During the winter months you should never leave your pontoon boat in the water. If you do, you’re leaving it at risk to the elements and can get hit with some expensive maintenance bills.
Ice can damage your pontoons, algae and scum will build up, and overall, you’re going come back at the start of the season to a boat that will need a lot repair. You must winterize your pontoon boat (here’s how), and get it out of the water as soon as you can.
But what if you don’t have a trailer? How can you store a pontoon boat without a trailer so it’s safe, secure, and free from getting damaged?
Can you leave a pontoon boat sat on the ground?
Firstly though, you don’t want to simply leave your pontoon boat grounded and on dry land. Both pontoon tubes should be level when stored. If they aren’t you could damage the pontoons if left on uneven ground. I’ve heard of decks becoming twisted and warped when this has not been done properly.
The aluminum tubes should also not be put at risk of exposure to any potential hazards that could puncture the aluminum.
A grounded pontoon boat is also going to be a magnet for critters wanting to nest for the winter; it needs to be raised off the floor at all times.
Storing a pontoon boat without a trailer
I am going to take you through a number of options, plus some notes further down the page on how you can get your pontoon boat out of the water with no trailer.
1. Pontoon boat storage blocks
The cheapest solution for storing a pontoon boat without a trailer is to use storage blocks. You can buy them on Amazon and marine stores.
Handy Hint: I’ve put together a guide to which storage blocks I think are the best.
There are some important aspects you need to consider though.
- Always spread the weight of your pontoon boat evenly over the storage blocks.
- Winterize your pontoon fully before you cover and leave it – read winterization tips.
- Once raised up on blocks cover your boat – here are some recommended covers.
- Use a well-ventilated cover support system to prevent internal damage.
Handy Hint: Even if you have placed your pontoon on blocks and winterized it properly, I would still advise regularly checking to see nothing has gone awry during the harsh winter weather and winds.
2. Rent dry storage from a marina or dock
You can rent dry storage services from your local marina or dock. It doesn’t even have to be the marina you boat from. Call a few local ones as they may be able to haul your pontoon out of the water and place it in their dry storage facilities.
Many marinas will have a crane, winch, and track system that lets them pick your boat out of the water. They will then trailer it up or place it on a dolly system and pull it into dry storage.
Dry storage can be expensive, but it’s a great solution if you want to store your pontoon boat for the winter and don’t own your own trailer.
3. Nested boat stands or dollies
You can buy nested boat stands and dollies that are specifically designed for pontoon boats.
You will need to get your marina to hoist your pontoon boat onto a dolly, but once sat down on it you can move your boat around and keep it up and off the ground.
A dolly can also let you safely move the pontoon boat into storage, for example, dry storage from a marina as discussed in point 2.
4. Rent a covered marina slip
Whilst I don’t advocate leaving your pontoon boat in the water over the winter months, you might not have any choice due to storage limitations.
You could consider renting a covered marina slip.
This will give you the peace of mind that your boat is in a secure environment (if it’s a manned marina), plus you won’t need to store it using a trailer.
However, marina slips can be very expensive to rent, with prices sometimes being as high as $350 dollars a month. But you might be able to get a cheaper deal over the off-season, and prices will vary depending on where you live.
I’ve put together an article that goes into marina slip rental costs which has some average prices from around the United States.
If you do decide to rent a marina slip, I would still recommend you place a cover over your boat. Whilst the slip is covered, it won’t stop birds and critters getting into your pontoon for the winter.
Pests can play havoc with your boat and will foul it up and chew through your seats. Make sure you buy a cover; they don’t have to be expensive.
How to get a pontoon out of the water without a trailer
But how are you going to get your pontoon boat out of the water if you don’t have a trailer? I’ve already mentioned how some marinas will have crane and hoist systems to help you but be prepared to pay big bucks for them to do so.
Here are some alternatives, including a DIY method.
1. Pay someone to trailer the boat out of the water
I’ve seen adverts on Craigslist from people who will come and get your pontoon boat out of the water for a small fee; far cheaper than paying a marina to use a crane!
You might also be able to pull a favor in from another boat owner you know.
There are also private companies who offer crane and electric winch services as well.
2. Create a rolling skid or ramp platform and pull the boat out
If the lake or river has an incline and beach, you can create some skids. Skids can be made from plywood sections and PVC piping, acting like rollers to winch the boat out of the water onto.
However, exercise a lot of caution if trying this method as you could end up puncturing your aluminum pontoons.
For example, let’s say you are pulling your pontoon up onto a beach. If there are any rogue sharp rocks, broken glass, or metal hidden in the shallow waters and the land you could end up making an expensive mistake.
Make sure your boat is secure when stored
Once you have successfully stored your pontoon boat without a trailer, don’t forget one essential aspect; security.
Whilst it’s very unlikely that thieves will be able to make off with your pontoon if it’s not on a trailer, it’s not unheard of.
I’ve written a guide to trailer security. It is mainly focussed on how to secure your boat when trailered up but does have some aspects in there which you can still use when your pontoon is grounded or on blocks.
Tasks you can do include:
- Fitting a GPS asset tracker hidden in the boat.
- Install a pin and pull cord alarm to the boat and a wall.
- Use battery motion lights to deter thieves.
The last word…
It is possible to store your pontoon boat without having to own a trailer. I won’t lie, it’s certainly not easy, and if you can, I would recommend buying a second hand trailer. You can pick one up for a couple of thousand dollars.
But if that isn’t an option, and you don’t have access to a trailer it is still possible with some of the tips listed above.
Whatever you do, don’t leave your boat in the water over the winter. If you do so, you will probably wish you had bought that used trailer given the potential risks you expose your pontoon to.