Docking a Pontoon Boat: 6 Easy Steps
Pontoon boats have exploded in popularity in the last decade, making them one of the most common types of boats on the water today. With lots of seating and enough power to pull a skier or wakeboarder, pontoons make it easy to take a boat full of people out for a great day on the water.
Docking any boat can be a challenge when the wind, current, or even the position of the dock throws a curve ball into the process, and docking a pontoon boat is no different.
Using these simple thoughts, here are six steps for docking a pontoon boat:
1. Slow down early
As you approach the dock or slip, reduce the boat’s speed as much as you can to make it easier to stop. Put the boat in neutral and drift, then put it back into gear once in a while to “nudge” the boat forward. You don’t need to keep the boat in gear all the time.
2. Approach the slip going into the wind or current
If necessary, go past the slip and turn around, so you are driving into the wind as you approach the slip’s entrance.
3. Know which way the boat will drift once you are in the slip
If the wind is blowing the boat toward the dock, aim for the far side of the slip, so you keep some space between you and the dock. The wind will close the gap. If the wind is blowing you away from your target, try to line the boat up as close to the dock as possible and be ready to secure the lines.
4. Use reverse to stop the boat
Once you are in the slip, shift into reverse to put on the brakes, then shift back to neutral once the boat has stopped. Think of reverse as your brakes so shift into reverse just long enough to stop the boat.
5. Tie the boat up right away
The boat will never stop drifting in one direction or another, so be ready to grab the dock lines and get them tied to the cleats right away.
6. Turn off the engine as soon as the boat is secure
Increase safety by shutting the engine off while people are getting on or off the boat.
Docking any boat can sometimes be a challenge, but following a few simple guidelines can make the process easier and less stressful.
There are some simple steps anyone can follow as they learn how to dock a pontoon boat. The most important things to remember are to go slow, keep the boat neutral more than it’s in gear, watch out for other boaters, and don’t panic.
Learn more about docking a pontoon:
Got more boating questions?
- Launching a Boat: Step-by-Step Guide
- Pre-departure Boating Checklist
- More on Docking Pontoon’s by Harris Boats
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Chuck Warren fell in love with boats at 9 years old while helping to restore his grandfather’s 1939 44-foot Elco cruiser. A lifelong boater, Chuck has experience operating large and small vessels on the waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and the Great Lakes.
During his 35-year marine industry career, Chuck has been the driver for several offshore powerboat racing teams, the chief engineer aboard a Caribbean research and salvage vessel, captain of a Florida Keys sunset cruise, and more.
Today, Chuck is a boating industry writer, copywriter, and captain who lives on his 40-foot boat in the summer when he isn’t delivering vessels around the Great Lakes or teaching new boaters to drive. Winters are split between the West Michigan lakeshore and wherever his travels take him.