If you are someone planning to buy a pontoon boat for pulling skiers and tubers or just for having a ride in the lake or to reach a fishing spot and yet in second thoughts because of concerns about speed, then this article will help in finding how fast do they can actually get. Now as we know, pontoons are not meant for any water sports, skiing or tubing requiring higher speeds, they are usually meant for fishing and leisure purposes. So can they be used for water sports? Yes, they can be used. So what are the achievable speeds? Now coming straight to the answer, pontoon boats can have average speeds of about 15 to 24 miles per hour under medium to fully loaded conditions. With some tritoon models, you can even reach speeds above 45 miles per hour. The cost is up but if you look for speed, then that is what the scenario is. Now let us get into the details like the factors which can affect the speed of pontoon boats, some real life examples of speeds achieved and some means to improve the speed of your pontoon.
What Are Pontoon Boats?
Pontoon boat is used as a recreational craft. It has two pontoons and at the center, there is an open deck. It is ideal for fishing and parties. The rear pontoon, which is the inner most one is often used. It helps fishing activities by allowing the stern of the boat to be lowered and by also allowing those involved in fishing to stand on the top while doing so. The smaller pontoon which is the floating deck or the flat deck is the area where you stand or sit on. This deck also can have overhead fishing platforms for those interested in fishing from the top of the boat. Pontoons make it possible for a pontoon boat to be hauled easily on and off the trailer, or to be towed without need for trailer.
Speed Requirements For Different Water Sports Activities?
In order to decide whether or not your pontoon boat is slow for water sports, firstly you need to have an idea about the average speed requirements for the different water sport activities. Speeds vary with tastes and ability of the riders. However, here we present some of the average speed requirements for different water sport
- Water skiing (2 skis) – 15 to 26mph
- Tubing: With young kids- 5 to 10mph
With 10-12 year old kids- 15 to 20mph
With teenagers and adults- 20 to 25 mph (above 25mph can be dangerous)
- Wakeboarding – 13 to 18mph
- Slalom skiing – 14 to 22mph (above 30mph can be dangerous)
- Kneeboarding – 13 to 20 mph
From the above, we can infer that around 18-20mph is a fairly good speed that is required for carrying out water sport activities.
Real Life Examples Of How Fast Pontoon Boats Can Go
Now let us have a look at some of the real life examples of how fast pontoon boats can go. This is what we found on the internet. Tritoon model performances are also included so that you can have a better comparison between the both. These are for mostly light to medium loads.
|22 feet G3 Suncatcher Pontoon||90||22||25|
|22 feet G3 Suncatcher Pontoon||115||25|
|16 feet Sun Tracker Bass Buggy Pontoon||40||15|
|18 feet Sun Tracker Bass Buggy Pontoon||75||21|
|18 feet Sun Tracker Bass Buggy Pontoon||60||18|
|18 feet Sun Tracker Party Barge Pontoon||75||24|
|20 feet Sun Tracker Bass Buggy Pontoon||60||15|
|22 feet Sun Tracker Fishin Barge Pontoon||70||21|
|26 feet Crest III Pontoon||90||28|
|20 feet Godfrey Sweetwater 2086 Pontoon||50||15|
|20 feet Godfrey Sweetwater 2086 Pontoon||90||24|
|23 feet Godfrey Sweetwater 2386 Pontoon||115||25|
|24 feet Godfrey Sweetwater 2486 Pontoon||90||18|
|24 feet Godfrey Sweetwater 2486 Pontoon||115||21|
|22 feet Manitou Oasis Pontoon||150||36|
|23 feet Manitou Encore SHP 373 Tritoon||250||45|
|20 feet Quest 820 Lanai Tritoon||115||34|
|20 feet Ultra 202 Fish & Cruise Pontoon||115||27|
|24 feet Xcursion 255RFX Tritoon||115||27|
|27 feet Xcursion 255RFX Tritoon||250||41|
|25 feet JC Marine 25 NepToon Tritoon||150||33|
|25 feet JC Marine 25 NepToon Tritoon||250||46|
From the above real life examples we can see that most of the pontoon boats offer the speed range that is required for carrying out water sports. Also, we can see how tritoons have an upper hand in terms of the speed achieved.
What Factors Affect The Speed Of A Pontoon Boat?
Pontoon boats speed is affected by the water and air medium. The pontoon boat moves through the water medium, but there is also interference from the air medium. You can get improved speed based on the engine power, the lift and the drag of the tubes and proper weight management.
How Can You Make Your Pontoon Boats Move Faster?
In most cases, initially you would just be looking for a pontoon boat so that you could do fishing or enjoy parties. So would happily go for some pontoon boat with a smaller motor. However, after sometime, you may try to venture into more activities like skiing, tubing, etc. In such cases, you may have more speed requirements. In order to achieve this, you may need bigger motor with more horsepower. This can add several additional costs like buying a bigger one, installation charges, etc. Rather than spending more money afterwards, it is better to have a bigger motor in the firsthand. This can help you in the future. However if you are out with a pontoon boat having a smaller motor, still there are ways by which you can improve on your speed.
Clean Pontoon Tubes To Reduce Drag
This is something you need to practice regularly. The pontoon tubes need to have a smoother surface to reduce the drag so as to get faster. Debris in the pontoon tubes can prevent it from gliding smoothly through the water. So keep the pontoon tubes clean from barnacles and gunk.
Trim The Engine Up
This is easy to do task. Sometimes when you are out with your pontoon boat, when the throttle is up, you may feel as if you are struggling a lot or water splashing under the boat and between tubes. In such cases, trimming your engine can improve the speed.
Let us see how we can trim the engine up. In trimming, the engine is physically tilted to a higher angle. This is done by using the hydraulic motor on the boat which raises the front of the boat a little out of the water. You will get improved speed as a result.
Increase Pontoon Boat’s Thrust
Tuning your pontoon boat’s motor can change the thrust. You need to increase the pontoon boat’s thrust by tuning the motor. This will increase the horse power which can in turn improve the speed. You can also switch to a more powerful engine based on the engine manufacturer assigned limits.
Lighten Load And Have Better Weight Distribution
If you are out with a smaller motor and want to achieve higher speeds, then you obviously need to lighten the load. Leave unnecessary items and do not carry them with you.
The correct placement of weight is equally important thereby which you can achieve the required lift and increase the speed. More weight towards the rear side of the boat can lift the front and reduce slowdown.
Latest pontoon boats can come equipped with this feature. However, if you do not have them, you can try getting them on your pontoon boat as they can not only improve the speed but also fuel efficiency. Lifting strakes are strips of metal, welded directly onto the pontoons. They help to create lift on the water so that the pontoon can glide through the water instead of plodding.
Planing Pontoon Tubes
This is a technology addition you can have in your pontoon boat to reduce the drag. It can be expensive however worthy. Pontoon boats use displacement hulls. A displacement hull lies inside the water, and displaces water as it moves. The boat is held up using buoyancy. A planing hull on the other hand, lies on top of the water as it moves. Thus it holds up the boat using lift.
Pontoon Boats with planing hulls will rise up and glide on top of the water when enough power is supplied. At rest and even at slow speeds, these behave like displacement hulls. However, they climb toward the surface of the water at higher speeds thereby reducing the drag.
Convert to a tritoon
Pontoons have two tubes whereas tritons have three tubes. In order to convert your pontoon to a triton you can add a third tube to the middle of the pontoon. It is a costly update. However speed of the boat will improve for sure. So it is advisable for the first hand buyers to better go for tritoon than a pontoon. Though the initial investment is high, it will benefit you in the future.
You can also make use of booster balls, raised and mounted ski harness which will not make any difference on the speed of boats, but can improve the riding experience of the ones pulled behind. These have their rope line above water. The raised rope line ensures zero drag resulting from water. As a result, the skier or tuber can feel like they are behind a faster boat.