Pontoon boats are one of the most popular and common boats styles made today. These are the pros and cons of owning such boats.
LOTS OF SPACE
The number one benefit of a pontoon boat is its generous deck space and fantastic layout. Because of the large and flat, boxy design of these boats it’s easy to have a lot more open space and space in between guests than traditional powerboats. In addition, some pontoon boats even have enough space for small bars and/or grilling facilities. Some even go as far as having screened in porches and water slides.
The second major pro of a pontoon boat is their comfort. These boats typically have large, flat decks with plush seating, swivel high back chairs and lounges. The decks are usually covered in carpet and the seats are often long enough to allow for stretching out and napping. Furthermore, pontoon boats can support large sunshades for added sun protection.
Because of a pontoon boats’ width and pontoon placement, these boats tend to be very stable. Consequently, they are favorites for people who might get a little motion sick or like to entertain. They also make great recreational platforms for swimming and relaxing.
Pontoon boats have a shallow draft because of their high degree of buoyancy. The two “pontoons” that float these boats are filled with air and keep the majority of each pontoon well above the waterline. As a result, pontoon boats don’t need a lot of depth to float and can explore areas that some other boats can’t.
ENJOYABLE FOR CERTAIN WATERSPORTS
Pontoon boats are fine for certain types of watersports. Tubing and knee-boarding are good activities from a pontoon boat. Water skiing, wake boarding and wake surfing are not because they require either higher speeds or big boat wakes. Regardless, all watersports conducted from a pontoon boat should be done in an area large enough to make safe, wide turns. More on that below.
POOR HANDLING IN ROUGH SEAS
The number one disadvantage of a pontoon boat is its inability to navigate rough seas. In fact, pontoon boats can be bad even in choppy seas. Consequently, pontoon boats should never go into the ocean or Gulf and are best suited for lakes, rivers and calm bays.
INABILITY TO HANDLE LARGE BOAT WAKES
Believe it or not, pontoon boats can’t handle large boat wakes. Because of a pontoon boats’ design, it tends to stay low and take water over the bow when facing large boat wakes. In fact, it’s common for this to happen and for the bow door to bust open as tons of water barrels through (see video above). Furthermore, it’s also common for the bow to spear into large wakes/swells to the point where the boat stops in its tracks and the engine temporarily rises out of the water.
SUSCEPTIBLE TO WIND
Due to a pontoon boats design and buoyancy, they are very easily affected by the wind. Consequently, wind often makes docking and maneuvering a pontoon boat more challenging than a traditional boat.
In addition to wind affecting maneuverability, pontoon boats also require more room to turn and aren’t as nimble as traditional boats. Again, this is attributed to their high sides, high buoyancy and wide pontoons. This results in the driver having to account for these things when docking, turning and all around navigation.
NO BILGE PUMP?
Any boat that takes on water is in significant danger of sinking. That being said, one of the things that can help save a traditional boat is the availability of a bilge pump. Bilge pumps electronically pump out unwanted water from inside a boats’ hull. Pontoon boats don’t have this ability because each pontoon is welded and sealed. Therefore, there’s no way to install a bilge pump and no way to extract water while underway if one of the pontoons gets punctured.
CHALLENGING TO TRAILER
Whenever I see a pontoon boat on a trailer I think about how different it is than a traditional boat. Pontoon boats require two sets of trailer bunks (one for each pontoon). Consequently, it can be more challenging to fit the boat on each pontoon when loading back up. In my opinion, guide posts would be an essential option for a pontoon boats’ trailer. Furthermore, the size of a pontoon boat makes trailering and storage a bit more challenging.
NOT IDEAL FOR FISHING
Pontoon boats aren’t ideal for fishing because they normally have an enclosed railing around the entire perimeter of the boat. Consequently, it’s much more difficult to land a fish compared to a traditional boat. Furthermore, pontoon boats have a higher freeboard than many other boats, making landing a fish tougher than in other boat styles.