Are Pontoon Boats Safe? [ Know The Truth Here ]

When buying any vehicle, safety is the topmost priority for everyone. We can afford to compromise on luxury, power, and looks, but not on safety (Never on safety).

When thinking of buying a boat, this concern grows even bigger because water is somewhat unexplored territory.

We need to make sure that the boat is safe for our family and friends. If you are concerned about the safety of pontoon boats, this is just the article for you.

Are pontoon boats safe?

Yes, pontoon boats are safe in calm waters, but you might want to get to the land as soon as possible when things go rough.

Pontoon boats are safer than most of the V-hulled boats of similar capacity. With the way they float on the tubes, pontoon boats are famous for their stability and safety.

It is one of the primary reasons people want to take their family out on it.

It is generally considered safe for children as it is doubtful for a pontoon boat to flip because of the way it floats on tubes. Here are some of the factors that will help you have a better idea about the safety of pontoon boats:

  1. Pontoon boats are two hulled making them safer and more stable than single-hulled vessels. They can handle a little tension on the water without wobbling because of their build. During small weather disruptions, they are safer as they sit on top of the waves, unlike the single-hulled boats which sit in the waves. But this is only the case for a little windy air and not violent.
  2. For small waves, pontoon boats have to displace a small quantity of water to move forward. But suppose the weather becomes more violent, making waves bigger and stronger. In that case, it becomes harder for a pontoon boat to displace the excessive quantity of water, and it becomes hazardous to navigate it. Do not attempt to make sharp turns during stormy weather. Pontoon boats are already not easy to maneuver in narrow places and small turns, and trying to turn at a sharp angle during a heavy storm might end up hurting people on the deck.
  3. In extreme weather conditions, a pontoon boat can be more dangerous than a regular V-hull vessel. In the case of a large wave, a pontoon boat cannot stay on top of it. Under extreme conditions, the boat might even capsize. Although this is an infrequent scenario, it is still best to stay out of the water on a day when a storm can happen.
  4. Pontoon boats are generally not built for taking out on the ocean water. But in some models, with the right values of engine power, bulkiness, and tube size, it is safe to take them into the ocean. But even with them, you have to be extra careful as bad weather can turn into a big storm on the ocean.

Are pontoon boats safe in the rough water?

Mild rough waters need a two-hulled boat as opposed to a single-hulled vessel. A single hull is a type of design in which there is only one watertight hull surface layer (or one waterproof layer in layman’s language).

Whereas in a double-hulled vessel, there are two waterproof layers- one is the main outer surface. Another one is inside, which provides some extra protection in case of a collision or other accidents.

It makes double-hulled vessels safer in case of a catastrophe as the inner hull prevents water from going inside the ship’s body even after the outer layer is damaged or leaking. 

Multi-hulled boats are generally stable on the water. Even if things get a little rough, their body construction is in a way that prevents the water from flowing on the deck and possible capsizing.

But if there is a big storm when there is heavy chop, a pontoon boat is no longer wobble-free and starts to lose its balance.

It also becomes a little hard to navigate it especially if you are on a somewhat narrow path. The repercussions can range from few sprinkles on your face to a deck filled with water and even flipping of the boat.

In violent waters, three-hulled vessels, also known as tri-toons, are far safer than pontoon boats.

However, if weather conditions continue to deteriorate, you should return to the harbor no matter which boat you are on.

Are pontoon boats safe in the ocean?

The traditional pontoon boats are generally NOT meant for oceans. They are for relaxing and chilling and not so much for adventures.

They are perfect for a day out on the lake or rivers, but oceans are wildly unpredictable (and wild).

Most of the pontoon boats nowadays are manufactured with high safety constraints to survive even in severe conditions. Still, the ocean’s high tidal waves are not something a pontoon boat can withstand.

Some manufacturers make pontoon boats in a way that you can use them on oceans.

Boats having engines with high powers might make them overcome the ocean’s strong waves because many pontoon boat buyers want to use them out on the ocean. After all, a large population lives near oceans.

The safety and steadiness of pontoon boats for sea depends on their construction, size, and the nature of the sea in which you plan ongoing.

Larger pontoon boats are safer in the ocean than smaller boats. But that still does not make them the best rides in oceans.

If the ocean in your city is known for its calmness, then on clear days, you can take your pontoon boat (one that meets all the demands of a seaworthy pontoon boat) out in the ocean, but drive near the coast only.

You can drive your boat a couple of miles from the shore and in other shallow and low-tidal areas like bays and inlets.

Going to longer distances from the shore increases the risks as the waves start to turn harsher as we move closer to the horizon.

And conditions on the ocean are quite inconsistent for you to go far away from the shore. Keeping close to the land makes sure you can reach it in case the weather changes its mind.

Are pontoon boats safe in lightning?

While we are on the subject, one might worry about the safety of a boat during lightning. It can prove to be catastrophic on a pontoon boat.

It is because, with lightning, there is always the danger of getting stuck. But when on a boat, there is an increased risk of water becoming violent in a thunderstorm.

To protect yourself from the dangers of lightning, you should lay as low as possible and stay away from metals. But on a boat, you have to make sure that the boat does not tumble while protecting yourself. 

How to keep your pontoon boats safe while riding?

Having learned about all the potential dangers while driving a boat, you might be wondering what you can do to keep yourself and your family safe while onboard.

Here are some tips that might help you keep the pontoon boat safe while riding:

  1. Maintaining an adequately distributed weight goes a long way in keeping the pontoon boat steady. Ensure that the furniture, cargo, and passengers are such that there is no heavy load on any boat side. When the weight is balanced correctly, the chances of a smooth ride increase, and there is a reduced risk of nose-diving in case of adverse conditions.
  2. In case of bad weather, avoidance is the best measure. Follow the weather report for the day you plan on taking your boat out on the waters. Do not doubt the forecast at any cost. Even after you are on the boat, maintain continuous communication via radio for any new information. Before you start to take your boat out, learn to read the weather and check for signs of threatening weather like dark clouds (always ominous), cold and rising winds, etc. If you sense sudden changes in the weather, turn around and head towards the shore as soon as possible. If getting back to the shore seems impossible, try to anchor wherever you are.
  3. In case of a storm, do not drive the boat headfirst into the wind. It leads to fighting the enormous waves, which might lead to water over the boat’s bow. If possible, change the direction of driving and ride into the waves at some angle. It makes sure that the bow remains above the waves. The next important thing to remember is to drive fast. If you slow down, it makes it easier for the large waves to rise above the bow. Driving faster ensures that your boat remains elevated at a safe level above the more giant waves and makes it easier to fight the force of water.
  4. If, despite the precautions, you get caught in a thunderstorm, try to get off the boat. Find the nearest shore, tie up your boat and get away from it. If not possible, tie your equipment on the boat, make the passengers sit in the middle away from the edges. It will ensure they feel less seasick and less prone to knocking over as motion is minimum in the boat’s center. Also, make sure everyone stays away from any metal in case lightning strikes. Stay as low as possible. Unplug all the electronics on the boat and throw out any combustible (Especially if there was a party going on!).
  5. If you plan to take your pontoon boat out on ocean water, make sure it meets all the specifications that make it safe for it to be in an ocean. It must be of at least 150 horsepower, if not more. The tubes of your boat must be 25 inches or more in diameter. Smaller tubes are not capable of overcoming the large waves of the ocean. Smaller tubes might be damaged easily because of the harsh nature of ocean waves. Also, ensure regular maintenance since saltwater causes more damage and corrosion to the boat body. Some experts recommend painting the aluminum tubes with an anti-fouling paint that slows down corrosion by forming a protective layer between the saltwater of the ocean and the tubes. 

Can pontoon boats sink?

The chances are slim to none, but yes, they can. Pontoon boats are designed in such a way that it is almost impossible for one to sink.

The pontoons of the boat, which provide them buoyancy, are packed in airtight containers. So, it is tough to penetrate the container and rupture them.

Also, there are two of them. Even if one of them bursts and water is full in its container, the other one should take the responsibility of keeping the boat from sinking.

Even if the boat starts sinking in some scenario, the deck will probably not wholly go under because of a pontoon boat’s construct.

It is under very extreme and rare circumstances that a pontoon boat might sink. Unless you hit a bunch of rocks or remove the deck’s tubes, a pontoon boat will remain afloat.

But this does not mean you take all the risks lightly. 

Can you flip a pontoon boat?

A pontoon boat can flip over under adverse conditions. Although this is also rare, in bad weather with violent winds and large waves, this unfortunate event might occur.

It is generally the case when a big wave hits from an unfortunate angle. But again, because of the pontoon boat’s tubular structure, it isn’t peculiar for it to flip over.

Conclusion

Generally, pontoon boats are one of the safest types of boats out there. Whether it’s a day out with family, a get-together with colleagues, or a party with friends, pontoon boats serve the purpose perfectly.

But all the adventures come with a little bit of risk. With boats, you have to be extra careful because water itself comes with its share of problems.

Make sure your pontoon boat meets the requirements if you want to ride it in the ocean.

And if you are taking precautions and maintaining the boat properly, I do not see any reason to be worried about its safety. Go out on the water and have fun. (But remember to check the weather forecast first!)