5 Basics to Buying a Pontoon Boat
Buying a boat is a tough decision… We know.
It’s like buying your first new vehicle, although most of the sales pitches with boat salesmen probably sound like complete gibberish to you, whereas the vehicle process is pretty straight forward. I mean, everybody has purchased a vehicle sometime during their adulthood, so you have the right amount of influence around you during that process. With boats, the influences can sometimes be overwhelming – leading to a stressful ordeal, typically leaving you without a boat again for the summer.
So, I’m going to help you out. And even if you are a seasoned boat owner, this information may be of value to you. At least you can pass this along to that couple that’s been hopping on your boat for three summers now, and doesn’t feel comfortable buying one of their own. Isn’t it time for your kids to get their own boat?
With that being said, consider these 5 Basic Fundamentals to Boat Buying:
1. Know your lake, know your size –
The first step in boat buying, pontoon or not, requires the consumer to know the lake at which they plan to do the most boating. Know your anchorage, requirements, restrictions, and so forth. Take a glance at the boats docked on that given lake. Realize that if they have a big boat, you will need a big boat. Smaller, local lakes are typically ideal for pontoons 18-22’ in length (generally speaking). Bigger lakes, with constant weekend activity, are more ideal for your pontoons 23-26’ in length. Beyond that, you should consider adding the third tube (what most call a tritoon). This gives you more lift on the water, and often, a better turning radius.
2. Loungers, Cruisers or Fun Seekers? –
The pontoon boat industry continues to grow for many reasons. One, being the multipurpose functions. Pontoon boats are no longer recognized as no-wake deck floats. They serve a variety of people and activities. There are almost too many reasons to buy a pontoon boat, so you need to narrow it down. Are you looking for something to fish with, equipped with live-wells, rod holders and bucket seats? Do you intend to hold up to 15 people at a high-cruising speed? Or – Are you looking to pull skiers and tubers, while adding along a diving board and sports tower? These are all options to factor in the decision-making process. Most pontoon boats are built for a specific consumer. Capacity, motor size, floor layouts, and structure can all influence a boat’s effectiveness for your desires.
3. Options + Motor = PRICE –
The first question I always get from prospective boat buyers on our property is generally something like this: “Why is boat X this amount of dollars, but boat Y only this amount of dollars?” That question, while absolutely valid, usually gets answered by me discussing each boat’s options and max motor size. You see, when you shop from dealer-to-dealer, prices aren’t always going to be 100% accurate during comparisons. For instance, our dealership may have a 24’ pontoon boat with similar options to one of our competitors. Our boat may look like it cost $5,000 more, BUT the key is to look at which motor is included with that specific model. Maybe our boat comes with a 150HP motor, while the competitor’s was only listed for a 75HP motor. This can make all the difference when dealers are trying to sell you on price. Make sure you’re getting the motor to fit your needs. Options + Motor size tend to drive up the price. Know what options you are needing on your boat, and make sure the included motor on that price tag will get the job done!
4. The trailer… –
Yet another factor to consider during price evaluations is the trailer. The trailer, while needed in most buyers’ circumstances, is not always included in the listed price. The reason behind that is nobody wants to pay for something they don’t need. Not everyone uses a trailer, so why should they have to see a price tag $3,000 more than they are anticipating? It is much easier to add on the price of the trailer to the buy order, than to remove it. And, in some cases (as we do), the dealer will do a free delivery to the recipient’s lake or home. Some trailers are more unique than others, so keep an eye on that during the buying process as well.
5. Sustainability or Affordability? –
Of course there’s a happy medium, BUT it can’t always be found. With pontoon boats, there’s a big decision to be made: Are we buying for NOW or for the FUTURE? Financial rates for your boat can be dreadful to see for the first time. Not everyone NEEDS a boat – this is a luxury item. So, if you’re purchasing a luxury item, wouldn’t you want to make sure you’re getting something that’s going to hold its superior quality? Sure, you can save a few thousand by going with the mass-produced float. But, we wouldn’t recommend that. You’re either going to be paying those thousands back in performance issues or not getting something that you and your family are truly content with. When shopping around, go tug on the deck supports, lift the seat cushions, see the framing, notice the details surrounding the boat. Does the manufacturer sell a product or an experience?
Good luck this season, and thank you for reading! If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email at Lucas@KCWatersports.com – I’d be glad to hear your thoughts and to discuss this topic further.
2/26/2018 07:11:15 pm
It was really helpful to read your thoughts on the difference between sustainability and affordability. This puts into perspective how you should buy a pontoon based on your immediate answer. My brother would like knowing this since he wants to get this type of boat.
4/6/2018 02:16:51 pm
Hey Guys, just wanted to show my appreciation. I was visiting friends in Olathe last year, and managed to get down to visit your Pro Shop. Got really good customer service - thanks!
4/25/2018 05:19:52 pm
Thanks for pointing out that you should take a look at the size of boats on the lake that you plan on boating in. My husband practically grew up on a boat because his family loved the water so much. Now that our kids are a bit older, he thinks it's a good idea to start that tradition in our own home. We'll have to follow your advice and find a new boat for sale that we'd like.
5/3/2018 11:27:49 am
Thank you for mentioning that it's important to know the lake that you'll be using for your pontoon. My husband has been wanting to spend more time out on the lake and I suggested that we get one of these. I think that he would be the best person to choose which one we'll get since he knows more about it than I do.
7/11/2018 05:54:11 pm
Sustainability and affordability is a great place to start when looking for a boat. This is a great way to be able to choose a boat effectively. As friend continues looking into dealerships for boats, I will make sure he keeps this in mind.
1/4/2019 06:47:43 am
I have gone through your post and got some new idea over the boat. We should think about these fundamentals of buying a boat. Last year I bought a boat from Boat Lagoon Yachting. They provide good service to me.
2/13/2019 08:30:19 pm
I thought it was interesting how you said that a boat is not a need, but it is a luxury item for people to buy. My family has been planning on going on a vacation to a lake in Idaho this summer and we have been looking into purchasing a pontoon boat to explore the lake. If we determine it's not a need to buy one, we will look into renting one for the entirety of our trip.
2/22/2019 03:03:17 pm
I would love to have my own boat. It would be nice to get one that is just used for fun and recreation. That will probably determine which one I choose, like you said. I want something that will be able to pull skies and tubes.
Hello, Can you help me to estimate the speed for a customised tritoon boat I'm about to have built ? The specificities for this project is as follow :
3/27/2019 01:50:07 pm
That's good to know that you should get the right size of boat for your lake. I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money on a boat and then not be able to use it. I also wouldn't want to not have a fun enough boat for the lake. I'll have to do some research on what boat would be best for the closest lake.
6/17/2019 11:20:02 am
I wanted to thank you for this advice for buying a pontoon boat. You mentioned that you should know the type of lake you are planning on being in for boating. I'm interested to learn if this could also affect what maintenance you perform on the boat to make sure it is ready for that lake.
I appreciate you for elaborating on the things to consider before buying a pontoon boat. I already made a brief inspection of the lake at which I plan to do the most boating, but I changed my mind as soon as you mentioned how we should ask ourselves the reason why we are making this purchase. I was thinking about getting one for our family's vacation in Nebo, but I think I will be renting instead. Thank you for the information!
6/25/2020 12:53:13 am
You make an interesting point that it is important to consider the size of the lake when purchasing a pontoon boat. I also like that you reminded us it is important to ensure it is regularly serviced to ensure it functions properly and safely. My brother said that he would like to buy a pontoon boat and I will remind him of these information.
10/31/2020 07:01:55 am
12/25/2020 12:00:56 am
Very interesting and thanks for sharing such a good blog. Your article is so convincing that I never stop myself from saying something about it. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.
2/3/2021 03:37:04 pm
My dad has been thinking about buying a boat, so that he can take the grandkids fishing. Making sure that they can get some help from a professional could help him to keep them safe. It was interesting to learn about how he should know what size he needs by looking at where he plans to do the most boating with the right power to be more effective.
4/12/2021 11:04:39 pm
I appreciated it when you shared that it is important to know the lake at which you plan to do the activity when deciding on buying a boat. My uncle just mentioned the other day that he is thinking of buying a boat since he wants to take his sons on boating trips during their school holidays. I will suggest to him finding out the lake where he wants to go and get a used one and wrap it so it will look brand new.
7/7/2021 04:48:00 am
I enjoyed reading the article above, it really explains everything in detail, the article is very interesting and effective. Thank you and good luck with the upcoming articles.
7/22/2021 10:28:14 am
Wait, I had no clue that I need to know the lake that I plan on boating the most on. I want a pontoon boat so I hope they work on the lake that is near me. I have seen a couple of people use them on the water so I assume they work fine.
2/22/2022 09:18:56 am
I want to get a boat that I can take on fishing trips, but I'm not sure what kind to get. It makes sense that I might want to get a boat that's the right size for the lake that I like to fish at. That way, I can ensure that I put everything together properly.
3/16/2022 03:10:51 pm
It's so cool that you talked about what to consider before buying a boat! A few days ago, I visited my parents and talked about how my dad wants to buy a boat! I think my dad will benefit from reading your boat size tips, so I'll share them right away! I appreciate your insight on buying a boat that matches a lake's capacity!
5/24/2022 02:48:53 pm
I would like to buy a pontoon this summer. It was helpful when you mentioned that it is important to look at the boats docked on your lake. It might be a good idea for me to ask my neighbor for help when I go looking for a pontoon.
Megan Gallagher Beasley
8/14/2022 04:38:18 pm
Can you tell me the depth of water a 26' pontoon draws ?
It really helped when you said that we should get 18' to 22' length pontoon boats when the lake we are going to is small. I will share this tip with my husband now that we moved to a new place near a lake. It would be perfect for the size of the body of water when we look for new boats for sale which we will use for leisure purposes.
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