How To Drive a Pontoon Boat For Beginners

A pontoon boat is a popular choice for a day out on the water, especially on the beaches of 30A. It’s spacious, safe, and easy to drive. However, you can’t simply assume that because you’ve steered one type of boat, you can steer a pontoon boat. These boats differ sharply from monohull boats, or boats with only one hull. If you’re a beginner when it comes to pontoon boating, here are our instructions for driving a pontoon boat:

Always Wear Proper Safety Equipment

Whether you’re driving the pontoon boat or simply a passenger, make sure you’re wearing a life jacket that is USGC-approved. Make sure you wear this life jacket for the entirety of the trip, even if the waters seem calm and smooth. Strong winds can approach suddenly off 30A, so it’s best not to let your guard down. You’ll also want to have a radio on you in case you need help, and that radio needs to be fully operational before you set off. If you have any heavy items on board, make sure that you fasten them down so they don’t move around and cause potential injuries during the voyage.

Check the Tank

Pontoon boats run on motors that are fueled by regular unleaded gas. Before you set out on the water, you’ll want to make sure that the tank is full. This can be avoided when you rent a pontoon boat, as your rental should come to you with a full tank of gas. The last thing you want is to run out of gas while on the water.

Turn the Motor On

This part is fairly simple. Turn the motor to “on” and give the engine a few minutes (typically 1-5) to warm up. After five minutes, you should be ready to go. Trim the motor so that it is in shallow waters rather than located in deep water. You can find a button to trim the motor typically near the throttle.

Leaving the Dock

Once the motor is warmed up, you can leave the dock. Loose the ropes tying the boat to the dock while gently reversing the boat so that it can back out of the slip. Your hand on the throttle should be gentle and easy as you reverse into the open water. Then you can turn and adjust the throttle forward. This is much like driving a stick shift when it comes to cars.

Gradually Reach the Desired Speed

The idea of speeding out onto the water might seem appealing, but it’s not recommended — especially not for beginners. Instead, slowly and gradually ease yourself into the cruise speed that you want to reach. This will also offer a more pleasant, safer ride for any passengers and it will ensure that you stay in control for the trip.

On the Water

Once you’re out on open water, adjust the trim of the motor so that it’s facing downward. The lower the number, the further down the motor is faced. By now you’ll have gained some level of comfort with driving the boat. But keep a keen eye out for anything else on the water or for any winds that might approach with little warning. Try to keep the weight of passengers and cargo fairly evenly distributed so as to keep the boat upright.

Pontoon boats aren’t particularly fast, but they also don’t have breaks, so it’s a good idea to go slow. Make sure to turn in slow, wide curves. After all, you’re out here to enjoy the beautiful views, right?

Docking the Pontoon Boat

When you come back into the dock, do so slowly and carefully. Most docks have speed limits, so keep an eye out for any signs regarding that. Shift into neutral and carefully park the boat. Then ask one of the passengers to help you tie the boat to the dock.

At Boss Boat Rentals, we offer pontoon boat rentals throughout 30A, especially Santa Rosa Beach. Interested in enjoying a day on the water with pontoon boat rentals? Contact us today to learn more or to order your own rental.