What To Consider When Buying A Pontoon Boat.
There is no feeling quite like cruising the waterways of Michigan in the captain’s chair of your own pontoon boat. If you’ve made it to our blog, chances are you’re in the market for a new boat. And chances are you’re probably looking for a versatile boat that might be great for cruising Gun Lake with your family and friends, sunbathing off the coast of South Haven, or maybe even dropping a line off of the bow to catch a fresh fish dinner.
Today’s pontoon boats have come a long way from your grandpa’s “tin-can” deck boat. Thanks to advancements in pontoon “tube” design, new structural materials, innovations in fabrics, and lighter, more efficient outboard engines; pontoon boats are no longer the relatively slow, kind of clunky “party barges” they have a reputation for being. That also means new pontoon boats vary greatly from model to model and brand to brand - and have TONS of options.
Advancements in Pontoon Boat Options…
The truth is, pontoon boats have experienced quite the renaissance over the last few years. At Premier, we carry pontoons that are capable of handling up to 150 horsepower and tritoons that are capable of handling engines with as much as 400 horsepower. Advancements in tube configurations even allow them to corner as well as many conventional fiberglass runabout boats.
Pontoon boats are highly modular, which means each model can have as many as 20 different exterior and interior configurations. And if that wasn’t enough to wrap your mind around, there’s generally dozens of upholstery, floor covering, seat configuration, sound system, and accessory options to consider. Some of the furniture packages on our pontoons even have interiors that look and feel as nice as the inside of a luxury automobile.
Phew. The good thing is that we’re used to helping first-time pontoon buyers navigate all their options to create their perfect pontoon boat.
Start by asking yourself the following questions and you’re sure to have a fun buying experience!
What Will You Be Using Your Pontoon Boat For?
Look for features that complement the activities you enjoy the most.
- Lounging and sunbathing: Consider a boat with lots of chaise lounges and ample bench seating and a great sound system to boot. There are some even pretty cool configurations that can even turn into large beds.
- Cruising with lots of people: Select a boat with plenty of seating and a seat configuration that is good for conversation and socializing. A table or two is often appreciated, especially if you’ll be eating meals or having refreshments on your pontoon boat often. Some pontoon boats even have built-in coolers and secure food storage compartments.
- Swimming: If you’re using your pontoon for swimming, it should offer easy access into and out of the water with ladders and slip-resistant decks. There are a variety of deck styles that offer larger than average swim decks and ladders to accommodate more passengers as well as for those that may need a bit more assistance getting back on deck - like small children or older folks.
- Water Sports: Looking to pull the kids behind the pontoon boat on a tube? Not so long ago, we may not have advised this with a pontoon boat. But these days many pontoon boats are equipped with all you need to do many light watersports behind them. Ensure your engine is a beast for propulsion and torque (More on this in a bit.) and you have a tow package installed.
- ALL OF THE ABOVE?: Don't worry, plenty of pontoons model are all-around fun machines with something to offer everyone!
Pontoon or Tritoon?
The simple difference between a pontoon and tritoon boat is whether it has two tubes underneath the deck or three. Pontoon boats have two tubes whereas a tritoon has three - hence “tri” in tritoon. While at a glance, the differences may seem small, there are some pretty big distinctions in performance between pontoons and tritoons that you’ll want to consider.
Considerations for 3 Pontoons vs. 2 Pontoons
- WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION: Pontoon boats are known for their stability on the water in general. However, because of the three tubes under the hull, tritoons tend to distribute weight more evenly on the water than many pontoons, especially at higher speeds and while turning. You’re unlikely to notice a difference between two-tube and three-tube configurations if you’re mainly cruising slowly on small bodies of water.
- WATERSPORTS: Because of this superior weight distribution, tritoons have a higher horsepower rating than most two-tube pontoons. This makes them capable of higher speeds, thus making them a great option for watersports. For those speedsters out there; some tritoons can carry multiple outboard motors.
- BIG, ROUGH WATER: If you plan on pontoon boating in the Great Lakes or in rougher water, a tritoon will offer you better handling than your standard pontoon boat.
- PRICE: Because of their performance and often: their size, passenger capacity, & horsepower rating - tritoons tend to be more expensive than most pontoons.
As with everything else on this consideration-list, the pontoon vs tritoon choice boils down to how you’ll be using your boat. If you need precise turning while going fast or need stability in rougher water, you’ll find a tritoon is more suited to your needs. Otherwise, a classic two-tube pontoon is great for many common pontoon uses.
What Size Deck Should You Get?
Keeping it simple, the deck provides usable space on the boat. However, your chosen deck size will also determine your tube dimension size as well. Coinciding, tube and deck size should be considered based on the types of water you’ll be on and the number of people you’ll be transporting. You should discuss tube size and whether you’ll need two or three tubes (a tritoon) with your Premier Boating representative.
As for deck size, here’s a basic rundown:
- 18-20 feet: Best for small, calm bodies of water; usually accommodates from 8 - 10 passengers.
- 20-22 feet: Better for lakes and rivers that don’t have big waves. For rougher waters, consider purchasing a tritoon in this size. This size usually accommodates 10 - 12 people.
- 22-27 feet: Better choice for rougher water applications because of size - like Lake Michigan. Usually accommodates up to 12 - 18 people and even more when equipped with a center pontoon (a tritoon).
What About My Pontoon Boat Engine?
For almost every pontoon model we carry, from 16 to 30 feet, engine performance comes down to a matter of torque. Our Mercury - "Pick Your Power" - engine option is designed to help you decide what amount of propulsion will be perfect for all your activities. When it comes to propulsion, consider how fast you really want to go, the fuel efficiency you desire, and what you’ll be using the pontoon boat for most.
Below is a general guide to pontoon boat propulsion and horsepower:
- “I want SPEED - tubing, skiing, and getting from one place to another - fast.”: For the speed demon in you, think 150 to 300 horsepower.
- “I want to go fast, but I’m not in a race.”: Consider 115 hp to 150 hp will work great for most of your needs. You’ll be cruising plenty fast, be able to tow a tube easily and never think twice about a lack of power.
- “I want to chill out and relax on the water. No need for speed here.” - If you’re in it more for relaxation than thrills or you have a secondary boat for your watersports needs you’ll find a 40-60 hp will suit you just fine!
Features and Options
These days, pontoon boats come as luxurious or as simple as you desire. There are configurations specifically designed for fishing, swimming, cruising, and entertaining. Some pontoons come with wireless phone charging hubs and refrigerated cup holders. We have pontoon boats with sunbathing beds, huge bimini tops, pop-up privacy changing booths, built-in coolers, massive amounts of storage, and more.
With so many options, it’s really important that you spend some time with an expert Premier team member to discuss how you’ll be using your pontoon boat. We’ll help find you find the perfect boat for your needs.
Why Purchase A Pontoon Boat From Premier Boating?
We know purchasing a new pontoon boat is a huge decision and investment. After helping West Michigan boat buyers through this same decision for over 25 years, we also know buying a new pontoon boat can also be a lot of fun! It’s our goal to help guide you so you can make an informed investment in your new pontoon and hopefully have a blast in the process. We know you certainly will once you’re out on the water.
MORE ABOUT US
When you purchase a pontoon boat from us, you’re not just making a transaction, you’re joining a community. Being a family owned and operated business, we pride ourselves on building lifelong relationships with our customers - giving them priority service, winterization, and storage (at our indoor and outdoor storage facilities). We’ll deliver your boat in the spring, and haul it out in the fall if you’re winterizing/storing with us. We even offer all our customers LIFELONG discounts at our proshop.
Ready to explore your pontoon boat options? We have three simple ways to take the next step.
- Visit our Virtual Showroom on our website. It’s always fun to click around and look at options!
- Come by our three indoor showrooms off the shore of Gun Lake. We’d love to see you and we have TONS of pontoons in stock and on display in our indoor showrooms!
- Schedule an appointment. Your time is valuable to us. We’re happy to schedule a time for you to come and look at our indoor pontoon boat showroom, with one of our expert team members - when it’s convenient for you - even if it’s outside our normal showroom hours. See Request Form Below!
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