Pontoon boats are often seen on lakes, families on board, a grill being fired up, someone sunbathing up front and maybe someone fishing off the back trying to catch something for that grill. However these boats are more versatile than that and can be geared up for multiple activities. It is even possible, with great care, to take them onto saltwater.
This doesn’t mean any trans Atlantic journey should be planned, but for estuaries and sheltered water there are models that will do just fine. You will need to take account of some considerations like power, stability, and shelter, but if you plan ahead it is possible to use a boat on sheltered saltwater.
The key elements in choosing a pontoon boat for saltwater are: durability, stability / wave resistance, sun cover, comfort, and power management. Stability and power are the key aspects regarding safety. A Saltwater pontoon boat will have to deal with lager conditions than its lake counterpart, and will need both stability and the power to manage these situations.
Here we will take a look at both some of the models of boat more suited to salt water and the factors that make a pontoon boat suitable for use on saltwater. We include the best pontoon boats for saltwater fishing, entertaining and days on the water. If you want to jump straight to the boat introduction click here. The next section highlights what you should look out for when selecting a pontoon boat suitable for saltwater.
The Durability Of The Boat
When it comes to Pontoon Boat For Saltwater Fishing, durability is one of the central aspects you need to consider. Since you are going to use the boat in saltwater, it will be more prone to deteriorate. Salt water is super corrosive and you will need to pay attention to the materials and construction of your boat.
Luckily, you will find that most boats are made of resistant PVC material and hopefully with an aluminum or similar anti corroding material. However, there is more to it than just the hull, ask about the screws, nuts and bolts, and even the paint on the boat as well. You should make sure that this paint is an antifouling aluminum-based paint. This type of paint is more resistant to salty water and will keep your boat looking like new. Fixtures and fittings all have should be either treated for a saltwater environment or made or corrosive resistant materials.
Pontoon Boat Stability and Resistance to Waves
Waves are also a consideration when it comes to pontoon boats for saltwater. Realistically these boats are not made for offshore, you might be considering a trip down the coast, or a day off the beach with it, and even that is going to take some planning. Pontoon boats for saltwater fishing purposes can be used in estuaries, where there you are protected from the brunt of the waves, but even the most sturdy of pontoon boats is going to struggle and let in water in medium to large seas.
The low deck is just not designed for it and the catamaran / trimaran design, while great on a flat lake, is going to find itself between wave troughs on the sea, which results in that wave likely hitting the side and splashing over the sides and onto deck. If you are planning to go fishing in water with small waves, you have less reason too worry. Most boats are designed to handle small and even small to medium-size waves without risks. But if you are planning to go to a sea with bigger waves, you need a sturdy boat to face them.
It is important, both for safety and wallets sake, to be completely upfront with the manufacturer about your intended purpose so they can guide you. There are higher deck more stable versions out there designed for more robust waters but PLEASE remember to know your limits. Weather can change, sea states too, you always need to plan an escape and an emergency plan in case these things happen.
You will notice that each manufacturer is going to list these aspects in the description of the boat. Boats made for bigger waves tend to be more stable and have more reinforcements. However, even if you trust your boat completely, you should check the weather before going into a sea with big weaves. No matter how sturdy these boats can be, they might not be strong enough to resist to certain weather conditions and you really dont want to find that out in real time.
Your boat will be exposed in the sun for several hours. The direct sunlight combined with the salt water might have harmful impacts on the boat. This is even more important if you go fishing in the sea or the ocean. Sun burn is a very real danger when out on the water, any water, and a decent Bimini cover ( some here if you already have a boat) will be a welcome addition if you are out for any length of time.
This is why choosing a Pontoon Boat For Saltwater Fishing with some sun protection is a wise decision. There are boats with a sunshade that you can use only when the weather is too hot, and this can make all the difference to how long you are willing to be out on the water.
The Comfort Of The Pontoon Boat
Boating and fishing are not hobbies that you can do for 20 minutes and then move on. You are likely to be on your pontoon boat for several hours at a time. You will need to make sure that your boat offers you all the comfort you need to enjoy this time. The type of seating it comes with, for instance, can make a big difference to your fishing and boating experience.
Wrap around bow seats are great for lounging on a sunny day, but they are not optimal for fishing. We suggest a mix of both as in all reality a pontoon boat is going to be a jack of all trades and having as many options for use as possible is going to help justify that expense.
The larger models will come with a head (toilet) which may be chemical or a sea toilet. It’s likely to be a porta potty type version unless you are really pushing the boat out (ha!!) and going for the top of the line models. For longer trips these are well worth more than a casual consideration.
If you are launching from marinas, or boat clubs they will all have tanks where you can dispose of waste and it is not much fun getting caught short miles from the nearest toilet. Especially if you are surrounded by the lapping sound of water and waves.
The Capacity Your Boat Has
A pontoon boat is a fancy powered raft (I oversimplify), but it can take a lot of weight. However each pound you pile on it will reduce its speed, maneuverability, and stability. You should check the manufacturers guidelines for this. If you are (I can’t really think of a reason why you would) stacking heavy items, then you will also have to pay attention to weight distribution. Piling all the weight onto one side of a boat is never the best idea, check out the photo below for a visual of that 😛
With regard to capacity, its is an almost certainty that there will be a person limit on your boat. 6-12 most likely unless you have a large pontoon boat. This is a guideline. If you are out one saltwater / rough water, it follows that the less weight and people, the safer you will be. Follow the guidelines and don’t overpack the boat.
If you are planning on fishing from your pontoon boat then storage compartments are a considerations, you may need a live well, or a boat cooler. Both of these can be bought separately if you want the portability of them, but there are options for manufacturers to add in optional features like these as well.
Rod holders, both for general fishing, storage and trolling are also an options from some manufacturers but you may need to look on amazon for alternatives if not. You can pick up pretty robust options for about 30 dollars for two. (for boating, this is a pretty good price!!!)
Power and Saltwater Pontoon Boats
From fortunately not bitter experience I can attest to the importance of enough power on Pontoon boats. I used to run one for visitors in a previous job up and down the river Hamble in the Uk. For those who don’t know, Hamble is a tidal river that empties into the English Channel (the busiest water way in the world).
One one grey day we were heading to a waterside park for the visitors to get off and stroll around for 20 minutes and then return upstream. The timing coincided with low tide and water was rushing out of the river and into the estuary. The engine i had on the boat was totally fine on normal days, started to struggle with the speed of the water and at one point we found it actually moving backwards ( towards that shipping channel) rather than back up the river.
Luckily I am not that inexperienced and by shore hugging and ferry gliding we made it back to less rapid water. However it illustrates that underpowered is not a situation you want to find your self in on any water. Make sure you have horses to spare as they say, and be ware of how that will relate to a loaded and unloaded boat.
Saltwater Power Boat Manufacturers:
Using a pontoon boat on saltwater, as as been highlighted, needs both careful consideration and careful planning. They have certainly become more sturdy as each new model is revealed, however they are not specifically built to go on
Fishing in saltwater can be a very entertaining and exciting experience to enjoy. But to make the most out of it, you need a Pontoon Boat For Saltwater Fishing that is right for you. Take into account the features exposed in this guide, and you will not make the wrong decision.
Once you have your boat and equipment set up, all you need to do is choose a peaceful day and enjoy your fishing time! Arm yourself with patience as it might take some time in the sea to catch some fish! But once you do, it can be one of the most enthusiastic experiences to have!