In recent years, pontoon boats have begun to close the gap for those looking for a new boat to take out on the water. Even for those “fast” boat lovers, the shift to a more performance oriented pontoon model is taking place. Why? Pontoon boats provide the ability to take a nice slow relaxing ride with friends and family, you can pretty much shore it anywhere and the ease of getting on and off the boat is an added attraction.
In places like Galveston, you will often see pods of pontoon boats floating or beached along the shoreline enjoying food and fun!
So how do you choose a pontoon boat? Unfortunately, the one-size-fits-all philosophy just doesn’t apply here. You need to find a boat that fits your needs. Here are a few tips on finding the perfect pontoon boat:
How many will you be taking on your boat?
For 2-6 people, an 18-20 ft. will work
For 6-10 people, a 22-24 ft. will work
For 10 or more people, you should only consider a 24 ft. or larger boat.
How often will you use your boat for fishing?
70-100 percent, you should think about a dedicated fishing model pontoon
10-70 percent, you should consider a fish and cruise model pontoon
Under 10 percent, you should really think about a dedicated cruising pontoon.
Are you going to pull adult skiers and pull water toys?
If you answered yes, then you shouldn’t consider anything under 90hp and if possible, choose a bigger motor.
How long will your cruises last?
If you’re planning long cruises on your pontoon boat, then a changing room with a porta potti, double biminis with side kits, a grill and sink and possibly seating that pulls out to make beds might be an important factor in your purchase.
Do you want a new or used pontoon boat?
I you are choosing a used pontoon boat, you should always crawl under the boat and see for yourself that there are adequate cross members between pontoons and how the flooring is attached to them. This is very important as the difference will be a long lasting investment or just another pontoon boat that gets discarded after a few years.
There are three primary types of pontoon boat designs:
U Shaped Foam Filled – The advantage of foam filled logs is primarily the inherent safety of a redundant flotation system that it provides. Foam filled logs also offer manufacturers a cost savings in the production of them.
Single Chambered Baffled Round – In general round pontoons offer some significant advantages for geometrically a cylinder is the strongest shape that aluminum can be formed into. The symmetrical design means the diameter stays the same regardless where you measure it. The larger the tube is in diameter the more weight it can carry and the more water it can displace.
Round Pontoons with Airtight Individual Chambers – These usually feature at least three often more distinct individual chambers per pontoon. They offer all the efficiency and most repairable. The airtight chambers should they be hulled only allow water into the individual chamber that received the damage. The airtight chambers offer outstanding safety due to this compartmentalized design.
For more information on pontoon boats, visit your local boat dealer!
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Thanks for the tip that 2-6 people will fit on an 18-20 ft. boat. You also said that if you use your boat for fishing 70-100 percent of the time, you should choose a dedicated fishing pontoon. I think it’s a good idea to choose a pontoon boat that does not have any rust spots (if you’re buying it used) so that you do not need to make major repairs.