Are pontoon boats safe in the ocean? If you’re a marine enthusiast looking for a vessel to explore the open seas, pontoon boats merit serious consideration. With their greater size and stability than other types of recreational vessels, is it the properly selection for you?
In this post, Scott Ewart will take an in-depth look at whether or not pontoon boats are suitable options when it comes to tackling the open ocean. Besides, we also give you information about pontoon boat handling techniques on the ocean. Are you ready? Let’s dive in right now!
Are pontoon boats safe in the ocean?
Yes, it is. Indeed, one can traverse the seas on a pontoon boat! In truth, modern-day pontoon boats are equipped with features such as V-frame construction and tritoons. This makes them significantly more durable than their predecessors. Plus, they have been built using resilient materials that ensure safe passage across rough waters.
A pontoon-type boat comprising a deck having opposite sides, and a modified tunnel hull supporting the deck and including a first outer sponson located adjacent one of the sides of the deck
Pontoon boat handling techniques at the ocean
Balance the load on the pontoon boat
When a pontoon boat is out on the ocean, it’s important to make sure that people and things are spread out evenly. This will help keep the boat balanced and stable, and it will also put less stress on the boat and its parts.
Furthermore, how you allocate your items should be monitored on their position in relation to the centerline, from front to back. Depending on which way the waves are coming, dangerous conditions can cause either end of a boat to drop a lot.
Keep the boat near the shoreline
It’s always best to remain close to the shore when navigating in larger bodies of water. When utilizing a pontoon boat, you should always stick near the shoreline for your first trips. This way, if something goes wrong during your voyage, you can quickly return to safety. Doing so significantly improves your odds of being okay in an emergency situation.
Do not reduce speed in rough waters
Rough waters can be dangerous for boat operators and passengers alike. In these conditions, it’s best to maintain your speed rather than slow down. As we have usually observed, many boaters instinctively strive to limit wave damage by slowing down. However, while a pontoon boat goes into a wave, decreasing speed risks dipping the bow and smashing the wave into the deck. Keep pace as waves approach.
Hit the strong waves at a 30-40 degree angle
Most pontoon boats have flat bottoms, which means they can take on a lot of water when they hit a wave. If feasible, cut across the waves 45 degrees off your centerline. This should help you avoid more aggressive waves.
Keep the safety of the boat and your passengers in mind
For the boat: You have to make sure that your boat is in good condition before using it. Check all of the parts, like the cables and hoses, to make sure they are all working properly. To ensure your safety on the open sea, make sure you have a functional VHF marine radio so that you can stay up-to-date with the weather and call for aid if necessary. Additionally, an EPIRB or similar device will help locate you in any emergency scenario.
A Very High Frequency (VHF) Marine Radio allows instant communication between your boat and other boats, marinas, bridges, and the United States Coast Guard (USCG)
For the passengers: Life jackets, whistles, and other essential safety items should always be on board. Additionally, keeping a first-aid kit on board is highly recommended.
What to do when facing lightning
Are pontoon boats good for the ocean? When riding a pontoon boat in the ocean, it is important to be aware of potential lightning storms. While pontoons are generally safe in the ocean, they are not immune to lightning strikes. If a lightning storm is imminent, it is best to leave the water and seek shelter on land.
- Disconnecting electronics. Don’t use radio antennas or microphones; avoid anything made of copper or lined with copper.
- Avoiding metal structures or surfaces. If you can, stay away from metal things like umbrellas and chairs; don’t hold on to metal ladders, metal railings, or metal Bimini tops.
- Look for a place to stay. This can be an enclosure, a portable changing room bathroom, or a cabin.
- Get dry. If you’re wet, you might attract lightning.
- Lay down or sit.
Make your boat visible when the storm hits.
Follow these some steps when storms come:
- Don’t worry. Most storms end as quickly as they start.
- Slow down to a speed that is safe.
- Turn on all the lights.
- Stay away from shallow water, shorelines, and boats.
- Tell the people on board to put on life jackets.
- Use a horn to warn other boats in the area at regular times.
Things to consider while using a pontoon boat on the ocean
Quality of pontoon boat
The hull’s construction determines whether your boat can withstand outdoor wear and tear. Consider float size, wall thickness, and horsepower. Gone are the days of pontoon boats with small motors and two metal tubes that could barely reach speeds of 20 mph. Nowadays, we have pontoons equipped with three heavy-duty tubes, more powerful engines, and larger decks.
While they may be stable enough to use in calmer waters due to their size, these longer models are not recommended for open ocean voyages. However, if we have to choose between these models, tritoons are slightly more seaworthy.
Pontoon’s front-end design
Pontoons are known for their flat fronts, which provide a smooth ride on water. However, this feature can be detrimental during rough waves, as it can cause water to overflow into the boat.
When waves break the front deck railing of a pontoon boat, it can be dangerous for passengers and boats. Unsecured railings can harm anyone on board.
Know boat speed limit
Your pontoon boat’s top speed depends a lot on things like its motor size, horsepower, weight, number of seats, equipment, and accessories. Pontoon boats typically reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and average 20mph.
Custom pontoons with bigger motors may go faster. Boat design may be safer than speed on the water. Slowing down is safer in choppy seas, heavy waves, and reduced visibility.
Protection against saltwater corrosion
When moving your pontoon boat to coastal waters, you must think about how it will react to saltwater. Galvanic corrosion can present a problem for pontoons; however, rust is not an issue.
Thankfully, galvanic corrosion only attacks the anode and preserves other metal components (the cathode). Zinc plates or discs are perfect candidates for this kind of corrosion. Nevertheless, their gradual rusting still safeguards your boat’s crucial elements.
Keeping your pontoon boat properly maintained
Regular maintenance is essential for the longevity of your pontoon boat.
How well you clean, maintain, and take care of your boat in rougher waters will also affect how long it lasts. Before departing the dock or ramp, take a few moments to inspect your boat for any damage or loose parts. When you get back from boating in saltwater, you must thoroughly clean and rinse off all of the boat’s parts with fresh water. This can eliminate any lingering salt deposits and sediment.
To protect your pontoon boat from saltwater, it’s important to keep the unit off a trailer or lift when not in use. Also, if you store your vessel in salt water, make sure that you have applied anti-fouling or anti-corrosion paint to the tubes and bottom unit!
Preparation for electrical systems
It is essential to ensure that your boat’s electric system remains in impeccable condition, particularly if you sail on salt water. Don’t let any of the cables come into contact with tubes or be left exposed. If saltwater contacts electricity, the process is known as galvanization. A procedure can easily cause major destruction to your vessel if you are not cautious.
Preparation the boat’s trailer
If you didn’t particularly buy your pontoon boat for saltwater use, it may not be ready. If your boat’s trailer doesn’t have enough protection against corrosion, the saltwater of the sea can quickly spread rust. As the result, it can damage your boat. A galvanized trailer offers reliable protection against such a situation.
Don’t bring a lot of boat accessories
Keep in mind that the more accessories you bring, the heavier and less stable your pontoon boat will become. This can be dangerous when out on the open ocean, so be sure to only bring what you absolutely need.
Test for leaks of boat
If your boat has any sort of leak, it could spell disaster if you hit rough water. Prior to embarking, thoroughly examine all valves, drain plugs, pipes, and fixtures. Uncovering the boat’s state is essential. Without frequent inspection, pontoons with holes can lose buoyancy and make it dangerous to venture out on the water.
Avoid stormy weather
Storms can be dangerous for any boat, but especially for pontoon boats. To know the weather, you should always check the forecast before leaving port. Avoid strong winds and large waves, as they can be especially hazardous for pontoon boats due to their flat hulls and size.
FAQs Are pontoon boats safe in the ocean?
How far can a pontoon boat travel offshore?
Pontoons and smaller leisure boats are ideal for the intercoastal, bays, and rivers. They are not designed to travel 30 to 40 miles offshore. In waves no greater than 3-4′, a good rule of thumb is to make sure you can always see the coast and boat.
Do pontoons require a lot of upkeep?
Pontoon boats require less maintenance than other types of boats. They are less prone to tarnishing and less sensitive. Most pontoon boats have a corrosion-resistant aluminum housing.
How fast can a pontoon boat go?
In comparison to a typical pontoon boat, which can only manage up to 40mph. Tritoon boats are considerably faster. On average, they travel at 45 miles per hour. However, with the right conditions in place and adequate power under the hood, these vessels could reach speeds of 50 mph or higher!
Is it simple to drive a pontoon boat?
Yes, it is. Beginners may learn to drive them. Because of their height, they handle well at slower speeds and provide the driver with a good perspective of the sea.
In short, are pontoon boats safe in the ocean? Pontoon boats may not be the best choice for going out into the open ocean, but they can do it with the right gear and careful planning. Take special note of weather conditions before your voyage and make sure your pontoon boat is properly maintained. So what do you think? Can pontoon boats go in the ocean? We at jusstaddwaterbda.com would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!