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First Pontoon Boat Owner

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  • First Pontoon Boat Owner

    Well we recently just completed an order for a pontoon boat. The boat is being built at Godfrey plant in Indiana with a planned completion date of May 24th. We are hoping we will have it in time for the Memorial Day Weekend. This is our first boat other than a PWC years ago.

    Here are the details on the boat.
    2010 Sweetwater 2186
    F90 Yahama
    Premium Package upgrade and a few additional options.

    Just wanted to some advice/suggestions for someone with their first pontoon. Lessons learned, things you found nice to have, etc.

    Also looking for good care and upkeep suggestions. We will be keeping the boat on a trailer and not in a slip. I'm planning on keeping the cover on it while not in use.

    Thanks again for your time. Look forward to hearing your suggestions and advice.

  • #2
    Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

    We are going on our third season with our pontoon. The best piece of advice I can offer is to take the time to get familiar / comfortable with the boat itself and the water you will be using it on. Eliminate any unnecessary distractions on the first couple trips and use the time to really understand how everything functions. Get your boat situated and organized and know where everthing is. Once other people are on board there is more that is out of your control and things can happen fast. Knowing the boat and where everything is just makes it that much easier. Hopefully you know someone with a litte experience and they can join you on the maiden voyage.

    For me I had it out only a couple times before the wife was getting antsy and we took the kids and father in law out. It wasn't a disaster but I really could've used some more time figuring out how everything worked (specifically the porta potty ).

    This was our first boat as well and we are still discovering new nice to haves everytime out. One thing I have found invaluable is a portable gps unit. The nice to haves are really dependent on how you use the boat. We like to grill out on the sandbars. The first time out I had a grill and the meat. Now two years later we have the table, utensils, spare tanks, accessories. Finding a place on the boat to keep all of it is the real trick. I applaud your effort to be prepared but a lot of it will be trial and error while you figure out how you like to do things.


    • #3
      Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

      Thanks for taking time to provide some feedback and suggestions. Our dealer is providing us a pontoon package that will have 8 life jackets, throw cushion, anchor w/ rope, fire extinguisher, 4 bumper buoys w/ ropes.
      So sounds like we will be "water ready" and just need to figure out what extras we want.
      I'm going to take your advice and just take me and the wife out for the first time or so without the kids and family. Just to get orientated with the boat. I think our dealer is planning on doing some orientation out on the water with us as well.
      So I saw where you mentioned portable GPS. I'm totally dumb or ignorent to the GPS thing. Well I know how they work and all but don't know one brand from another. Any recommendations on a model to look for?
      How bout any cleaning recommendations? Our boat will be in lakes and no salt water. I've heard really good things about a cleaner called 303. I've also read and heard about a pontoon protectant sharkhide.

      Thanks again


      • #4
        Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

        On the gps, I'm of the opinion you can never go wrong with garmin. In some (most) cases they are a little more expensive but they do have the gps thing down. When I was shopping around I would've been comfortable with some of the other brands but for me the garmin was the overall best value. I ended going up with a waterproof portable model. Keep in mind that the maps will be extra.

        With the cleaning can't help you. We made the decision to slip our boat and with that we just have to live with not having spotless toons. We found a guy in our area that pulls the boat, winterizes, cleans, and does indoor cold storage all very reasonably. Not sure what he uses but he gives it a scrub and a power wash. It knocks the chuncks off and so far its been what we expect, but we do keep an eye on it every year.

        As far as just general cleaning, I've been pretty happy with the simple green. I keep one spray bottle with it dilluted, and I also keep a bottle of it full strength. I use the dilluted stuff on everything. The full strength is just for the exterior. I also keep the Magic Erasers on board, I would have to say these are a must have on any boat.


        • #5
          Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

          The biggest mistake people make with a pontoon is thinking that because we have all the room we can load it up. Unfortunately, what often happens is everyone wants to be up front, or dashes up front to look at something which in rough water which can cause the bow of the boat to take a wave. While you may think this is no big deal, it is a very big deal and can cause the pontoon to submarine because the deck acts as a diving plane. Don't get me wrong here. The boat will not sink but the nose does dive until the prop leaves the water at which time the boat shoots upward and slightly backward as it pops back to the surface. Besides the scare, people are not ready for the surfacing and can be pitched overboard or at least thrown around. So make people sit down and stay seated when under way. You are the captain of your vessel. If they disobey an order, don't invite them back. Your insurance company will thank you. The center of gravity on a pontoon loaded with passengers should be from the center on back. Too much weight up front is not good.

          As for "stuff" -- you need a good first aid kit. The other things will become obvious after the first couple of trips. Beach towels, sun glasses and sun screen are also in order. GPS is certainly handy if you boat on very large, unfamiliar bodies of water where you stand a good chance of getting disoriented. If you can see shore anywhere on the lake you really don't need GPS.


          • #6
            Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

            Pording, we have the Sweetwater 2186 with a 60hp Yamaha 4 stroke, 2006 model. We bought it used last year with 27 hours on it and we love the boat.
            I wish I had the 90hp but I got a good deal so I can't complain.
            I purchased the Garmin color GPS I think it's a 503 model. I bought it re-fuurbished from Garmin. It looks just like new & carries the new warranty, they come loaded with every major lake in the U.S. on it.
            We boat on Lake Lanier in Georgia, it's 38,000 acres and we get some big boats on it. I agree with all of the advice above and I just want to add one other thing, If you see a big wave coming DO NOT SLOW DOWN, otherwise pontoons will nose dive into the wave. Take the wave on at a good speed and you won't have any trouble.
            We added an electric porta-potti on ours and it really extends our day, you will want one also.
            I use the 303 protectant and when the seats get dirty we just keep a spray bottle of water on board anad spray the cushions down and everything just wipes off, no need for Fantastic.

            have fun, Ken


            • #7
              Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

              Thanks again for all the helpful advice. I'm definitely taking notes. Keep em' coming.

              I already talked to the wife about taking it out on our own without anyone else. She of course wants to know how to drive it as well. I think the dealership is planning on taking us out so I will see how comfortable we are if that happens and readjust if necessary.

              The first aid kit is definitely something to have.

              I'm looking into the GPS. We are probably going to be boating on Lake Ouachita in central Arkansas which is approx 40,000 acres and can be quite intimidating when you aren't familiar with it.

              We have already looked into the porta potty thing. Since we have the pop up changing room with curtain. I think we were just planning on picking one up from our local Wal-Mart.

              Thanks again for all the suggestions and feedback.

              Last edited by POrding; April 12th, 2010, 07:58 PM. Reason: added information


              • #8
                Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                hey POrding, we just got the 2086 sweetwater with the 90 hp 4 stroke this weekend and really like it so far. We got it from Trader Bill's in hot springs. They took us to one of the lakes close by and was a really big help with loading unloading and explaining the boat. We then went to dinby point {sp?** and took it out for a while before going home.
                The wife just made reservations at tompkins bend for next mounth. We hope to make a few day trips before that. We live in Camden so it is a little far for a day trip may have to go to Degray.
                Hope you the best with your new boat and may run into you some time.


                • #9
                  Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                  My bit of advice on your new pontoon is to remember that the sides act like a big sail in windy conditions. Anchoring and docking can be serious feats in much wind at all.

                  8 life jackets might not cut it. It sounds like a lot, but when you consider you may have 3 people all the same size, it's not a one size fits all thing. Then of course there are youth jackets, jackets for those that are bigger and all kinds of situations. We had an issue last weekend (resolved by borrowing from a friend) of 5 youth on board (neighbors and ours) and in TN they all had to wear life jackets because they were under 12.

                  Our auto GPS has a mode called "pedestrian" while not nautical in nature, it traces the route you take and gives a general idea of the lake shape as well as speed and such. It's not ideal, but I already have it for my car so there is no extra cost associated with bringing it along.

                  I also recommend multiple anchors. Goes along with the windy conditions and the sides acting like sails. We have 3 on board, all three different types depending on the bottom conditions. If I am anchored solo, I like to have 2 out.


                  • #10
                    Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                    Have you looked at some of the combination fish finder/depth/GPS units? A pontoon has been in my family since before I was born (I'm 50). We've had dozens. While a teenager, I didn't much care for them. Now, I consider it my favorite boat. You're going to love yours. Anyway, here's a picture of the console on my pontoon. The depth/fish/GPS unit is in the center. It works very well and you can choose between many screens that show a variety of functions. It also store waypoints. Different models naturally offer varying functions and $$'s. I'll bet Iboats has some in their store (haven't looked) but you can find them everywhere.
                    Attached Files
                    1974 Century Resorter
                    2008 JC Suntoon Triple Tube
                    2007 Sea Doo Speedster SCIC


                    • #11
                      Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                      Co-op, Well it truly is a small world! We also bought our boat from Trader Bill's. We had to order it since they didn't have a boat we wanted in inventory. So sounds like we will have some knowledge once we get the boat and they take us out on it. We live in Cabot so most likely we will be spending the majority of our time at Greer's Ferry in Heber Springs. But I love Lake Ouachita. It's just a longer pull for us.
                      I was pretty much considering the life vests thrown in with the package for that number of adults who can swim. We are looking into purchasing additional for children (we have 2) and other guests. Also for tubing and those adults who might not be able to swim.
                      Thanks also for the anchor suggestions/advice.
                      I will continue to look for a GPS.
                      Thanks again for all the advice and suggestions.


                      • #12
                        Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                        I just got a quote from the dealer for a stainless steel prop. $350.00
                        Should I go ahead and have them put a stainless steel prop on and keep the "original" as a spare?
                        They said that the prop installed would be the appropriate size and pitch for the boat and motor.


                        • #13
                          Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                          Originally posted by POrding View Post
                          I just got a quote from the dealer for a stainless steel prop. $350.00
                          Should I go ahead and have them put a stainless steel prop on and keep the "original" as a spare?
                          They said that the prop installed would be the appropriate size and pitch for the boat and motor.
                          I wouldn't. Buy it when you need it.

                          As fas as the GPS, I have an iPhone. I bought the Navionics app for $5 and that gave me the entire eastern United States. Yup, I use my cell phone out on the ocean. If you have been looking for a reason to buy an iPhone, thats a good one.



                          • #14
                            Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                            I wouldn't put the stainless prop on either, the aluminum prop will serve you well mine has.
                            The Garmin that I was talking about is $700 new a factory re-furb is around $375.



                            • #15
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                              Re: First Pontoon Boat Owner

                              We have two 'toons'. Both Starcraft-20's, both with 75 HP Merc's. One 2-stroke, the other 4 stroke.

                              We DO NOT put on SS props. All aluminum.

                              We have them propped right.

                              We run "Mac's River Runner" shields on both. Google it.

                              The shields have been of NO issue and have saved us countless props.