Although sporty boats with V-shaped hulls and sleek gel coated fiberglass might go way faster than your set of tubes, they're not quite as versatile. For instance, aside from letting you have a full-on party on deck, pontoon boats let you take the festivities to the shore by being especially easy to beach.
Pontoon boats seem to have been designed to rest on the shore with their aluminum pontoons, so the process of taking it onto dry land shouldn't be too hard. Plus, there are a load of reasons why boaters might want to beach their pontoon boats - from stretching your legs to firing up the grill. But if you weren't exactly sure how to beach a pontoon boat, here's how you can do it like a pro.
The Benefits of Beaching a Pontoon Boat
Your pontoon boat is already plenty comfortable - why stop and move the fun and laughter to shore? Well there are a few reasons why you might want to consider beaching your pontoon boat for a few hours before you head back home:
Take a Breather
Your passengers on the pontoon might not feel pooped, but sitting at the helm for extended periods of time without rest can get tiring. With your back aching and your legs looking for a little room to move and stretch, it could be a good idea to beach the pontoon boat and take a break before continuing your trip.
Unpacking and Eating Lunch
Have you ever tried eating lunch on a moving pontoon boat? The endless churning and movement can cause annoying spills everywhere. Not to mention the fact that aiming for your mouth becomes way harder when you're out on the waves. Beaching your pontoon boat makes it possible to eat lunch unbothered so you can savor every bite.
Pontoon boat camping is uber popular these days. By finding a quaint place to rest your pontoon boat, you can set up camp and enjoy the serenity of the outdoors without sacrificing the comfort that your pontoon boats features provide.
Checking the Boat
Maybe you're hearing a sound that you shouldn't be hearing, and you're worried it might be telling you something about your pontoon boat. It's normal for pontoon boat owners to want to stop and check what's happening.
Beaching for a minute or two should let you check all of the features of your pontoon boat to make sure everything is working fine. Those few moments you spend on the shallow waters might also make the difference between safe sailing and potential accidents.
Where Can You Beach Pontoon Boats?
Although pontoon boats are far better equipped for easy and safe beaching without damaging your hull, there are limits. Generally, you're going to want to avoid places where there are steep inclines going towards the shore, jagged rocks, large stones, and relatively uneven terrain.
That also means that you can beach your pontoon on sandbars, a sandy beach, mudbanks, and even a flat stone beach.
The general rule is that the land should be flat, the incline gentle and low, and the shallow waters at just the right depth so your pontoons can glide over the land. In general, a pontoon boat can even traverse water as shallow as a foot of water with the motor trimmed up.
Will You Need Gear to Beach a Pontoon?
If it's your first time to pull your pontoon boat onto the shore in all of your boating experience, it can be pretty nerve-racking. In truth though, it's pretty easy to beach a pontoon boat, but you could make it even more effortless if you've got the right gear.
As always, your main concern should be keeping your boat safe from any sort of damage. And to do that, you're going to want to have these items at the ready:
Beaching your pontoon boat means that you won't have to worry about swimming through deep water just to get to dry land. But even then, that doesn't really mean you won't have to get your feet (and legs) wet. If you've got a lot to carry off of the deck and you want to do it without having to jump, you can secure a ramp.
A ramp gives you something sturdy to walk on while you go back and forth through the shallow water to your boat without having to worry about swimming ashore. Ramps also serve a variety of functions for other boating activities.
We recommend the Extreme Max Heavy Duty Aluminum Pontoon Boat Ramp.
When your pontoon is beached, it's always better to have two anchors in place. And since half of your pontoon boat is going to be virtually on shore without water to dip a second anchor into, you should use a sand anchor instead.
This is essentially a giant screw that's driven into the sand to give pontoon boats something to tether to. That's in case there isn't a tree on the ground to secure your boat to.
We like the Beachr Beach Umbrella Sand Anchor.
To tie pontoon boats to the sand anchor, you can use a bungee dockline. These cables are designed to withstand challenging marine conditions, and provide a little bit of give so they don't get damaged as easily as other types of rope.
Check out the AIRHEAD AHDL-4 Bungee Dockline.
Pontoon Boat Fenders
In some cases, there might be other boats ashore with you. This is particularly common in a park or lake where camping is the norm. With another boat owners vessel even just slowly drifting in the water, it's not impossible to have your boat scuffed up when they bump against each other.
Installing a few fenders should do the trick. Secure the fenders all around your boat to provide 360° protection.
We like the Extreme Max BoatTector Fender Pack.
How to Beach a Pontoon Boat
Now that you've got all the gear at the ready, you're all set to beach your boat. It's actually not too hard to get it done. But if it's your first time beaching a pontoon boat, these steps should set you off in the right direction:
1. Locate a Good Spot
As previously mentioned, not all shorelines will be ideal for beaching a pontoon boat. First off, you're going to want to make sure that the bed is nice and smooth.
Your logs might be better equipped for beaching compared to fiberglass hulls, but large rocks or jagged bottoms could tear through your aluminum tubes. Keep in mind though that a rock here or there might not be too big of a problem, since you're not going to be able to avoid them completely. Just make sure it's not too big.
Another thing you'll want to consider is the slope. A shoreline with a rapid incline might not let your pontoons slide onto the shore. A slow, gentle upward slope should make it much easier for you to get your boat out of the water and on the beach. Lastly, take a look around. You won't want to hit any swimmers during the process.
2. Make Your Way Slowly
Dial down your engine speed to a bare minimum so you're approaching the beach at the slowest possible rate. This should let you make any last minute adjustments in case there are people or obstacles in the way. Make sure you're not headed straight into a sandbar which could knock your tubes and stop you in your tracks to the shore.
Once you find a clear path, decide to stick with it, avoid sharp turns, and keep moving forward at a slow and careful pace. Although you might feel that bumping up the speed a little by firing up the prop might expedite the process, it takes time for a boat to respond to speed changes made at the helm. So to avoid accidents, just wait it out and take it slow.
3. Trim Up Your Motor
Before you do anything else, see to it that all of your passengers are positioned near the back of the boat to remove the weight from the bow. As you close in the distance and get near to the shore, you're going to want to trim up. This decreases the draft depth and prevents any debris, sand, or mud from entering your motor.
Trim the motor up until you see the prop and it takes in some air, and then let it back into the water at a depth of about three inches so as not to lower the draft again.
The purpose for this maneuver is that it gives your boat a little extra push in case it meets the sand and gets stopped in its tracks as it moves forward. By this time, your engine should be cut and your speed as slow as possible.
4. Manually Pull the Boat In
Now that your boat is close to making contact with the sand, it's time to manually pull it in. The water is going to be too shallow here to turn your engine on, so you're going to find another way to bring it closer to the shore. You can do this by jumping off the boat, into the water, and then just going in to pull the boat with your bare hands.
While it might seem like a herculean task, the buoyancy of the aluminum tubes will actually make it pretty easy to pull and lessen the weight of the boat as you approach the ground. If there's another person on your boat who can help out, you can tell them to join you in pulling.
If the water is a little too deep to dig your feet into the sand or mud, you can hold the boat with one hand and swim ashore. But it's always better to have your feet settled in the ground to give you some pulling power.
5. Deploy Your Anchor and Tie at the Shore
You might be thinking that with your boat safely beached, you probably won't need to anchor. But there's always going to be a part of your boat that's in the water, and waves and wakes from other boaters could cause your vessel to drift.
That's why anchoring is still a good idea.
Once you're beached, you're going to want to deploy your pontoon's anchor from the stern (the way you usually do) to make sure that the boat stays where you want it to. See to it that your anchor is a match with the landscape under the water. Then, prop up the sand anchor and drive it into the shore and tether your boat with your bungee dockline.
What If It's Time to Go Home?
When you're done with lunch and lounging, and it's time to go home, you can just as easily un-beach your boat.
To do this, have all of your passengers embark together with any gear and supplies that you might have taken down with you. Tell them to seat themselves close to the stern of the boat to keep weight off of the foredeck. Make sure your prop is still up and the engine turned off.
Once they're all ready and all of your valuables and belongings are completely accounted for, you can push the foredeck so that the boat leaves the land and goes back into the water. Be careful not to go too fast so you won't have to swim to get back on board.
Once the tubes are off of the sand, you can jump back on the foredeck and take your seat at the helm. Simply trim down the motor so the prop is submerged, put the boat in reverse, move at a slow pace, turn around, and you can head back home.
Tips for Beaching Your Pontoon
It might be daunting to beach a pontoon boat for the first time, but you should be able to do it as long as you follow these steps. But if you're hoping to make the process of beaching just a little smoother, here are some extra tips to beach your pontoon boat.
Consider the Tides
It's not uncommon for water depth to change over time, especially if you're on a beach. Make sure that you're beaching your boat in an area where tides remain relatively the same, or at a time when the tide has already changed.
The last thing you'd want is for your pontoon boat to be completely on dry land, requiring that you push your boat across the shore to get it back into the water.
Get a Friend's Help
There's no harm in asking a friend to help you with the process of beaching. If there's someone available on board to assist you, even with just looking around and scoping for possible hazards, don't hesitate to ask.
You can even ask boaters in the area to be your eyes and ears on the ground while you find a clear path. Some might even offer to help you pull onto the shore, or might assist with anchoring.
Inform Your Passengers
Especially if it's your first time to beach a pontoon boat. With everyone informed of your plans and the steps of the strategy, you can expect fewer distractions.
Aside from ensuring their weight is off of the foredeck, some of your passengers can also help by keeping their eyes open for potential dangers and other boats. It would also help to keep kids seated and held in place to ensure a seamless process.
Be Mindful of Other Boats
Always consider other pontoons and boats in the area. Offer help when you can, and try to beach your boat in a way that you still provide enough room for other pontoon boats to enjoy the same space.
Time to Unwind
The ability to beach a pontoon boat is an obvious advantage over sleek fiberglass boats. There are a load of reasons to beach pontoon boats - from enjoying lunch on the shore, to playing games with the kids, enjoying nature and fresh air, or even just simply stretching your legs.
But if you weren't sure how to beach a pontoon boat in the first place, these tips and steps should give you the confidence to go through the process without damaging your boat.