Pontoon boats are known for being a family-friendly activity, with the added benefit of extra space. They are also generally regarded as a slower, more moderate choice of boat. However, this doesn’t have to be the case for your pontoon.
You can add a third hull to a pontoon boat. This creates a “tritoon,” a boating option that is becoming increasingly popular among pontoon owners because of several advantages over a two-hulled pontoon including increased performance and capacity.
The massively popular pontoon boat makes up around 20% of the boating market and increases by around 3-4% every year. Read on to discover why many pontoon owners are choosing to upgrade their existing boats by adding a third hull.
How to Add a Third Pontoon
There are two main options for adding another hull to your pontoon boat. You can choose to install a premade “mini hull” yourself, or you can pay for a professional to install a regular-sized hull onto your pontoon.
Installing a Third Pontoon Yourself
There is a popular aftermarket addition that is currently available to pontoon owners. It is a less than full-sized hull that is installed in the center of the original two, much like a regular tritoon. There are various brands of these kits; some include:
There are a few key differences between the Water Glide and a third regular hull. The Water Glide is shorter and wider than a hull. It is also easy to mount yourself, with no welding required.
The third hull kits bring the benefits of a third pontoon without the same concerns. Properly installed, it will do the following:
- Increase stability
- Increase fuel efficiency
- Increase buoyancy
The cost of the above kits is around $2,000 each, with modifications and various upgrades available for a higher price. The specific measurements will be determined before ordering, and there are people on hand to assist with questions as you begin the installation yourself.
Seek Out a Professional for Installation
If you are looking for the full tritoon experience and all of the accompanying advantages, it is recommended that you seek out a professional for the actual installation. Safety is a priority while on the water, and it’s vital to make sure that everything has been installed correctly.
Having a third hull installed on your pontoon by a professional will typically start at around $4,000.
Do it yourself Installation
Some of the kits on the market are very easy to install. Here is a quick video on the Pontoon Wholesalers kit.
Or You Could Buy a Tritoon As Is
You can buy a ready-made tritoon with a third hull, but you can also add an additional pontoon to your two-hulled boat if you don’t want to buy a whole new pontoon. Below is a table comparing the purchase of a pontoon to a ready-made tritoon.
|Price (average new)||$20,000||$35,000|
|Horsepower (minimum required)||25-175hp||150-250hp|
As you can see, there are many differences between buying a pontoon and a tritoon. If you already own a pontoon, it is probably not worth buying a whole new boat.
Advantages of Adding a Third Pontoon
There are a variety of benefits that arise with the addition of a third pontoon. Listed below are some of the main reasons for modifying your pontoon into a tritoon.
A Third Pontoon Increases Stability
The addition of a third pontoon will stabilize your boat on rougher waters. The increased surface area on the bottom of the boat provides more contact with the water and can make for a smoother ride. This is especially helpful in the ocean or on choppier lakes.
More Power for Water Sports
The increased stability and balance of your tritoon can result in increased ability to enjoy water sports. A regular pontoon can be used for water sports under the right conditions, but if you are an avid or frequent water sports athlete, a tritoon is the best option.
The third hull allows for increased power, which means more enjoyable and faster water sports such as:
- Water skiing
These are obvious advantages for a watercraft. If you want to take your pontoon to the next level, adding a third hull to your pontoon could be the best option.
More Buoyancy Means More Activities
The addition of a third hull can increase buoyancy. The increased capacity will depend on the specific hull, but expect a few hundred pounds.
This means you can add more activities and weight to your boat, including more room and allowance for additional passengers, food, and drink. The third hull also keeps the boat in a more even position, eliminating the common issue of water lapping into the back of the floor on the pontoon.
In the Pontoon Wholesalers kit, they have an option to add a fuel tank in their pontoon kit. This could keep you on the water for extra time eliminating the need to head back to the pump.
Disadvantages of Adding a Third Pontoon
The addition of a third hull doesn’t come without disadvantages. It’s essential to be aware of these factors when deciding whether or not to modify your boat.
A Third Pontoon Decreases Handling in Small Areas
A third hull can make your boat a little more unwieldy in the water under certain circumstances. With more power and weight, there will be some drawbacks.
Tritoons reportedly have more difficulty with several essential boating functions. These include:
- More difficulty steering
- Wider turn radius
- Increased difficulty docking
Make sure to take the tritoon out without any water sports planned or large groups first, to get a feel for the differences in handling. You may find it more challenging to maneuver near docks and in tight quarters or crowded areas.
You May Need a Stronger Motor
If you have a third hull installed, you likely will find that you need a stronger motor with higher horsepower. With the stability and power that a third hull can provide, it won’t make much of a difference if the motor cannot handle the upgrades.
A tritoon with the same horsepower rating will not move much faster than the original pontoon with the same motor.
Investing in a motor with higher horsepower will let you experience the full range of benefits that the tritoon has to offer. Your specific pontoon boat will come with a “maximum rated horsepower” that you are safe to install, so make sure to follow these guidelines and safety recommendations when modifying your pontoon boat.
Adjusting the Trailering Process
Tritoons are heavier than pontoons, and the addition of a third hull may require an adjusted or larger trailer size. Make sure to factor this into the cost when deciding on modifications. This also can require a stronger or more efficient braking system, as the trailer will be larger and heavier too.
The Cost-Effectiveness of a Third Pontoon
If you’re looking for a specific improvement like stability or power, the tritoon may be a good choice.
However, if your pontoon is mainly used for fishing or gliding across peaceful lakes, you may want to reconsider. The added cost of a third hull won’t make much of a difference for fishing or lounging. For increased speed, a larger motor on a two-hulled boat may be all you need to take your water sports to the next level.
Choose the Best ‘Toon for Your Needs
Whether you decide to modify your existing pontoon into a tritoon or not, we hope this article helps to distinguish the differences, as well as outline the benefits and drawbacks to each.
To some, the additional time and costs are worth the payout for a faster and more powerful boat. It’s good to know that you can modify and improve your pontoon without having to replace your entire boat.