There are few ways to better enjoy the summer sun than being on your pontoon on a river or lake. However, once your time in the sun is finished, you need a place to park your boat until the next time you can enjoy it. Just like your car needs a garage or parking spot, your pontoon also needs a safe slip to park in.
Most pontoon boat slips are a width of 9’ to 12’ to accommodate the pontoon plus its floats. The overall average width of most boat slips is around 10’ but the size of your slip depends on the size that your pontoon requires. However, there is no maximum or minimum size that a boat slip can be.
In this article, we’re going to look at what a boat slip is and how they differ from other forms of boat docks. We’ll also give you some tips about how to pick the slip that’s right for you. If you own a pontoon and need to know more about where to park it, then continue reading!
Is a Boat Slip for a Pontoon Boat any Different?
As you might have already guessed, a boat slip is a parking spot for a pontoon or other kind of boat. A slip usually has a dock on either side to make it easy to get on and off of your pontoon. Having docks on either side of your pontoon also offers security and protection from the elements and the damage they can cause.
Slips are often part of a larger docking area and a single docking bay can include dozens if not hundreds of slips. The slip is like the individual parking space in a parking lot or parking garage. Different docks and marinas have different slip sizes, but there is usually a wide variety of them to accommodate boats and pontoons of all sizes.
A pontoon boat skip will not be any different than a slip for a V bottom boat. You may run into issues if the slip is designed for a V in the front and not squared off. This would require you to put your pontoon boat further back in the sllip and it may hang out into the open water. Depending on your marina, this may not be OK.
What to Look for in a Boat Slip
When you’re choosing a boat slip for your pontoon, the main thing is that you choose one that’s wide enough for your pontoon. Many pontoon boats are 8’6 wide, but compared to a V bottom boat that is 8’6 wide, it will be easier to get into if you have a wider slip.
If you have a 9’ wide pontoon, then you want a slip that’s wide enough to fit your boat, but not so wide that it’s hard to board and off-board the boat. It’s also nice to be able to jump on your pontoon from either side.
Boat slips are usually U-shaped in design. They often have a dock on either side plus a larger dock on the third side that accompanies foot traffic to and from each of the slips. The U-shape of a boat slip means that you can only get into and out of your slip from one direction.
The ideal size for an 8’6 wide boat would be a slip 10′ or greater in width to account for your bumpers and allow you to easily pull in the slip. Some pontoon boats are 10′ wide, in that case, you may want a slip that is 12′ wide to allow you a foot on each side of the boat for bumpers.
Benefits of Boat Slips
Boat slips are beneficial to pontoon owners as well as marina owners. Here are some of the ways they benefit the different parties.
- Boat slips make marinas and boat docking areas organized and uncluttered.
- Boat slips offer marina owners the opportunity to park more boats and pontoons at any given time.
- Slips offer protection to pontoons because of how they’re boxed in. Pontoons are prone to floating away if there are heavy waves and being boxed in on three sides helps to prevent that.
- Slips make it easier to dock your boat and to get on and off of it in a safe and timely manner.
- Slips offer more privacy and accessibility to pontoons and the individuals that are enjoying them.
- It’s easier to park in a boat slip than it is to park at a dock and stay out of everyone’s way.
How Wide are Most Pontoon Boats?
Most pontoon boats are between 8 and 10 feet wide. About 90% of boats are 8’6 wide with the exception of newer larger boats being 10′ wide and smaller boats like the Bass Buggy being 8′ wide.
The width of slip that you need is entirely dependent on how wide your pontoon is. Most pontoons are 8 ½ feet wide, but they can range in size from 8 feet to 10 feet. The Bennington 218 SL, for example, is only 8 feet wide, but the Bennington 30 QSR is 10 feet wide. Smaller pontoons can even be as small as 7 feet wide.
The best way to know the width of your pontoon boat is to check with the maker of your pontoon and ask them directly. If you don’t have access to the company or person who made your pontoon, then use a tape measurer to determine the width of your pontoon. Measure the boat from its two widest points to determine the slip size that you need.
What’s the Difference Between a Slip and a Dock?
While boat slips and docks have several similarities, they’re different in many ways. The common denominator between a slip and a dock is that they’re both places to park a boat. They’re also where you get on and off your boat, but that’s pretty well where the similarities end. Here are the main differences between a slip and a dock.
The biggest way that slips differ from docks is in how they’re constructed. Boat docks are long, narrow platform that stretches from the land into the water. A slip is usually connected to a dock of some sort but has platforms connected to the dock that form a rectangle in which to park your pontoon. A single boat dock can have dozens or hundreds of slips attached to it.
- Parking style
It’s tougher to park in a boat slip because of how they’re constructed. You’ll need to angle and maneuver your pontoon to wiggle into a boat slip, whereas a dock is just a big, open platform. You can drive up to a dock and park any way that you want, but a slip requires more delicacy.
- Safety and security
Because of how wide open a dock is, pontoons parked at one are prone to crashing waves and storm winds. A pontoon that’s neatly tucked into a slip, however, has security and protection on three sides rather than only one. This means that your pontoon is less prone to damage from tall waves and high winds.