Champagne, confetti poppers, a live grill, and some rocking dance music are the main ingredients of a celebration party. Add a pontoon boat to the above, and you have the recipe for throwing the most unforgettable party ever.
But exactly how many people can fit on a pontoon boat? Is your guest list exceeding the capacity of your boat? Is the DNR officer gonna give you a ticket for exceeding the limit? Don’t panic.
In this article, I have discussed some details of a pontoon boat’s passenger capacity. This will help you understand how you can enjoy the luxuries on offer in a safe and legal manner.
What Is Passenger Capacity?
Passenger capacity means the maximum number of passengers a vehicle can carry. Most pontoon boats come with a capacity plate, indicating weight details, telling you how many people you can fit on board.
In short, the passenger capacity is the weight limit the boat can bear, translated into a number of people (since you can’t fit humans in pieces).
Average Passenger Capacity of Pontoon Boats
Pontoon boats come in various sizes.
- Small ones are usually 17 – 19 feet long.
- Medium-sized pontoon boats are 20 – 22 feet long.
- Large-sized pontoons have a minimum length of 23 feet that can go up to a maximum of 28 feet.
The layout of a pontoon boat varies from company to company, so does its passenger seating capacity. Here’s what we see in general:
- Eight people can easily fit in a small pontoon boat
- A medium boat can hold up to 13 people,
- Large-sized pontoons can accommodate up to 14 passengers.
This is a standard outline, but the passenger limit can vary depending upon how you have accessorized your boat.
Why Is Passenger Capacity Important?
As you know pontoon boats are highly customizable. If needed, you can turn yours into a dance floor by simply removing the seats. Right?
Or, maybe you can fit eight people on the available seats of your 17 footer, carry three toddlers (because they are so tiny), and your bulldog too.
To be honest, that is not how it works.
It’s not the number of people on board that is important; it’s their weight that counts. Standard outlines tell you about the number of average weighted persons that can board the boat.
A group of five toddlers weigh a lot less than a group of teenagers. Similarly, you can squeeze 10 five-year-olds on your boat, but carrying ten adults will exceed the boat’s weight limit. Exceeding your pontoon boat weight limit can dangerously swamp or even topple your boat in the water.
How to Calculate Your Pontoon Boat’s Capacity
You can’t treat your boat as a weighing scale. I know that you don’t want to embarrass your guest by measuring their weight before onboarding. But what if you calculate your boat’s passenger capacity beforehand?
If this rings a bell, check this step-by-step guide to find out how many people can fit on a pontoon boat.
Step 1: Find Out the Boat’s Dimensions
Measure the length of a single pontoon (the hollow aluminum tube beneath your boat’s deck). Then measure the radius of the circular tube.
Also, you have to know the weight of your pontoon boat, which is usually around 2,050 lbs (I am talking about a 32 feet pontoon with a radius of 11.5 inches) and is indicated in the user manual booklet.
Step 2: Find Out the Area
Calculate the circular area of the pontoon in inches
Area of circle= 𝞹 r²
Area of circle= 3.14 x 11.5 ² = 415.26
Step 3: Tube’s Volume in Inches
Calculate the volume of a pontoon tube in inches
The volume of cylinder = area of circle x height ( length of tube)
Volume of a pontoon tube = 415.26 x 384 = 159459.84
Step 4: Convert it Into Feet
Calculate the volume of a pontoon tube in feet
As one cubic foot has 1728 cubic inches. Therefore
159459.84 / 1728 = 92.28 cubic feet
Step 5: Find Out Buoyancy
As freshwater weighs 64 lbs. per cubic foot
Buoyancy = 92.28 x 64 = 5905.92
Step 6: Get to the Final Figure
Now subtract the weight of your boat (along with engines and furniture) from the calculated buoyancy to calculate weight capacity.
5905 lbs – 3840 lbs = 2065 lbs
So you have a weight capacity of 2065 pounds on a 32-foot pontoon boat, which equals 14 passengers. ( the average weight of each passenger is 150 lbs).
Although this method will give you an accurate weight capacity measurement, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of mathematics, you can always call your boat’s manufacturer and inquire about the details regarding passenger capacity.
Consequences of Overloading Your Pontoon Boat
You can easily end up overloading your pontoon boat as its spacious layout tempts you to bring everything on board.
Every pontoon boat comes with a sticker that has passenger limit and weight capacity detail. These labels are put after the manufacturer’s testing and under government legislation. So, the following are a few consequences of overloading your boat.
Risk of Flooding and Flipping
If you overload your pontoon boat, you make it too heavy to remain buoyant in water, making it prone to flooding, and though it’s rare, sinking!
Moreover, a pontoon boat with too many passengers can dangerously flip in water, especially while making a turn or due to uneven weight distribution.
You Can Get a Ticket
A DNR officer or local law enforcement has the power to ask you to pull over and inspect your boat if they suspect you have overloaded your pontoon boats. You might even end up getting a ticket for exceeding your passenger capacity.
You Can Slow Down Your Boat
Overloading your pontoon boat can affect the boat’s performance in the water, making it slow and difficult to maneuver.
Imagine how you slow down when you have to carry a heavy box? That is exactly what happens when you exceed the weight capacity of your pontoon boat.
Your Insurance Can Get Invalidated
Suppose you encounter a major water accident with an overloaded pontoon boat; your insurance claim can be rendered invalid because the insurance policy will not apply if you had exceeded your passenger limit at the time of the accident.
Make Your Boat Safe
Although pontoon boats are generally considered safe, you can make your boat even safer by putting heavy objects like the cooler and stereo systems in an even manner across the deck.
Furthermore, as safety comes first, when entertaining a large group of people on board, don’t forget to add extra safety equipment to your boat.
A pontoon boat with high-end interiors can be a perfect party venue. But before you plan one, make sure you calculate the weight capacity and make arrangements accordingly, including sending the appropriate number of invitations.