Should You Buy a Pontoon Boat or Bowrider
There is nothing better than owning a recreational boat that you can use to hold parties, go fishing, or enjoy some water sports. But when choosing the right boat, things can get tricky, especially when you have to pick between a pontoon boat or bowrider.
How do they differ in terms of features? Which one’s more costly? Are they going to suit your needs? Read on to know the answer to these questions in my analysis below.
Features of Pontoon Boat
A pontoon boat is a rectangular, flat decked boat that is fenced in with high rails. It consists of two long or three, hollow, cylindrical aluminum tubes ( known as ‘pontoons’) that serve as floats to keep the boat buoyant. Pontoon boats, on average, are 22 feet long but reach up to 30 feet and 8 feet wide.
Pros of Pontoon Boats
If a pontoon boat seems appealing to you, then you would be delighted to know how versatile it is. Following are some advantages:
Plenty of Room
Are you planning to celebrate your birthday with your friends and family out on the waters? It’s possible on a pontoon boat. These boats are also known as ‘party-barges’ as they can accommodate 15-20 people, depending on size, on board and have plenty of walking space.
Though they come with a comfortable seating arrangement, you can customize it with a table or two, refrigerator, boat grill, a stereo system, LED lights, and host a stylish floating barbeque party.
Owing to their flat and spacious decks, these boats provide a stable platform for fishing. You can enjoy fishing with your friends or family in a pontoon boat by accessorizing it with multiple fishing rods and a live well. It can also carry a large amount of fish tackle.
Furthermore, they are suitable for thrilling watersports like tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and kneeboarding. By adding an inflatable slide, TV, and or BBQ to your pontoon boat, you can amuse yourself along with your kids every weekend.
Safe and Sound
According to the US Coast Guard Statistics, pontoons boats are very safe. You won’t have to worry about pets or your toddler on a pontoon, as the high rails ensure their safety.
Moreover, since these boats have a wide turn axis, they remain stable when making a turn and are unlikely to flip in the water.
A pontoon boat can cost you as low as $20,000. If you accessorize them or add a second engine, the prices can shoot up to around $60,000 and even more for the longer versions.
But considering its durability, with a lifespan of 30 years, and the number of activities possible with this boat, the price is pretty reasonable.
Cons of Pontoon Boats
Although a pontoon boat may seem like the boat of your dreams, it does have a few drawbacks.
Pontoon boats do not fulfill your need for speed, on average they have a cruising speed of 18-25 mph but in today’s market, you can get a 40 to 65 mph Tritoon. The faster more aggressive Tritoon boats have to have extra strength in their overall build to withstand the extra horsepower which increases its cost significantly.
Since these boats are designed mainly for recreational purposes you will find most pontoon boats have a 150 horsepower motor.
A one-hour trip in the water will consume five gallons of fuel in a typical pontoon boat. Yikes! Due to their multi-hull design, pontoons are not as fuel-efficient as other boats, typically outboard motors are not as efficient as inboard/outboard motors which can be a significant drawback for some consumers.
Not for Rough waters
It’s not a good idea to take a pontoon into the sea, as these boats are designed for handling calmer waters, like lakes and rivers. Moreover, always be aware of the weather forecast with your pontoon, as it can turn over in rough seas of 5-6+ foot waves and larger.
Tritoon boats actually can be a smoother ride in rough waters as the toons keep the boat on top of the water unlike a bowrider (v-hull). The more boat in the water the more you feel the waves.
Features of Bowriders
As the name suggests, a bowrider is hallmarked by a seating area in the bow (the front part of a vessel) and an offset helm. It is usually 17-35 feet long and has a maximum width of 10 feet. They have V-shaped hulls made of fiberglass and closely resemble runabout boats.
Pros of Bowrider
A Bowrider can fulfill all your boating needs. Here are some reasons why :
If you are more into thrilling aquatic adventures, then a bowrider is what you need. These boats can zip through the water at a speed of 45-60 mph.
Additionally, since it’s easy to make sharp turns in a bowrider, it gives better control when pulling tubers and skiers. Some even come with built-in baffles that let the driver fill with water so the boat creates a larger wake that has created a new sport called skurfing (skiing/surfing). So it’s more fun to use a bowrider for these sports.
A bowrider can easily cover an average of three miles per gallon of fuel. It comes with a sterndrive motor, which helps a bowrider cut through heavy ocean waves without burning as much fuel.
Large Storage Compartments
When it comes to storage capacity, a pontoon boat or bowrider is not much different from each other. Although a bowrider appears to have less space, it can easily carry your wakeboard, skis, and tube.
These boats have small doors on the floor that open to reveal huge storage compartments beneath.
Cons of Bowrider
A major setback of purchasing a bowrider is its ability to carry a limited number of passengers. A typical bowrider can only accommodate a maximum number of eight people on board.
With the limited room to move around, this boat is not a good option for recreational activities that involve a large group of people.
A bowrider is a bit costly, with an average price range of $30,000 – $150,000. So if you are frugal, a bowrider is certainly not your type.
Pontoon Boat or Bowrider: a Brief Comparison
A pontoon boat is a large, multi-hulled, secure, stable, budget-friendly, ‘floating living room’ type freshwater boat. This boat allows you to enjoy all types of watersports, like fishing, waterskiing, tubing, and whatnot. There are no limits.
Another thought is that a bowrider has a windshield and most if not all pontoons do not, so if you like to ride in multiple seasons a bowrider is your answer.
In comparison, a bowrider is a small, V-hulled, extravagant, speedy recreational boat designed uniquely with a front seating arrangement that can fit your close friends or family.
This makes them suitable for enjoying high-speed cruising and other thrilling water sports, especially water skiing, in both freshwater and oceans.
Whether it’s a pontoon boat or bowrider, both of them are similar in terms of durability. If you are looking for an easy-to-maintain boat your choice should be a pontoon boat. As an owner of both v-hull and pontoon boats, it’s much easier to keep the pontoons clean than a fiberglass hull boat.
Fiberglass is porous and can absorb algae’s/crust over time when sitting in the water for longer periods. If you are pulling your boat back and forth to the lake each time you are using it then a bowrider might be your better choice.
If you are still in a limbo state of mind about which hull design you are interested in then you need to rent each style of boat. A boat is a big investment, as they don’t come cheap. But if you pick the right one, it can last you a lifetime, especially if you maintain your boat well.
So, before you head out to your dealer to purchase one, make sure you have weighed each boat’s pros and cons and have a clear goal in mind.
So what is your preference? Speedy, sporty bowriders, or laid-back and comfortable pontoons?