Pontoon boats are one of the most family-friendly, budget-friendly, and easy to maintain vessels. They also make great companions for recreation. But, are they safe?
When considering buying any boat, safety should always be the number one item checked off the list. And that particularly applies if you’re relatively new to the boating zone.
Generally speaking, pontoon boats are incredibly safe. They perform best in calm inshore waterways and lakes and protected off-shore or inter-coastal areas like bays or coves.
However, in the unfortunate circumstances of storms and rough waters, pontoon boats can get a bit risky. Despite that, with adequate handling and common sense, you can get back to safety on these recreational boats.
What Makes Pontoon Boats Safe?
The design of the Pontoon boat is what adds to its safety and stability. With two hulls and a flat boating surface, they can sit on the waves rather than in them. These features make them safer than other v-hull and single-hulled ships.
Hence, among the recreational boats out there, pontoons are generally the safer option. And if your boat is a tritoon (with three hulls instead of two), that’s even better!
Tips to Stay Safe With Your Pontoon Boats
Are you wondering whether your pontoon boat can flip, tip, or capsize? The answer is yes, of course.
Although designed to be safe, sufficient responsibility falls on the boat owner. While you cannot defeat nature when it’s out and about, you can still do your best to ensure safety.
Here are a couple of things you can do to avoid your pontoon from flipping over. These tips become especially relevant in choppy waters. Consider them your precautionary measures before setting out to sail.
Do Not Overload Your Boat
As a boat owner, you must know your boat’s capacity. So, make sure not to overload it, as adding weight beyond capacity lowers the stability of your boat.
Keep the Load Even
While adding load in the capacity range is crucial, keeping it spread out evenly on the boat is even more critical. This applies to cargo, as well as passengers. Having your passengers well-informed about the necessity of maintaining balance on board will always help.
Remember that every object derives stability from its center of gravity. So, an unbalanced load disturbs the center of gravity, thus increasing the chances of your boat flipping over, tipping, and capsizing.
You must also remember that any additional modifications added to your boat will also affect its stability. These modifications could be part of the design, too, such as the double-decker pontoon boats.
Consider Your Pontoon Size
The larger the size of the pontoons, the greater the stability. Hence, if your boat has smaller pontoons, be extra vigilant when going out into the waters.
Stay Updated About the Weather Forecast
This goes by common sense, but it never harms to remind. Remember to check the weather and marine forecasts before starting your water trip. Relax and enjoy, but keep a check on the sea and the sky too.
If the weather starts to take a turn and you feel a storm approaching, head for the dock immediately. As goes the saying, better be safe than sorry. It would help if you were especially mindful when out with children and infants.
Moreover, if you feel that it is impossible to head back to the shore, given the time, or the changing weather conditions, consider anchoring yourself. This way, you will be safer.
Modify Your Boat if Required
As a frequent boater who often has to deal with choppy waters, you should think about modifying your boat to upgrade its safety features. This will also work if you want a more comfortable boating experience for your passengers.
You may also consider doing this if you’re boating with your family and children. As you will see, these modifications are designed specially to handle rough waters and enhance speed.
Modifications can include:
- Barracuda nose cones to enhance the efficiency of your boat
- Triple tube pontoons for extra stability and safety
- Positive angle lifting strakes for lifting the boat, especially in rough waters
- Power-assisted steering devices
- Increased engine horsepower and fuel efficiency
- Under-skinning your pontoon – it means adding an aluminum sheet to the underside of your boat. This addition helps reduce drag to splash the water beneath the ship
Maintain Your Boat Well
Everything, no matter how good, calls for maintenance. So, remember to keep up on the required maintenance for your pontoon. This is necessary if you take your pontoon boat in the saltwater since it tends to erode the aluminum.
You have to coat the aluminum with anti-fouling paint. In case you’ve added an under-skin, coat that too. Furthermore, it’s good to wash your boat with fresh water after its trip to saltwater.
Have Life Jackets for All
As a wise and experienced operator, keep life jackets for all your passengers. Encourage them to wear it at all times! The last thing you need when handling your boat through rough waters is distributing life jackets and ensuring your passengers wear them.
Take a Boater Safety Course
You can learn to boat without a course, but taking one will equip you with all the required information you need to avoid increasing the accident statistics. If you took one a couple of years ago, brushing up on your knowledge will also be beneficial.
How to Handle Your Pontoon in Rough Waters?
If the circumstance does occur where you need to keep your pontoon stable through rough waters, a few pointers can help. Remember your primary goal, though. You have to keep your pontoon above water, and the nose cones out of the water.
When cruising straight into big waves, a lot of amateur boaters make the mistake of slowing down. This move causes the pontoon’s nose to dip in the water, resulting in water coming onboard over the bow. As a result, you can have a damaged playpen.
The right way to go about it is to speed up before hitting the wave. This will help you lift your boat’s bow and avoid the water from getting in. It also explains why increasing the engine’s horsepower helps.
Furthermore, when gliding into a wave, take a 30 to 45-degree angle. This angle is much better than taking the waves head-on. It enables you to keep your bow high consistently. One of your tubes will also rise high, helping you to glide the waves more smoothly.
Besides, make sweeping turns with your pontoon because these boats do not turn quickly, even in normal circumstances. In the case of choppy waters, avoid making a quick, narrow turn as it’s risky.
With this, we come to our conclusion. Yes, pontoon boats are among the safest recreational boats out there when handled right, using all precautionary measures.
For some of you who were confused about buying one, you might now feel more confident about having your own pontoon. For others, you may feel excited to try out all the tips and tricks above.
As per record, pontoons are only getting better by the day. They’re among the fastest-growing recreational products. So, why stay behind? Catch a pontoon, and off you go. Happy boating!