How To Beach A Pontoon Boat

How To Beach A Pontoon Boat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

November 4, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • A pontoon boat is one of the best boats to the beach due to its high profile.
  • The procedure for beaching a pontoon is easy but very important to learn
  • Always trim the motor up to avoid damage to the prop
  • Always secure the boat with an anchor and another tie down and sand screw

Due to its design, a pontoon boat can run up to the beach without any problem. How does a boat owner beach a pontoon boat if they need to?

A pontoon boat's construction allows it to be beached and anchored to allow occupants to disembark if needed. The driver needs to book a good spot, motor toward the beach slowly and carefully, raise the trim, and then, as the boat approaches the beach, turn the engine off, and anchor the boat.

The high-profile pontoon boat makes it perfect for beaching. Every driver should know how to beach a pontoon boat. More and more families are purchasing these versatile and highly maneuverable boats for recreational activities. With more and more people on the water, it is more important to know how to get ashore quickly.


Table of contents

What Is a Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon boat is a flat, single-decked boat buoyed by two or three round cylinders that are attached below the main surface area of the boat. The increased surface area allows for additional seating configurations, including bars, and other amenities. A pontoon boat sits higher in the water than other more standard v-shell boats. The increased buoyancy makes the craft more stable and agile in fresh water. The pontoon boat is ideally suited to fresh water lakes, rivers. It is not a boat meant to be driven out to sea.

What is the Procedure to Beach a Pontoon Boat?

Due to the design of a pontoon boat, the aluminum tubes raise the boat's height above the surface of the water. Whether it is a medical emergency, just a casual stop for a picnic, or to do some exploring, knowing how to beach a pontoon boat is a skill every boat owner should know. The steps to running a pontoon aground on a beach surface are as follows.

Choose a Good Spot

Unlike the painted exteriors of a classic boat, the tubes of a pontoon boat are pretty resilient. While they can still be damaged if scraped over unseen obstructions (rocks, trees, or debris), their height and limited surface exposure make this boat easier to land ashore. A beach with a slight incline is a good location because the sand can act as cushioning. Avoid steep banks or places where obstructions might hide under the water you cannot see. A pontoon can still be damaged or punctured, and replacing or patching a pontoon is an expensive repair.

Make sure that the spot is free of swimmers or divers. Pick an uncrowded spot, so the boat doesn’t conk somebody’s kid in the head. A good spot should also be free of other boat traffic and minimize the chance of banging into someone else’s boat. Choose an isolated location to minimize any chance of running your boat over someone.

If the spot chosen has never been used before, it is always a good idea to check out the shallows by walking from the boat to the beach when it is waist-deep to double-check for obstructions that might be lurking under the water.

Take a Straight Line Toward the Beach

Do not attempt to beach a pontoon boat at an angle or angled sideways. You want to minimize the surface contact with the pontoons and have both tubes anchored in the sand, rather than one in the sand and one in the water. Angling your boat toward the water increases the chance of running into an obstruction.

Another reason is that you want to keep your motor out into the water as much as possible. While you should trim the motor to avoid damage to the rotors or base, beaching on an angle may not provide the necessary depth your motor needs.

Ask All Occupants to Move to the Back of the Boat

Shifting the weight to the back of the boat helps raise the front, which means a better chance of approaching the boat without damaging any pontoons.

Approach the Beach Slowly with Caution

Reduce your speed to less than five mph and cautiously approach the spot.

Reduce Your Draft

You will need to trim your motor up as you approach the shoreline. This prevents the engine from scraping the bottom of the lake bed and causing damage to the rotor blades or the boat sucking up sand into the engine. The trim should be raised until the prop takes in air and then lowered just a tad, about 4 inches. The trim can be raised or lowered from a control on the helm controls. Always ensure that a good part of the motor is in the water to aid in cooling the engine and any maneuvering that might be needed. After you have finished and the boat is secured, you will need to raise the trim to avoid damage to the engine's bottom.

Turn the Ignition Off and Coast Into Shore

Turn the ignition off and let the boat's momentum bring it to shore. If the boat doesn’t quite make it to dry land, don’t panic. Just jump off and pull the boat manually toward shore. Pontoon boats are not that heavy in the water, so pulling them to shore shouldn’t take too much effort. It won’t hurt occupants to wade in ankle-deep water toward the beach should they need to go ashore.

Drop the Anchor and Walk Away.

Make sure the anchor is holding, and then enjoy the festivities on the beach. I always prefer to stay close to the boat, just in case something happens and the anchor fails. A friend has a sand screw and rope that he secures into the beach as an added deterrent to the boat going anywhere. Using the anchor and tying the boat to the beach can help keep the beached boat in place.

Another way to tie off a boat is to run the rope from the boat to a tree or a v-line anchor (tying the boat to dual lines separated at 45-degree angles leading from the boat.

Trim the Motor All the Way Up

Before disembarking, it is always a good idea to raise the trim to keep any damage from happening to the base of teh engine or the prop.

What is the Procedure for Getting a Pontoon off the Beach?

Primarily, the order to disengage from the sand is the reverse order of beaching the pontoon.

Here is the procedure.

  • Pull up the anchor and move the sand screw or tie it down.
  • Ask all occupants to get onto the boat via the rear deck ladder (this removes sand from their shoes and positions them to the rear where they need to be).
  • Having a buddy or friend stay toward the front to push the boat off the sand is helpful. Lower the trim,
  • Throw the boat into reverse, and slowly allow the boat to back away from the sand. Let your buddy wade out to the boat and climb onboard.
How To Beach A Pontoon Boat
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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