re-Boarding Ladder

The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) guidelines call for a re-boarding ladders on all boats to extend 22” below the waterline. So that is the minimum requirement. Additionally, we’ve seen ladders made from sturdier material and larger stanchions with heavier-duty grabrails. Not everyone is an agile 150-pound teenager and having a heavy-duty ladder makes it easier for a larger number of people to use it.

There is a great difference in the ladder and re-boarding apparatus from one boat builder to the next. Check them out before buying.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat ladder

This is a good example of the heavy-duty re-boarding ladders that more pontoon manufacturers are using. Notice the thick handrails that will be easy to grab and will support a large person.

8. 2 Pontoons or 3?

Recreational Pontoon boats had just two pontoons in the beginning, but 20 years or so ago builders started introducing tri-toons. Tri-toons cost more but they have many advantages when it comes to load capacity and speed.

Twin pontoon boats rarely can plane and generally are design for slower displacement speeds. They are fine for cruising around the lake at sedate speeds, and to provide a stable platform for swimming and entertaining. Putting large engines on a twin-toon boat will make it go marginally faster, but generally it will not provide satisfactory performance for towing sports.

Tri-toons, if properly powered and propped, can go as fast as most sport boats and can get on plane fast. These boats make good platforms for towing ports, but don’t expect them to make big wakes for wake boarding. However, they are fine for waterskiing and tubing.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat tubes

This Sun Tracker tri-toon has multi-chambers. Note that the diameter of the toons is 26” and the center toon has a flat “pad” on the aft section of the center toon. This will aid planing and provides an ideal well for the outboard.

9. Match Outboard Engines to the Task

Twin toon boats require little power, depending on the load and the speed required. Out board engines of 50 or 60-hp can generally push an 18’ to 20’ twin toon at 15 or 16 mph. That about as fast as they will go and putting a larger engine on and winding it up will make the boat go a little faster, but it will do little more.

For those who want to go fast or tow skiers and tubers, we recommend a tri-toon with a 150-hp outboard or larger. Larger tri-toons can easily handle 300-hp engines and some models now handle two large outboards, and we have even tested a 32’ tri toon with three large outboard engines.

High-Torque Matters. All pontoon boats are hard to get moving fast and this fact places a premium on outboard engines that have high torque in the low RPM ranges. Owners who want to engage in towing sports would do well to consider 2-stroke engines or ones with superchargers. Both are well-known for creating greater torque at the low end. That, together with 4-blade props will probably provide the best performance for nearly any pontoon boat application.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat engine

This 2-stroke Evinrude E-TEC 250-hp outboard engine pushed the 25’ tri-toon pictured here at over 46 mph. It went 0- to 30 mph in 6 seconds.

10. Pontoon Tube Size Matters

Pontoon boats obviously get their buoyance from the pontoons, and the greater their diameter generally the more satisfying the experience. 23” pontoons are about the smallest diameter toons we see and they are generally on smaller tunes, those under 20’. More typically we see 24”-25” pontoons on both twin-toon and tri-toon vessels. Occasionally, on some of the more expensive boats we will see 26” toons.

In some tri-toon models the center toon is of a greater diameter. This aids in turning with a slight lean inward, as well as giving the boat the buoyancy it needs to go fast.

The greater the size of the diameter of the pontoon the more stable the boat will be and the faster it will go. All toons should have 3 or 4 air-tight chambers. This not only give the tubes more integrity but also provides a measure of safety should a chamber be punctured.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat diameter

This Sun Tracker has a 24” pontoon diameter. Note how it rides with four adults and one child aboard.

11. Bimini Tops Are a “Must Have”

Virtually all pontoon boats have a Bimini top available either as standard or as an option. They are important to the guests’ comfort and we recommend getting the biggest ones available. Look for one that is easy to deploy. Some boats even have power Bimini tops. Make sure you operate the Bimini before buying as some can be aggravating to set and put in their boot when it is time to call it a day.

All boats should have canvas to protect the upholstery from UV degradation to say nothing of the soot and grit that might be in the air. Those living near highways will be familiar with the light rain of tire rubber and unburned diesel carbon that settles on everything. While a playpen-style full cover might seem like a good idea (they are certainly the cheapest), individual seat covers are much easier to deal with. Unless a boat is stored in an area where the deck can get covered in leaves or pine needles, go with seat covers.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat bimini

This Bimini top provides some protection but consider the optional Bimini extensions that some builders offer.Individual seat covers are easy to handle and stow.

Individual seat covers are easy to handle and stow.

12. Comfort Amenities are Important

Consider your family and guests and ask yourself how they can et the most enjoyment out of the boat you plan to buy. Heading our list of welcome amenities is the changing curtain so that guests can wiggle out of wet bathing suits and get into dry cloths. Most builders make these available as an option, if not standard. Also, a porta-potti can be fitted in some of them, but not all.

Other convenience items worth mentioning are portable cub holders that sit on the seats and pedestal tables. Generally the pedestal tables are small and are limited to drings and snacks. Those wanting to serve dinner al fresco will need to find a boat with a proper table, and long with a grill.

These days builders of pontoon boats are providing more and more amenities. Sinks, running water, refrigerators, gas grills and more are available in the premium-level pontoon boats.

12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat cup holders
These cup holders that can be moved anywhere on the boat and come in quite handy.
12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat aft table

  A table adds to any boat’s versatility. On most pontoons there are receptacles fore and aft for a table.

 12 Important Things to Look for in a Pontoon Boat changing curtain

Coveted for the privacy it provides, a pop-up changing curtain is often a welcome feature on a pontoon boat. Some are large enough for a porta-pottie.

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The unsinkable pontoon market | Pontoon Depot

The unsinkable pontoon market | Pontoon Depot

‘Tricked out’ and beefed up, the versatile, stable and affordable family boats continue to set the pace in sales


The pontoon segment continues to make big gains year over year as builders add power to the boats, broaden dealer networks, add options for saltwater markets and continue to attract entry-level boaters.

The segment’s popularity also seems to be growing among grandparents, who are trying to draw adult kids and young grandkids to on-the-water gatherings. And sales data show that pontoon owners own second boats or personal watercraft at higher rates than those in many other segments, using the boat as a mother ship for gatherings — similar to what a yacht owner might do, but on a much more manageable budget.

The versatility of the boats also continues to be a huge selling point, as higher-horsepower outboards give families the ability to day-boat, fish, pull tubes or skiers and add other toys, such as floats and slides, to create water playgrounds.

“This has been the fastest-growing segment over the past decade and the only segment that has exceeded pre-recessionary levels,” says Jack Ellis, founder and managing director of Info-Link Technologies, the Miami company that tracks boat registrations. “Everyone has jumped in and started making pontoons, and they’ve done a better job of appealing to a younger audience. The things they put on those boats are extraordinary: dual and triple engines, bars, barbecues — I wouldn’t be surprised to see a satellite dome, like you see on large yachts. They just get more and more tricked out.”

Of the 250,000 new boats sold last year, new pontoons were the second-highest-selling category, with 48,564 sold in 2016 — a 9.4 percent increase from a strong 2015, according to data from Statistical Surveys Inc., another company that tracks boat sales. The only category ahead was the expansive outboard fiberglass boat segment, which captures data on boats from 11 to 50 feet (50,087).

This year pontoons had a particularly strong April as sales rose 11.2 percent, to 3,236; in May, pontoon sales rose 7.5 percent from the previous year, to 4,741.

“Those pontoons just continue to go up,” says Ryan Kloppe, sales director at Michigan-based Statistical Surveys. “We were up over 45,000 units last year, and we’re going to be above that this year.”

Pontoon devotees say there’s no better way to get the whole family out on the water for a day of fun.

The mother ship

Fort Myers, Fla.-based Juli Kern and her husband, Kevin, are lapsed PWC owners — “We sold them as soon as I got pregnant because we knew we wanted to have a boat with a baby” — and bought a Sea Ray 185 Sport, Juli says. Eight years and two kids later, they traded the Sea Ray in for a 25-foot Bennington tritoon 2575 with a 300-hp MerCruiser 350 sterndrive. That was in 2014 and they haven’t looked back.

“Pontoons are like floating living rooms, and down here everybody wants to have the convenience of that and be on the water,” Kern says. “Kevin wanted a fast boat. I wanted the pontoon because it’s easier for the kids and the dog and all their stuff. It also can pull up closer to the beach so we don’t have to wade through the water to get to the beach.”

The Kerns also scuba-dive and tube, so the pontoon is perfect for holding their gear, as well as getting in and out of the water without tripping over each other, she says. It has storage for chairs, floats, noodles, snorkel gear, sand toys for the couple’s 9- and 10-year-olds, towels and umbrellas.

“It’s the mother ship, for sure,” Kern says. “We have a couch tube, as well, that I love because it doesn’t flip over and the kids can relax and have fun, rather than hang on for their lives.”

The Kerns used to go out with their next-door neighbors and their two PWC, but the neighbors — also in their early 40s with school-age kids — loved the Kerns’ boat so much, they sold the PWC and bought a pontoon instead, Kern says.

Second boats and toys

Still, more than 40 percent of pontoon owners own another boat or PWC, Ellis says, with 15 percent owning one or more PWC, 10 percent owning freshwater fishing boats, 9 percent owning jonboats and 10 percent also owning fiberglass runabouts (roughly three-quarters of those are tow boats).

“We ran a similar evaluation on multi-boat ownership among all boat owners, not just pontoon, and confirmed that secondary boat ownership among pontoon boat owners is definitely higher than average — but not extraordinarily so,” Ellis says. “As you might guess, large cruiser and yacht owners have an even higher incidence of multi-boat ownership — the second boat is often a tender — but I don’t think this detracts from the fact that pontoons often serve as mother ships, not unlike a yacht.”

It’s not uncommon for boat owners to have a second boat, says National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich. “It’s interesting that pontoon boat owners have a second boat at a higher rate than others, but I think it’s fairly common for boat owners to have a second boat.”

There are 11.5 million registered boats and 8.5 million households that own a boat, Dammrich says, meaning, on average, there are 1.5 to two boats per boat-owning household.

Ellis wonders whether pontoon dealers are taking advantage of the fact that many pontoon owners also own either another boat or PWC, and typically, a slew of inflatables and other toys. “We refer to the pontoon sometimes as the mother ship,” says Ellis, who has watched the trend during the past couple of years.

“These are arguably higher-value customers for the boating industry because ... typically they are buying other boats to go with it,” he says.

People aren’t generally coming in to buy two boats from Sun Tracker and Regency pontoon dealer Grand Pointe Marina in Lansing, Mich., says owner Chris Stevens. “But do they have an older boat? Yeah, some do. For the people who have a cottage, everybody has a pontoon. It’s nice, relaxing, stable, there’s a lot of walking-around room, it’s wheelchair-accessible and good for families with young kids. It’s like a playpen in there. Everybody feels safe. The gates are two to three feet high, so there’s no fear of accidents.”

The pontoon appeals to many because it is “the big gathering area where people can jump on jets or fishing boats, but a pontoon is kind of the compromise to do everything. It can’t do one specialized thing super-well,” says Jason Westre, who also sells Sun Tracker in St. Cloud, Minn., at Westre’s Marine and Sport, as well as Regency and South Bay. “A jet ski or fishing boat is more purpose-built. A pontoon is a general way to get onto the water, and then, if someone in the family’s interests are fishing or skiing, they buy a second boat to fill that gap.”

Westre Marine doesn’t sell personal watercraft — “so I probably wouldn’t be the best person for that information. There are definitely people who still keep their fishing boat and add a pontoon to what they have,” he says.

Westre says he’d love an opportunity to sell PWC to his customers, but the PWC manufacturers often tap their motorcycle or ATV dealers to sell those. “Jet skis are a lot closer to a boat than a motorcycle, but people who manufacture them are power sports companies, and naturally they want to keep that business in their dealer network.”

Sun Tracker offers its pontoons standard with limited options, helping the company keep up with demand, and that gives Grand Pointe Marina an advantage, Stevens says. That also means his buyers are often drawn to the affordability factor. But “there’s a ton of aftermarket stuff we can put on,” Stevens says. “I would say that Tracker carries the best price point in the business. Their main concern is affordability and getting on the water, and after they’ve had the boat for a bit, they start adding some accessories. Grills, and a lot of tow sport stuff they’ll add afterward.”


 Kevin Kern is shown aboard his Bennington tritoon with daughter Kayli, 9, and son Dayton, 11.

Appealing to all ages

The platform appeals to a variety of ages because it’s easy to use, easy to move around in and is safe — exactly what the Kerns were looking for. “It’s more the entry-level boaters and younger people looking at smaller pontoons, as well as the tritoons,” Westre says, adding that he is seeing buyers of all ages. Ten years ago pontoons accounted for about 20 percent of his sales; this year, he says, it will be closer to 40 or 50 percent.

“Pontoons are a pretty hot segment,” says Stevens in Michigan, the state that sells more pontoons than any other, with 5,800 sold last year — up 15 percent from 2015 and almost 2,000 more than the next-biggest pontoon state, Minnesota. “A lot of younger families are doing it because the whole family fits very comfortably. People feel safe, and there’s a lot of square footage. With the bigger-horsepower motors to do more recreational stuff, they’re just finding that it’s really versatile and really economic, compared to a same-size fiberglass boat.”

At the same time, baby boomers are also gravitating to pontoons in droves. Tow-boat owners typically get to a certain age, in their mid-50s, when they usually sell that tow boat and either already own a pontoon or buy a pontoon, Ellis says. “There are price points for everybody. It fits every type of user, every demographic.”

“This is something fun that’s going to engage the kids and grandkids to visit. They’re excited to go to grandma and grandpa’s because they got a new boat,” Kloppe says.

Ellis says today’s grandparents are much more involved with their grandkids than in previous generations and are more likely to take the youngsters out boating. “Clearly, I think grandparents today are younger,” Dammrich agrees. “What’s the saying? Sixty is the new 40? They’re much younger than my grandparents were, so they’re much more active, and more likely to get their children and grandchildren involved in boating even as they retire.”

The grandparent economy is being seen in all industries, Ellis says, with grandparents making purchases even as their grandkids are the ultimate consumers. Lori Bitter, author of “The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers are Bridging the Generation Gap,” said in an interview with (part of that the trend was born when grandparents stepped in to help their adult sons and daughters during the Great Recession.

“This new generation of grandparents stepped in to help their adult children and grandchildren in ways that redefined grandparenting,” Bitter told the publication. “They changed spending patterns, became revolving-purchase influencers and sparked a return to old-fashioned multi-generation households.”

“Today’s grandparents are more of the opinion that … instead of leaving an inheritance, they want to enjoy that stuff with the kids and grandchildren while they’re alive,” Ellis says.

A ‘living room’ on the water

The addition of horsepower and options — saltwater options, towers, customizable options — “that’s why you’re seeing that market continue to grow,” Kloppe says. “Versatility and horsepower.”

That was precisely the reason Kern was able to talk her husband into trading the Sea Ray for the Bennington. They did some research and found the Bennington with the MerCruiser 350, giving it the ability to go faster than pontoons had in the past — “so he got his cake and is eating it, too … and we’re all happy. Also it is nice to have room to bring other people and not trip over everybody, like we did in the other boat.”

Pontoon sales have grown about 20 percent every year for the past five years at Grand Pointe Marina. “I think it’s about ease of use, family time, everybody can fit, everybody can relax — I just think it’s a hot trend, especially if you have a place on the water,” says Stevens. Some of his customers elect to buy more budget-friendly options, but $100,000 pontoons are becoming commonplace, as well, he says.

“With the advancement of technology, the motors are super-quiet; it’s like being in your living room,” Stevens says. “Just with the advancements, it’s comparable to a fiberglass runabout, but for much less money. Cost is a factor there.”

Another draw is how easy the boats are to use, Stevens says, and people love Tracker’s 10-year warranty. New boaters are increasingly coming in because of that ease of use — and have learned about them from a neighbor or friend who has a pontoon — similar to the Kerns’ neighbors.

John Benchimol, owner of Harborside Marina and Yacht Sales in Connecticut, says his customers choose Bennington because “they want to have something that’s very easy to own, accomplishes a lot as far as your abilities to use a boat, and they are safer, easy to get on, easy dock, and they use outboards. The ease of ownership is unbelievable.”

Benchimol, a Chris-Craft dealer for 20 years, picked up the Bennington line about four years ago because “it was the only thing I kept seeing at boat shows that I felt fit the lifestyle of what my clients like to do. The [pontoon] boats are super-comfortable, easy to own, easy to get on and off of, easy to dock, and are not super-expensive.”

A foothold in saltwater

Benchimol’s only hesitation was the scarcity of the boats on Long Island Sound. “I was curious how they were going to do in this environment — it’s salt water, which is inherently where they’ve not been popular,” he says.

He took on Bennington “because it’s the premier line” that could withstand the harsh environment, and he says this has been the best year thus far, but it is taking time and a lot of demos to show that the pontoons are capable of handling open water.

“I have all my boats overbuilt with thickness of aluminum, as well as the saltwater packages,” Benchimol says. He avoids options that won’t work well in salt water. “The idea of this was make it an easy boat of ownership.”

He’s selling between 14 and 20 a year, and the boats usually run around $70,000. “If you go to Florida you see pontoons in salt water, as well as fresh. I think eventually it will be really good.”

The Kerns operate their Bennington in brackish water and salt water, launching in the mangroves and making their way through the maze to San Carlos Bay, and then to the Gulf. Juli Kern says spotting pontoons in their saltwater areas is common. Indeed, the rate of sales in the state has grown to 3,000, making it the fourth-strongest state, just behind Minnesota at 3,990 and Wisconsin at 3,021.

“I think eventually things will change and you’ve got to think about the future and think saltwater is the future for these boats,” Benchimol says. “If you go to any lake, like Lake Winnipesaukee, all the rich people own pontoons, probably most are Benningtons, and many probably have a boat next to it. Those dealers are selling Benningtons against other pontoons. I’m selling against Grady-White or something else. It’s a whole different mindset.”

The ones that do choose pontoons in his market could afford to buy whatever they want, but are sold on how many people they can put on the boat, the lower price point and the fact that they can still take it from Connecticut to Newport to Norwalk, he says.

“I’m putting the time and effort in now, and I’m hoping that in a couple of years it’s going to pay off,” Benchimol says. “About 85 percent of the population lives coastally. That’s an untapped market.”

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How To Protect Pontoon Boat From The Summer Heat

How To Protect Pontoon Boat From The Summer Heat

By: The Ocean Sailing Guide

I am excited about the summer of 2018. This summer brings new memories, adventures, and time spent on the pontoon with family. Now, with the arrival of summer, comes the staunching summer heat, which if you didn’t know, can be dangerous to a pontoon boat. Therefore it is important to know how to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat.

While owning a pontoon boat is incredibly rewarding and fun, it’s important that you take the time to care and protect your boat, especially in the summer heat. We can all agree that the last thing you want to happen this summer is to find out that some part of your pontoon boat was damaged by lack of protection.

Today, I want to share with you my ideas and thoughts on how to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat this year. As always, if you have any ideas to share with the crowd, feel free to add your comment below.

Shall we begin?

The Four Step Protection Plan To Help With Summer Heat

It’s important that, before the summer heat gets here, you develop a game plan for how you plan to protect your pontoon boat.

Once the snow has passed and the White Walkers went back home, I know that it’s time to begin getting my Pontoon Boat ready for the ocean blue.

I have developed what I like to call my pontoon protection plan. It’s an incredibly easy process that starts the moment the warm rays come out.

  1. Full-Scale Cleaning

pontoon seating in the sun

Like many other things in life, before you can apply any form of protector to a surface, it needs to be clean. So, what I like to do is take the boat out in the backyard and prepare it for a full-scale cleaning.

In the industry today, there are dozens upon dozens of different pontoon boat soaps, which can be found at your local boat stores, marinas, or even Amazon. The best products, in my opinion, are the ones that care for the gel coat and the surface of the material.

When it comes to the interior of your pontoon, treat and clean it based on the type of material on the inside. For me, I use a high-quality vinyl cleaner and polish from a local boating store. This helps protect the interior material from cracking or flaking.

  1. Apply A Protectant

Once the pontoon is spiffy clean, what I do is apply a protectant to help protect the gel coat and material of the boat from deteriorating or oxidizing, due to the Sun.

Again, there are so many different products on the market today that can do the job. I recommend purchasing a product that is heavy-duty. What you are looking for is something known as polymers.

This is the secret to protecting your pontoon boat, it’s your personal defense mechanism against the Sun. It’s the sunscreen for a pontoon boat.

Do keep in mind, the more you sail, the more you need to clean and reapply a protectant. Remember, this is your baby!

  1. Daily Maintenance

Now, I understand that this process can be time-consuming, and sometimes undesirable. To make it easier for myself, I take the extra step and perform daily maintenance on my pontoon.

So, what I typically do is use some daily maintenance products, also known as pontoon boat guards. These products act as the first line of defense to protect the boat and the original protectant.

My favorite part about using these cleaning products is that they have polymers in the formula. This helps reinforce the protectant, helping to clean the boat from harmful chemicals, and effectively protecting it from the Sun.

Since most of these products come in the form of a spray, it’s easy to use.

  1. Cover Your Pontoon When Not In Use

covered pontoon boatI have talked a lot about the importance of pontoon boat covers and the best ones out there. I can’t stress it enough. You do not want your pontoon boat exposed to constant heat. Otherwise, the sun’s powers and UV rays will expedite the oxidation process.

To protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat, purchase a quality cover that you can use year-round.

Try to get into the habit of covering your pontoon if you are not using it. Every time I come back from the water I take a few minutes to clean off the grime and bacteria, or salt if I was in the ocean. Once dry, I cover the entire pontoon until it’s next use or cleaning.

Most Common Mistakes Boaters Make

If you are want to avoid any damage or expensive repairs, avoid making any of these common mistakes that boaters make:

  • Dish Soap

Unless you intend to clean the dishes on your boat put the dish soap back where it belongs, the kitchen. Why would you use that product on your boat? Don’t be cheap, buy the right product!

  • Laundry Soap

Like that of dish soap, using laundry soap or detergent with water to clean a pontoon boat is a mistake. If you are seriously considering cleaning your boat, use the proper products.

  • Wrong Surface, Wrong Product

It’s important to know all of the materials in and on your pontoon boat. When it comes to cleaning, you need to know what types of materials you are dealing with.

You should also know the environment that your boat is around. For example, if you live close to the ocean, chances are, with the ocean and salt water, there’s salt in the area that can reach your boat.

Summer Pontoon Protection Checklist For 2018

With the anticipation of summer, I have prepared a little checklist for you all in case you need some help or are just looking for some helpful ideas. I’m going to call it Summer Pontoon Protection Checklist for 2018.

If you can follow the 4-Step process listed above and follow this checklist, your pontoon boat will be in great shape.

  • General Cleaning – Perform a general cleaning of the inside and outside of the pontoon boat.
  • Make sure all electrical outlets and batteries are functioning and working.
  • Inspect all gauges to ensure maximum operability.
  • Review oil and filters to make sure the pontoon is ready for maximum performance.
  • Check all essentials
    • Transmission Fluid, belts, cooling system, etc.
  • Make sure trailer is up-to-date on registration
  • Make sure pontoon is up-to-date on registration
  • Test all lights.
  • Inspect exterior and interior of pontoon for minor or major oxidation.
  • Reseal and add polymer protectant.
  • Purchase daily spray pontoon guard for each use.
  • Purchase quality boat cover designed to protect from UV damage.
  • Have fun!

Enjoy Your Pontoon This Season!

Overall, as a pontoon boat owners, it’s our responsibility to keep track and protect our baby. Your pontoon boat needs protection, like sunscreen, to play and function longer. If you don’t protect it, you risk things breaking down, resulting in a messy situation.

Trust me, this summer, that’s the last thing you want to deal with when you can be enjoying the summer rays on the ocean blue.

Overall, my hope is that with all the information and tips I shared with you in the article, you are properly prepared to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat.

If you have any methods or ideas that I did not discuss above, feel free to drop a comment below and share with us! After all, we are a community of pontoon boaters!