Have you just purchased your own pontoon boat? A pontoon is a great investment for those who live near lakes or other large bodies of water. You can use it to get some sun, relax with family, party, swim or fish. A pontoon gives you plenty of space and provides a stable and steady boating experience. However, if you are just starting out, you should be aware of several tips that will help you with your first summer of sailing your pontoon boat. Follow the tips below to have the safest, most enjoyable, and most fulfilling time with your new pontoon boat.
Be Aware of Safety Laws and Basics
If the pontoon is your first boat ever, you will need to acquaint yourself with your state’s laws. You will need to carry communication equipment on your pontoon as well as life jackets for all of your passengers. You are also required to have a fire extinguisher on board. Finally, make sure that you learn and understand the terminology, such as bow, stern, throttle, and prop.
Avoid Fighting Currents
While a pontoon is fairly stable, it can be hard to drive it against currents because of its size and lack of depth. This is especially important when bringing the pontoon in to dock. When you are fighting against wind or water currents, you may be unable to line up the boat successfully and you may need to circle around the dock the other way or use someone else to help guide you into position.
If you accelerate your pontoon too quickly when you are in open water, you risk having the bow rise too quickly, causing a bumpy experience as well as terrible noises from your propeller. Be sure to drive your pontoon slowly in crowded waterways. Even when you have wide-open space, you will probably not want to drive the pontoon with more than a 75% open throttle. Get in the habit of taking things slow and steady.
Stay Away from Sharp Turns
Once again, as a large boat, it can be difficult to turn a pontoon quickly. If you turn too quickly, you risk raising the propeller out of the water where it will not be able to direct or move the pontoon. Keep the motor running steadily and keep weight evenly distributed across the pontoon. While it is very difficult to flip a pontoon, you can correct most problems simply by reducing speed.
Use It for Swimming or Beaching
Pontoons are incredibly fun because they can be used as large docks in the middle of a lake or as sunning areas. If you are taking your pontoon up to the beach, beware of shallows where you could ground your boat. Also, run your anchor from the bow of the boat. Another fun option is to attach rafts to the back of the pontoon.
Of course, every style of pontoon can be slightly different, and you will want to make adjustments if you have a tri-toon, for example. The best tips to keep in mind are to sail your pontoon steadily, to give your riders warning when you plan on increasing speed or turning and to take great care when docking her. Most of all, be sure to relax and have a great time on your little part of paradise.