Fast Pontoon Boats: Manitou Performance Tests

The latest Evinrude performance reports are out, and we’re excited to share the capabilities of our Manitou pontoon boats. The performance reports test all kinds of watercraft in various conditions and determine the best fuel efficiency, acceleration, and top speed.

In our entire line, Manitou pontoon boats have maximum horsepower ranging from 60 HP (18 Aurora LE Twin Tube) to 800 HP (27 Legacy LT SHP 575 Dual Engine). Our boats average about 165 HP, providing optimum cruising speeds of 25-40 MPH based on the specific length and horsepower combination.

How Fast Will My Pontoon Boat Go?

If you have one of the five models we’re discussing here, we can tell you exactly how fast your pontoon boat will go in conditions similar to those from the test run. In general, there are several factors that affect the maximum velocity of high-speed pontoon boats.

Generally, the more horsepower you have, the faster you can go; however, the size of the boat and its load also affects speed. Larger, heavier boats are slower than smaller boats, although you can make up for the difference by adding more powerful engines.

For more details on what impacts the speed of your boat, take a look at How Fast is a Pontoon Boat?

Sports Handling Package for a Faster, Smoother Ride

Our Sport Handling Package (SHP) is designed to give you maximum maneuverability of your pontoon boat, even at high speeds and in rough waters. With a maximum horsepower of 175-800 HP, positive-angle lifting strakes, and a Barracuda nosecone design, SHP pontoons, in general, can go faster and move smoother than other pontoon boats.

25 X-Plode RFXW SHP Dual Engine

The Latest Evinrude Performance Reports

2018 Manitou 27 X-Plode RFXW

With twin Evinrude G2 300 HP engines

This 600 HP pontoon boat from our line of luxury pontoons was tested last fall in medium-chop water conditions and a wind speed of 10 MPH, registering a top speed of 65 MPH, accelerating at 3.5 seconds to plane. Its best fuel efficiency came in at 2.28 miles per gallon, which means, at 90% fuel capacity, the Manitou 27 X-Plode can travel 185 miles at 29 MPH.

Read the full bulletin here. 

2018 Manitou 25 X-Plode RFXW SHP Dual

With twin Evinrude G2 300 HP engines

Also tested in 10 MPH winds and medium-chop conditions, this 600 HP pontoon boat reached a top speed of 65 MPH, requiring 3.6 seconds to plane. The 25 X-Plode RFXW SHP Dual is another in our line of luxury pontoons and recorded its best fuel efficiency of 2.38 miles per gallon, meaning it can cruise at 31.5 MPH for 193 miles at 90% fuel capacity.

Read the full bulletin here.

2018 Manitou 23 Encore SHP

With twin Evinrude 150 H.O. engines

A 300 HP pontoon boat, the Manitou 23 Encore SHP was tested in medium chop and in 10 MPH winds. One of the most desirable mid-class luxury pontoons available, the Encore showed the ability to cruise for 230 miles at 30.5 MPH at 90% fuel capacity, and its best fuel efficiency came in at 2.84 miles per gallon. Accelerating at 3.5 seconds to plane, the Encore reached a top speed of 52 miles per hour.  

Read the full bulletin here. 

2018 Manitou 25 Legacy RFXW

With twin Evinrude E-TEC 200 H.O. engines

One of the quickest accelerations among Manitou models in the performance reports, the Manitou Legacy 25 RFXW, from our line of luxury pontoons, needed 3.3 seconds to plane. Its top speed was 57 miles per hour, and it recorded an optimal fuel efficiency of 2.57 miles per gallon. At 90% fuel capacity, the 25 Legacy can cruise at 30.5 miles per hour for 208 miles.

Read the full bulletin here. 

2019 Manitou 25 Legacy LT SHP Dual

With twin Evinrude E-TEC 300 HP engines

This 2019 luxury fiberglass pontoon model, tested in August in 10 MPH winds and medium chop, reached a top speed of 63.2 miles per hour and cruised at a fuel efficiency of 2.37 miles per gallon (capable of 192 miles at 30.8 MPH with 90% fuel capacity). The 25 Legacy LT accelerated in 3.8 seconds to plane.

Read the full bulletin here.

If you’re interested in learning more about Manitou’s high performance pontoon boats, request a 2019 brochure or connect with a dealer near you.

 

Can You Take a Pontoon Boat on the Great Lakes?

Based in Lansing, Michigan, we’re lucky to be located near the Great Lakes. Whether you share that good fortune or are considering taking a trip with your boat to the area, you probably want to know if pontoon boats are suited for large bodies of water. In short: Yes.

Manitou 25 Legacy LT Dual Engine Pontoon Boat

You can take your pontoon boat into any of the Great Lakes, but you’ll have to consider a few additional precautions as compared to when you spend your time on inland lakes.

Because of the immense size of the Great Lakes, they vary a lot from inland lakes. On an inland lake, for instance, you’re always close enough to shore in case you need to retreat from weather. Waves can get a lot bigger on any of the Great Lakes, and the water is almost always rougher than an inland lake, even in mild conditions.

Since the Great Lakes are all freshwater, you won’t need to worry about the extra harshness of saltwater that you need to consider if taking your pontoon boat into the ocean. Still, a lot of the same general safety guidelines apply:

  • Check the weather before venturing out. If conditions are going to be rough, or the waves are going to be too high, you’ll want to stay closer to the shore than normal—if you go out at all.
  • Stay close enough to the shore to be able to get back safely in case the weather changes. Generally, on calm days, you’ll be safe within a couple miles of shore. On less calm days, plan accordingly.
  • Make sure you have all the proper safety equipment on board, which you should be doing for all trips anyway.

 

What is a Safe Pontoon Boat Size for Great Lakes Boating?

Our tritoon boats are more stable than a conventional two-tube pontoon boats, and that advantage is amplified in the rougher conditions of larger bodies of water. You don’t need a tritoon boat on the Great Lakes, though. As long as you have large tubes (at least 25 inches in diameter), you should be okay to go into the Great Lakes.

Also consider the thickness of the sheet aluminum used to make tubes, as this can help with durability in rough conditions. Our tubes, at a minimum of .090 inches thick, are some of the most durable in the industry.

Finally, the more horsepower you have, the better. In case you need to cut through waves or return to shore quickly, having adequate power while on the Great Lakes is important. We recommend at least 150 HP when you’re out in open water.

Activities on the Great Lakes

Depending on the day, you can do pretty much anything on any of the Great Lakes that you can also do on an inland lake, but here are some of the best things to do on each of the five Great Lakes:

Lake Michigan at Sunrise
Lake Michigan at Sunrise
  • Lake Michigan, especially on the Michigan side, possesses some of the best beaches in the country. It’s perfect for beaching your pontoon and spending a day enjoying the water.
  • Lake Huron has a lot of boat traffic and also gives you easy access to many campgrounds along the east coast of Michigan. Just north of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Mackinac Island sits in Lake Huron.
  • Lake Ontario has perhaps the most recreational boat traffic of any of the Great Lakes and is also one of the best for fishing. You may see several of our angler boat models out there with you.
  • Lake Erie is the warmest, making it ideal for skiing, tubing, or swimming as you cruise in your pontoon boat.
  • Lake Superior is one of the best for sightseeing, but as the coldest and largest, is also the lake you need to be especially prepared for if you plan to pontoon on it.
Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior
Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior

A pontoon boat is one of the most versatile crafts on the water, and being able to take it onto the five lakes that make up the largest body of freshwater on earth is just one of the many perks. As long as you’re prepared and cautious, you might find yourself taking the pontoon boat out into the Great Lakes more and more often.

Do Pontoon Boats Hold Their Value?

With any big purchase, buyers want to know they’re making a good investment. A “good investment” can mean a lot of things, though. To some, a good investment is money well spent, which could be as simple as paying $10 to see a great movie. To others, a good investment requires an appreciation of assets. Buy low, sell high.

When it comes to vehicles, both on land and on water, it’s generally accepted that the monetary value will depreciate shortly after purchase, and thus, a good investment requires getting a quality, reliable vehicle you can enjoy for years.

That perfectly describes a pontoon boat investment. You probably won’t be able to sell one for more than you paid for it, but you will get your money’s worth.

Manitou Aurora Angler VP Pontoon Boat

How Much Do Pontoon Boats Cost?

New pontoon boats can cost as little as around $15,000, and as much as $200,000+, depending on your accessories, amenities, engine, and anything else you may want to add. For a more in-depth breakdown of what you can expect to pay, read our post: All About Pontoon Boats.

How Much Does a Pontoon Boat Depreciate in Value?

It’s pretty well known that cars depreciate rapidly. As soon as you drive them off the lot, they’ve lost some monetary value. The same is true of pontoon boats; the value of your boat will depreciate a fair amount in the first couple years of ownership. After that, the value will depreciate by much less, eventually holding stable after about 12 years.

More good news: You’re not buying a pontoon boat for the same reason you’re buying a car. You’re buying it for the activities, memories, and fun, which can’t be assigned a fixed dollar value—you determine how much those things are worth.

What Contributes to a Pontoon Boat’s Resale Value?

Again, a pontoon boat’s trade-in value is similar to that of a car. The brand, age, amount of use, condition, and any number of add-ons or other amenities can contribute to the resale value.

In general, most pontoon boats depreciate at a similar rate, though, so a boat that costs $40,000 new will sell for a higher price used than a boat that originally cost $20,000.

For specifics, you can explore the boat pricing resources on NADAguides and other similar websites. Feel free to contact your local Manitou pontoon boat dealer, who can also help determine your pontoon’s resale value.

Should I Buy a Used Pontoon Boat?

When in the market for a pontoon boat, it’s definitely worth contemplating buying used, but you’ll need to ensure you’re getting a quality vehicle. Take a look at our Buying a Used Pontoon Checklist for some of the crucial areas you’ll want to consider.

Return on Investment

If you’re in it strictly to make money, buying a pontoon boat doesn’t make sense. You won’t be able to sell it for more than you buy it, but that’s pretty well understood by anyone who buys a vehicle of any kind.

Instead, the return of investment comes in all the fun, hours of entertainment, and memories you’ll enjoy with your boat. While your boat won’t appreciate in value, you can unquestionably get your value out of it, thereby giving you what many would consider the best kind of return on investment.

 

How Shallow Can a Pontoon Boat Go?

No one operating a watercraft of any size wants to get stuck, whether the vessel is as small as a personal watercraft or as massive as a cruise ship. Getting stuck can not only be harmful to your boat, but depending on the circumstances, can be extremely dangerous as well.

Thus, it’s important never to drive your pontoon boat into water that’s too shallow. Still, there are reasons you might want to get into shallow water, so it’s best to do so safely.

In general, you can probably take your pontoon boat into water as shallow as two feet of real depth, but this, of course, depends on several factors.

What is Real Depth?

Real depth is exactly as it sounds: The actual depth from the surface of the water to the floor of the lake or pond. Because of the way light refracts at the surface of the water, you can’t judge real depth simply by looking down (the perceived depth is called “apparent depth,”), so you must ensure a true measurement of real depth.

If your boat is equipped with a depth gauge, the water depth is likely read from the rear of the boat, so take that into account as you start approaching shallower depths.

Also, you should take special care to make sure the depth is consistent throughout the path you want to travel. If debris, seaweed, sandbars, or anything else get in the way, you lose your depth and risk getting stuck.

If you are unfamiliar with the waters, discuss potential hazards with other boaters who are accustomed to the area. Then proceed with caution.

Manitou Oasis Angler pontoon in shallow water

Reasons to Take Your Pontoon Boat into Shallow Water

For some, maybe shallow water will never be a concern, as most of the activities you enjoy take place in deep water. Still, it’s likely you’ll be docking your boat in shallow water, or using a boat launch to get in and out. So, it’s important to know your depths wherever you go.

For those who enjoy fishing, you may find it advantageous to get into shallow water for your catch of the day. Likewise, if you want to spend some time on the beach during your voyage, it makes sense to anchor close to the beach, where the water is shallower, than to anchor way out and try to swim a ridiculous distance in (and then back out). 

Precautions to Take in Shallow Water

When we mentioned two feet of real depth earlier, we were speaking in generalities, as we noted. Three feet is better, and four is better still, but as you get to know your boat and your habits, you’ll be able to find your confidence level.

Consider How Much Weight You Have on Board.

If two people had an easy time gliding through two feet of water, that doesn’t mean a full boat of 10 or 11 people will have the same carefree ride. Always take into account the weight of the people and objects on your boat before entering shallow water.

Consider Your Hull’s Draft.

With a hull that sits deeper in the water, you will need more leeway with the real depth of the water. Note that the hulls of triple hull pontoons in particular often sit lower; for example, the center tube on our V-Toon models is 5.25” lower than the outer tubes.

When you move into shallow water, make sure to trim up the engine, but don’t go all the way up (if you get stuck with the engine tilted as far as possible, you’re stuck for good). Try trimming up far enough that the propeller gulps for air, and then lower it a minimum of two inches. Check that the outboard is still spitting water out of the valve to ensure the engine does not overheat.

Finally, make sure your path doesn’t have any obstructions. Seeing underwater is difficult even when crystal clear, so be especially careful in darker waters.

Read Your Pontoon Boat Owner’s Manual.

The manufacturers specifically design their boats for your pleasure, and they want you to enjoy them as much as possible. Heed their recommendations, and if you have any questions at all about the capabilities of your pontoon boat or your future boat, feel free to contact your local dealer as well.

Pontoon Boat Layout Ideas

Pontoon boats wouldn’t be called the most versatile watercraft in the world if they weren’t customizable, right? Of course not. Especially with the advancements in manufacturing we enjoy today, you can customize your pontoon boat design to fit exactly what you like to do—whether it’s cruising and lounging, fishing, socializing, skiing and tubing, or anything else you can do on the water.

A Layout for Every Activity

When designing the layout of your pontoon boat, it’s important to determine how you plan to use your boat. While you can use it for everything listed above, you probably don’t need to incorporate any fishing seats or accessories if you don’t ever plan to fish, for example.

Whether you plan to design a boat for a single activity or create a layout that is optimized for several activities, you’ll be able to do it. Seating layouts that face each other (or don’t), create an open common area (or don’t), put you in prime position to catch fish (or don’t) will not only make your pontoon boat exactly how you envision it, but will also enhance your enjoyment on the water.

Consider the Length of the Boat and Deck

Pontoon boat floor plans must, obviously, fit within the size of your deck. As such, how you maximize your space depends crucially on your deck size. Most of our pontoon boats are available in 23-, 25-, and 27-foot lengths, allowing you to decide how much space you need for seating, storage, and open areas.

For reference, take a look at how a floor plan can vary between 23 and 27 feet on our 2018 Legacy LT SHP:

Manitou Legacy LT Pontoon Boat Layout Comparisons

Types of Seating and Furniture

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you realize how many options there are, but it’s also easy to narrow your choices if you know how you’re going to use your boat. Choose from chairs, benches, lounge seats, fishing seats, seats with storage, seats that convert to tables, bars, stools, a sundeck, and more.

Fishing seats are essential for anglers, but probably take up too much space if you don’t fish. To build a comfortable floating living room, vary your benches and chairs to create ideal social settings. A sundeck is a popular option for almost any pontoon enthusiast, and you’ll probably want to leave a little extra room if you’re predominantly using your boat for water sports.

To see how a similar space can be used for different purposes, compare the Aurora, an ideal versatile model for new pontoon boaters, in 20 and 22 feet, with the Aurora Angler LE, in the same lengths, built specifically for fishing.

Manitou Aurora Pontoon Boat Layout Comparisons

A Luxurious Ride

Are you looking for the ultimate in pontoon luxury? Seats that convert into sun lounges, elegant fiberglass touches, and a built-in swim platform can put you on the water in superior style.

Take a look at some of the floor plans for our Legacy models to see how you can lay out your luxury pontoon:

Manitou Legacy Luxury Pontoon Boat Layouts

Build the Boat You Want to Use

With so many options, buyers can get caught up in wanting a little bit of everything. That’s natural, and adding certain elements that enhance your many activities is a good idea, but your absolute best option is to design the boat you will want to use over and over. You need to focus on the features you will use most often, and design your floor plan to accommodate your boating lifestyle. When you do that, you will have dramatically enriched your summers for years to come.

Buying Your First Pontoon Boat

Searching for your first pontoon boat doesn’t have to be overwhelming, even if it may seem like it at first. You know pontoon boats are the most versatile craft on the water, so whatever you get will be able to accommodate your specific desires. Still, you can hone in further to make sure you get the ideal boat for what you like to do, while maintaining the versatility that will allow you to enjoy other activities, as well.

Call it a “starter boat” if you want, but with all the possibilities available, you’ll consider yourself a boating veteran in no time.

Tips for first-time pontoon buyers, featuring Manitou's Aurora models—great options for a first pontoon boat.

What Do You Want to Do with Your Pontoon Boat?

If you plan to use your boat for skiing, tubing, and other water sports, you need to look into a model with a powerful engine and easy access in and out of the water.

Prefer lounging, entertaining, or fishing? If so, you can focus less on the boat’s power and more on its deck space, seating capacity and configuration, and specialty fishing accessories like a live well, fish locator, and fishing chairs.

Again, because pontoon boats are incredibly versatile, you won’t be sacrificing one activity in order to get another. Instead, think of it as maximizing the activities you will do most often.

For more of the basics to consider, check out Four Questions to Ask Before You Buy.

First Pontoon Boats: Get a Lot for a Little

One of the best features of pontoon boats—at all price levels—is how much you get relative to the cost. The value of a pontoon boat is unbeatable.

When looking for a starter boat, there are three Manitou models we recommend you look at right away, to get Manitou’s industry-leading performance at an affordable price:

Aurora

Known as the most accessible pontoon boat on the water, the 2018 Aurora has all the craftsmanship and performance you expect from Manitou, but at the most attractive price in the line.

Manitou 20 Aurora RF pontoon boat

Aurora LE

The most customizable Manitou line, Aurora LE, lets you choose exactly what you want while getting unmatchable performance at this price point.

Manitou 25 Aurora LE RF VP pontoon boat

Aurora Angler LE

Built for the fisherman, the Aurora Angler LE is extremely customizable and adaptable to all pontoon activities. This model gives you the fishing chairs and accessories you need to spend the day angling on the water.

Manitou 20 Aurora Angler VP pontoon boat

Find Your Pontoon Model 

Pontoon boats are versatile, accessible, and affordable. If you’re looking for your first pontoon boat, the Aurora models will give you value you can’t find anywhere else.

For more information on our Auroras and all the other Manitou pontoon boats, take a look at our buying guide, and get connected with a Manitou dealer near you.

 

How Do Lifting Strakes Work?

When you want your pontoon boat to go faster, or ride smoother in rough waters, you would benefit from having lifting strakes. But what are lifting strakes? What do they do? And do you have them already?

Chances are, if you’ve purchased a 3 tube pontoon boat in the last several years (and certainly if you bought it from us), lifting strakes were already installed and are doing their job.

Lifting strake on a Manitou 25 Legacy LT SHP
Example of a lifting strake on a Manitou 25 Legacy LT SHP

The Basics

As pontoon boats continue to get more versatile, allowing for owners to leisurely float, casually cruise, or play water sports like skiing and tubing at high speeds, outboard motors are getting bigger.

With bigger outboards, the pontoons need some help generating lift. Without lift, the boat would be limited to floating and slow cruising. That’s where lifting strakes come in. The strakes, welded directly onto the pontoons, produce lift at the bow by displacing water, allowing the boat to, in essence, glide above the water rather than lumber through it.

Many lifting strakes use negative angles, which can generate lift, but can hurt the quality of the ride due to increased slamming loads.

Manitou’s lifting strakes work to not only create lift, but also to make the ride smoother.

Lifting Strakes on Manitou's V-Toon Design

Manitou V-Toon Lifting Strake Design

Instead of using negative-angle strakes, we designed strakes that work in concert with our V-Toon technology to give boaters the speed—and the smooth ride—they want. The key is creating and maintaining balance.

Because our V-Toon tritoon boats are the most agile and predictable at high speeds on the water, we attached strakes to the inside and outside of all three pontoons of our SHP (sports handling package) hulls, enhancing the agility and predictability to keep you moving exactly as you want, whether you’re skiing, cruising, or anchoring.

Benefits of Lifting Strakes

When your strakes are installed properly and working effectively, you get several tangible benefits:

  • More speed. When you’re above the water rather than trying to plow through it, you can generate significantly more speed.
  • Smoother ride. Especially with V-Toon technology, the balance and lift you get from the strakes keep your ride smooth.
  • Better fuel efficiency. Simple: when it’s easier for your boat to move, it requires less fuel to do so.

Lifting strakes can be retrofitted to your pontoons, but as mentioned earlier, most new models will come equipped with them. If you decide to add them to your current model, you’ll of course want to make sure they are expertly positioned and that the welding is top-notch to get the true benefits of the modification.

Are you in the market for a new (or new to you) pontoon? Strakes are a feature you’ll want for an optimal experience on the water.

If you’re curious about other features of our pontoon and tritoon boats, check out our current Buying Guide, or learn more about our patented V-Toon technology.

How to Improve Pontoon Boat Performance

Manitou 27 X-Plode SRW Dual Engine
Manitou 27 X-Plode SRW Dual Engine

The power and performance of pontoon boats is becoming less of a secret and more of an expected feature for potential buyers. Nobody wants to give up the social aspect of the floating living room, but as engines get bigger and designs get sleeker (particularly with our V-Toon technology), pontoons—already the most versatile vessels on the water—are even more versatile. 

Add More Speed

The maximum speed of your pontoon boat is affected by several factors, mainly the size of the engine, the number of tubes beneath the deck, and the amount of weight the boat is carrying.

[Related reading: How Fast is a Pontoon Boat?]

If you’re looking for a faster pontoon boat, the easiest way is to lighten the load. That is, fewer people, fewer coolers, less furniture, etc. One of the best aspects of a pontoon boat is its versatility. While socializing with large groups of friends and family is a great way to spend time, you can also grab just a few friends, some tubes, some skis, and spend the day on the water with speed.

Increasing the power of your engine will also add speed to your boat. Most performance pontoon boats come with engines that provide plenty of power for speeds of 18-30 MPH, which is enough for tubing and skiing, but if you have a less powerful engine and are ready to speed things up, you can look into adding more horsepower.

Increase Performance with V-Toon Technology

Our V-Toon technology is designed to act like a v-hull boat. With a center tube sitting lower in the water, the tritoon design can lift and plane like a fiberglass boat while maintaining the stability of a pontoon boat.

Pontoon boats with V-Toon hulls give you quicker acceleration and higher overall speeds.

Enhance Performance

Reduce drag from splashing water by adding underskinning, and reduce wind resistance by lowering the bimini cover. By making sure your pontoons are clean below the water line, you increase the smoothness of the boat’s movement through the water, with the end result being a faster pontoon.

By keeping up with necessary maintenance and adapting your boat to the needs of the day, you can maximize its performance to the exact purpose of that day. Slowly cruising with friends is just as accessible as waterskiing. It’s completely up to you.

[Check out our performance pontoon boats for the best of both worlds!]

Can a Pontoon Boat Pull a Skier?

One of the absolute greatest attributes of a pontoon boat has always been its versatility. There is no other boat on the water that lets people do as many things as a pontoon boat does.

Fishing, of course. Cruising with family and friends (and fitting a lot of them comfortably), yes. Socializing, swimming, dining—pontoon boats are floating parties, sanctuaries, or anything you want them to be.

And yes, you can waterski behind a pontoon boat.

Waterskiing behind a Manitou Legacy pontoon boat

Well, not every pontoon boat. Obviously, you need enough speed to be able to ski behind a boat, and to get speed, you need enough horsepower in the engine. Many people don’t associate horsepower with pontoon boats, but it’s time we change that belief.

Fun Skiing, Not Competitive Skiing

Let’s get this out of the way first: If you’re a competitive waterskier or wakeboarder, buy a ski boat. Serious skiers will want the wake generated by and maneuverability of a ski boat. For families and friends who enjoy tubing, skiing, or wakeboarding for fun, a pontoon boat could be exactly what you’re seeking.

Horsepower and Speed

In general, for someone to waterski or wakeboard, the boat needs to be moving at least 20 miles per hour, usually closer to 26 or 27. Tubing doesn’t require quite as much speed, and you can start to have fun at around 15 miles per hour.

A pontoon boat with a 70 horsepower engine is plenty for tubing. At that level, you might be able to get up on skis too, but 90 HP will serve you much better. After that, the more HP in your engine, the more adventurous you can get with your water sports.

It’s important to note these numbers are generalities. For example, if you’re entertaining 12 people on your boat, it’s going to be harder to reach speeds ideal for skiing. Ninety HP with 12 people on the boat moves a lot more slowly than 90 HP with two people. And 90 HP might be enough for a 20-foot boat to pull a skier, but you’re going to need more engine to ski behind a 26-foot boat.

Differences Between Skiing Behind a Pontoon Boat and Ski Boat

There is no doubt you can have fun wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing behind a pontoon boat, adding water sports to the long list of activities pontoon boats can accommodate.

As noted before, though, the shape of the wake won’t be what you traditionally think of in waterskiing. Essentially, this means you’ll have less rough water to play with on your skis. Likewise, pontoon boats generally aren’t as sharply maneuverable as a ski boat, so you won’t be flying side to side as much as you might on a boat designed specifically for sports; but for most people, a pontoon boat’s larger turning radius is plenty for a good time on skis. Only experienced, serious skiers will notice much of a difference.

Pontoon boats continue to get more versatile, more powerful, and more fun. Skiing, wakeboarding and tubing are just three of an ever-growing list of activities you can enjoy on your pontoon boat.

Pontoon Boats vs. Deck Boats

If you’re looking to invest in a new boat, there are several factors to consider. Many people narrow their options to choosing between a pontoon boat and a deck boat. Which is right for you? Obviously, it depends on what you’re looking for in a boat.

Consider these factors:

Cost

In general, a deck boat will be more expensive than a pontoon boat. However, more luxurious pontoon models will begin to approach a similar price point to a deck boat. And, depending on what type of engine you choose for either, that alone could cost up to 50% of the price of the boat itself. Obviously, prices vary among both styles of boats, but in most cases, a deck boat will cost more.

Size and Space

The actual size can be quite similar from a deck boat to a pontoon boat, so if this is your deciding factor, consider the purpose of your boat. Deck boats can usually accommodate up to 12 people, but the more-spacious layout of a pontoon boat can comfortably and safely fit up to 16 people on large models.

Pontoon boats have always been known as one of the best values on the water because of their ability to hold so many people at such an attractive price point.

With deck boats able to entertain up to a dozen people as well, you’ll want to consider what type of space you’re seeking. Most deck boats have all seating facing forward, which is especially nice when cruising at a high speed, whereas pontoons have the flexibility to face any direction, even re-arranging furniture while entertaining friends or family on the lake.

Both types of boat will have a fair amount of storage space, but generally speaking, a pontoon boat will have more.

Hull, Stability, and Ride

The decks of most pontoon boats lay flat across the two pontoons (also known as a multi-hull design), which makes them ideal for socializing. The flat hull keeps the boat steady in the water, both while moving and sitting still.

Deck boats, however, use v-hulls, which cut through the water while moving, allowing deck boats to accelerate more quickly than traditional pontoons. A pontoon boat trying to reach the same speed as a deck boat will require more fuel to do so; however, pontoons are much more fuel-efficient overall.

The downside of the fiberglass v-hull comes from its central axis, which leads the boat to rock with wind, waves, or movement of the passengers on the boat.

You no longer have to choose one or the other, though. Manitou’s V-Toon Technology, available on many of our models, mimics a traditional v-hull in shape while maintaining the stability of traditional pontoons.

Generally speaking, because of the different types of hulls, deck boats are better for slicing through the water, but pontoon boats keep you steady, whether you’re in motion or not.

Activities

With the recent increases in power on pontoon boats (again, depending on the type of engine you select), the disparities between what you can do on a deck boat as compared to a pontoon boat are shrinking, especially when you consider V-Toon performance.

For instance, a pontoon with a 150-horsepower engine is plenty for tubing or water skiing; however, it’s worth noting that if you’re an experienced tuber or skier, you may not catch as much air as you’d like. Deck boats are still superior in that respect, as they slice through the water and give you some wake to navigate.

If your water sport of choice is fishing, a pontoon boat is the way to go. Not that you can’t fish from a deck boat, but the stable platform and additional room on a pontoon boat will definitely be to your advantage as you try to reel in tonight’s dinner.

Maintenance

As with any watercraft, it’s essential to keep your boat clean and in working order. This requires effort on both deck and pontoon boats, but the difference here is most noticeable on the hulls. The aluminum pontoons are far easier to clean and maintain than the fiberglass hull of a deck boat, which needs to be wiped down after every day spent on the water. If you don’t wipe the gelcoat meticulously, water spots become ridiculously difficult to remove later.

Which is Right for You?

Pontoon boats remain the best value on the water and continue to advance, both in style and power, without losing the essential wide-open spaces perfect for entertaining socializing. Deck boats give you a little less space for socializing, but in many cases will move you through the water faster, even if you have to sacrifice a little stability and keep up a meticulous maintenance regimen. And if you find yourself wanting the best of both worlds, explore Manitou’s performance pontoons.