Leaving a pontoon boat in the water for extended periods of time - even when it isn’t winter - can cause all sorts of damages to your boat. That’s why experts recommend dry docking your pontoon when you think you might not be able to use it for a while. And that’s when your trailer might come in handy.
Whenever anyone talks about pontoon boat dry storage, the trailer is always the go to solution. But those things can be expensive and not everyone can buy one. So the real question is how to store a pontoon boat without a trailer. Is it even possible? Here’s what you need to know.
Can You Leave a Pontoon Boat on the Ground?
Technically speaking, you could leave a pontoon boat on the ground. But that doesn’t mean you should. There are lots of different issues that come with parking a pontoon on the cold hard ground. Some of them include:
Weight Distribution Issues
Even relatively ‘level’ ground won’t be level enough to make sure that your pontoon boat’s weight doesn’t teeter to one side too severely. This can be especially troublesome if you’re leaving your pontoon for extended periods of time, causing the decking material to warp and bend due to the improper and unbalanced weight distribution.
Those aluminum tubes aren’t designed to sustain such immense weight against the hard ground. But more than that, concrete floors can be riddled with bumps, divots, rocks, and other inconsistencies that can damage the tubes over time. Not to mention the process of simply setting the tubes on the ground in the first place can cause holes and other cosmetic problems if it’s dropped too quickly.
Something about leaving a pontoon bare on the ground makes it more inviting to opportunistic pests who are out to look for a place to call home. Some speculate that it’s because leaving your boat on the floor just makes it more accessible, leaving out that initial barrier of height to make it a little more taxing to reach for crawling pests.
4 Clever Ways to Store a Pontoon Boat without a Trailer
Most boat owners think that the trailer is an essential for pontoon boat storage. But there are a number of methods you can try to safely keep your boat in storage without having to worry about the issues listed above. Here are some clever strategies you can try:
Pontoon Boat Storage Blocks
Allowing you to keep your pontoon safely off of the ground, pontoon boat storage blocks are a set of hollow reinforced plastic blocks that typically come in a set of four. But you can also get one or two more pairs if you’re storing a longer pontoon. They work by literally lifting your pontoon boat from the ground, which is also why they’re called ‘pontoon stack cinder blocks’.
The Attwood 11401-4 Pontoon Winter Storage Blocks are perhaps the most popular choice on the market for this type of storage solution. They offer a universal fit, which means you should be able to store your pontoon over them regardless of make and model.
Just keep in mind though that storage blocks might deform your tubes if you’re not careful with weight distribution. Try not to space the blocks too far from one another to prevent dents and deformity, or buy two sets to be doubly sure.
Boat Stands or a Dolly System
Boat stands, as their name suggests, are like reinforced pole systems that hold your boat up off the ground. A dolly system on the other hand entails using several wheeled dollies with a U-shaped surface that cradles the underside of your tubes.
Getting your pontoon boat on either of these choices should be the biggest problem. However you can always ask your marina if they can use their crane to hoist your boat out of the water and rest it on top of your boat stands or dollies. If you’re choosing the former, make sure you’ve got it set in place where you’re going to keep it for the time being since boat stands can’t be moved.
Rent a Marina Dry Storage Space
This one’s going to be pretty expensive, but if you don’t have any other cards in your hand, then it might be the only choice. Your marina should have a dry storage facility that they rent out to boat owners. But if they charge steep fees, you might want to check around first.
Call the marinas in your area and compare prices before you decide on a specific place. Once you do, they’ll hoist your boat up out of the water, set it on some doilies or a trailer, and then roll it into storage where it should be safe for the time you intend to keep it there.
Rent a Covered Slip
Maybe you’re just leaving your boat for a few weeks or a month. A covered slip might be good enough to keep it safe. Expect to pay a slightly higher fee for the added protection. But if you’re not planning to leave your boat for too long, then a covered slip might be a cheaper alternative to renting a dry storage space.
How to Get a Pontoon Out of the Water Without a Trailer
Getting your pontoon boat out of the water can be tricky if you’re without a trailer. But even then, there are a few tactics you can try (with caution) to haul that vessel up and out of the waves.
Hire Someone with a Trailer to do it
Some boat owners around the marina might even do it for free, if you’re friends like that. Ask someone with a trailer to haul your boat out of the water for you and pay a friendly fee for the service. Your marina might actually offer this as one of their services. You can also check for private companies that do exactly this.
Try a Rolling Skid or Ramp
If the water comes to a shallow incline towards the shore, then you can try a ramp to pull your boat out of the water. Practice extra caution with this one since it has been known to damage and puncture tubes.
Maybe It’s Time to Get a Trailer
The issue of how to store a pontoon without a trailer can be a tricky thing to resolve. But with a little wit and elbow grease, you should be able to tuck your pontoon away for safekeeping while it’s not in use. However if you want to keep your boat secure and dial down the effort it takes to stow it in storage, it might be high time you considered buying your own pontoon boat trailer.