How to buy a pontoon boat
A pontoon boat buying guide
Pontoon boats, as with canoes, kayaks and pedal boats, are a favorite of outdoor recreationists and offer lots of memorable experiences on the water. When you're ready to purchase a pontoon boat from one of several different pontoon boat brands, there are a few considerations you will want to keep in mind. Read through the following to get an idea of how to buy a pontoon boat that's right for you.
>> Consider how you'll use your pontoon boat
Pontoon boats are most often made for use in fresh water. The floating pontoon style of the boat is designed to handle the calm conditions of still or slow-moving waters. Some types of pontoon boats can handle salt water if you rinse them with fresh water upon removal from the salt water or if you use a special salt-resistant coating to protect their undersides. Check each manufacturer's instruction manual to note which types of water are appropriate for each boat.
You can power a pontoon boat with paddles or a motor. When learning how to buy a pontoon boat, you will want to research motors if you plan on using them. Motors come in different sizes for varying pontoon boat dimensions, and you will need one that has enough horsepower to get you where you want to go through a variety of conditions. Make sure your motor is easy to operate and most of all, can be mounted on the pontoon boat you are considering.
Remember to check how much weight your boat can safely carry, and consider planned passenger, equipment and cargo weight. Larger pontoon boats for commercial use, which can carry heavier loads, often work as fishing boats, tour boats or water taxis.
>> Consider the sizes and types of pontoon boats
Different types of pontoon boats come in different sizes. When deciding which size is best for you, remember that personal pontoon boats include one-seaters, two-seaters and child-sized boats. Pontoon boat dimensions vary depending on the overall size of the boat and the number of seats. If you plan to boat alone, a one-seater is a good choice. If you plan to boat with someone else regularly or occasionally, choose a two-seater. A child-sized boat or mini pontoon boat is appropriate if your child is an experienced boater.
One-person pontoon boats usually have steel or aluminum frames. Some pontoon boat brands have plastic pontoons connecting the frame, and some have aluminum pontoons. Most boats offer a seat, an optional standing platform or both. One-person boats can float in very shallow water and are easily transported using just your vehicle. As you read information on how to buy a pontoon boat, remember that many one-person boats are also small enough and lightweight enough to carry for short periods as you make your way to the perfect fishing spot. A two-person pontoon boat is heavier than a smaller one-person model and may need a small trailer to transport it to the water. Pontoon boat brands differ by offering plastic or aluminum pontoons for two-person models.
>> Consider the portability of pontoon boat
If portability is a factor as you research how to buy a pontoon boat, the easiest to transport is an inflatable boat. Some inflatable boats will even fit into a backpack when deflated. There are frameless versions, and there are versions with frames to assemble, which need to be stored along with your boat. Some pontoon boat frames are made of aluminum and are lightweight, and others are made of steel and powder-coated for extra durability. Think about the boat's size, how you will transport it and how you will store the pontoon boat as you make your decision.
>> Think about the accessories you want to use
Along with the boat itself, there are accessories to consider. Think about what type of oars or paddles you might want to use and what type your pontoon boat can use. Many pontoon boat brands make boats that come with oar rests and oar locks that you might want to have as well.
In terms of storage, think about how much gear you need to bring aboard your boat. Fishing poles, cargo nets, tackle boxes, rain gear, paddles, first aid kits, food and personal items are all things you might want to take with you. Storage places on a pontoon boat can include platform storage, pocket storage and armrest storage.
Air pumps are necessary for inflatable boats. Make sure your air pump has a valve adapter that fits your boat's air valve. Air pumps come in different styles: hand pumps, foot pumps and electric pumps.
Boat covers protect your boat from the elements. Pontoon boat covers are usually made of canvas or polyester. These covers are waterproof to prevent water from pooling inside your boat and protect the boat's interior while in storage. Different types of pontoon boats have different storage requirements. Are you able to store your boat in your own garage or will you need a boat cover while you store your boat outside?
Lastly, think about repair and maintenance kits. Different pontoon boats will be easier than others to keep in proper working order and will also be easier to repair when it comes to normal wear and tear.
Research individual pontoon boats you are considering so that you can make an informed decision on which is the best pontoon boat to buy.