As a pontoon owner, I can verify that there are only a few things in this world as annoying as an unnecessarily slow pontoon. For this reason, we’re told to do extensive research before purchasing a boat.
Pontoons aren’t cheap, so don’t settle and make compromises just so you can own a boat. Save your money until you can afford the boat that you want, so that you aren’t stuck with a slow pontoon.
If you do happen to have a pontoon that’s nearly as slow as a rowboat, don’t worry. There are ways to boost the speed and make your boating experience more enjoyable. Have a look at these ways to speed up a slow pontoon:
1. Buy a Booster Ball
Do you enjoy water skiing and wakeboarding, but your pontoon’s power just isn’t enough? Try adding a booster ball on your tow rope. This football-sized device is inflatable and is designed to keep your rope out of the water. While it might not seem like a lot, booster balls can reduce unnecessary drag on the rope and increase the amount of movement tubers and skiers experience.
In actuality, booster balls do nothing to increase the speed of your boat. Buying one to add a few extra HP would be a waste of money. However, they do simulate a high-speed towing experience that makes watersports much more exciting.
We recommend the Sportsstuff 53-2030 4K
2. Adjust the Angle of Your Engine
One trick that can help you get a little more performance out of your pontoon is to change the angle of your motor. This is also called as trimming the engine, and can reduce the amount of resistance underneath your pontoon. In addition, doing this can also improve your gas mileage and make your boat ride smoother and more comfortably.
To learn more about how to trim an engine, have a look at this video:
3. Add an Additional Pontoon
If you want to boost the performance of your pontoon and have between $4,000 and $6,000 to spend, consider turning your boat into a tritoon. Having a tritoon means that your boat is more stable in choppy conditions and is easier to handle. Furthermore, that third pontoon adds a noticeable boost to your pontoons performance and will feel like it glides across the water.
The advantages of having a tritoon make them perfect for towing. However, adding a third log is expensive and the performance boost may not feel justifiable for the costs.
4. Go Easy with the Gasoline
It doesn’t take a physicist to know that the heavier something is, the slower it moves. This is especially true for pontoon boats with weaker engines in the 60 to 115hp range. What you might not have known was how a full tank of gasoline can weigh you down. This is doubly true if you’ve already had the maximum number of passengers climb aboard your boat.
Have you noticed that most pontoon reviews let you know how full the gas tank was when the boat was tested? This is because the amount of gasoline has a significant impact on how your boat performs. Consider this: every gallon of gasoline adds eight pounds to your pontoon boat weight. If you have a 35 gallon tank and fill it to capacity, you’re carrying 280 pounds of gas.
If you know that you won’t need a full tank of gas for your boating adventure, cut back a little. A lighter tank will help your pontoon accelerate faster and tow much more effectively.
5. Don’t Load Everyone on at Once
I know that pontooning is a social activity and loading your boat up with your friends and family is a must. However, if you’re planning on using your boat for towing, you might want to shed some excess weight. One way to do this is to have people waterski or wakeboard in groups.
Consider dropping some of your passengers off at the shore to eat lunch while taking others for a spin around the lake. This will ensure that everyone gets an optimal experience being towed across the water.
6. Install Lifting Strakes
For the most part, pontoons either come with lifting strakes or not. Lifting strakes are the flap of metal that extends from the pontoon. They’re designed to help the boat move more smoothly throughout the water, like the boat in this video:
The lifting strake is the fin-shaped piece of metal that’s coming out of the side of the pontoon in the video. Along with both sides, the bottom of the pontoon also has strakes. Their purpose is to help the boat become more aerodynamic, so that it sails smoothly on the surface of the water instead of plowing through it.
While lifting strakes can give your pontoon a considerable boost of speed, adding them isn’t cheap. Expect to spend a minimum of $2,000 having them installed.
7. Purchase a Stronger Engine
The easiest way to speed up your pontoon boat is to give it an engine that puts out higher HP. While this sounds simple enough, you need to do research before making your purchase.
Don’t forget that your pontoon boat has a maximum HP rating. Installing an engine that’s above that rating is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal. If you need help finding your boat’s maximum HP, contact the manufacturer before buying a new engine. Have a look at this safety video for more information about overpowered boats:
8. Add Some Underskinning
If your boat has underskinning, that means it’s been fitted with metal underneath the deck. The biggest benefit of underskinning is that it can protect your pontoon’s deck and increase the longevity of the boat. However, some people swear that it also adds one or two extra MPH to the boat.
Truthfully, underskinning’s performance boosting qualities are up for debate. However, installing it will certainly reduce choppiness and help your pontoon ride smoother. For that reason, it’s a good thing to have. Just don’t expect for it to work miracles in the performance department!
9. Don’t Overload the Front of Your Boat
Sometimes getting a speed boost is as easy as changing the weight distribution of the pontoon. If you have an overloaded front, your boat will dig into the water and create a plowing motion that can slow it down. By moving some of that weight to the back, you can raise the front of your boat and glide easier across the water.
Look at this video of a Bennington pontoon and notice how the front is lifted off the water, helping it ride more effectively:
10. Change the Propeller
Another way to add a few extra mph to your boat is to change the engine’s propeller. Chances are, your boat has a standard aluminum propeller. If you switch to a stainless steel propeller or one that’s built from an alloy, you’ll probably gain a little bit of speed.
Aluminum propellers are weaker than stainless steel and various types of alloys. This weakness causes aluminum propellers to flex when being used, which creates much more resistance in the water. Consider investing in a good propeller for pontoon boats to increase performance and speed.
11. Take Your Pontoon Downwind
If you’ve exhausted all of your options and still need a power boost, try riding your pontoon downwind. While this may seem unorthodox, doing this will greatly reduce drag and give you as much as a 3mph boost. For this reason, slower pontoons are always advised to travel downwind when pulling a tube or skiing behind the pontoon boat..
Is Your Boat Still Too Slow?
If you have tried everything, and still feel that your vessel isn’t fast enough for your liking, then it might be time to consider purchasing a new pontoon boat. If you’re unable to take on a new boat at this time, you’ll need to reevaluate what you want out of your current boat.
Remember that power doesn’t always make a better boat. There are a number of sporting pontoon boats on the market that are built to handle much more HP than they need to. You actually end up paying a lot of money just to have an unnecessary amount of power.
Maybe It’s Time for a New Boat
If you are in the market for a faster pontoon boat, here are some important facts that you need to consider:
- A good speed for adults tubing is between 20 – 22mph. If you want a boat for watersports, there’s no reason to have a pontoon that tows faster than that.
- Pontoon boats designed for anglers typically have a smaller motor as to not scare away the fish. In this context, weaker is better.
- Remember that bigger, stronger engines take a lot more gasoline to run. This can become quite expensive over time.
Having a faster pontoon boat can be great for towing, or if you’re using it on larger bodies of water. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that a high-performance pontoon will ever compare to a speedboat. Because of the shape and size of pontoons, they’ll never be able to maneuver and accelerate like smaller, v-hull boats. With that said, it’s much more fun to water ski or wakeboard when being pulled by a fast pontoon.