Pontoon Boat Camping and 9 Tips to Get You Started
If you’re looking to get into pontoon boat camping, you’re probably excited but also antsy about the ordeal. But it’s not challenging as it seems. I’ll show you everything you need to know about pontoon boat camping.
Here are the essential pontoon boat camping tips and advice to ensure a successful and enjoyable trip.
1. Find a Peaceful Area
The first thing you need to do when planning for a pontoon boat camping is to research your area and ensure that it’s peaceful.
You want to avoid anchoring in a busy area or too close to other boats, as this would deny you the solitude and tranquility you are looking for in nature.
Choosing a peaceful area for anchorage will ensure you reap all the benefits of pontoon boat camping and have a great experience with your loved ones.
If you plan to camp in your local lake or beach and don’t know the right spot to anchor, you can ask for recommendations from other boaters.
For pontoon boaters who want to camp in a park, consider checking the required regulations and permits before heading out.
2. Prepare for Cold Temperatures
Camping in a boat differs from other camping environments in that temperatures can get very low at night. You might start shivering at night if you aren’t appropriately dressed for the weather.
The water temperature can go as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the surrounding air to cool off at night. When this happens, the cold breeze may become uncomfortable, with the air temperature ranging between 60 to 70 degrees.
If you want to dock your boat somewhere and set up a tent, you’ll still want to stay warm as the temperature will probably be lower than what you are used to at home.
The best way to stay warm when camping on your pontoon boat is to bring a heavy blanket, thick pajamas, and warm merino wool socks.
And when the sun rises, the cold breeze will not disappear suddenly, so you still need to keep warm in the morning.
3. Bring More Clean Water
As with other types of outdoor adventures, hydration is vital when camping on your pontoon boat.
You should bring more clean water than you’ll need for your camping trip. Never think of drinking the lake water, no matter how clean it appears, unless you have a proper filtration system.
Consider the amount of water you usually drink at home and pack twice that amount or even more for your camping trip.
If you’ll be having someone else onboard, add their drinking quantity, too, to ensure that everyone stays hydrated throughout the adventure.
4. Bring Enough Food Supplies
Before you set off, decide what you’ll eat during the expedition. If you are only out for the night, you have two options, including eating beforehand or bringing cooked food and preparing food on the boat or at your campsite.
The most viable option for most boaters is to prepare the food at home and enjoy it onboard or at the campsite.
If you love grilling on a pontoon boat, you can set off early, catch some fish and grill it on the watercraft or a campfire.
Frozen foods are also a great option, but you’ll still need to start a fire and reheat them. If you choose this option, you can reheat your food quickly on a campfire.
You only need to heat some water in a pot and dip the food in a freezer bag into the hot water. Then remove it after a few minutes, and you’ll have your meal ready.
Warming food in hot water can be incredibly convenient as it simplifies your cleaning work. You won’t need to scrub the pots after using them.
A pro tip for your food packaging is to freeze some clean water and use it to cool your food instead of filling the cooler with bags of ice. The next day, you’ll have cold water to sip under the hot sun.
5. Make Sure You Have all the Pontoon Boat Camping Accessories
Before you set off for your pontoon boat camping excursion, double-check your accessories to ensure you have everything you need while out there.
Returning to land will take a lot of work once you start the boat and leave the docking area.
If you want to avoid unpleasant inconveniences, double and even triple-check your boating and camping gear.
But what do you need for pontoon boat camping? Here is a list of the essentials:
- Portable toilet and enclosure
- Lanterns and strong flashlights
- Bug repellant and sunscreen cream
- Marine VHF Radio
- Life vests
- First aid kit
- Space heater
- Beach Anchor
- Boat grill
- Warm clothes
- Sleeping bag and warm blankets
- Power banks
- Personal care items like shampoo
If you plan to anchor your boat and spend the night at the beach, bring appropriate gear like a tent, tarp, foldable seats, and anything else to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable.
6. Double Check the Weather
Strong winds and rain can wreak havoc on your pontoon boat camping trip, turning it into a terrible disaster.
So, it helps to double-check the weather forecasts to ensure that the night conditions are favorable for camping.
Remember, even if it seems like it will remain sunny and warm forever, the weather can suddenly change while you are out there.
Tracking the weather every hour with a weather forecast app is the best way to ensure it’s safe to sleep outside, especially on or near a water body.
If you notice any suggestions for possible rain or strong winds, I recommend postponing your excursion regardless of how ready you feel.
7. Don’t Leave a Mess Behind
Whether you want to spend the night onboard or pitch a tent on a sandy beach, cleaning up after meals is crucial so you don’t leave trash scattered all over the area.
A general camping rule is always to leave the campsite clean or even better than you found it. Just like you would want to find a spotless campground, don’t make those who come after you clean up for you.
After cooking and eating on the boat, check for any food crumbs and remove them from the deck to keep your watercraft neat and prevent pest infestation.
8. Ensure Balanced Weight Distribution
If you are going to camp on your pontoon boat for the first time, you might be tempted to bring way too many items than you need for an overnight trip.
However, you must be cautious lest you exceed the boat’s weight capacity. The best thing to do is to ensure you have the essentials to make your excursion comfortable and enjoyable.
Packing light will also make it easy to distribute the weight correctly on the boat. This way, you’ll have a stable vessel and keep everyone safe onboard.
9. Keep Your Crew Busy with Fun Boating Activities
If you are camping with your family or friends, you’ll want to keep everyone entertained throughout the trip.
You can pack the essential items for fun onboard games and other exciting boating activities, from snorkeling to water tubing.
If you love fishing, you can bring your angling gear and teach your crew how to catch a big fish effortlessly.
Why You Need a Camping Enclosure for Pontoon Boat Camping
Do you plan to sleep onboard? If yes, a camping enclosure for your pontoon is a must-have. It will give you some privacy and protection from harsh outdoor elements.
With a camping enclosure, your pontoon boat will have walls and a roof to keep you safe throughout the night.
Another good thing about sleeping on an enclosed pontoon boat is that it’s easy to trap more heat and stay warm at night. You may not enjoy this efficiently when sleeping on the sand under a tent.
However, this doesn’t mean an enclosure protects you from all weather elements. In extreme weather, it may provide little to no protection.
For example, strong winds can blow away the enclosure and expose you at night. Heavy rains will also soak the fabric, leaving you with no protection.
So, it all comes down to planning and checking the weather forecast before leaving to ensure a successful pontoon boat camping trip.
Q: Can You Sleep on a Pontoon Boat?
A: Yes. You can sleep on a pontoon boat and have a great night. Pontoon boats provide unmatched stability and are not likely to sway too much or flip, provided you find a good spot and anchor properly.
You can set up a pontoon boat enclosure if you need privacy and protection from outdoor elements.
Q: Can You Put a Tent on a Pontoon Boat?
A: Yes, you can set up a tent on a pontoon boat. If your pontoon boat has a large deck, you can secure a tent with zip ties or a bungee cord and camp in it.
Q: Will a Bimini Top Work for Pontoon Boat Camping?
A: A Bimini top may work fine for pontoon boat camping, provided you have warm clothes and a thick sleeping bag or heavy blanket.
However, a Bimini top will not provide the best protection from outdoor elements, given that it has no walls. It will also not offer you the same privacy level as an enclosure.
If you want to camp using a Bimini top for protection, you must ensure that the weather is ideal for such undertakings. Otherwise, you’ll freeze out in the middle of the night.
Spending a night under the stars on a pontoon boat can be a thrilling experience. If you don’t like sleeping on the water, you can dock the boat and pitch a tent on the beach.
Whichever option you prefer, bringing all the essential gear and paying attention to the weather is important. You don’t want your trip to be an absolute catastrophe.
Hopefully, these tips will help you have a fun night out there and return home feeling rejuvenated.