Pontoon Boats: The Do-It-All Machine - BoatingIndustry.com
By: Boating Industry
Pontoon versatility continues to drive popularity, growth
In an industry-wide seventh consecutive year of growth, the pontoon segment continues to get more people on the water and keep them there.
Pontoons remain a key driver for the marine industry, and that’s going to continue in 2019, Statistical Surveys, Inc. (SSI) director of sales Ryan Kloppe said. “Pontoons will top 56,000 units in 2018. They just keep getting better, and have truly become a crossover boat.”
Kloppe said that SSI is anticipating around another 3 percent in growth for 2019. “It’s one of the categories that’s actually carrying the industry in year-over-year growth,” he said.
From first-time boat owners to longtime boaters switching segments, the pontoon segment refuses to be left behind.
“One of the things we’ve noticed is that the segment has been firing on so many different cylinders and is so broad based in terms of where its drawing its business from,” Info-Link director of client services Peter Houseworth said.
In terms of consumers in other segments converting to the pontoon life, Houseworth said that the segment bleeds are very balanced all-around. “We’re not seeing a single group from a single segment converting,” he added.
Houseworth said that growth within the pontoon segment has been going on for the last 20 years, however it hasn’t always been as visible because of all of the other gyrations of the market during that time period.
Hand-in-hand with pontoon popularity, the continued demand for outboard power certainly helps continue to make pontoons an appealing choice for today’s consumer.
“Pontoons are ultimately one of the key driving forces in outboard popularity,” Kloppe said. “However, it’s definitely a combination of outboard popularity driving pontoon popularity, and vice versa.”
Aside from raving popularity that began in the Great Lakes and Texas markets, the pontoon segment has been branching into new markets in increasing popularity over the last few years.
“Pontoons and their popularity are now a nationwide thing, rather than just occurring in certain places,” Houseworth said. “Florida, for example, hasn’t been a big pontoon state historically, but is now seeing big growth as a segment.”
“These boats will be around for a long time and in more and more territories,” Houseworth added.
EXPLORING NEW TERRITORY
With the popularity of pontoons continuing to rise, the industry has seen new players enter, or re-enter, the market at an accelerated rate.
After exiting the marine business in 2004, Polaris Industries Inc. busted its marine doors back open in May 2018 after signing a definitive agreement to acquire Boat Holdings, LLC, boat manufacturer of four well-recognized brands: Bennington, Godfrey, Hurricane and Rinker, in an all-cash transaction valued at a net present value of approximately $805 million.
“We started looking at Boat Holdings in early 2017,” said Scott Wine, Polaris Industries Inc. chairman and CEO during a conference call discussing the acquisition. “We’ve been looking at the marine space for four or five years. We look for great products and great brands, and they have both.”
During Q3 2018, Polaris reported that Boat Holdings was already tracking to its early expectations.
Polaris reported boat segment sales were $134 million in the 2018 third quarter, slightly better than expectations, the company stated in a news release. Reported gross profit for the boat segment was $20 million, or 15.1 percent of sales in the third quarter of 2018.
“We were pleased with the early performance of Boat Holdings, the largest manufacturer of pontoon boats in the U.S. that we welcomed to our growing powersports portfolio earlier in the quarter,” Wine said.
Although not completely new to the marine industry, following the creation of a new Marine Group and the acquisition of Alumacraft, BRP entered the pontoon segment with the acquisition of pontoon manufacturer Manitou in August 2018.
“Manitou’s strong brand, high quality pontoons and recognized technology made it a natural fit for BRP’s newly formed Marine Group,” said Tracy Crocker, President of the Marine Group. “With the acquisition of Manitou, we are strengthening our marine portfolio by entering the fastest growing segment in the boat industry.”
The segment also saw the return of the Premier pontoon brand, when the manufacturer emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2018.
The company announced that the reorganized Premier was to remain a Wyoming, Minnesota-based company with its current workforce in place. Premier’s exit from Chapter 11 authorized a change in ownership to a Minnesota-owned company, Premier Pontoon Holdings, LLC.
“The Premier team has worked tirelessly over the nine months to assure we continue to build high-quality pontoon boats as an industry leader,” said Rick Gallagher, Premier’s new chief executive officer.
Gallagher served as Premier Marine’s financial advisor while the company was operating in Chapter 11. The company filed for Chapter 11 on June 19, 2017. Unlike Chapter 7 and Chapter 9 bankruptcies, Chapter 11 bankruptcy gave Premier Marine a chance for a
Following the announcement, Premier quickly moved to establish new agreements with most of its existing vendors.
Relatively new to the market, Barletta Boats of Bristol, Ind. made a name for itself rather quickly in the pontoon world, signing on dealerships in over 70 locations in its early stages, with no signs of slowing down.
Barletta’s 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility roared to life in June 2017 and the company hasn’t looked back since.
Most recently, Barletta penned a partnership with Walkers Point Marina, taking the company international and into Canada. The company continues to assemble its network of dealers across the country, and is now pushing to start adding high-caliber dealers in the Canadian market.
“We’ve have a very deliberate approach to adding new dealerships to our network,” stated Jeff Haradine, Barletta’s vice president of sales. “One of our guiding principles is too ensure that if we are going to partner with a dealership, we are able to provide the resources and product necessary to form a strong, mutually beneficial partnership. The timing felt right, and the Walkers Point Marina is exactly the type of dealership we love to partner with.”
SUV OF THE WATER
Today’s consumer in the boating world is consistently looking for one boat to handle a multitude of tasks. New technologies, designs, features and more in the pontoon segment are meeting those demands of the consumer.
“A combination of better engineering, fuel efficiency, speed and all-around versatility make pontoons a kind of SUV, do-everything type of boat for consumers,” Houseworth said.
From the luxurious lines and ample space of Bennington pontoons, to the sleek and sporty Manitou designs, to the classic-look pontoons of Lowe, Misty Harbor and more, consumers are finding everything they need in a boat in today’s pontoons.
Pontoons offer the boater a large social space for entertaining, a wide array power options, fishing applications, favored accessibility, near-endless options for customization and much more.
“Pontoons especially offer older boaters — which are the primary owner in today’s market — the opportunity to take everyone out on the water, with accessibility, comfort and all-around easier boating,” Houseworth said.
Ranger Boats recently announced the coming together of the fishing and cruising pontoons worlds with the introduction of the new Ranger Reata 223FC and 220FC.
The new boats combine features for both cruising and fishing into multi-use designs to accommodate families and anglers.
“We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and dealers on their wants and needs in our product lines,” said Bart Schad, Ranger Boats vice president of sales and marketing. “We have incorporated that feedback into these new models to create an ideal fish/cruise line that exceeds the needs of everyone on board. Combined with the upgraded aesthetics throughout the entire pontoon line, we have seen tremendous response and look forward to officially bringing these new boats to market.”
The new pontoons’ fish-and-play design brings together a host of creature comforts for pleasure cruising and fishing features valued by anglers.
Pontoons also offer a variety of options for the entry-level boater, with ease of use and lower price points than entry-level boats in other segments.
In March 2018, Crestliner unveiled its new Sprint Series, an entry-level pontoon for novice boaters and those looking for on-water versatility. The Sprint came nearly a year after Crestliner re-entered the pontoon market with its Rally Series.
“The Sprint fills a hole in the pontoon market,” said Crestliner President Eric Hendrickson. “There is a large contingent of boaters out there looking for an accessible pontoon they can hop into without hassle and use for a variety of on-water activities–from fishing to cruising and everything in between. Add to that an exceptional value, and the Sprint is exactly what a lot of families are looking for.”
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
In an effort to further push the versatility of the pontoon segment, Minnesota-based Montara Boats announced an industry-first game changer.
In early October 2018, Montara announced it developed a patent-pending design that blends the worlds of surf boats and pontoons in the industry’s first surf pontoon, including the comfort and space of a pontoon boat with the performance of an inboard surf boat.
“For the past 15 years I’ve watched neighbors and friends buy tow boats for water sports in addition to pontoons for entertaining. We’ve cracked the code on this and figured out how to blend these, creating the Surf Boss that does it all,” said Montara CEO Mark Overbye.
Overbye is no stranger to the tow boat and tow sports world after serving as the founder and former CEO of both Moomba and Gekko. Overbye also serves as a chairman and trustee for the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation.
Montara’s new Surf Boss is available in three lengths: 21 feet, 23 feet, and 25 feet.
Equipped with PCM inboard engines, the Surf Boss features competitive surf wakes, a fully enclosed head, over 100 cubic feet of storage, dual swiveling captains chairs, jumbo-sized dual transom loungers that flip from forward to aft viewing.
Overbye told Boating Industry that PCM sent two engines to Montara Boats for use in Surf Boss prototype testing. “I’ve had a great relationship with them for 20 years,” he said. “We represent a potential entree for them into a huge market segment. The tow boat segment is roughly 10,000 units; the pontoon segment last year was roughly 52,000 units. If we have success with this, this should really open up some market floodgates.”
Features of the new pontoon include a 110-gallon fuel tank, a changing room, Zero Off GPS speed control, a 5,000-pound plus ballast system, custom tandem trailer, Rockford’s premium audio system, carrying capacity exceeding 20,000 pounds for people and gear plus a top-end speed that tops 40 miles per hour. A custom tower with dual Biminis, speakers and lights that retracts into the hull compliments the Surf Boss’s design.
“The concept of combining surfing and pontoons clearly struck a positive cord with the marine business at large,” Overbye said.
Since announcing its Surf Boss surfing pontoon in mid October, Minnesota-based Montara Boats has welcomed 27 dealers to its retail network and has more than 23 additional dealerships pending.
Overbye said that the team at Montara already has more ideas on the drawing board to further the limits of pontoons that the industry could see even four or five years down the road.
With the segment showing no signs of slowing in growth, and continued versatility and new technology coming to market, pontoons will remain a major player in the future of the industry.
The Finer Things In Life Qwest LS 820 Lanai Cruise
We all enjoy the finer things in life—those simple pleasures with a touch of elegance and luxury mixed in. Whether it is a five-star meal or a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, we all enjoy some sophisticated quality in our lives from time to time. Qwest recognized this universal tendency to seek out classy comforts, and it definitely shows when you take a look at their Qwest LS 820 Lanai Cruise.
Qwest Pontoons are known for their high-quality vessels and this high-end, luxury pontoon is the perfect example of what helps their brand stand out. Every boat this manufacturer builds is designed and engineered in-house at their factory in
The PDB staff was lucky enough to test drive the 820
Light As A Feather
The triple tubes coupled with the lightweight design and furniture allow the boat to ride impressively high in the water, and the SeaStar hydraulic steering makes turning the boat a pleasure. In addition, it also has a great turning radius. Plain and simple, it’s just an all-around fun boat to drive.
The captain’s area is enough to make any pontoon enthusiast swoon. Stepping up to the helm, the Humminbird Helix 5 Sonar Color Combination GPS/fishfinder is the center focus. It’s situated in the perfect location, always providing necessary information. Then you’ve got your other gauges with rocker switches on either side, along with the Infinity PRV Bluetooth stereo system controls just to the right of the steering wheel with a convenient USB port alongside it. Additionally, the handsome stainless spoke steering wheel offers soft grip and wood-grain accents along with an adjustable tilt steering system.
Having a smaller helm definitely saves some space in the cockpit, but despite its compact size, everything you need is still right in front of you at your fingertips. The helm is an all-fiberglass design with a lovely wood grain dash that also matches your table and some of the other panels. The gauges are all stainless steel, and the Infinity stereo comes standard with four speakers that are ready to get the party started.
The helm offers a personal stainless cupholder for the captain with a dry storage right above it for boat papers or other personal items. The RAM universal cell phone mount is also a convenient feature, giving you easy, hands-free access to your phone. Then don’t forget the PTM Edge rearview mirror. We feel like all pontoons should come standard with a mirror like this because it makes it much easier to keep an eye on things for water sports or even just cruising around.
Going right down to the very threads of the furniture in the 820 Lanai Cruise, the hand-crafted quality and innovation could not be more apparent. The Ultra Flow seat ventilation encourages optimum air flow inside the seat bases which helps to dry items stored beneath the seats. This prevents mold or mildew from forming and helps keep your boat spick and span. The seat bases are made from proprietary Dura-Lite composite material which keeps the boat lighter and stronger while providing generous amounts of storage space.
Even the mount pedestal for the wood grain table is worth noting for its low profile that stays out of the way when not in use. You’ll never have to worry about stubbing a toe because it’s flush with the floor and it’s even got a nice little rubber cap for when it’s not in use.
Naturally, all of the tables and posts store comfortably under the seats, so everything’s nice and out of the way but still ready to use whenever you want it. The boat also has Diamond Seagrass luxury woven vinyl flooring which is a lovely touch. All of these details make it easy to see why this is part of the Luxury Series from Qwest.
From Front To Back
The 820 Lanai Cruise is packed with tons of great features from bow to stern. The boat is rated for up to 11 passengers which is a fantastic capacity for its size, supplying plenty of comfortable, soft-touch vinyl seating throughout.
At the stern of the boat in the swim deck area, there’s a large bench-seat section with great storage below. As mentioned before, the pontoon comes with a solid ski/tow bar, and our test boat was equipped with a big Suzuki engine that provided the boat its ample power.
It also has a comfortable contoured aluminum rear ladder which has four big steps that swing out. This is actually the same ladder Qwest used for its Avanti model last year. Qwest had such success with this particular ladder they decided to bring it over to the Luxury Series along with the stainless steel corner caps. This ladder has been hailed for the ease that accompanies getting up and down out of the water. This is yet another example of one of the luxury items that became standard in this series.
Qwest clearly infused its LS 820 Lanai Cruise with comfort, performance and sophistication, never straying from their reputation for quality pontoons. Right down to the details, the boat is peppered with small luxuries that contribute to a fantastic boating experience.
From the lightweight design to the fit and finish, this boat quite simply provides pontooners with some of the finer things in life.
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’ (6.0 m) long and it is rated for nine people. Step up 2’ (0.6 m) 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.
A capacity plate is the best way to know how many passengers a boat can hold.
2. Seating Configuration
Not only should owners know how many people they are going to be carrying, but they also need to know what their 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 wheelchair? Pontoon boats are ideal 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.
Sunbathers would love the aft-facing lounges on the Regency 220 LE3.
Shown here is the bow of the Sun Tracker Fishin’ Barge 22 DLX, complete with fishing chairs, rod racks and a trolling motor.
This is a pretty conventional floor plan 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 sightlines.
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.
Side gates make it easy to board from the dock and should be at least 32” (0.8 m) 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 a 12” (0.3 m) minimum fore-and-aft measurement for this purpose.
A small platform on the bow makes it much easier to board a pontoon and to work with dock lines. The deck seen here is the 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 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 necessary 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. It cannot be done 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 tangled 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. Reboarding Ladder
The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) guidelines call for a re-boarding ladder on all boats to extend 22” (0.56 m) 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-lb. (68 kg) 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.
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. Two Pontoons or Three?
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 tow 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 tow ports, but don’t expect them to make big wakes for wakeboarding. However, they are fine for water skiing and tubing.
This Sun Tracker tri-toon has multiple 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 in 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. Outboard engines of 50- or 60-hp can generally push an 18’ to 20’ (5.4-6.0 m)twin toon at 15 or 16 mph. That is 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’ (9.75 m) 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 tow sports would do well to consider 2-stroke engines or those with superchargers. Both are well-known for creating greater torque at the low end. That, together with four-blade props will probably provide the best performance for nearly any pontoon boat application.
This 2-stroke Evinrude E-TEC G2 250-hp outboard engine pushed the 25’ tri-toon pictured here at over 46 mph. It went 0 to 30 mph in six seconds.
10. Pontoon Tube Size Matters
Pontoon boats obviously get their buoyancy from the pontoons, and the greater their diameter generally the more satisfying the experience. 23” (0.58 m)pontoons are about the smallest diameter we see and they are generally on smaller boats, those under 20’ (6.0 m). More typically we see 24”-25” (0.6-0.63 m) pontoons on both twin-toon and tri-toon vessels. Occasionally, on some of the more expensive boats, we will see 26” (0.66 m) toons.
In some tri-toon models the center toon is of a greater diameter. This aids in turning with a slight inward lean, 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 pontoons should have three or four air-tight chambers. This not only gives the tubes more integrity but also provides a measure of safety should a chamber be punctured.
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 one available. Look for one that is easy to deploy. Some boats even have power Bimini tops. Make sure to operate the Bimini prior to purchase 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.
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.
12. Comfort Amenities Are Important
Boaters should think about family and guests and ask themselves how they can get the most enjoyment out of the boat they 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 cup holders that sit on the seats and pedestal tables. Generally, the pedestal tables are small and are limited to drinks and snacks. Those wanting to serve dinner al fresco will need to find a boat with a proper table and 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.
These cup holders can be moved anywhere on the boat and are quite handy.
A table adds to any boat’s versatility. On most pontoons, there are receptacles fore and aft for a table.
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-Potti.
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.