How To Drive 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.

Driving A Pontoon Boat

Many people say that pontoon boats feel similar to driving a car. This might be because the pontoons on the sides of the boat feel like the wheelbase of a vehicle. It’s important to check if you’re driving a pontoon with two toons or three toons, as that will change the handling.

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.

Pull The Boat Out

Next, you’ll want to pull the boat out of the slip or away from the dock. If you’re parked on a dock, it’s easy to push the pontoon into gear and pull out of the water effortlessly. However, if you’re parked bow-forward in a slip, you’ll have to pull the boat out backward.

First, look behind you and make sure that the water is deep enough and that you have plenty of space to back up without crashing into another slip or boat. Pontoon boats don’t have a large draft, so you generally won’t need too deep of water for a pontoon boat but as you first begin driving a pontoon boat, give yourself plenty of deep water to practice in. You wouldn’t want to destroy a rudder on your first time driving a pontoon boat.

Turn On The Boat

Some pontoon boats are push-button activated while some use a key ignition. Find out which one your pontoon is and turn on the boat.

Put the Pontoon In Reverse

Using the throttle, gently shift the pontoon from neutral to reverse. You can put it in reverse by pulling the throttle backward or downwards. Turn your wheel as if you were backing a car out of a parking spot. Once you are out of the slip, put the throttle into the neutral position, and then forward and make your way onto the open lake or river.

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.