Pontoon Boat Prep: Before the Season Starts…
If you’re like most pontoon boat owners, you’re itching to get back on the water once the season starts. If you don’t live somewhere with year round warmth, you may have stored the boat away for winter—but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for the spring and summer season now!
Read on to see a few things you can do to get your pontoon boat ready for fun once the warmer weather rolls around.
As boat owners, we’re always looking for ways to make our next trip even better than the last. This might mean making improvements to your pontoon boat that make it more enjoyable for everyone on board. If you’ve been thinking about adding features such as a ladder, slide or tent cover to your boat, now is a great time to do it. By the time the season starts up again, your pontoon boat will be decked out and ready to go!
Clean up your pontoon boat and make necessary repairs
There are, of course, practical issues you may need to take care of during your offseason time. If there are any repairs you need to make on your pontoon boat, now would be a good time to check those out and pick up the necessary parts you may need. If all your boat needs is a bit of freshening up, devote an afternoon to cleaning it up and getting it back to looking like new.
Plan your next adventure
A fantastic way to keep yourself and your family occupied during the winter months is to plan your next adventure. Whether this is to a local spot or a bona fide vacation destination, everyone will enjoy having a say in the planning process. It’s also a great way to keep your mind focused on the water fun you’ll be having—without actually being on the water.
Give it a name
If you have not yet given your pontoon boat a name, do it this winter! Every boat needs a good name, both for practical reasons—so help on the water can find you easily, should you ever need it—and fun ones. Every pontoon boat has its own unique personality, just like the people who use it, so be sure to give yours a name that sticks.
Purchase your new pontoon boat
Like many boaters in search of a fun alternative to traditional powerboats, you may be considering purchasing a brand new pontoon boat this year. Why wait until the season’s already underway to do it? The winter months are the perfect time to think about the style and design you want and get your new boat ready for fun on the water in 2018.
If you fit into this category, get in touch with us today! We can make your pontoon boat wishes a reality in time for the season ahead.
Can’t wait to get back on the water? Try these ideas and hold on just a little longer—you’ll be seeing fellow boaters on your favorite waterways in no time at all.
- Amy Cabanas
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Spring Boat Preparation | Pontoon Depot
Getting the boat ready for the season is a lot like getting the boat ready to sell. You want it to look good and operate without any problems. That means you need to do a little preparation before you take it out on the lake for the first time. The last thing an owner wants to do is experience an engine failure or even worse, a fire on the first boating weekend of the season!
This is a basic list that is used on canoes to cruisers and everything in between. To make sure the first flotation is good for the family, let’s talk about a little spring season preparation. Breaking the springtime maintenance into about five different steps makes it seem easier. There is no way we can go over all the details necessary but I’ll try to give you a pretty quick run down. Each boat is going to be different, along with each boat owner and what they feel comfortable undertaking.
Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent or vinegar and water. At the same time check to make sure all the drains and scuppers are clear of debris and flow freely.
This is also a good time to put on the coat of a good quality carnauba paste wax. Okay, if you don’t want to use a paste wax, use a good quality liquid wax. Whatever kind of wax you decide to use, it is important to get a good coat on the gel coat to protect the finish. Gel coat will oxidize and develop a chalk-like coating. Gel coat also breaks down over time due to the UV rays. Waxing the surface helps to prevent UV damage. If there are any small spider cracks, wax will help to seal the cracks to moisture. Plus the boat looks better and has to go faster, because the surface is so slick.
This is also the time to look into repairing any chips or cracks in finish. Small nicks and scratches can often times be polished out with a cordless power buffer or even a cloth and polishing compound. If you don’t have any polishing compound you can always do a temporary polishing with a tube of original Crest toothpaste. The fine abrasive in the toothpaste will help smooth out the scratches and imperfections.
If the scratch is deep enough that it needs touch up, buy a gel coat touch up kit or simpler yet, use finger nail polish to hide the scratch. Finger nail polish is not a permanent solution but it is an easy way to cover a scratch and the color choices are almost unlimited.
If you have any big nicks or blisters that need to be filled you can use gel coat to do the job. One thing you will have to do is carve or grind the edges of the nicked area back to remove any loose gel coat and bevel the edges so the filler can bond to the underlying fiberglass. The edges can be beveled with a razor knife or even a Dremel cordless tool. If fiberglass repair is not your specialty, take the boat to a shop and have them touch up the nicks. One thing you don’t want is holes, blisters or chips allowing water get under the gel coat.
If you have an aluminum boat you look for dents, dings and signs of loose rivets (black soot around the rivet). Dents just slow the boat down (not much if they are small) and loose rivets need to be re-set to make sure they do not leak.
If you leave your boat in the water for the season, make sure your barrier paint and anti-fouling paint are in good condition. This is the time to do any touch ups.
Of course, this is also the time that you will look over all the fittings. Check cleats, stanchions, and brackets to make sure they are tight and do not have sharp edges or corrosion. Any damage to the fittings can catch clothes or skin and damage ropes.
Most new boats have reduced the amount of wood and carpet used on the exterior of the boat, but if you have wood or carpet look for chips and tears. Wood should be sanded or smoothed to prevent splinters and catching of skin and clothes. A good wood sealer or teak oil should be applied to the wood to help protect the surface from the elements. Depending on your location you may need to add a coating to the wood again later in the year.
Carpet should be kept vacuumed with a good wet and dry vacuum. Clean, dry carpet lasts longer and has less opportunity to build up mold and mildew.
Each boat is different so the list can get quite long. That’s why it is best to start on the outside of the boat and just start working your way around it. By going slow and taking your time inspecting everything you will have a better chance of catching even the smallest of details. And don’t forget to look at items like rub rails, swim platforms, boarding ladders, sacrificial zincs and even running lights.
While you are inspecting the exterior of the boat make sure you look for soft areas of the deck. Many boats use a core material between two layers of fiberglass. This core gives the boat strength without the weight required if it was all glass construction. But the core is often made from a porous material such as balsa wood or foam. The core can become damaged by moisture that seeps in through holes, cracks or seams. Once the core is saturated it gains weight and loses its strength and integrity. If you have ever walked on a deck that felt spongy, that’s probably from a damaged core. Soft or damaged cores are usually not an easy or cheap fix. Making sure the fittings, stanchions, blocks or any other items mounted to the deck are sealed and tightened appropriately.
If you happen to be the owner of a sail boat you will also have the additional inspections of the standing and running rigging. Make sure you look for corrosion, bends or wear spots. The sail track should be cleaned and lubricated with a dry lube. Don’t forget to check the spreaders and boots so that they do not have damage that can ruin your sails.
Cleaning the interior includes not only the fabric and carpets, but also checking for leaks or signs of damage to the hull, hatches and port holes. Most interior fabrics can be cleaned with any household fabric cleaner. Dedicated vinyl cleaners are available for cleaning and protecting the vinyl seats and cushions.
This is also a time when any wood trim or joinery should be cleaned and protected with an appropriate material such as teak oil, polyurethane, etc. If your boat happened to develop moisture during the storage, you may need to remove a little mold and mildew from the surfaces. It’s a good idea to wipe all the surfaces down with an anti-bacterial cleaner anyway, even if you don’t see mold spots.
Once the basic interior is cleaned it is time to look into bilges, under engines and at storage tanks. Clean the bilges by checking for any debris or oil that might have dropped or seeped into the area. If there is oil in the bilges you have to find the leak before putting the boat in the water. You will also need to check the bilge pumps for operation. Make sure you check both the automatic and manual operation if necessary. If you only have one bilge pump you may want to take the time to install a backup. If you leave your boat on the water for the season a backup pump can be a lifesaver during a heavy rain.
Of course, while you’re digging around in the bilge areas, check, test and lubricate all the seacocks. Make sure you inspect any hoses and clamps. It’s highly recommended that any hoses that are below the waterline get a little extra protection by being double clamped. This might also be the time to make sure you have a few appropriately-sized wooden plugs as emergency stoppers for through-hull fittings.
Depending on the size of your boat the systems could include the head, water galley and electrical components, all of which need to be inspected, cleaned and tested.
If your head is a portable system the checking is pretty simple: make sure the tank is cleaned out, you have chemicals on board and it works.
If you have a permanent system, it’s really not much different. The system needs to be cleaned and lubricated for smooth operations. The tanks need to be cleaned and maybe even flushed if possible. If you have chemical treatments make sure you have a supply on board and accessible. If you have to have your own dump hose for the marina, make sure it’s accessible and not damaged or leaking.
One other thing: if your boat has a Y-valve make sure it is working, labeled for the correct operation and secured in the appropriate position.
The water system is pretty basic. The storage tank needs to be flushed to clean it out. If it was sitting with water in it, you’ll need to run a sanitizer through it. In fact, you should sanitize the tanks even if you had antifreeze in it. Using a pool or spa chlorine will remove bacteria and clean the tank. Once you add the chlorine to the tank, let it sit for a while and then run the water through the system so that the chlorine gets a chance to pass through all the fixtures and drains.
While running the chlorinated water through the system, inspect the hoses, clamps and pumps for leaks. At the same time you can test the water heater to make sure it works. But remember: don’t run the water heater without water in it.
After testing the water system you should inspect, clean, and operate the refrigerator, freezer, stove and any other appliances. Depending on your individual situation, this might include operating the appliances on the shore power, battery power or “gas” (like propane). Any gas fittings should be inspected for dirt, damage and leakage. A small bottle of bubble blowing liquid works great to find leaks in gas line fittings.
The electrical system inspection and preparation can be quite extensive depending on your specific boat. Typically you’ll have batteries that need to be inspected and charged.
If you have a fishing boat you may have the addition of a cleaning station and live wells. The live wells should be checked for operation and leakage. Many boats also have a deck freshwater shower or spray system that needs to be tested.
It doesn’t matter if you have an inboard or outboard engine, the basics are the same. If you didn’t change the engine oil before parking the boat, now is the time to do it. Oil is the life blood of an engine and needs to be able to efficiently lubricate and cool the engine. Oil is also cheap when compared to an engine overhaul. Reference your engine service manual for recommendations as to the recommended oil change intervals.
If your engine was winterized and treated for storage, you will need to clean or replace the spark plugs and change the fuel filters. It is easiest to just replace the old spark plugs with new ones. But if you are saving a few bucks, you can also clean and re-gap the old ones. All you need is a small stiff-bristled wire brush and gapping tool.
Don’t forget to change the fuel filter before you head out on the water. Also make sure you have the tools and extra fuel filters on board before you go out for your first run. Many a boater has made it out on the water just far enough not to get back and had crud plug the filter, stopping the engine.
Cooling systems should be checked and the fluid replaced or added as necessary. All hoses, wires and belts should be inspected and replaced if dry or cracked. It is a good idea to carry an extra belt or two with you along with the appropriate tools to change the belt. Belt tension should be adjusted per the factory service manual’s recommendations.
Transmission fluid, hydraulic fluids (power steering, power tilt) and oil injection tanks should all be inspected and refilled. While you are at it, check the bellows on the stern drive, packing or stuffing boxes hinge points, U joints etc. Fittings, cables and connections should be lubricated. Many of the components will have grease fitting so that they can be lubricated using a grease gun.
The lower unit, drive shafts and propellers should be inspected for nicks and damage. Basic aluminum propellers (especially on lower horsepower engines) can have minor nicks filed by hand. Paint can be touched up with a spray can of paint from a home supply or auto parts store. But if you have brass, stainless, adjustable blades or any other type of high performance propeller, don’t take the chance of trying to fix it your self. Take the propeller to a good prop shop and have it repaired and balanced. Make sure that when you remove the propeller that you lubricate the shaft to prevent corrosion and assist in removal in the future. It is always a good idea to have a back up prop on hand along with the appropriate nut or cotter keys.
Trailers should be checked before use as well. Being parked on the side of the road because of a flat tire or a bad wheel bearing really puts a damper on the weekend boating excitement. Lubricate and inspect the hitch coupler. Safety chains might keep the trailer from getting away from the vehicle when the coupler comes undone, but why have that happen in the first place? The coupler needs to be free to move but at the same time fit tight over the trailer hitch ball.
Check the air pressure and inspect the tire treads and sidewalls for cracks. Low pressure can cause the trailer to start swaying and potentially cause the loss of control.
Inspect the bearings and repack if necessary. Don’t rely on just pumping more grease into the hub. The bearing should be cleaned and repacked at least once a year or so. Bearing greasers do help keep water and air out of the hub, but over time the grease gets heated and hard and doesn’t provide the lubrication it needs to. The only way to prevent damage is to clean and repack the bearings. If you use the trailer in salt water, check to make sure you can flush the hubs and brake to prevent corrosion.
Also test all the tail and back-up lights and the wiring on the tow vehicle. Additionally, if there is rust or corrosion on the trailer frame it should be cleaned and repaired. Any damaged rollers or pads should be replaced or repaired also.
Extras are personal flotation devices, safety equipment and paper work. Remember, don’t leave home without it means more than the boat. Make sure you have enough personal floatation devices for the rated number of the boat or at least for the number of people that you take with you.
You’ll want a safe and dry place to keep the registration and insurance paperwork. You also want to make sure that all of your fire suppression and extinguishing systems are fully charged and in working order. If there are inspections required, make sure they are done before you head out on the water. One other thing to think about is having a good marine first aid kit.
Again, this is just a very brief overview of the preparation a boat owner needs to go through to get ready for the season. Each boat will be a little different depending on the specific systems. If any of this seems like something the boat owner doesn’t want to undertake, call the boat service center and have them get the boat ready.
Before you take the boat to the water
- Exterior inspection
Wash, wax and repair
- Fitting and cleats
- Clean and patch cushions and carpet
- Clean and protect wood
- Bilges, tanks and through hulls
- Oil change
- Fuel systems
- Cooling systems
- Drive units
- Tires and wheels
- Fire protection
About The Author
Scott “Sky” Smith is the author of “Ultimate Boat Maintenance Projects” and an independent agent insuring boats, custom vehicles, drones and aircraft nationwide. Sky@SkySmith.com. Follow on Twitter@scottskysmith.
- Amy Cabanas
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The Fun You Can Have on a Pontoon Boat...
By: My West Shore
There’s nothing like a pontoon boat for a fun day on the water!
A pontoon boat is one of the most versatile water crafts available to all kinds of water enthusiasts. It looks like a large platform with guardrails, canopy, seating, storage and, of course, a motor. In other words, a pontoon boat has space for people to mingle like in a living room. Except it’s on water. And it moves!
Ideas for fun on a pontoon boat
Think that pontoon boats are a retired person’s leisure craft? Think again! Pontoon boats are increasingly popular with people of all ages. Why? Because pontoon boats now come with more amenities and comfort. They’re suited for a variety of activities, making it easy to stay entertained and engaged on short and long excursions.
Here are some ideas to help make your pontoon boat adventure a success:
Make it a party
The average pontoon boat holds about a dozen people. So, the next time you’re ready to go out on the water, why not invite some friends and have fun on a pontoon boat?
Hosting a birthday, anniversary or engagement party on a pontoon boat is easy. Even the most basic models have ample storage for food and supplies, a sound system for music, plenty of seating, and even room to dance. You can string lights and other decorations — as long as they are secure and don’t interfere with the vehicle’s operation.
If you’re invited to a party on a pontoon boat and aren’t sure what to wear or bring, the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s (NMMA) Discover Boating offers tips on marine manners.
Snorkel and swim
Pontoon boats are perfect for popping in and out of the water. The platform at the back makes it easy to jump in the water, even for kids. And the rails along the side are convenient for holding on to the outside of the boat, if necessary. Following open water swimming safety will help to keep the day fun.
If you’re in an area with lots of marine life, don’t miss out on seeing them “eye to eye”. Have snorkels and masks on hand for a little underwater sightseeing.
Of course, ensure the engine of your pontoon boat is off before allowing anyone to swim, snorkel, or go in the water for any reason.
Pontoon boat as games room
There will be times when friends and family can’t or won’t want to be in the water. Help them stay entertained and connected by taking along board games and other diversions. Try to avoid games with paper money and other pieces that can blow away.
Instead, take playing cards, trivia games and social games like Boggle, Cards Against Humanity and travel Scrabble for your guests to play when the mood strikes.
The platform at the back of a pontoon boat is a perfect place for avid and casual fishermen to cast a line and relax. The ample storage gives you space for gear, bait and ice chests to keep your catch until dinnertime.
Naturally, be sure all swimmers are out of the water before fishing from your pontoon boat.
Quiet family time
Yes, you can invite a lot of people on your pontoon boat. But you don’t have to. Sometimes it’s nice to have a quiet day or afternoon with only your partner or kids.
Being on a pontoon boat with only a few people gives you the best of both worlds. You can be together for activities but have enough room when people need a nap or a little space from each other.
Advantages of pontoon boats
Not sure if a pontoon boat is the right water vehicle for you? Consider these advantages:
Easy to use
Learning to drive a pontoon boat is easy. The steering wheel works like it does in your car: turn clockwise to go right and counter-clockwise to go left.
While contemporary pontoon boats can travel at a good clip, you always want to move at a slow speed when leaving the dock and navigating to open water. The same is true when you’re ready to return.
Most pontoon boats can move a fairly high speed but are not intended for rapid acceleration. But if you are going to push down on the gas, give your passengers fair warning so they can secure loose items, including themselves!
Pontoon boats are very stable but they aren’t exactly nimble. Avoid trying to make sharp turns. And, if you do, make sure gear and people are secure before making the turn.
Easy to maintain
Pontoon boats sit high on the water. This reduces the chances of denting or otherwise damaging the hull. The same is true if you need to transport it on a boat trailer. It’s good practice to raise up the outboard motor when loading the pontoon boat onto a trailer. But if you forget, it’s usually not a problem because of the high clearance.
If the hull does get damaged, it is generally faster and less expensive to repair compared to a traditional v-shaped boat hull.
After use, pontoon boats don’t need to be wiped down the way other gel-coated boats do. So, at the end of a fun day, you can take your pontoon boat out of the water and get on with land-based activities.
Great for outgoings with kids — including teenagers
The best feature of a pontoon boat might be its size. With couches, tables, the platform at the back, covered areas and uncovered areas, kids can play on their own yet stay supervised.
This is especially appreciated for kids who invite friends. They usually want some time away from the adults and room to be active. On smaller boats, everyone is always close together and required to stay seated most, if not all, of the time.
In other words, on pontoon boats, kids can be more active and independent. This makes the outgoing more fun for them — and the adults!
It’s more than the size of a pontoon boat that makes it comfortable. It’s also that it’s essentially a floating platform. Higher end pontoon boats may also have an upper deck but generally, they are one level.
Having lots of open space makes it easy to take in views in all directions, spread out, and be active. Also, the amenities on modern pontoon boats are designed for comfort. Seating is usually upholstered. Tabletops make eating and playing games as comfortable as if you were in your own home.
No matter your definition of comfort, lots of storage allows you to take along all the food, games, equipment and clothing you need to make your time on the pontoon boat enjoyable.
Pontoon boats are by far the safest of multi-person water craft. In 2014, there were one-tenth the number of personal injuries involving pontoon boats, compared to open motor boats.
The pontoons are what make this water craft stable. The safety of pontoon boats makes them a desirable option for anyone who enjoys being on the water.
The storage on pontoon boats is outstanding. Its open design allows for a range of storage options for equipment, food and other supplies. Plus, marine craft manufacturers are continually maximizing the use of space and making improvements to match consumers’ needs.
Things to keep in mind
There’s no doubt that it’s easy to have fun on a pontoon boat. To help keep the entire adventure safe and fun, also keep a couple of things in mind:
The size and shape of a pontoon boat gives it a wide turning radius. This means that tight turns are difficult or impossible.
When entering shallow areas or areas with many other vessels — especially speed boats and personal watercraft like jet skis — leave yourself enough space to maneuver safely and follow general boating etiquette.
As mentioned, pontoon boats are very stable. However, in very choppy water and during significant storms, they can be dangerous.
Because of its design, the front of a pontoon boat can easily enter a large wave instead of riding over it. It is also more difficult to navigate in rough water because of its size and structure.
So, if there’s a forecast for high winds or any kind of storm, the best way to have fun on your pontoon boat is to not take it out on the water that day!
The versatility, comfort, and safety of pontoon boats make it easy to have fun on the water. Whether you’re looking for the occasional excursion or a floating cottage to use every weekend, you can’t go wrong with a pontoon boat.
If you want to dig a bit deeper and find out some more information come down for a visit as we have a large selection in stock and on sale – pontoon boats in all shapes and sizes.
- Amy Cabanas
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PONTOON BOAT ACCESSORIES MAKE BOATING MORE FUN
So now you have a pontoon boat. What next? Pontoon Boat Accessories! No matter what you are using your boat for, accessories are necessities. Let’s break it down.
First things first. Pontoon boat covers. You just paid a good price for your boat, you don’t want it to get ruined by the natural elements do you? Let’s say you don’t have a boat cover, when it rains, your boat gets wet and soggy. The sun beats down on your seats, tables, grilles, etc. causing fading and making your pontoon seat material brittle over time. Wind blows leaves, twigs, branches, berries, plant seeds and anything else you can think of, then when it gets wet from the rain, those things will stain the interior of your pontoon boat. Lastly rodents will get into all your stuff and start chewing on the fabric, plastic and wires causing even more serious damage. If you don’t protect your boat it will be in very poor and ugly condition within 2 years.
You probably spent upwards of $13,000 or more for that pontoon boat. If you pay that much, it just makes sense to take care of it. Buy a pontoon boat cover and be done with it.
Now on to fun fun stuff!
Pontoon Boat Seats are by far the most important accessory. I like nothing more than lounging around in comfort at any place on the boat. Plus they have swivel seats for the front of the boat so you can sit and fish in comfort and style. Add a trolling motor with a foot pedal and you’ve got it made! My dad bought an add-on to the swivel post for my mom that actually holds an umbrella over her head so she can be in the shade! Talk about spoiled.
If you are going to hold boat parties, which you will, you’ll need plenty of seating. That’s why pontoons are nicknamed “party boats”. Seating is prime, but think if you had some tables with built in cup holders right next to them. Now your on your way to being the pontoon boat that everyone wants to party on!
It doesn’t stop there, oh no. Add a barbecue grill on your pontoon and see your friends come out of the woodwork to stuff there faces full of great and beverages of their choice!
The list of pontoon boat accessories goes on and on. All of which will make you boating much more fun. if you want to check out more of my take on accessories, feel free to visit my blog. I go into more detail and much more funny stories there! Happy boating!
Source by Jason Nightingale