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Towing a pontoon

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  • Towing a pontoon

    Sorry if this isn't posted in the right spot, but it applies strictly to a pontoons unique characteristics. I am a new pontoon boat owner and have yet to trailer it. (Actually I don't even take delivery for another week.) I have heard that towing a pontoon, although not heavy, is like pulling a parachute and is absolutely NO fun. I guess I'm confused because although I see why someone would say that due to the size and shape, it seems like all those big, tall camper trailers would be much worse. I only have a Ford crew with a 4.6 liter and two wheel drive. Am I delusional in thinking I will want to pull this thing all over the State trying new lakes with my current vehicle. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


  • #2
    Re: Towing a pontoon

    I have been towing our 22' Bennington toon for the last 4 plus years. The wind drag isn't as bad as I expected but it does take a decent truck to tow it comfortably. Especially if there are hills/mountains involved. If your on flat ground you should do alright. We went through a few vehicles (I am in the business so we tried a few out). I am a Chevy fan so we tried a Suburban K1500 w/ a 5.3 it did OK but would definitely struggle and kick down on the larger inclines. I then got a 1500HD crew cab w/a 6.0 and it did fine, but we missed the extra seating of the big SUV. We pulled it with my dad's Escalade w/ a 6.0 and it did great, but he didn't want to put the wear and tear on it. We ended up with another Suburban but a 2500 with a 454 and 4WD. It is overkill, but I like having more truck than I need. The 4X4 isn't absolutely necessary on out fresh water fairly flat ramps, but figured we would rather have it just in case. I use it when pulling out and it almost idles the boat out by itself.
    Your truck is a crew cab so that means it is fairly long which will help in the control department. I remember with our original 5.3 Suburban it would do much better towing in drive instead of overdrive, but the GM 4L60E transmissions aren't the best for towing. So keep that in mind if it keeps wanting to kick down into passing gear. Other than that a little common sense goes a long way. Even with my current beast I go at or below the speed limit, will increase a little if I can when approaching an incline, and leave plenty of room for braking. Check your trailer brakes, it took me 4 seasons to realize mine weren't adjusted right. Now it stops almost as good as when not towing. Good luck!

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    • #3
      Re: Towing a pontoon

      Not really sure how much insight I can give you, I have never towed a toon. I had however driven tractor trailers for 13 years. I never really had any issues with a big box behind me, so I wouldnt imagine a toon would be that much of a problem. I would think it is like anything else you get used to it. I wouldnt recommend taking it down the hiway for your first trip out though. I'm sure some of the toon guys will chime in.
      You will not rise to the occasion, you will sink to the level of your training.

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      • #4
        Re: Towing a pontoon

        While it's true they are not the most aerodynamic things to tow, as long as you don't get in too big of a hurry you'll be fine. What size barge?
        Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
        21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Esquif Vertige

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        • #5
          Re: Towing a pontoon

          I have a 20 footer and tow it with a 2007 Yukon Denali AL. Mine has the overdrive trans and the poster above is correct that it is not great for towing. It is 40 miles from home to our favorite lake and the drive is flat. If there were hills of any severity it would be much worse. On my truck I put the trans in manual mode and in 5th gear. That keeps it out of overdrive and it does fine at 60 to 65. I think the nain problem is trying to pull them in hills/mountains and having a truck that is too small. If you have a full size truck and take your time you will be fine.

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          • #6
            Re: Towing a pontoon

            Long time looker first time poster....... I live in south louisiana and also just got my first boat. I was worried about the sme thing before I bought the boat as I also have an 04 F-150 4 door wit the 4.6 and 2 wd. I bought a 2000 21ft odyssey millennium with a johnson 70, and I was suprized at how well the truck pulls it!! The first couple of trips I went slow (45 mph tops) and then I got comfortable with it and started to push it on the 3rd trip, and at 65 mph everthing was going so smooth....... untill the sundeck flipup that covers the gastank opened and went flying then slidding down the road ! leason learned and since its only a couple of miles to the boat launch that I like well now I only pull at 45 mph. If we do go to the other boat launches that are a little farther away I just leave earlyer. One day I plan to redo the seats and will add snap straps to the ones that are in the airflow so we cn go a little faster but man I tell ya after having hotrods and 4x4's this boat thing is so much more fun, mainly because it is something the hole family can do together and with 4 kids I dont think anything other then a pontoon can offer us anything better!!!!

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            • #7
              Re: Towing a pontoon

              You should be just fine with your F150 i had a 06 F150 2wd with the 5.4 and pulled our 21' Suntracker with no problem.
              One of my many Blue Cats caught on Lake Worth the one in the pic. 42lbs.
              2000 21' Suntracker signature series party barge

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              • #8
                Re: Towing a pontoon

                Thanks for all the replies so far...keep em comin. The more opinions the better! The boat is a 24 ft tritoon. Also, do you trailer with or without the cover on it? And...one more thing. Is it better to trailer with the hitch level, a little low, or a little high? It seems like with all that weight toasted the back, it will be more stable with a 2-3 inch drop. Comments?

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                • #9
                  Re: Towing a pontoon

                  Re: Pontoon towing
                  We have a 21' Tri-toon Voyager. My husband tows the 5th wheel trailer and I tow the pontoon with a 1/2 ton Dodge 4 wheel drive. It is not hard to tow, but they are wider than your pickup, so you have to watch on crossing bridges or on narrow lane roads, as the tires are wider and you could run one off the road. With the half-ton, the only problem I have is on long hills like we have some here in Oklahoma, such as Tiger Mountain and Arbuckle Mts. Your speed goes down on these. When towing with an automatic transmission, push in the overdrive button so that it
                  does not go into overdrive, so you won't overheat your transmission (towing position). Put your
                  rear mirrors out or add towing mirrors. Be sure everything is secured in your boat, as things will
                  updraft out. Even one of our corner seat cushions ,wedged in, suctioned out last year. A lady found it and caught up with us and gave it to us. Small amount of damage, but intact. When turning corners you must go a little further up before turning, so it will track on your side. If you have a full cover, it's best to use it when towing. If a snap on cover, no. Just use ordinary judgement and you will be fine.
                  Last edited by Buchanan; June 9th, 2011, 11:56 PM. Reason: spelling

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                  • #10
                    Re: Towing a pontoon

                    I wouldn't tow with the cover. When you find out how much of a pain it is to remove and install it I am sure you won't want to be doing that at the ramp. It was enough of a pain that we invested in an aluminum free standing RV overhang. The boat stays under there all season and when it gets cold the cover get's put back on. Also you want to make sure the boat is as dry as possible before covering it up.
                    I tow with it as level as possible. I tried a few hitches that I had until I found one that leveled it.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Towing a pontoon

                      TexasTriToonin,
                      Welcome, I'm just up the road from you in The Woodlands.
                      Is your new Tritoon an outboard or an inboard? Inboards are a little heavier. I have a 24' JC Tritoon with a Mercruiser 470. She weighs 4400 pound unloaded & ungased. I keep it stalled up at Lake Conroe and have hauled to LBJ and Sam Rayburn. She tows just fine. You will know you are pulling something but if the trailer is designed for that boat it should trailer just fine. Your truck engine is on the small side and if you do not have a trailering package on your truck DO NOT tow the boat in overdrive. You might want to get a pair of mirror extensions to help you see what is behind you because the boat will totally block you rear vision. You can get them at Academy.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Towing a pontoon

                        We tow a 20' pontoon without a cover, that will change this year. A towable cover will improve the aerodynamics quite a bit.

                        I also tow a 21' HTT, our TV is an 07 Tundra Crewmax with the 5.7L and tow package. All loaded up with 4 adults neither trailer is an issue.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Towing a pontoon

                          A1nowell,
                          Do you keep your boat at April Plaza? I saw a boat there that sound like it could be yours. Just curious. If so, we'll be neighbors. Thanks for all the info.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Towing a pontoon

                            No TexasTriToonin, I keep my boat garaged on the trailer about 1/4 mile from Stow-A-Way Marina on the quieter north end of the lake. The boat stays a little cleaner and I do not have to lock up anything but the boat in the stall.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Towing a pontoon

                              I tow my 21' toon behind a 32' 5th wheel. I'm 75' loooong and haven't had any problems towing. Of course I tow with a dually diesel. My wife also tows the toon solo with her 5.2 F-150 pickup. No Problem.

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