Generally speaking, pontoons can handle much better in choppy water than other recreational boats since they have at least two hulls, providing more stability to the boat than one hull could. If a pontoon (with two ‘toons) is more stable than a monohull, imagine how much better a tritoon’s third tube can make it!
Of course, while a pontoon boat itself is generally safe, a little common sense goes a long way on the water. Besides ignoring common sense, what can get you in trouble on a pontoon is not knowing how to handle the boat when the water gets rough.
Can a Pontoon Flip Over?
Sure, it’s possible to flip your pontoon. It certainly has happened. But it’s highly unlikely if you’re being responsible. While forces of nature cannot be controlled, there are steps you can take as a boat owner and captain to make sure you reduce the chance of these types of accidents on the water.
Here are a couple factors to keep in mind:
Keep an even load on board. This applies to cargo loads, as well as loads of passengers. Consider how weight distribution can contribute to safety on choppy waters. Make sure your passengers know the importance of maintaining balance on board, especially in rough conditions. Keep in mind that any modifications you make to the boat can also affect its balance or center of gravity. For this reason, “Double decker” pontoon boats with a second level, while they offer additional options for fun on the water, are much more prone to tipping.
The bigger the boat, the more weight the elements have to contend with, and the larger the pontoons, the greater the boat’s stability. If your pontoon is on the smaller side, you’ll want to make sure conditions are safe before going out on the water.
Keeping Your Pontoon Stable in Rough Waters
To keep your pontoon safe in rough waters, the key of course is to keep the pontoons above the water and avoid the risk of burying the nosecones. If you’re cruising straight into big waves, and you slow down before hitting a trough, chances are you’re going to dip the pontoon’s nose below water and will take some of that water on board when it crashes over the bow. Depending on the force of the waves, this can cause damage to the pontoon’s playpen, which can cost a considerable amount to fix. Rather than slowing down when riding into the waves, trim up just before hitting the wave. This will help lift the boat’s bow more.
Adjust your course so you’re riding properly into the waves. When possible, rather than riding head-on into the waves, cruise so the waves are at a 30 to 45 degree angle from the center of the boat. Taking the waves at an angle will allow you to keep your bow high more consistently. At this angle, one of the tubes will also ride high, allowing the boat to glide into and out of the waves’ crests and troughs more smoothly. There is still potential to dip the corner of the boat, however.
It is possible to get a special handling package on your boat to handle the elements better. For instance, our Sports Handling Package (SHP) allows higher horsepower and includes power assisted steering, positive angle lifting strakes, and barracuda nosecones, all of which are better for handling rough waters. Underskinning can also help reduce drag from water splashing up beneath the boat.
Watch the Weather and the Water
This is obvious, but you should always check weather and marine forecasts before going out on the boat. When you are on the water, keep an eye on the skies and look for any changes in the water. If conditions start to turn, it’s always better to prioritize safety over pushing for a little more time on the lake.
One of the first questions to ask before buying a new boat is, “What will I use it for the most?”
It can be tough to narrow it down to only one activity. But if you’re looking for a good boat for fishing trips and a comfortable family boat with room for relaxing or entertaining, you don’t have to be torn on which of these to prioritize. With the many fishing pontoons on the market, the dilemma of fishing boat vs. pontoon can be easily solved. Why not get one boat that offers the best of both worlds, and perhaps even more?
Fishing Pontoons: The Best of Both Worlds
Pontoons provide a spacious and safe fishing experience thanks to the wide deck and the stability created by the twin-tube hull. A pontoon’s stability and shallow draft also means you won’t lose your balance moving around to fish from a different spot on the deck – so you won’t scare fish as easily as you would in boats that tend to rock. For all of these reasons, pontoons can be great for teaching kids how to fish.
With the right boat, a morning of fishing will easily transition into a day of relaxation – or active recreation – with family and friends. Pontoons make it easy to create a living room vibe on the water. The stability, deck size, and comfy furniture create a safe and family-friendly atmosphere for kids who might get antsy in close quarters. Depending on the boat’s size and layout, guests will have plenty of space to relax on cozy couches and lounge seats.
Whether you’re fishing or cruising, the pontoon’s bimini cover will provide welcome shade on sunny days.
Pontoon Fishing Boat Setup
Pontoons are also great fishing boats because they have ample room for stowing your gear and customizing a setup for your optimal fishing excursion. Many run-of-the-mill pontoons can be adapted for your preferred fishing setup, but angler pontoons have these essential features built in, or easily added on:
- Two or four-corner fishing seats
- Fishing rod holders
Pontoon Fishing Boat Layouts
If your idea of a fishing pontoon is a small square deck on barrels, allow us to blow your mind. Depending on what you plan for your boat’s primary use, you can prioritize seating for entertaining or for maximum fishing capacity.
Our fishing pontoon models (Aurora Angler, Oasis Angler, and Encore Pro Angler) have two roomy layouts to choose from: Standard (four-point fishing) and Full Front (two-point fishing). The best pontoon layout for you will depend on how you’ll use the boat most, and whether you’ll do mostly solo fishing or prefer to bring a group.
Not Your Typical Fishing Pontoon
Pontoons have a reputation for not handling well in choppy waters, but we’ve addressed that with our patented V-Toon hull. Our luxury tritoon fishing boats include a third tube that increases stability and mimics a v-shaped hull. Whether on two tubes or three, add the right horsepower and you’ll have a high speed pontoon – so when you’re not fishing, you can enjoy a thrilling day of cruising and watersports.
Worried too much engine could scare away your potential catch? You might opt to add an electric trolling motor to the front so you can make a quieter approach. Our angler models include the option of a half door and a trolling motor outlet. (Browse fishing pontoon optional features.)
Not all fishing pontoons are made equal, and not all pontoons have the best layout for entertaining. Whether you’re a diehard angler or a family weekend fisher, Manitou’s angler pontoons offer an optimal experience for versatile boaters.
The following story and accompanying photos were contributed by Gary Baldwin at Lakeview Marina, a Manitou dealer in Noblesville, Indiana. Gary brought a Manitou X-Plode tritoon to the 11th annual Lake Cumberland Poker Run, a large powerboat poker run, the weekend of September 8-10, 2017. Read on for his thoughts on bringing a pontoon to run with powerboats. Thanks for sharing your experience, Gary!
I work part time as a salesman at Lakeview Marina in Noblesville, Indiana. Being retired and a boat nut, the job gives me the opportunity to enjoy boating more than I normally could. Yes, I have a lake house, and yes, we have multiple boats – but of course if you are a boat nut, the more boats you get to enjoy the better.
The boats I’ve had and have are small and slow compared to what I would be up against on this particular weekend at Lake Cumberland. My home lake is Lake Freeman in Monticello, Indiana, and like on most small lakes, 95 percent of the boats are under 26 feet. Very few can exceed 50 mph. So I knew this would be a challenge.
Why bring a pontoon to this poker run?
Lakeview Marina has a history with performance boats, with many friends in the powerboating industry. As a sponsor for this year’s Lake Cumberland Poker Run, and not having a larger powerboat in stock (I sold it), we decided – with owner Jeff Lingenfelter’s nervous blessing – to take a Manitou pontoon boat. This was not your typical pontoon, but a 25 foot dual outboard with 600 HP. This would be my first time taking any boat to a powerboat poker run. I was given the opportunity to run with many 1000 HP boats, quite a few bigger boats with 2000 HP, and just for the thrill of it, seeing boats with over 3000 HP thunder across the water at well over 100 mph. The challenge for the weekend was not to keep up with these guys, but to keep myself and my passengers SAFE in the wakes of mega power and heavy cruisers on a big lake.
The pontoon is a 2017 Manitou X-Plode SWR SHP, 25 feet long with two Evinrude 300 HP G2 outboards, sport arch, joystick assist steering, and a nice big stereo. A very impressive pontoon for the small lakes in Indiana I’m accustomed to boating on. In the weeks leading up to the poker run, I was warned many times about how big and rough the event would be, how crowded it would be in many areas of the lake, and DON’T run into multi-million-dollar boats!
Challenge #1: Maneuvering the Pontoon in Tight Spaces
The Manitou X-Plode and its joystick assist steering coupled to the Evinrude outboards was such a joy. Maneuvering a pontoon on a windy day in tight spaces can be a challenge for even the most experienced pilot. Entering a marina, I would push the Command button to engage the joystick and place the pontoon where I wanted, never having to touch the steering wheel or the two shift handles. Our slip was partially blocked by a very big Fountain powerboat, and beside us were two very expensive show boats. The paint jobs on these boats likely exceeded the cost of our pontoon. More than once, I backed the Manitou pontoon into the slip, past the beak of the Fountain and beside the two other show boats.
Getting gas in a crowded marina on a busy Saturday morning was a typical task made more difficult by windy and tight conditions. I held the Manitou pontoon inline in a cross breeze, and once it was our turn to get gas, I used the joystick to spin the boat counterclockwise about 60 degrees on its center to get parallel with the dock. Then I moved the boat backwards and to the right while staying parallel to the dock to get gas. Getting out of the marina with other boats struggling to maintain “No Wake” and keep thousands of horsepower under control was a predicament. I would side shift out of line and let them pass, shifting back in line once they passed and gave us the thumbs up. This happened many times during the weekend.
On Friday afternoon, when parking at another marina to get food, my choice was either a long walk or once again docking between two boats costing many times more than our pontoon – and it was an easy choice. I went straight to the space, spun 90 degrees, and side shifted into the space. This was not as hard as the maneuvering to get gas, as there was no wind involved, but it’s still something you could not do without the joystick assist.
Challenge #2: Running at Speed with a 600 HP Pontoon Boat
On Friday, we spent most of the day running together. Running with a professional I could trust on my first day at such an event help me get accustomed to running long distances at speed in rough conditions. The Manitou with 600 HP and a V-Toon hull easily kept up with him and many other cruisers and hot boats, running up to and a little over 60 mph. In the Manitou pontoon with the Evinrude G2 outboards, I would hit the Sync button and use one shifter to control both outboards.
We spent much of the day running in the range of 50 to 60 mph. Loaded with gas and coolers, we exceeded 60 mph on clear water many times. In a heavy chop, I would do as the powerboats do, trim down, and the V-Toon hull cut the swells down for a better ride. As the swells cleared, I would trim up and enjoy the ride. I’ve ridden on many a pontoon, and this is the only one I’ve driven that reacts to trim in such a positive way.
Many of the boats we passed could exceed 90 mph on good water, so it was fun to see them catching air and a pounding trying to keep up with Grandpa in a pontoon boat that weekend. We did get a “thumbs up” from many – just not the ones holding on with both hands trying to keep up.
Challenge #3: Keeping My Passengers Safe
Manitou pontoon boats are built differently than any other pontoon. There are too many build details to go into here, but the enjoyment they give is what counts. On Saturday, with many more boats and winds getting stronger as the day went on, I put the pontoon through its biggest test all day long. Late Saturday afternoon, we were exiting the party cove with a flotilla of boats of every size.
We had miles to cover in the worst of conditions. Houseboats, cruisers, power cats, and deep v racing boats were making waves, with troughs as deep as 5 feet coming from all directions. The wind was not letting the lake settle down. With the cruisers rocking and rolling at speed, and the hot boats catching air as they crested the waves, this was not the place for the average pontoons to be. This is not the place to be crazy. This water will roll boats over, swamp your average runabout, and break anything that is weak.
I again put the trim down and used the responsiveness of the Evinrude G2 outboards to keep my passengers safe. I used the throttle to quickly change the attitude of the boat. The Evinrude G2 motors are two-stroke motors, and they respond so much faster than your typical four-stroke outboards. The Manitou V-Toon hull helped make the ride more comfortable, and coupled with the fast steering of the dual outboards, I was able to get across the bad to the little bit of good water there was. Through a lot of this, we were running 25 to 30 mph, above most boats less than 30 feet long.
I kept setting my sights on the next large boat. Watching them rock and roll, rise and fall, I would know what to expect and what to do to make the best of a dangerous crossing. Passing the last large cruiser just before entering the marina no wake zone, again we were greeted with thumbs up.
Powerboat Poker Runs: Not for the Average Pontoon Boat
So, should you take a pontoon to a powerboat poker run? I would not suggest it for the normal pontoon owner. These events create extreme conditions. You have to have great situational awareness. Running at 60 mph in a pontoon seems fast until you get passed by a boat doing 150 mph. Relax at the wrong time, and bad things can happen – and not just for you.
Would I do this poker run in any other brand of pontoon? The answer is NO. I’ve driven many different brands and know how they are built. I have trusted the Manitou pontoons in all types of conditions on our small lakes. I know they are strong and will take care of you and your passengers in rough conditions, even if you don’t know how to run through rough water. During the weekend at the Cumberland Lake Power Run, I ran this Manitou X-Plode through the worst. Now I know it is stronger than I ever thought. I pushed it at times, well above what I would do on a normal busy day on our Indiana lakes. It never flexed, as I’ve had other brands do. It never rattled or squeaked. It never submarined the nose in the worst waves on Saturday, even with all seats occupied, coolers filled, and plenty of gas on board. And I never felt like I was putting my friends or other boaters in peril.
Would I do it again in a performance pontoon? A big THUMBS UP.
Maybe next year I can do it with 800 HP.
Thank you, Lakeview Marina. Thank you, friends, for riding along. Thank you and a big THUMBS UP to Manitou for building a great pontoon.
Though many boaters are never quite ready to end to their season on the water, at some point we have to admit that winter is just around the corner. Winterizing your pontoon boat is an important part of overall maintenance that needs special attention. The process certainly isn’t as fun as spending a day at the lake. But taking the right steps will protect your investment and ensure your boat won’t encounter problems over the colder months and into the spring. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide on how to winterize your pontoon boat before storing it for the off-season.
Step 1: Clean Your Pontoon Boat
Clean out the Interior
Remove any equipment from the pontoon, such as fishing or water sports equipment, flotation devices, ladders, accessories – anything that’s not bolted down. Leaving these extra items on the boat while in storage creates a risk for mildew to form with any moisture that becomes trapped.
You should also remove remove non-factory installed electronic equipment, such as external audio players, depth finders, or anything with batteries, and store these indoors to prevent damage or theft.
Give the floor and cushions a thorough cleaning, removing any dust, dirt, and food crumbs. Wipe everything down with a mild polish and let surfaces dry completely. This will reduce the chances of any mold or mildew growing in the interior of your boat and make your pontoon less inviting for any rodents looking for a place to call home during the winter.
You can leave a few mouse traps or poison out for prevention, but be sure to clean them up in the spring so any children or pets are not the first to find them. A non-toxic option is peppermint oil, which is a natural mouse repellent; mix a few drops with water in a spray bottle and spray the cracks and corners of the boat where rodents might make their nests.
Clean off the Exterior
After taking your pontoon boat out of the water, check the exterior for any plants or mussels attached to your boat, as they will be much easier to remove now than in the spring. Spray down the boat’s exterior and let it dry before putting a cover on. You can also apply a polish to the sides and beneath your pontoon boat to reduce the chances of any rusting and so your pontoon will look great when you unveil it in the spring.
Step 2: Winterize the Engine and Fuel Tank
Since your engine will be dormant for a span of months, you’ll want to make sure it’s properly protected. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on preparing your engine for storage.
In cold temperatures, any lingering water in your pontoon boat’s engine will expand, resulting in cracking and damage. Once your boat is out of the water, you will likely need to drain all water and the coolant from your outboard or inboard engine and replace it with an antifreeze product that is propylene glycol based.
Lubricate the engine cylinders by spraying fogging oil into the carburetors and spark plug holes, following directions on the fogging oil package.
Finally, you’ll want to store the boat with a fuel tank that’s about 3/4 full. If the fuel has ethanol, add a fuel stabilizer to protect the fuel. This will prevent phase separation, which causes buildup at the fuel pickup over time, creating real problems if the engine if you start up the engine in this state.
Step 3: Charge and Store the Battery
If you plan on taking your pontoon boat out of the water, remove your battery and store it in a dry environment that’s close to room temperature, like your basement or storage closet. Make sure that the battery is fully charged before you store it away. You can take it to a marina, or sometimes an auto center, for them to test the battery and charge it up if necessary.
Step 4: Use the Right Winter Cover
Putting a tarp over your pontoon boat is better than having no cover at all, but there are many pontoon boat covers designed specifically for handling extreme temperature changes and lasting through a harsh winter. A good cover should be able to fit your boat snugly and should be able to expand and contract slightly to avoid ripping from temperature changes.
You’ll want to patch or repair any cracks or holes in the cover to prevent rodents from entering, and spray the cover with repellent to prevent chewing. Mice love to make nests in seat cushions on pontoon boats, which typically results in damaged cushions and a mess to clean up.
The biggest concern if your boat will be left out in the open is the potential for a pooling effect on the cover. If water collects on your cover, it can weigh down on the cover and damage it, or leak through to your pontoon boat. You want all moisture to slide right off, which is why many covers come with poles to prop up the cover. Throughout the winter, check to make sure there isn’t any pooling on your cover, and tend to it the best that you can if there is.
Another great option is to shrink wrap the pontoon. This ensures there is no space for water to pool or leak in, and you don’t have to worry about damage to the pontoon cover that you may use throughout the year. Shrink wrap kits can be purchased at marinas and online, but many pontoon boat owners choose to have a professional do it for them.
So there you have it! You’ve taken the necessary steps to protect your pontoon boat inside and out for storage over the winter. Now the countdown to next year’s boating season begins.
This article was originally posted on November 20, 2013. It has been updated with additional information on the winterizing process.
While choosing a name for your pontoon boat may not seem very important, many boat owners consider it a critical step in getting a new boat. With all the money, maintenance, and care involved in boat ownership, and all the great times you’ll have on your new pontoon, it just seems right to give it a name. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite names for pontoon boats that we found or made up ourselves. While some names are fit for all boat types, many on the list are fit for pontoon boats only!
Called in Sick
Dances With Waves
Dark Side of the Toon
Drivin’ Miss Lazy
Eat Drink and Remarry
Finally A Wake
Hot Air Pontoon
Knot So Fast
Knot Too Shabby
License 2 Chill
Man of the Toon
Men Who Stare At Boats
National Pontoon’s Vacation
No Plane No Gain
Over the Toon
The Incredible Hull
Thing 1 | Thing 2
Toon Much Toon Soon
What’s Knot to Like?
This article was originally posted on December 4, 2013. It has been updated to fix broken formatting and include more names.
A typical pontoon boat will travel at a rate of about 18 to 25 miles per hour. It may surprise you that these speeds are more than fast enough for a pontoon to be used for most water sports, like waterskiing and tubing. How fast a specific pontoon can go depends on the number of tubes beneath the deck, the size of the engine, and the load the boat is carrying. Pontoons aren’t usually known for their speed, but we’re doing what we can to change that.
How does a pontoon compare to a fiberglass boat?
Pontoon boats have a multi-hull aluminum structure and float through the water’s surface with a shallow draft. Pontoons can climb above the water and get to plane almost immediately when taking off, and they don’t experience as much horizon loss as speedboats and other fiberglass boats do when accelerating. Pontoons are designed to have maximum deck space and options for seating and entertaining, making them ideal for taking large groups out on the water. Accommodating these features means the average pontoon will be slower than the average fiberglass boat.
V-shaped hulls are the most common shape for fiberglass boats. These hulls have a deeper draft and are designed to displace water at lower speeds and lift the boat to plane at higher speeds. Boats designed to reach higher speeds have to sacrifice deck space, seating capacity, and other features to be more aerodynamic.
Fast pontoon boat design
Even if pontoons aren’t as fast as the average fiberglass boat, that doesn’t mean they have to be slow. Traditional two-tube pontoons are great for slower cruising speeds and a leisurely day on the lake. We’ve found that adding a third tube will not only make a pontoon more stable and buoyant, but with the right design, it can make a pontoon faster.
Here’s how we do it: Our tritoons are built with Manitou’s patented V-TOON hull technology. A larger center tube sits lower in the water, creating an optimal differential from the outer tubes to simulate a v-shaped hull. This means our tritoon boat mimics the physics of a v-hull boat. The tritoon will lift above the water and plane just like a fiberglass boat – only it will get to planing speed more quickly than a fiberglass boat. The V-TOON design also allows our pontoons to bank while turning, like v-hull boats do. Positive angle lifting strakes, available on the center tube on VP models, or all three tubes on SHP models, help our tritoons achieve a smooth plane. The results of these heavily-researched designs are improved acceleration and higher speeds than a typical pontoon boat can reach.
Manitou pontoons also have underskinning to reduce drag from water splashing up beneath the boat. The thick barracuda nosecones on our SHP models make the tubes strong enough to withstand higher speeds and rougher water.
What does all this mean for the tritoon’s speed? Well, with an average horsepower of about 165, our boats reach speeds of around 35 to 40 mph on average. And our 27 X-Plode XT SHP, a new length for 2018, recently reached 71 mph when equipped with two Mercury Racing 400R engines.
So yes, pontoons are generally slower than other powerboats…but they certainly don’t have to be boring! Check out our buyer’s guide to compare our pontoons and see what’s possible.
How to increase the speed and performance of a pontoon
Want a faster pontoon? In addition to the optimal experience a V-TOON hull gives, here are some ways you can maximize your pontoon’s speed and performance:
- Add a second engine.
- Add more horsepower.
- Add underskinning.
- Lighten the boat’s load.
- Ensure the pontoons are clean below the waterline.
- Lower the bimini cover.
If you’re interested in our performance pontoons, contact a Manitou dealer near you to start a discussion!
What’s better than floating along in your pontoon boat? How about waterskiing or tubing behind the back of it while your friends drive you around? When you’re out on the lake cruising around, you can take things up a notch with a number of pontoon-friendly water sports, including wakeboarding and kneeboarding. There is more to it than just cranking up the speed, though. It is important to always put safety first and stay at the appropriate speed to keep things fun and friendly.
While traditional waterskiing is best done with the boat going between 21 and 26 mph, slow it down to about 16-20 mph when tubing. You should also equip your pontoon with an engine that is capable of reaching the speed you need, as well as equipment storage solutions and a tow bar. With the right gear on your pontoon, you and your friends will be able to enjoy your favorite water sports in no time!
There is nothing better than spending time with family and friends out on the water. While you’re enjoying the sun and the water, why not bring along your dog to join in on the fun? Before heading out on your pontoon boat, though, it is important to get your furry friend the stuff he or she needs so your dog can have fun and be comfortable, too.
Start by purchasing a doggy life jacket, which will make it easy for your dog to float around in the water even if he is not a strong swimmer. Next, be sure to add a floating dog ramp to your boat so that your dog can easily get back on board without issue.
Everyone knows that dogs love jumping into water, especially when you throw their favorite toy. A floating ball is the perfect accessory because you can easily keep the game of fetch going all day. When on the pontoon, your dog also needs a tether and harness to stay safe, as well as a cooling bed to keep from overheating. Learn more about how to get these accessories from Manitou!
Our race team has grown accustom to winning the Pontoon & Deckboat Magazine barrel races having done so the last three years. Perhaps these 3 previous years of domination have kept the competition away; only one other company arrived to see how they stacked up to V-Toon Technology. Even the new, dual engine category, could not entice any competition out to the event. The entire article about last September’s event from Pontoon and Deck Boat Magazine can be read below.
To find out more or subscribe to Pontoon and Deck Boat Magazine follow this link www.harrispublishing.com/pontoon-deck-boat
Lansing, MI – On October 7th the Capital Area Manufacturing Council (CAMC) conducted multiple tours of local manufacturing companies to recognize National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). The goal of this event was to expose Middle and High School students and teachers to the strong Manufacturing Industry in the Lansing, MI area. Manitou Pontoon Boats was 1 of the 18 manufacturing facilities that participated in this event by hosting two groups of students and teachers. The group that came learn about and tour the facility was the engineering, welding, and machining students and teachers from the Capital Area Career Center Mason in Mason. For more information on CAMC follow this link www.camconline.org/mfgday.php