Inflatable pontoon boats have become popular for a load of reasons. Aside from being much more affordable than their standard pontoon counterpart, they’re also easy to tuck away into storage when you don’t need them. But because they’re made from lightweight material, lots of anglers find themselves wondering -- are inflatable pontoon boats safe?
Well, it’s important to remember that if they weren’t safe, then they wouldn’t be allowed for use or sale. So that already provides a rudimentary answer. But if you want the nitty gritty, you might want to read on through.
Factors That Affect the Safety of Inflatable Pontoon Boats
If you really think about it, even the sturdiest pontoon boats can be dangerous and might meet mishaps under the wrong conditions. That said, you can expect inflatable pontoon boats to be generally safe, but failing to meet the conditions required for safety can result to accidents.
What do we mean by that, exactly?
Well, there are a few factors that could affect the safety of your inflatable pontoon boat, and these include:
Strong winds, rain, and even extreme heat can be dangerous conditions for inflatable pontoon boats. In fact, all of these weather nuances can spell danger for any other kind of boat, which is why it pays to look into weather forecasts before you set sail.
Aside from the ever changing elements, you should also consider the conditions of the water you’re treading through. Rushing rivers with strong currents, rocky boulders under the surface, and lots of thorny, unruly undergrowth can seriously put your inflatable pontoon boat at risk of damage.
How you handle your boat is yet another factor that you should take into consideration. These boats are designed to be lightweight, and carry up to two people at a time depending on the model. Packing on way more equipment than your boat can handle may encumber the inflatable vessel and pave the way for accidents and damage.
The Dangers of Inflatable Pontoon Boats
Again, everything can be dangerous if you’re not using it properly. So before you take that new inflatable pontoon boat out for a spin, make sure you read the manual so you know exactly how the manufacturer intended it to be used.
In general, there are a few dangers you might want to keep an eye out for, since these are the most common when dealing with an inflatable vessel:
There’s not a lot of weight holding an inflatable pontoon boat upright aside from the weight of its user and their equipment. So rough waters can easily capsize an inflatable pontoon.
Make sure to avoid rapids, strong currents, and choppy waters that could flush your inflatable vessel in the wrong direction and try not to steer over waters that you can’t comfortably maneuver yourself out of.
Another reason why boats capsize is because of uneven weight distribution. If you’re carrying a bunch of gear with you, see to it that you’re not overloading certain areas. Heavier sections of the boat will tend to sink lower into the water, causing the opposite end to tip up -- the perfect conditions for disaster.
It helps to know that most pontoon boast are made from heavy duty material that’s designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and rough use. But that doesn’t mean you have to see how far those limits go.
Puncture damage is a very real threat to an inflatable pontoon boat, and may leave you sinking with all of your equipment in tow. To avoid puncture damage to your boat, try to avoid rivers and lakes with rough and rocky elements. Don’t go into water that’s covered in vegetation, and always choose locations with calm conditions and maximum visibility.
Air leaks aren’t always the cause of perforation. More often than not, they point to misuse and overuse as a potential cause. Just like any other boat, an inflatable pontoon will require maintenance and routine care to make sure it’s in proper working condition.
Regularly check for air leaks by inflating your vessel and seeing if it loses firmness over a few minutes. Check for rust and other signs of wear on any available hardware, and perform any necessary maintenance measures to keep it looking clean and pristine.
Tips to Make Inflatable Pontoon Boats Safer
Yes, they are safe in general, but it helps to be prepared for the worst nonetheless. To make your pontoon boat safer, consider putting these clever tips into action:
Wear a PFD
If ever your pontoon boat does capsize, you’re going to want to save your skin before anything else. Always wear an appropriate personal flotation device whenever you’re on-board.
Bring a repair kit
There are patch repair kits available for inflatable pontoon boats. These provide a temporary solution against holes and air leaks so you can get back to shore safe and sound.
Invest in a hand pump
In case your boat loses some air through a hole or a leak, a hand pump can get it back to functional inflation so you can get back to shore without having to toss out any of your gear.
Keep oars in handy
In case your motor caves in, you’re going to need something to get you home. A set of oars can be inexpensive, but provide priceless purpose if every you find the need.
Pack a knife
You never know when aggressive vegetation might snag your inflatable pontoon anchor or other parts of your pontoon. A knife can cut you loose and prevent further damage to your inflatable vessel.
How much weight can your pontoon boat actually take? Read the manual and avoid overloading your vessel with gear. Carry just the essentials and consider the weight of any fish you might catch along the way.
A Safe Way to Enjoy Your Inflatable Pontoon
So, are inflatable pontoons safe? Well, they can be. Before you set sail, be a responsible boat owner and read through the manual. See to it that you’re ready for the worst and avoid forcing yourself through treacherous waters so your boat can live to sail another day.