Why buy a pontoon boat?
Combining an ideal platform for swimming, lounging, and partying with enough speed and maneuverability to tow skiers, tubers, and wakeboarders, it’s hard to beat a modern pontoon boat. Yet there are so many different types of pontoon boats for sale in such a wide range of sizes, styles, and price-points, that choosing the best one for your lifestyle may be a tough decision. That’s why we’ve put together this pontoon boats guide – to give you enough of a foundation in pontoon boat basics that you can wisely research, choose, and then find the right pontoon boat for you.
WHAT IS A PONTOON BOAT?
First let’s start with the basics. What makes a boat, a pontoon boat? Pontoon boats are built on top of two or three interconnected, buoyant tubes (or pontoons) upon which they rely for flotation. Those with three pontoons are sometimes called “tri-toons”. These pontoons make up the hull of the vessel which is then topped by a large, flat deck. The deck is typically outfitted with furniture and a steering station, plus a fence around the perimeter. As a result of this design, pontoon boats have a very shallow draft (as little as 8 inches) and are able to reach places many other boats cannot. Although they are less suited for big waves in the open ocean.
FISHING PONTOON BOATS
Fishing is one of the most popular activities among boaters, so naturally, there’s a slew of fishing pontoon boats on the market. In fact, most manufacturers offer fishing versions of their pontoons, and there are even a few builders focused solely on creating serious fishing machines.
Fishing pontoon boats can commonly be adapted from the other models in a builder’s line-up. Once again, this is thanks to their modular nature. Couches fore and aft can be eliminated in favor of swiveling fishing seats, and fishing-specific modules with things like livewells, rod holders, and tackle storage boxes can be added. It’s also easy to add some serious fish-hunting electronics to a pontoon boat. And storage compartments that might otherwise be used for wakeboards and water skis can be outfitted with fishing rod racks so you can haul loads of gear.
Obviously, boats designed for entertaining do just fine with a moderately-sized powerplant that allows for mellow cruises across the lake, while sport pontoon boats intended to provide high-speed thrill-rides tend to be rigged with much larger powerplants. Some even carry twin engines, and in a few rare cases you’ll see pontoon boats rigged with three outboards slung across the transom. Just how sporty can a sport pontoon boat get? In this day and age, fast pontoon boats that can exceed 60-mph are not all that unusual. And thanks to tricked-out water sports pontoon designs, many modern tri-toons handle and bank very much like a V-hull.
Pontoon boats intended for watersports also need to have aft-facing observation seats along with things like large stowage compartments for wakeboards and water skis, rear-view mirrors, and ski tow-bars.