How To Drive A Pontoon Boat

Aerial view of a pontoon boat

Pontoon boats have been surging in popularity for the last few years among boaters and boating enthusiasts. Pontoon boats look rather different from sport boats. Pontoon boats rest on two or more “pontoons”, also known as toons, logs, and tubes. These floating pontoons are often hollow and foster buoyancy for the watercraft.

The pontoons support a flat raft above it. This is where the driver and passengers will be able to sit and enjoy the adventure. For many, the pontoon boat resembles a comfortable patio to hang out with friends and family.

As a result, many people are rushing to buy a pontoon boat to make memories all summer long. If you’re a first-time pontoon driver, you probably have a lot of questions about how to drive one of them. Keep reading to learn our top tips for driving a pontoon boat.

Before You Start: Make Sure You Don’t Need A Boating License

Before you get excited to go rent a boat for the day or buy one, you should make sure you’re familiar with the state laws that you’re in. Certain states require a separate boating license that is required to operate a boat on the water. Other states just require you to have a standard driver license. Read up on your local laws and regulations!

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Controls

Before you take your pontoon boat out on the water, you need to familiarize yourself with its controls. The controls on a pontoon boat are similar to those of a car. You’ll have a steering wheel, throttle, and brakes. It’s essential to understand how each of these controls works and how to use them properly.

Step 2: Understand the Water Conditions

Understanding the water conditions is critical for safe boating. Be aware of the weather and how it may affect the water. Check the wind direction and speed, as well as the water temperature. The wind and water temperature can make a significant difference in how your boat handles, and you’ll need to adjust your driving accordingly.

Step 3: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When you’re first starting out, it’s best to take it slow and steady. It’s essential to get a feel for how the boat handles and responds to the throttle and steering. Start with a low speed, and gradually increase it as you get more comfortable. Remember that pontoon boats are not designed for speed; they’re designed for stability and comfort.

Step 4: Learn to Maneuver the Boat

Once you’re comfortable driving in a straight line, it’s time to learn how to maneuver the boat. Practice turning the boat to the left and right. It’s essential to be aware of any obstacles, such as rocks, buoys, or other boats, when you’re turning.

Step 5: Docking and Anchoring

Docking and anchoring can be tricky, but with a little practice, you’ll master it in no time. When docking, approach the dock slowly and at a slight angle. Use the throttle and steering to position the boat next to the dock. Once you’re in position, secure the boat with ropes or dock lines.

When anchoring, find a spot where the water is calm, and the bottom is suitable for anchoring. Slowly approach the spot and turn off the engine. Lower the anchor and let it sink to the bottom. Reverse the boat slowly to set the anchor.

Step 6: Safety First

Safety should always be your top priority when driving a pontoon boat. Always wear a life jacket, and make sure that your passengers do the same. Check that all safety equipment is on board and in good condition. Be aware of other boats and watercraft in the area, and always follow the rules of the waterway.

Check For Safety Equipment

Every boat is required to carry certain items aboard the vessel to follow state and local laws. These items are meant to keep you and other boaters safe while enjoying a day on the water. Idaho State laws require that each boat carry life jackets, boater registration, navigation lights, fire extinguishers, and other key safety equipment. Learn more by checking out “What Is Required On A Boat in Idaho” by Hagadone Marine Group.

You’re Ready To Drive!

Driving a pontoon boat can be a fun and relaxing experience, but it’s essential to know how to do it safely. By following these six steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a confident and competent pontoon boat driver. So grab your life jacket and hit the water with confidence! 

Top 3 Advantages Of Pontoon Boats

  • Great for families and groups with children
  • Extremely comfortable compared to some other boat models
  • Very safe, making them great for boaters of any skill level

Are pontoon boats easy to drive?

Yes – pontoon boats are considered one of the easiest boats to drive. Pontoon boats are well known to be a great option for first time boat owners or renters.

North Idaho Boat Rentals & Lake Fun with Resort Boat Rentals!

Check out our premium selection of brand-new Harris and Barletta Pontoon Boats for rent on Lake Coeur d’Alene. We carry brand new luxury boats that seat up to 12 adults and we even offer tubes for those that would like to have a fun day tubing on the lake. Book a pontoon boat today starting at $109 an hour.

Drive Around the Lake or River

Once away from the dock or slip and out on the open lake or river, you’ll want to practice moving through the water so you get comfortable with the way the pontoon boat moves and handles. Pontoon boats can feel a little bulky in comparison to an automobile, but if you treat it like a rear-wheel-drive car, it should come easily to you.

For handling purposes, keep in mind that pontoon boats with only two pontoons will lean more into the outside of the turn. This isn’t as common with tritoon pontoons as the center pontoon tends to balance it out more.

Keep an eye out for other boaters through the water. Many new pontoon drivers mention that they have less visibility when driving through the water.

Resort Boat Rentals

Check out our premium selection of brand-new Harris and Barletta Pontoon Boats for rent on Lake Coeur d’Alene. We carry brand new luxury boats that seat up to 12 adults and we even offer tubes for those that would like to have a fun day tubing on the lake. Book a pontoon boat today starting at $109 an hour.