Some believe a pontoon boat can’t sink due to its lightweight, but they’ll be surprised to watch their boat sink if care isn’t taken. Pontoon boats are the best option when it comes to water sports, fishing, or partying.
They’re safe for most water activities, but you shouldn’t push them beyond their limit. They’re designed for certain capacities and regular maintenance is required in order to ensure it’s working smoothly.
A pontoon boat rarely sinks because even if one single tube gets punctured or it’s filled with water, the other tube can keep the boat floating without sinking.
This is the reason why you hardly find a pontoon boat sink, but there are still some factors that can cause it to sink and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article.
Top Reasons Why A Pontoon Boat Sink
As mentioned previously, if one tube fails, the remaining tubes can keep the boat floating to prevent it from sinking. If you however overload the boat beyond its capacity, it will likely sink even with the slightest failure of the tubes.
Overloading is the leading cause of pontoon boats sinking, you have to limit the number of passengers and goods you carry on them if you want to stay safe.
One thing with pontoon boats is that you might not face any problem even if you overload them, they will float in a stable position without any sign or warning of being overweight. Once you however start the boat and it becomes apparent, you should consider reducing the load on it.
If there are too many people on the boat, consider reducing the number of passengers. Even if you notice the boat is balanced, you shouldn’t ignore it.
The best way to stay safe is by checking the manufacturer’s manual, every boat out there has its own capacity, and you want to make sure that you’re within the limit.
Sometimes it can be difficult to gauge all the weight on the boat, in order to resolve this you should make sure the water line that’s at the bow end of the pontoon is lower than the water level which is at the stern end.
If the water line which is at the front of the pontoon is lower than the water line that’s at the back, it’s a sign that the pontoon boat is overweight.
2. Weight Distribution Is Not Balanced
Accumulating the weight at one location can cause a pontoon boat to sink even if you haven’t overloaded it. The weight has to be distributed evenly to avoid sinking, you have to ensure that the bow area is lighter than the stern.
When the bow area is overweight the pontoons at the front will be below the water and will result in what’s called the “Ploughing” effect, which happens when the boat throttles up.
Instead of plowing above the water, it moves through the water which will result in water moving to the front and will end up sinking the boat if the right action isn’t taken.
3. Mounting The Wrong Motor
The motor is capable of delivering the power needed to drive the boat, the pontoon comes with the appropriate motor that is designed to carry the weight mentioned in the manual guide.
If the motor needs to be replaced and you end up installing a motor with less power, it will cause the boat to sink.
You should always check the horsepower of your motor so that when replacing it, you can make sure that the one you’re replacing has the capacity that is mentioned in your boat manual.
If there is not enough power to lift the weight on the pontoon boat, things will definitely go wrong and will eventually lead to the sinking of the boat. Having the wrong motor will also cause the “Ploughing” effect we previously talked about.
4. The Pontoons Have Water In Them
A pontoon boat is called so because the tubes it sits on are called “Pontoons”. These tubes are hollow and it’s what keeps the boat floating on the water. For some reason water can find a way inside them like when the drainage exit isn’t closed well.
The moment water enters these tubes, the boat will sit below the water and sinking can take effect as well. Though, when the water inside the tube is insignificant, it won’t cause problems right away, but it’s important to always check the tubes to make sure that water is drained from them.
All pontoons are equipped with “Drain Plugs” to allow boat owners to drain water easily without any screw or the need to undergo a lengthy complex process.
A few of them can be chambered, making it difficult to drain the water in the tubes, but whatever the case, you should always drain tube water before sailing.
5. Not Handling Your Pontoon Boat Appropriately
The way you drive and handle a pontoon boat matters, because it’s lightweight, some try to mishandle the boat and can result in sinking as well.
You can’t drive a pontoon boat like a speedboat, they have an average speed of 25-miles-per-hour. You have to be careful when taking waves or the wake of large vessels because it’s one of the popular instances where a pontoon boat sinks.
It’s required to slow down whenever you face the wake of a large vessel, you should take the wake roughly at 450 angles.
Work the throttle in a way that can lift the bow up from the initial wave, you should keep it up on subsequent waves that are going to follow.
The general rule is that you should slow down your speed when moving through waves and wake because speeding up might cause water to enter the boat and sinking might happen.
6. Sailing The Boat In Harsh Conditions
Generally, a pontoon boat is designed for recreational activities and you can have a lot of fun during the summer. Pontoon boat isn’t a draft boat ideal for turbulent water nor a utility boat, with a shallow draft vessel that comes with pontoon boats, they work best in calm shallow water.
If you sail on rough water, it will struggle which can eventually lead to sinking. To keep things simple, don’t challenge the water, they can still be used in the ocean but with a lot of conditions and have to make sure the weather is favorable as well.
These are the main reasons why a pontoon boat sink, let’s share also share why a pontoon boat could nosedive
Why A Pontoon Boat Will Nose Dive?
- Riding the waves; We have already mentioned avoiding waves and wake at all costs and if they arise while you’re sailing you have to reduce your speed at minimal. Riding on a very high speed will lead to nosedive.
- Having the wrong motor power; If the horse power is below or above the standard, nosedive is bound to take place as well, in both scenarios the boat will find it difficult to move above the water. Always stick to the power range suggested by your manufacturer which can be found inside your manual guide.
- Poor weight distribution; Both the passengers and the cargo you’re carrying shouldn’t exceed the recommended weight capacity of the boat and the weight should also be distributed evenly. That’s to say the weight on one side shouldn’t exceed the weight on the other side, doing otherwise will result in nosedive.
How Low Should The Pontoon Sit On The Water?
This will depend on the size of the boat’s logs (These are the tubes on the side of the boat). They however, sit a little bit in the water but you have to monitor the level, there are lines as previously talked about.
You have to make sure the water level doesn’t pass more than half of the logs, that’s to say half of the tubes should be under water. A 3-inch tube should sit for more than 15-inch under the water.
Is It Safe To Sail Pontoons On Choppy Water?
Depending on the size of the tubes, they can handle fairly rough water, at least they’re better than other recreational boats out there, the tubes provide a greater stability while you’re on rough water.
The type of rough water your pontoon boat can handle depends on your engine, the weight you’re carrying on the boat and the condition of the boat. You should avoid larger waves and so on.
How To Make Sure You’re Safe To Avoid Sinking
Pontoons as mentioned are very safe to drive, and they rarely sink but there are still some measures you have to take in order to remain safe on your pontoon boat.
- For ocean travel, you should use thicker tubes as they provide more stability.
- Horsepower should be at least 150 horsepower for ocean sailing.
- You should always prevent corrosion by using anti-fouling paint to coat the aluminum.
- Tubes should be at least 25-inches in diameter if you’re sailing on rough water.
- Use positive angle lifting strikes; they help in handling choppy seas and also improve boat lift.
How Long Can Pontoon Boats Last?
With proper care and maintenance, you should expect your pontoon boat to last for up to two decades, that’s 10-20 years. But overall, it depends on the brand, how often you go out and also the type of aluminum tubes used.
Even if your pontoon isn’t built with high-quality materials, you can replace it with better components to ensure that it lasts for a long time.
You can for instance do what’s called “under skinning” which involves adding aluminum sheet to the underside of the pontoon and so on.
You have now seen the major reasons why a pontoon boat sinks; they’re not designed for long-term ocean sailing, but if you still want to go beyond rivers and lakes, you can do that; provided your pontoon boat is in good shape.
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