Tips for Winterizing & Storing Your Pontoon Boat

Pontoon shrink wrapped for winter storage

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.

5 Things Your Dog Needs to Go Pontoon Boating

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!

How to Launch a Boat the Right Way

There’s nothing worse than hitting the lake and realizing you don’t know how to properly launch your boat. By the time you pull up to the ramp, it’s too late to take a crash course in maneuvering. Instead, save yourself both time and embarrassment by taking a moment now to learn how to launch your boat the correct way.

That means preparing ahead of time by disconnecting electrical outlets and stowing all safety equipment, transom straps, and mooring lines inside the boat. It also means learning how to back up into the water slowly and in a straight line, making only fine-tuned corrections until the water is just above the wheels of the trailer. To get the best results, practice your moves ahead of time in an empty parking lot. That way, you’ll be ready for launching the moment you pull up to the ramp.

Follow these simple steps outlined in our infographic, and you won’t have to fiddle haphazardly with your mooring lines and winch straps to the tune of honking horns and the shouts of impatient drivers.

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How to Plan a Family Fun Day on a Pontoon Boat

There is nothing better than spending a day on your pontoon boat. With that, it can be very stressful if you don’t properly plan your excursion. Imagine a day on a pontoon boat where you visit the same area and do the same activities as the time before, more for lack of imagination than because of the fun quotient. Not to mention the chaos that can ensue if there isn’t enough food, water, or sunscreen for the party.

 

Aside from the dos and do nots for a pontoon boat day, there are numerous fun ideas you and your family should try:

 

  • Explore: Instead of visiting the same place every time, mix it up and boldly go where you haven’t been before.
  • BBQ: If your pontoon boat has a BBQ on it, why not enjoy a beach BBQ?
  • Scavenger Hunt: Invent a scavenger hunt where you stop at various places and solve clues. Will there be buried treasure at the end?
  • Mega Raft: If your friends all have pontoon boats and families, tie up all the boats together and make a mega raft.
  • Waterproof Camera: There is no better way to capture the day and take some memorable underwater photos.

 

Remember proper and creative planning, and you are sure to have an exciting day on the water.

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How the Pontoon Boat Is Redefining Boating

When many people think of pontoon boats, they see a wooden platform stabilized on wooden or steel barrels. While these were definitely the start of pontoons decades ago, the technology has advanced to give people a faster, smoother, and more luxurious experience out on the water. Nowadays, pontoon boats are made entirely with fiberglass to reduce weight without sacrificing stability. Like in other types of boats, pontoons now have traditional hulls to help with steering, and furniture built into the fiberglass to maximize space and efficiency.

Luxury pontoon boats are growing in popularity because they allow families to take part in all of the activities they want. In addition to fishing, you are able to use your pontoon boat for entertainment and watersports. Newer models come equipped with fire pits, cooler space, a barbecue grill, and even a waterslide. Rather than having to slowly float on the water, a 300-horsepower engine allows you to travel up to 65 mph. Learn more about how pontoon boats are redefining boating today.

 

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Traits of the Best Pontoon Boats

What makes a great pontoon boat? If you are looking for a new boat to buy, or want to upgrade your existing pontoon, there are a number of features to incorporate to ensure that you have everything you need when you next go out on the water. Here are some features that make Manitou pontoon boats stand out from the competition.

  • 24-can cooler on board
  • Portable table to relax
  • Marine Vinyl furniture
  • Powder coated walls and rails

When picking out a pontoon boat, you want to be able to infuse your personality, as well. You can add on a BBQ grill for your pontoon, to cook for family and friends, as well as a water slide. If you’re interested in floating out on the lake in the evenings, you can also add a fire pit to keep warm. One of the best reasons to get a pontoon boat in the first place is that it gives you the opportunity to do the things you love whenever you are out on the water.

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Pontoon Boat Safety Tips

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As the winter begins to fade in the rearview mirror and summer approaches, now is the perfect time to brush up on safety tips for your pontoon boat. It is important to make safety your top priority so that you can enjoy your time out on the water and ensure that everyone onboard is risk free. Make sure to have an ample amount of life jackets on your pontoon, because more than 80 percent of people who die in boating accidents are drowning victims.

Don’t forget that it is illegal to operate your pontoon while under the influence, and keeping your attention on the water and other boats is essential. In California, alone, more than 50 percent of boating accidents occur when one boat crashes into another. Here are some other important safety tips:

  • Make sure passengers are seated and wearing proper safety gear before leaving the dock.
  • Use the anchor when you want to remain stationary.
  • Avoid excessive speed and sharp turns.

These tips and other will help you stay safe out on the water when enjoying your pontoon.

The Ultimate Pontoon Boat Safety Checklist

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Taking your pontoon boat out on the water is one of the best ways to spend your time during the summer. There is nothing better than relaxing with friends and family while beating the heat on your pontoon. However, it is also important to ensure that everyone aboard remains safe so that you can avoid accidents and injuries. Last year alone there were over 4,000 recreational boating accidents, with a total of 610 deaths, including 97 injuries aboard pontoons. These happened due to a number of reasons, including alcohol, speeding, and negligence.

In order to avoid accidents and injuries, be sure to compile a safety checklist that includes all of the equipment you need in case of emergency. Ensure your pontoon has a fire extinguisher, ring buoy, and first aid kit so that you are prepared. In addition, perform routine maintenance on your pontoon so that the engine, navigation lights, and other systems run smoothly. Before you next take out your boat, consider compiling a safety kit that includes items such as a pocket knife, radio, battery charger, and more.

Getting Your Pontoon Ready for Spring

As soon as the cold weather starts to lift and the snow begins to melt, it is the perfect time to take your pontoon back out on the water where it is meant to be. However, it is important to first make sure that you have done everything you need to de-winterize your pontoon in order to ensure that it is in prime shape once spring rolls around. When preparing your pontoon to get back into the water after winter, be sure to give it a thorough inspection.

In addition to checking the oil and flushing the cooling system, check all aspects of the motor and fuel line for any cracks or other damage. This way you will be able to get any necessary repairs completed beforehand to avoid causing further harm to the engine and boat. Spark plugs, shifters, and safety mechanisms should also be closely inspected for wear and tear.

Being thorough with your pontoon will allow you to get ready for spring so that you do not miss a single day out on the water when the time comes. Make your checklist now to start preparing.

Getting Your Pontoon Ready for Spring

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