The Most Common Reasons to Not Buy a Pontoon Boat

Lakes across the country are getting ready for the arrival of avid boat owners to signal the start of the summer boating season. If this is your first year heading out on the water, it’s crucial to understand the responsibility of boat ownership. Boats come in all shapes and sizes. While a pontoon boat may seem like an appealing option, there are several reasons to think twice before considering buying this type of vessel.

What is a pontoon boat?

pontoon boat fits a lot of people and is commonly referred to as a party boat. The affordable entry-level price tag is attractive to many first-time boat owners. The versatile option allows for fishing, water skiing off the back, or enjoying a leisurely float with a cold drink in hand. There are plenty of sizes and styles to choose from, designed to fit your specific needs.

Before purchasing a boat, consider the layout, size, available features, price, and performance capabilities. A pontoon boat offers a wide-open floorplan and is gaining popularity in the recreational boating industry.

According to National Marine Manufacturers Association, pontoon boat sales accounted for 50 percent of new powerboat sales last year. They said, “2020 was an extraordinary year for new powerboat sales as more Americans took to the water to escape pandemic stress and enjoy the outdoors safely.”

Purchasing one may be a bad idea

An electric-powered pontoon boat skims across Lake Mission Viejo, past the homes and private docks
An electric-powered pontoon boat | Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

There are several reasons to think twice before investing in a pontoon boat, no matter how appealing it may appear at first glance. The biggest downfall of this style of boat is the speed. A pontoon boat will never win a race, with The Ocean Sailing Guide saying the average speed ranges between 28 to 35 mph.

Another common drawback is the boat’s ability to handle rough waters. Unlike a typical v-shaped boat, the pontoon is not designed to maneuver strong waves. The wake behind a pontoon boat is also wider, sometimes making it harder to enjoy water sports.

Better Boat suggests, “If you want to make hairpin turns and get performance handling, then a pontoon boat is a poor choice.”

The wide-turning radius can prove challenging, especially when trying to get into confined areas. Also, consumers don’t realize that some outboard motors can prove to be very loud on this style of watercraft, making it hard to enjoy a quiet day on the lake.

Types of pontoon boats

This Pontoon Boat Was Specially Designed for Fishing

If, after reviewing the downsides, you still have your heart set on purchasing a pontoon boat, check out some different styles before taking the plunge.

Family fun abounds in a double-deck fun ship style that includes an attached slide for hours of enjoyment. This type of boat typically has high-grade marine speakers, additional seating and loungers for sunbathing, and plenty of coolers to keep the party going. The most popular brand is Tahoe, with a starting price of $35,000. The higher-end Avalon brand, while still popular, carries a hefty $93,000 price tag.

Hybrid pontoon boats come with cabins and personal sleeping quarters. For those on a tight budget, Discover Boating recommends the Cypress Cay C 171 Cruise, which has an MSRP of just under $18,000.

Boating Magazine prefers the 27-foot top-of-the-line 2021 SunChaser Eclipse 25 SSB. Loaded with performance-enhanced features, this pontoon offers precise handling with a four-stroke outboard motor that can reach top speeds of 46 mph. That kind of power comes with a heftier price tag – $60,738, to be exact.

Deck boats may prove to be a better option for potential boat owners, especially in the higher-end price levels. It’s important to do extensive research to know what style is right for you and your family.