Docks and marinas are not always needed when you own a pontoon boat. Due to the aluminum build and shallow draft design, you can easily run ashore to have a beach picnic, camp for the night or do some exploring.
Unlike those sports boats that have fiberglass hulls, us pontooners don’t have to worry about get-coats that can get damaged and scratched. You won’t be needing a boat beaching mat that’s for sure.
It’s very easy to do as pontoon boats can be happily beached in a few simple steps. Once done you can let the kids get out and play in the water or build sandcastles, whilst the adults set-up the blankets and relax.
But you should still proceed with caution, as there could be hazards and rocks that ideally you want to avoid, with the best spot to aim for being the sandiest part you can find.
I’ve been beaching and pulling my pontoon boat on shore for a number of years now with zero problems. Here’s my guide on how you can do it too, in a few simple steps.
How to Beach a Pontoon Boat in 5 Steps
Step 1: Identify a Good Spot
You first task will be to pick your spot where you are going to land. The best place to beach will be a sandy or soft area that has a slow incline into the water. Don’t try to land your pontoon on a steep bank or anywhere there could be large rocks. Don’t worry about a few pebbles or stones, as you are never going to avoid those completely.
Also check for any swimmers to make sure that you have a clear approach and path to your landing spot. If there is anybody in the water nearby, your motor should be off!
Handy Hint: If you are in a very rocky area, instead anchor off-shore and then swim or wade to the beach. I’ve got some recommendations for anchors to use in rocky conditions.
Step 2: Approach Slowly and Cautiously
Next you can start to make your approach but take it easy as there could be obstructions under the water line such as sandbars or floating logs on the surface. Ideally you want to take the same approach to speed as you would if docking normally, so in small pulses.
Ask all your passengers to get to the rear of the boat, including any heavy accessories such as coolers and picnic boxes. This is going to help you distribute the weight better for the final push onto the sand.
If you are worried and you’ve never beached your pontoon in this location before, then get someone out into the water to check for hazards.
Step 3: Trim Up and Reduce Your Draft
As you get nearer to the beach you will need to reduce your draft. Do this by raising the trim up as you get nearer so you don’t damage your prop or take in any mud and sand.
The best way to trim is to do so until the prop starts to take in air. Once it does, drop it back and trim back down to around 3 inches. What this does is let you have some movement in the engine just case you run aground.
Once your nose is almost at shore, switch the engine off completely, raise the prop up, and drift onto the sand. Don’t hit the beach at full speed!
Step 4: Pull Your Pontoon Boat on Shore
Once your nose is out of the water, you can pull it further onto the beach manually, but honestly, in most cases you don’t need to pull the boat half way up. Around 30% of the boat being on shore is normally enough.
So, how to pull the pontoon boat on shore? Easy. Get a couple of the passengers to climb out onto the beach or into the shallow water and give you a helping hand. With the weight at the rear, this little extra push at the end will keep your boat more secure.
Step 5: Put Down Your Anchor or Tie Up
Whilst your pontoon might look and feel secure on the sandy beach, don’t take any chances. I always prefer to anchor down or tie up to give me that peace of mind.
I’ve seen examples in the past where a pontoon has been beached without any anchoring, and a large wake and wind has pushed it into another boat on the beach causing a little damage.
I’ve written an extensive post previously on Pontoonopedia which goes into a lot of detail about how to anchor up on a beach, including what you need to use.
Essentially though I like to anchor at the front and rear as I feel that gives me the stability I want on beaches where the water might get choppy. I use a bungee dock line with a sand screw to secure my boat to the beach, and then a box anchor at the back.
Many other pontooners think that’s possibly overkill, and just use a line and spike into the sand, but I am very cautious by nature, and want to be 100% happy I won’t be drifting.
If you are really worried about damage to your pontoon boat, then you might also want to consider buying fenders to act as bumpers. There’s nothing worse than thinking you are heading towards a quiet beach, only to get there to see it resembles the parking lot at Walmart.
The best on the market (in my opinion) are these pontoon boat fenders. They are molded to fit snugly under the deck and can fit on most brands and models – they take just a few minutes to install due to the strap fasteners that are included.
But What About Leaving the Beach?
Un-beaching your pontoon boat is even easier. Again, have all passengers sitting to the rear so you get all the weight distribution to the back of the boat.
You will need to have one person remain on the beach to push the foredeck and then jump back aboard once you have drifted away from shore. Trim back down, and away you go!
Handy Hint: Ask passengers to come back onto the boat via the stern ladder so that sand gets washed off their feet before coming back on board. Sand is one of my pet hates!
Additional Comments & Tips
So that’s how you should beach or pull your pontoon boat shore. In addition to that, I wanted to share with you some of the top comments that I see recently on Facebook when someone asked other pontoon boat owners about beaching and pulling on shore. Here’s what some of them had to say when asked if there are any concerns about beaching.
“Some people are worried about damaging their toons, but you should have a wear bar underneath the tubes, and if anything, the sand will help scrub and brush all the debris and algae away.”
“I beach my pontoon boat all the time. We have a nice sandy beach near us that’s perfect for it. Just be careful though as I’ve had to replace my transducer as the back end swung over and it got ripped off. Just don’t hit the beach at full speed like I did!”
“Of course you should do it! Why buy a pontoon boat if you don’t party and camp on some islands. It won’t damage your boat as long as your careful and use your head. Go in slow and raise trim as you get closer.”
“I beach in the Finger Lakes all the time which have stone pebble beaches. With the exception of dinging the prop once I have never had any issue beaching on stone and pebbles as I am not lucky enough to have sand near me!”
“I would try to avoid rocks if at all possible. And also, there’s no need to drive half the boat up the beach. Just get the nose out of the water good and tie it off. You will have never an issue on soft sandy bottoms”.
“Lake Amistad has no sand or clay, it’s all rock and this begins our fourth year of beaching our pontoon boat with no problems. Sometimes instead of beaching we’ll tie up to a tree or rock and then feed a line out until we’re 20 to 30 feet from shore. Works great for us.”
“I like to go in slow, then give it just a little extra push at the end. Where we beach we go into the current, then straighten out at the end. Also, I keep the coolers in the back and might have a passenger or two sit to the rear as I’m beaching so that the front end can be cheated a couple inches up and onto the beach. Doing it this way I (almost) never have to beach anchor.”
“Always assess the landing spot to make sure you are not beaching on large rocks that can puncture your toons. Approach the back slowly, shift people and weight to the rear of the pontoon, trim up as high as you can without completely removing your drive unit. And slowly beach yourself. Once on throttle up a bit to get it a little more secure.”
“I will always look for a sandy spot if possible. You might also want to get out and swim to check that there’s nothing in the way that could damage your tubes and logs.”
When I beach up my pontoon it’s a great opportunity to get the kids to work on my algae hula skirt. I give them a stiff-bristled brush each and get them to go around the boat giving it a much needed clean up for a few hours! Only joking!”