According to a 2016 survey, recreational boating is one of the popular activities among North American campers. In fact, 32% of the respondents said that canoeing or kayaking is their favorite activity.
In relation to this, pontoon boats are becoming an increasingly popular way to get out and enjoy the water.
According to National Marine Manufacturers Association, pontoon boats were instrumental in leading the recreational marine industry out of Great Recession. Sales have been growing steadily as well, alleviating the boating sales slump in decades.
Pontoon Boats: Quick Facts
According to the United States Coast Guard, a pontoon boat is “a vessel with broad, flat deck that is affixed on top of closed cylinders which are used for buoyancy.” These cylinders are call pontoons.
Also called tubes, the pontoons have enough buoyancy that allows boat designers to create deck plans that are ideal for all sorts of accommodations. This includes expansive lounge areas, stand-up bars, and sun pads.
What Makes Pontoon Boats Popular Nowadays?
Last year, American boat manufacturers were able to sell over 40,000 pontoon boats. That is a 10% increase in sales from last year.
So what makes a pontoon boat so popular nowadays?
Depending on the interior and exterior packages, you can have a pontoon boat for as low as $17,000. In fact, Avalon Pontoon’s midrange LSZ Cruise model ranges from $17,000 – $19,000.
On the other hand, their Catalina Platinum Cruise costs between $57,000 and $59,000. This Avalon pontoon boat model features top-end stereo, navigation system, and plush interiors.
Usually between 22 feet and 28 feet long, a pontoon boat is easy to get in and out from a dock.
Unlike a motorboat, it can seat a couple more passengers with enough room for coolers and other boat items. Some models also use less gas compared to V-shaped boats, meaning less people will get seasick.
One of the popular things to do when on a pontoon boat is fishing.
Its stability does not spook fishes away, compared to a rocking V-hulled boat. In addition, the deck’s flat surface gives the fisherman more room to move around.
Its shallow drafts also reduce the risk of running aground. Therefore, it poses less potential hull damage while fishing.
Knowing Your Options
It is a common practice among manufacturers to make a custom-built pontoon boat. However, it can become intimidating or confusing. Not to mention that doing so can be expensive.
Whether you are buying or renting a pontoon, it is always a good idea to know what kind of vessel you would like to get:
Interior and Exterior Packages
Pontoon boats can have more than 20 different interior and exterior layouts and schemes. Plus, you have to consider dozens of fabric, upholstery, and floor coverings.
Good thing, boat manufacturers now have websites that allow you to take advantage of virtual reality. That way, you can build and price your pontoon boat just the way you like it.
In case you are opting for a pontoon boat rental, take these three things into consideration:
- The purpose why you will need the vessel
- What vessel design would make you feel comfortable
- Ease of navigation
Performance and Fuel Consumption
Almost every pontoon boat models comes with a standard engine. If you find it underwhelming, you can opt for something with larger, more powerful engine.
However, you want to take into consideration how fast you want to go and the amount of fuel you can afford.
The helms of a pontoon do not usually provide extensive marine electronics. However, there are some that feature integrated touch panel control systems, chart plotters, and other gadgets that will get rid of your boredom.
Stereos and LED light might seem tacky, but these electronics and sound systems actually add usability. During low light periods, a pontoon boat’s lighting system can light up cup holders or strategic desk areas.
There are pontoon boats that feature additional or larger tubes. Some models also come with tubes with lifting strakes or keels, under-deck skins, and more. Aside from improving the vessels performance, these add-ons also provide additional buoyancy.
Pontoon Boat Rental: Quick Beginner’s Guide
What if you want to hit the open water with style but you do not have a boat?
Sure, you can buy a pontoon boat if you have the means. Otherwise, your next best option would be to rent.
Doing so can be intimidating, but it is actually an easy undertaking.
What you need to understand, though, is that each state has its own laws when it comes to boating. Some requires that you take an education class before operating a pontoon boat. There are also boat rental companies that have particular age requirements.
Moreover, you should make reservations in advance before getting your feet wet.
Other than that, you’re all set to get out in the open water!