Can You Grill on a Pontoon Boat? All You Need to Know

Boating and barbecuing are perhaps the two most popular summer activities known to any household. But can you grill on a pontoon boat and join the two summer staples together?

The short answer is yes, you can. 

These days, manufacturers have come up with a range of products you can use to safely barbecue your favorite food as you float on the lake.

But before you hop on your boat with that brand new grilling gear, it helps to know that there are a few safety regulations you need to follow. Here’s everything you need to know about grilling on a pontoon.

Can You Grill on a Pontoon Boat and Is It Legal?

It’s easy to see why so many boat owners have apprehensions about grilling on a boat. Strong winds, a fuel supply, and an isolated floor area means that it’s very likely for a fire to break out if there’s a source on board. But the truth is that you can actually grill safely on a boat if you’ve got the right gear.

And while safety is one thing, legality is another. So to answer that question, it’s worth knowing that grilling on a pontoon is absolutely legal. But that doesn’t mean you can just get away with whatever you want or feel like doing.

The coast guard probably won’t care too much if you’ve got a grill on board. But if your grilling behavior is causing too much disruption to the boats around you, you might catch the guards’ attention. For instance, too much smoke and noise might get you a warning.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some marinas don’t allow boat owners to grill on their boats while docked. This just helps keep everything safer and more comfortable for everyone who’s moored. So make sure to check with your local marina before you take your grill out with you.

Safety Tips for Grilling on a Pontoon

bbq on a pontoon boat

While it’s both possible and legal, grilling on a pontoon does come with its fair share of dangers. Heck, grilling anywhere can be dangerous simply because of the fact that you’re dealing with an open flame or a potential source of fire. So before you try your hand at boat grilling, try to consider these safety tips:

Choose the Right Grill

Pontoon boat grills come in three different types - charcoal, propane, and electric. While they all come with their own advantages, they also tie up with unique dangers and risks.

Charcoal

Charcoal grills provide a truly authentic flavor experience compared to any other grill, but they produce ash and ember that could be a major fire hazard in the wrong conditions.

Propane

Propane grills are easy to set up and don’t produce ash or ember the same way that charcoal grills do. But they do use a fuel source that may require unique care and safety considerations for proper use and storage.

Electric

And then of course, there are electric grills. They heat up fast and are typically allowed at most marinas because they don’t use open flame. But then again, they call for the use of power which might not be available on board.

Position your Grill Properly

It pays to properly position you grill over the rail to prevent any flames, embers, or juices from dripping into your deck. Install the grill away from any electronics, machines, and fuel supply.

You’re also going to want to make sure that your grill is located in an open space where it won’t be in contact with anything it could damage or burn. That’s why it’s important that you keep your grill a safe distance from bimini tops and other potentially flammable items around your boat.

Know When to Grill

Do not, under any circumstances, operate your grill when you’re underway. It just takes one strong wave to topple over your food and toss everything out into the water.

See to it that you only turn on your grill when you’re anchored or docked. But even then, if winds are too strong, you might want to postpone your grill schedule to keep your boat and passengers safe.

What You’ll Need to Grill on a Boat

Aside from the grill itself, there are a few other accessories and items you might want to buy to improve your on-board grilling experience. While some of these items might not be ‘essential’ per se, they can definitely add to your enjoyment and make things just that much more comfortable and safe.

Utility Table

utility table for grilling on pontoon boats

These things mount to your rails and give you space to cut up a fresh a fish or prep meat for grilling. 

We recommend the Docktail Boat Bar & Marine Cup Holder.

Solar Lamp

solar lanterns

In case you’re planning a night time grilling party, a solar lamp light or lantern should come in handy.

Check out these LED Solar Lanterns.

Cooler

thermal bag for pontoon grilling

Whether you’re bringing fresh meat or catching fish when you get to the lake, a thermal tote or cooler can help keep things fresh until you decide to grill it up.

We like the Columbia Thermal Tote with handles or the Igloo Cooler.

You could also consider a pontoon boat cooler table.

Mini Fridge

mini fridge

If you really want to take things up a notch, you could try mini fridge. With one of these on board, you can stretch your menu and include fresh veggies into the mix.

It's super handy to have a Midea Compact Fridge on-board.

Storage Caddy

storage caddy for grilling on pontoon boats

You’re going to need a place to keep your tongs, spatulas, and other grilling essentials. A mounting pontoon basket should keep everything within reach for easy, effortless grilling.

We love using the Aiduy Caddy for grilling utensils and condiments.

Portable Sink

portable sink for pontoon grilling

Grilling can get messy. If you’re not a fan on the greasy hands and soiled dishes, a portable sink can help make the clean up process far less tedious, especially if you don’t have a kitchen on-board.

Check out the SereneLife Portable Sink with Soap Dispenser.

Get Grillin’

Can you grill on a pontoon boat? Why, yes, you can. But make sure you follow the rules and regulations at your local marina. Moreover, it helps to be prepared for the potential risks and dangers that on-board grilling can pose. With the right gear and proper know-how, you should be able to safely enjoy your favorite summertime meal-prep experience while you float atop a calm, relaxing lake.