Pontoon boats have made a name for themselves as the ultimate leisure vessel. You can host parties, sunbathe, laze around in coastal waters, fish, and cruise with them.
To the uninitiated, these qualities can be intriguing, so don’t blame them if they float the question “What does a pontoon boat look like?” from time to time.
Well, whether it’s a small or big pontoon boat, this watercraft immediately stands out with its rectangular deck. The pontoon is not so much the boat as the two tubes attached to the deck’s underside. Usually, bench seats run along the vessel’s sides.
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The Look Ultimately Depends on the Type
Overall, the boat’s rectangular shape and use of floating tubes are the sole common denominators shared by pontoon vessels. These tubes help keep the vessel buoyant and stable.
The seats face inward, smoothly encouraging conversation and collaboration among the passengers. Some models have benches that serve a dual purpose as both seating and storage compartments.
Here are the ways various types of pontoon boats make themselves more unique:
- Large pontoon boats (recreational pontoon boats): these feature a more spacious, open deck or even a swim platform at the rear. They’ll have more comfy seats and various entertainment appliances.
- Fishing pontoon boats: such vessels will come with rod holders, fishing chairs, and fish finders. They may also have a dedicated deck where two or more anglers can sit, nap, wait, and socialize.
- Cargo pontoon boats: specially used for transportation, these boats forgo seats altogether to maximize deck space to carry as many items as possible.
- Luxury pontoon boats: these varieties set the bar higher and may rival certain yachts in the opulence and creativity departments. These are where most manufacturers often let their design prowess come to life, as evidenced by the existence of double-deckers and sports-car-like models.
- You only need to look at a picture of a pontoon boat of this caliber to know what I’m talking about.
- Double decker pontoon boats: easily distinguishable from other types, these vessels feature a secondary upper deck, providing shade and more space.
The upper deck can be either barren or furnished with seating. It’s great for sunbathing. Oftentimes, double-decker pontoon boats also come with a water slide.
- Triple tube pontoon boats (tritoons): as indicated in the name, these vessels consist of three floating tubes—two on the sides and one in the middle.
You can say the tritoons are an upgraded version of the conventional pontoons, given their numerous benefits: improved stability (in both calm and rough waters), higher load capacity, and even faster speed.
- Twin-engine pontoon boats: you can easily recognize these vessels by the two motors mounted on the stern. As the boats come with an additional engine, they’ll be much faster, making them suitable for watersports or traveling large distances (such as in the ocean).
Design and Construction
1. Tube and Deck
Pontoon boats construction is characterized by the rectangular-shaped deck and the rounded pontoon tubes that run from front to back on the entire length of the vessel. They don’t remain rounded at the tip because they typically have a V-shaped or pointed bow, which is slightly elevated in certain models.
The tubes are typically rolled and welded from scratch. They can be made of polyethylene, which has high UV and corrosion resistance, or aluminum—incredibly sturdy but also more expensive.
In most cases, pontoon tubes are filled with air due to easier maintenance and a lower cost. That said, many would opt for foam-filled tubes, which have better buoyancy and lower drag.
To ensure they’re properly supported, the deck and the tubes are attached to the frame using multiple brackets and cross members normally made of aluminum. These brackets should be able to support the deck’s weight and all the passengers.
Pontoons belong to the power class of boats, so they also come with a selection of motors. They’re usually powered by outboard motors that come in different sizes. Generally, the more horsepower the vessels have, the higher the top speed.
4. Advanced Features
As I’ve said, certain manufacturers don’t hold back in exercising their full creativity when brainstorming pontoon boat designs. Brands have added smart tech features like, for example, having a dedicated app from which you can trigger most of the onboard functions.
More luxurious and high-end pontoons are designed to be innately more robust, enough for them to overcome their limitations in open-sea, choppy-water excursions. Others come with what’s termed a three-trim function that boosts riding and cruising comfort even more.
We have meticulous pontoon design calculation to thank for these unprecedented perks.
Last but not least are any of the additional fixtures, accessories, and other equipment and tools to keep you safe on the water.
Take note that luxury pontoons don’t hold back in the number of amenities you can have onboard. There are large models that not only put a 19ft pontoon boat to shame but also ingeniously come with head that’s blatantly on the deluxe side.
A “head” is technically a bathroom. In the context of luxury pontoons, it could be a room with a swanky sink, refrigerator, shower, porta-potti – and even a slide!
Other pontoon boat ideas are challenging the norm by departing from the classic rectangular design altogether, such as the luxury models with an arched shape topsides. The images I’ve shared here speak for themselves.
Other Options and Packages
You can fully customize most pontoon boats with plenty of furniture packages, particularly seat packages that come in various materials, colors, and designs.
Packages are also offered based on the pontoon’s purpose. For example, you may avail of a fishing package, so your vessel will be equipped with everything (accessories and all) you need to make your next angling holiday a blast.
Any addition that’s not “standard” can be considered a package you can avail of. These include sound systems, lights, a sportier look, a tow bar, wakeboard tower, sun deck, etc.
How is a Pontoon Boat Different From a Regular Boat?
- It makes for a great viewing boat as this boat technically faces every direction. This design makes it the superior option when entertaining and chatting with your guests, too.
- The addition of pontoon tubes gives these vessels a markedly better boost to stability and buoyancy. This allows them to be generally more versatile in traversing both rough and calm waters—a phenomenon that’s most observable in triple tube pontoons.
- Huge pontoons arguably have a far larger deck space than most watercraft.
- They can be likened to yachts due to the opulence of some models, but they’re also practical, simple, and high-octane, allowing them to defy definition.
- One obvious downside of their design is that handling and maneuverability tend to take a toll.
- Unless your model belongs to the premium options, you may be unable to satisfy speed demon instincts with a regular pontoon.
- Pontoons generally don’t do well in a storm or when the waves get extra turbulent unless their builder deliberately adds and knocks off some features to help them handle these issues better. There’s no better proof of this than this video:
To summarize the answer to the original question, “What does a pontoon boat look like?”, it’s normally a “boxy” boat with two or three tubes underneath its deck. It comes in various types that dictate how it looks in the end, but most models share the classic look – unless you come across the cream of the crop in the form of luxury pontoons.
Ultimately, modern pontoon boats are unique in that they can seamlessly shift from ritzy watercraft for watersports to simple vessels for lounging or fishing.
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