Pontoon boats are considered one of the more popular types of recreational boats. Although virtually unsinkable, pontoon boats can be damaged, especially when attempting to beach.
Pontoon boat owners must be familiar with the proper steps of beaching, as it is the most common way to damage your pontoon boat. We’ll acquaint you with the proper steps of beaching, such as awareness, speed management, closing the distance to shore, and anchoring, are crucial in avoiding damages to your pontoon boat.
Steps to Safely Beach you Pontoon Boat
This guide will provide steps to steer you in the right direction in how to beach your pontoon boat safely, without harm or damage to your watercraft. Steps will include covering the basics, such as what a pontoon boat is, the different types of materials that make pontoons, and the careful procedures in beach pontoons safely.
Watch Out for Debris Around the Water when Beaching
Be aware of where you are beaching. Approach the shore with caution and be fully aware of your surroundings when you do so. There are always chances of debris around or beneath the waters, such as:
- Large logs
- Old tires
- Thrown-away nets
- Unseen boulders
It is recommended to go aground before attempting to beach your pontoon on the shore. These unseen hazards can cause a significant amount of damage to the boat’s underside, which may prove costly. Although it is always possible to see through the water if it is clear enough, being aground allows you to avoid any submerged items or items hidden beneath dirt, mud, or sand.
It’s even better if you have a passenger on board; ask one of them to take a swim towards the targeted area to make sure “the coast is clear” and show you the best path to take. Always stay on the cautious side, and better be safe than sorry.
Be Aware of Other People and Boats
Some beaches can be more crowded than others, both with people and other watercraft. Aside from being aware of debris, always be sure your path is clear from any people, including divers, snorkelers, and swimmers, as well as boats and other types of watercraft.
Having anyone getting close to the pontoon while in water, especially when the motor is still running, can be dangerous and even fatal. Always be aware as no one should be nearby while attempting to the beach.
Speed and Motor Management in Shallow Waters
Beaching a pontoon boat can be comparable to docking. The primary thing to be aware of other than your surrounding is the required speed. Docking a boat requires precision, patience, and finesse. The last thing you would want to do is to go speeding forward on the targeted area to land your pontoon on the shore like you’re driving a jet ski. Keep in mind, drive your pontoon towards the targeted area even slower than you think is necessary. Once you begin entering shallow waters, follow these steps:
- Cut back the speed even slower
- Trim up your motor until your pontoon prop begins to take in air
- Drop the prop and trim back down again roughly about three inches, which will allow the motor some movement in case things get too shallow or your pontoon runs aground
- Completely turn off the motor (This is important to turn off your motor and reduce your draft so the motor does not suck up any debris, mud, or sand as you get closer to shallower waters, which can be pretty costly to fix)
- Finally, let your pontoon naturally drift until you reach the targeted area to the beach and pull the motor all of the way up.
Another thing that could help, if you have passengers, is to have them move towards the pontoon boat’s rear side while you’re drifting towards the shore. This would move weight off the boat’s frontside, avoiding any potential damages hidden in the shallow waters.
Pull and Close In your Pontoon to Shore
The next step is to pull the pontoon closer to shore physically. You can do it yourself or with any passenger’s help. They can jump off the pontoon foredeck and assist.
When you step off the pontoon foredeck, most likely, you’ll be able to touch the ground becauae it is shallow. If not, either swim a short distance or swim while pulling. However, it is always better when you have some firm footing, to do the physical part of beaching your pontoon.
Anchoring you Pontoon Boat to Shore
Anchoring is another crucial step once your pontoon is beached. Even if you are not in rough waters, it is highly recommended to set an anchor to keep your pontoon from drifting anywhere else. Any waves from other passing boats or strong winds can potentially move your pontoon from where it is. Therefore, it is suggested to secure a line on a solid object or structure, such as:
- Solid wooden post
- Bury a mushroom anchor firmly beneath the sand.
Fenders are your Friends
Another thing to keep in mind is preparing yourself and your pontoon boat when you beach in an island, area, or shore that is crowded. A large crowd likely means that there are minimal spaces for beaching or docking. Therefore, try purchasing and attaching several fenders over your square pontoon boat’s rails to avoid any unwanted collision, soft or hard.
Furthermore, it is crucial to purchase the correct fenders for your pontoon boat. Otherwise, you could be having a slightly annoying time trying to adjust the fenders along the pontoon’s sides. Or worse, having to stand between your pontoon boat and others to prevent them from colliding with one another. It is not fun at all, and can be incredibly dangerous!
Here are some examples of fenders you can purchase:
- Mission Boat Gear Sentry Fender Bumper
- We use these fenders as they are large and work well.
- Taylor Made Products 56090 Transom Boat Fender
- Shoreline Marine Ribbed Inflatable Fender
Beaching with Different Types of Pontoons
The material of your pontoon boat can decide the extent of your damages and how high your repair cost can be. Furthermore, the materials will decide how often you should maintain your pontoon boats and how careful you should be when beaching.
Foam-Filled Pontoon Boats
Foam-filled pontoon boats are not the most hollow out of the other types of materials, so they are less likely to leak and typically cheaper to manufacture or purchase. However, pontoons made with foam-filled material are not the most durable, and one should be careful to avoid collision of any sort when beaching.
Foam-filled pontoon boats generally have a plastic outer-shell and do not require a thick exterior to protect their hollow interior. Additionally, foam-filled platoons need to be slimmer in shape because the wider the platoons are, the lower they will sit in the water, which will lead to more drag. More drag will cause slower speed and negatively affect fuel economy.
Steel Pontoon Boats
Steel pontoon boats are incredibly durably but heavy. One of the primary disadvantages of a steel pontoon boat is that steel is a corrosive material and will rust over time when exposed to moisture and air.
Without regular maintenance and attention, a steel pontoon can quickly develop leaks and cracks, which may require extensive repairs. However, beaching with a steel pontoon boat should be worry free.
Fiberglass Pontoon Boats
Fiberglass materials are used as a construction material for the pontoon boats’ hulls. Fiberglass itself is lightweight and resilient, making it a perfect material for people who’d like to have a sturdier pontoon. Fiberglass pontoon boats perform well on the water.
Additionally, the fiberglass does not rust and visually appealing for a lot of people. However, if fiberglass pontoons are damaged, repairing them can be quite costly. Therefore, small debris and junk in the water won’t likely damage your fiberglass boat. However, its always nice to keep an eye out for bigger debris when beaching; it avoids the potential cost in damages.
Aluminum Pontoon Boats
Aluminum is considered the most popular and common type of pontoon boat on the market. Aluminum is incredibly resilient, and unlike steel, aluminum is non-corrosive and does not rust when exposed to moisture. Furthermore, aluminum pontoons are low-maintenance, and the repairs are, for the most part, very straightforward and simple.
However, aluminum pontoon boats may be more expensive and costly than other pontoon boats. Therefore, be careful when beaching your pontoon to avoid any damages through collision. Despite its cost, knowing that the aluminum pontoon is high-quality and will last for many years makes aluminum pontoon boats a popular choice.
Conclusion – Be Aware and Be Careful!
Beaching your pontoon boat the wrong way, can be costly and time intensive. However, if you are more aware, careful, and follow the proper and safe steps in beaching your pontoon, then you are likely to reach the shore without a scratch. Keep in mind what type of pontoon boat you have as well.
Some pontoon boats, such as steel, require more attention and maintenance. Other materials, such as fiberglass, need more attention when beaching; otherwise, the cost to fix can be high.