Buying a pontoon boat is a great investment if you plan to spend a lot of time on the water fishing or doing any water-related sports activity. In this article, we’ll show you how to buy a pontoon boat so it has all your needs satisfied.
Pontoon Boat Buying Guide
1 – Finding The Best Size
The first step towards a successful and useful purchase of a pontoon boat is finding out the best size that will fit your needs. Size should be completely related to the number of people that will join you on your trips most of the time. For instance, if you plan to use it with a few friends, then you won’t be needing the largest one, and vice versa.
The table of sizes goes like this:
- For 2 to 6 people, a pontoon boat between 18 and 20 feet
- For 6 to 10 people, a pontoon boat between 22 and 24 feet
- For more than 10 people, a pontoon boat bigger than 24 feet
Size also depends on the size of the body of water you’ll be using it in:
- For small lakes, ponds and similar smaller and calm bodies of water, boat between 17 and 19 feet will do.
- For larger lakes and calm rivers, buy a boat between 20 and 22 feet.
- For rough waters, anything above 23 feet will do.
2 – The Purpose
The different activity requires a different type of pontoon boat:
Fishing is one of the main reasons people buy pontoon boats in the first place. If this is by far the most important reason you’ll be using the boat for, then buy a pontoon boat specialized for fishing. If you plan to use it equally for fishing and cruising, then both fishing or cruising models will do, but if you plan to fish occasionally, then you’ll be able to do it with a cruise model.
Water sports Model
The second reason why people decide to buy a pontoon boat is water sports. If you plan to use it to drag different parts of equipment, like wakeboards, skies, etc, then focus on the strength of your motor. You’ll need the one with at least 90 horsepower.
If the main purpose you’ll be using your boat is to swim and simply chill on the sun, then make sure there is enough space on the deck and equip it with swim decks, slides or ladders. This one can also be used as a scuba diving, snorkeling or freediving station.
Pontoon boats can be used even for the simplest chilling thanks to their additional equipment, so you’ll have the possibility to get changing rooms, toilets, grills, sinks, bed… This way you’ll be able to make this pontoon your base for basically any activity you can think of.
3 – The Right Price
If you have an indefinite amount of money, then this won’t be an issue. However, the vast majority of people love to find the best deal possible, and this is how to do that:
Timing Of Purchase
If you live somewhere where the winter is harsh, then it is time to take advantage of nature. Once the temperatures start to drop, it is time to start checking official pontoon boat selling websites and look for discounts. This is when most shops will lower the price on the last-years models so they have enough space for the new ones. The ideal time to strike a deal with a dealership is from the beginning of November to the end of January.
If you live at a location without an off-season, then you have three choices:
- Look for sales
- Wait until the tax season
- Arrange a winter holiday to somewhere where it snows and buy a boat along the way. Just make sure the costs of delivery are affordable.
Although most of the time they happen during offseason or at the beginning of one, you should pay attention to the boat show schedule. This is not only good for discounts, but you’ll also get a unique chance to compare different boats and see which one suits you better and to get all the needed information without having to go from shop to shop or to Google it out.
Don’t Rush The Decision
Although it is possible to find the perfect match at the first shop you visit, it is more likely you’ll have to visit at least a few different places before you find the boat that suits all your needs. Once you do, it is time for research. With the help of social networks, it shouldn’t be hard to find all the needed answers about the specific boat. You should also check specified forums and see other user comments and if there are some problems that occur frequently. And you should also hire a boat broker.
4 – New Or Used Boat?
Another dilemma you’ll face when buying a pontoon boat is whether you should go with a new boat or is it OK to buy a pontoon boat that has already been used. Here are some things you’ll get from each of the two options:
The main thing you’ll get from a new boat is the chance to fully customize your boat. At the shop, they’ll offer you different add-on packages, features and basically anything you need, while there are also some additional things you’ll get:
- Seating arrangement. Learn how many people will use the boat, and arrange the sits so they fit your needs.
- An additional tube. Normally, pontoon boats have 2 tubes, but you can ask for a third one that will provide you with additional stability and speed.
- Different features and gadgets like cupholders, tables, among others.
The biggest issue with the new boat is its price. If you want to avoid spending too much, you’ll most likely switch to a used pontoon boat.
If you’ve decided to buy a pontoon boat that has already been owned by someone and before you start thinking about all the possible add-ons, it is absolutely essential to inspect the boat. Boat broker will help you with this, and here are some things you should check before you spend your money:
- Hull should be checked for cracks or any patches. If you see any patch, ask the seller about it.
- Pontoon tubes should come next. Make sure they are straight and there are no holes, dents, cracks…
- The engine is used to power your boat. Check for any signs of smoke, liquid, rust, decay or corrosion. Inside the cabin, look for the hour’s mark on the engine.
- Interior, although important, can be fixed, but you should check it for molds or rotting because it can be a part of bigger problems.
What you should look for is a vessel with no or close-to-none issues. That’s why it is good to have an inspector with you. And, if it is possible, before the definite purchase, take it out on a test drive. It can also be useful to know where to look for a used boat. And here is the list of all easy boat improvements you can perform once you get your boat.
5 – Check For The Insurance
If you’ve found the boat you like, before you make a purchase you should ask around for insurance. Start by contacting your car insurance company and see their offer about boat insurance, and ask around a bit until you find the best deal for you.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about buying a pontoon boat:
Q: How much does a pontoon boat cost?
If you plan to buy a new boat, the price goes from $14,500 for a small one up to $48,000 for a large one, but it can vary. If you decide to give the old one a try, then the prices can go from about $15,000 down to even under $1,000, but you’ll most likely have to spend a lot more money on a makeover.
Q: What's the best pontoon boat for the money?
The answer depends on your own preference, but overall, these two are considered to be the best of the best for the price under $15,000 - Sun TRACKER Bass Buggy and The Qwest 7514 CR.
Q: Do pontoon boats hold their value?
No, their value drops rapidly for the first few years. How much will it drop depends on the usage, how well it’s been taken care of, etc.
Q: What is the smallest pontoon boat?
The smallest pontoon boat is about 50 square feet and it is run by pedals. These types of pontoons are known as mini pontoons.
Q: Do pontoon boats have toilets?
Mini or small pontoons don’t, while on medium pontoons there is a place for a curtain and a small portable toilet. On larger pontoon boats regular portable toilet most often can be added.
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