Owning a pontoon boat gives you a means for enjoying different recreational activities. You can go fishing, swimming, snorkeling and many more. For some it is just enjoying the Sun and cruise all day long. You can enjoy with your friends and family. The moments spent together means a lot. Okay, so you have made up your mind to look for a particular model suiting your needs, but what size of pontoon boat should you go for? It is huge investment that you are planning for. So why make the bad choice and feel bad about that later on? The size of the pontoon boat to look for depends on many factors. In this article we will have a look into the different size options of pontoon boats. We will also arrive at how we can reach the best size option suiting our need
Now let us see what the market offers in terms of pontoon boat sizes. Different manufacturers come up with different sizes. The market has a lot of options. In order to generalize and give you the idea of pontoon boat sizes, we have grouped them into three: Small sized Pontoon Boats, Medium sized Pontoon Boats and Large sized Pontoon Boats. The sizes may vary from over 14 feet to over 30 feet. There are also different variations in the sizes prescribed by manufacturers. Some may indicate the deck length, some may indicate the overall length and for some, it is the tube length. We will have an insight into this later on. The larger the size, the most number of passengers it can hold.
Small sized Pontoon Boats
Small sized pontoon boats are less than 20 feet in length. They can have width around 8 feet. There can also be mini pontoon boats with width less than 7 feet. They can hold about 8 people on an average. These values vary based on manufacturer. For example, if we take the case of Avalon Venture Cruise ships, the 14 feet model comes with 15′ 5″ overall deck length can accommodate about 5 people, whereas the 18 feet model in the same series can hold about 9 persons. Both models have a width of 7′ 6″.
Medium Sized Pontoon Boats
Now the next in is the most popular size range of pontoon boats. The lengths of medium sized pontoon boats can be between 20 t0 24 feet and width of 8 to 10 feet depending on the manufacturer. They can have average holding capacity of about 10 people. For example, the Godfrey Pontoon Monaco 215C Cruise comes with a 20′ deck length and 21′ 11″ overall length with passenger capacity of 11. While, the Monaco 235C Cruise comes with 22′ and 23′ 11″overall length can have a 12 passenger capacity. Both models have 8′ 6″ width.
Large Sized Pontoon Boats
Now are you thinking about how large a pontoon boat can be? The biggest ones will be more than 24 feet in length with width up to 12 feet. They can be over 30 feet in length. The average passenger capacity would be 15.The models above 0 feet can have about 23 people. The Bennington Q25 Quad Bench with 27′ 3″ overall length and 8′ 6″ width can have 15 people. The Bennington Q30 Quad Bench with 31′ 3″ and 10′ can have about 23 people.
Different lengths associated with Pontoon Boats
The manufacturers come up with different length measurements. Mostly they advertise the overall length which makes them sound longer. Some manufacturers also stress on tube length rather than the deck length.
Pontoon Tube Length: Distance from the front of the pontoon tubes/ logs to the end of the tubes at the back.
Deck Length: The length of the deck of the pontoon boat (not including the pontoon tubes).
Length (LOA)/ Overall length: The length of the entire pontoon boat from bow to the stern (not including the outboard).
Take the example of Bennington 25QFB, which has:
|Pontoon Length:||25′ 4″|
|Deck Length:||27′ 1″|
The deck extends over the tubes. Hence deck length will be more than tube length. Some models can also have a transom that sticks further longer than the tubes and the deck. Thus overall deck length can be different from deck length. Tube lengths can be significant when looking for boat lifts or pontoon boat trailers suitable for your pontoon boat. Overall length can help in understanding the overall size of the pontoon boat so that you can have proper storage options. While, the deck length will give an idea about how spacious the pontoon boat will be.
Factors based on which you can select the right size of pontoon boat
Selecting the pontoon boat size that suits your need is important. Owning a pontoon boat is a huge investment and you need to make proper considerations. Several factors come into play, based on which you can arrive at the pontoon boat size. Let us have a look at each of them.
Storage and Transport
Storage and transport means need to be thought of even before you look out for the floorplans. The pontoon boat you intend to buy should fit your storage dock and the trailer in which you are looking to transport it.
You need to take the dock space measurements before looking for pontoon boats so that you can be assured that you are equipped with proper storage requirements. This will also make sure that the pontoon boat will fit the trailer. With this dock measurement, you need to check for the overall lengths of various pontoon boat models. Also, remember to include the length of outboard motor which can be two or three feet. If you plan to tow and store the pontoon boat in your storage space, then remember to include the length of the trailer too. This will prevent future complications.
18-foot pontoon boat requires at least a 21-foot long trailer (with outboard motor)
22-foot pontoon boat requires at least a 25-foot long trailer (with outboard motor)
27-foot pontoon boat requires at least a 30-foot long trailer (with outboard motor)
Now in case of towing, you also need to consider the combined weight of the pontoon and the trailer. So that it stays within the towing capacity of the vehicle you intend to use for towing. The dry weight of the pontoon will give you an idea regarding the same.
The market is flooded with different pontoon boat models. They come in different holding capacities. You need to carefully plan regarding the number of people you expect to take with you for your pontoon boat adventures. Thus you can have the best model that suits your needs. There are small pontoon boats which can carry about 8 persons. As size increases, the carrying capacity increases. The medium sized pontoon boats can have about 10-12 people in your water adventures. There are larger pontoon boats which can carry 26 or more people.
Overloading your pontoon boat is not done. It can be very dangerous when you are out in the water and the pontoon boat is overloaded. The pontoon boat is designed to traverse safely within its carrying capacity so that you remain stable, safe and comfortable in the water. If you are somebody serious about pontoon boat adventures, then you can have a large sized pontoon boat, so that it can be an investment into your future pontoon boat explorations. However, the expenditure associated will increase with size.
Location/ Water Body
There is also a wide variety of options to where you can take your pontoon boat. There are lakes, rivers, bay, creeks, etc. The pontoon boat size considerations also depend on where you intend to take your vessel. Smaller pontoon boats will be equipped with smaller motors and these are well suited for smaller water bodies like ponds and rivers without high currents. They will not be able to handle high currents. Also, another aspect is that if you take a larger pontoon boat with you to a small river, then it can be difficult to navigate. So if you are more into calm water bodies, then a small sized pontoon boat can cruise smoothly through such lakes and rivers, even through the shallow ones. As wave action gets high, you need to look for much larger options of pontoon boats. With increase in the pontoon boat size, they become less agile. However, increase in size can result in a more stable vessel. With good stability, they perform well in rough waters. So if you are more frequent into large waters, it is better to go for those 23 to 28 feet long ones or the much larger ones.
Note: There can be limitations on the sizes of boats in certain locations. This can vary from state to state. Do have a check on that before going for any large models.
Pontoon Boat Size and Motor
The motor (Horse Power) you need to use in your pontoon boat also depends on the length of the pontoon boat. The smaller ones may not be able to facilitate high powered engines. So there will be a safe limit on the engine that can be used in a small pontoon boat. If you look for longer pontoon boats, then you can have high HP engines.
The outboard motors can have horsepower (HP) rated from 2.5 HP up to 425 HP. The engine that works for you will depend on the type of water body you are in and the type of activities you do. The smallest engine recommendation for a pontoon boat would be 9.9 HP. A 9.9 HP engine is best for slow cruising and you can achieve speeds up to 5 mph. If you use “high-thrust” 9.9 HP engine, then it would become much easier to maneuver your pontoon boat.
Now in case of 15 to 30 HP outboard motors, these are also meant for slow cruising. They have little more power than a 9.9 HP engine. High-thrust models can perform well here as well.
With outboard motors above 40 HP, you can expect to have good speed which can even be suitable for pulling a tube. So around 40- 60 HP engine is perfect for safe fun with young kids.
If you have 70 to 115 HP outboard engines, then speed of your pontoon boat will also get affected by the size of your vessel. In such cases, a 20 feet or smaller pontoon boat may be capable of pulling a skier/wakeboarder. However, when size of the pontoon boat increases beyond that, then you may feel that the speed provided by these motors is not sufficient.
Now, with 150 HP you get the power to pull a skier or wakeboarder. You can also really throw someone around on a tube. If you are someone looking for a tritoon, then this could be the starting range to work upon. Above 150HP outboard motors is for those wild riders. Before buying a pontoon boat, check for the maximum outboard motor capacity. You can’t use a higher rated engine HP on the one with smaller recommended range.
Pontoon Boat Recreational Activities and Size Considerations
Pontoon Boats can be used for many different activities. They can be used for fishing, partying, or other recreational activities like tubing. The pontoon boat size you need to look for also depends on the purpose for which you use the pontoon boat. This is significant for achieving the right experience in your water activities. There are many lengths of pontoon boats available in the market and hence you will not feel less in terms of options. So let us look into how we can select the correct pontoon boat sizes suiting the water activities we intend to carry out.
Most people use pontoon boats for fishing. Even cruising models include options for fishing. For fishing, you need to take all your fishing gears with you. This can include fishing rods, fishing nets, etc. So you need to have the sufficient storage space. There should also be livewells so that you can keep your catches. The floorplan can also include fishing stations, tackle storage, etc. In general, about 22 feet long pontoon boats will be a good choice for those passionate fishing anglers. With larger size, you get more in terms of storage and convenience. For those involved in occasional fishing and more of cruising, 19-20 feet long pontoon boat will be a good choice.
However as already said, the size of the boat can also depend on the location where you intend to take your boat. For freshwater fishing in lakes and rivers, small to medium sized boat will be good. However, if you look for fishing in the ocean, then you need larger pontoon boat. So you need to take proper considerations for the same.
Pontoon boats are used for water sports like tubing, skiing, etc. The size requirements also depend on the type of water sports you intend to take part in. There is a floorplan for every option that you want to have. Hence you can look for suitable options. For swimming and snorkeling, you do not have to worry much about storage or any other requirements. You just need to have a check on the carrying capacity of your pontoon boat. You can take as many passengers with you based on the carrying capacity of your pontoon boat. Sports like scuba diving and water skiing may require some equipment. So you need to look for pontoon boat options with sufficient storage. Water sports like water skiing require the pontoon boat to pull the ones involved in the activity and in such cases speed and the motor of the pontoon boat matters. You should look for pontoon boats with at least 90 HP maximum engine HP in such cases. With higher horsepower engines you can ride wild. Thus as the intensity of the water activity increases, you need to look for proper engine horsepower considerations too. We have already discussed that in the previous section.
Sunbathing and Lounging
If you are just interested in cruising or partying with your friends, then you can go for pontoon boats with larger decks. Comfy seating options should also be looked after for so that you can relax and enjoy with your friends. If you are looking for pontoon boats with best sunbathing spots, then double decker pontoon boats can also make a great choice. Such options can also offer you with a much greater field of view from the upper deck. The double deckers can also offer more shade to you. These models usually come about 25 foot and more in length. The 25 foot models can have about 14 people capacity.
Now we have seen what all factors influence the proper size selection of the pontoon boat. As the investment you make is huge, it is best to take all these factors into consideration. Remember that with the right pontoon boat size, you will have the right experience.