Can a Pontoon Boat Be Used in the Ocean?

Manitou Pontoons X-Plode XT

Pontoon boats are ideal for inland lakes and rivers, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fit for ocean waters. In fact, they’re often used on the ocean, though generally close to shore and in inter-coastal areas such as bays and inlets.

A pontoon’s seaworthiness and safety on the ocean depends on the boat’s size, performance, and construction. Is it built to withstand the harsher conditions of salt water?

As the performance and handling of pontoons and tritoons continues to improve, people are starting to venture farther out. In addition to the quality of the boat, how far to go away from shore is up to the captain’s discretion and depends on the weather conditions. The captain should take into account how quickly they can navigate back to the marina or harbor if bad weather were to arise. (With dual engine models, this can be done pretty quickly).

Another brand took their pontoon boat from Florida to Cuba last year, and we do not recommend nor promote this as something you should do with a pontoon. We often say that on calm days, you can be safe within a couple miles of shore.

Construction and Performance Considerations

With larger bodies of water can come big waves, but the right construction makes a difference. While the greater stability that comes with a triple-hull pontoon can help, larger tubes – at least 25” in diameter – are also recommended for venturing onto bigger waters.

The pontoon tube thickness should also be considered for boating in ocean conditions, as in the sheet aluminum used to make the tubes. We make some of the thickest pontoons in the industry, beginning at a minimum of .090”

Having adequate horsepower to overcome waves when you need to is also important. The larger the better here, with 150 HP being the bare minimum we’d recommend for traveling any distance away from shore on a pontoon.

Protect Your Investment

Aluminum pontoons will react to salt water by corroding. Before going out on the ocean, extra care should be taken to protect the boat, including coating the tubes with an anti-fouling bottom paint. Equally as important is rinsing the hull thoroughly in fresh water after it has been exposed to salt water.

Finally, before you decide to take your pontoon boat out into brackish or sea water, be aware of the terms of the pontoon boat manufacturer‘s warranty. It may not protect your boat from corrosion due to salt water.