Earlier this week I was checking the statistics for Pontoonopedia and noticed that 1.85% of my website’s visitors came from the UK.
Whilst that’s a very small part of my readers, it made me think that perhaps pontoon boats could be getting more popular in the UK. I decided to look into the UK market a little more.
Below you can see my research, and answers to lots of questions regarding pontoon boat ownership in the United Kingdom and British Isles.
1. Are pontoon boats legal in the UK?
One of the more common questions people ask is are pontoon boats legal in the UK? I did a little research into the laws and legality, and this is what I found.
Pontoon boats are legal in the UK and are allowed on UK lakes. However, there are hardly any registered pontoon boats in the UK. It’s a market that has never taken off in the British Isles and doesn’t appear that they will gain popularity in the next decade.
2. Can you hire pontoon boats in the UK?
I also did multiple Google searches to try and see if I could find any pontoon boats for hire in the UK. I focussed my searches on the main tourism areas of England, Wales, and Scotland where there are lakes. Here’s what I found.
It is not possible to rent a pontoon boat in the UK. As at 2019 there were no instances of any pontoon boat rental companies operating in the UK and British Isles and appears to be no plans for any companies to do so at this point in time.
Unlike the US market where there are pontoon boat rentals available all over the country (see how much is costs to rent a pontoon boat), I found no examples in the United Kingdom.
3. Are pontoon boats for sale in the UK?
I then searched Google to see if I could find pontoon boats for sale in UK. I saw plenty of boat sale and dealer websites with sections for pontoon boats. However, when you click into the pontoon boat sections, there are either empty, or advertising boat sales in the United States.
There are no pontoon boat dealers selling pontoon boats in the UK as at March 2019. To date, the US manufacturers have struggled to introduce pontoons into the UK market, and there seems to be no appetite for them with UK customers.
In fact, I stumbled across an interesting blog post on Boats.com where they reported on a conversation between the president of Brunswick Marine at the Amsterdam Boat Show in 2011. Brunswick Marine own the Harris pontoon brand.
The president of Brunswick Marine had brought two Harris pontoons to the show to demo them to the European market.
The reporter saw this as a sign that the American manufacturers had one eye on introducing pontoon boats into the UK, but it’s now 8 years later, and that hasn’t come to fruition.
But the reporter was still sceptical, even back then, and tempered his report with the following statement:
“Pontoon boats are designed to work at their best when used on sheltered inland waterways. This heavily limits their appeal to the UK boating market, as large lakes and sheltered waterways aren’t as prevalent in the UK.”
From what I’ve read, UK boat owners are very conservative, and it’s very unlikely that pontoon boats will ever make a dent in the existing marine market.
4. Are inflatable pontoon boats popular in the UK?
Small personal pontoon boats are a different matter though. Fishing is huge past-time in the UK, and I’ve seen inflatable pontoon boats for sale in the UK on websites such as Amazon.
The popular Sea Eagle and Colorado range sell quite well and are seen quite often, unlike their larger pontoon boat cousins.
If you are interested in seeing some examples of these small personal fishing boats, take a look at my guide to the best inflatable pontoon boats.
5. Can you get pontoon houseboats in the UK?
Now we’re talking.
These are one type of craft that will occasionally see in the UK. They still aren’t that popular, but you can see them listed for sale on dealer websites in Great Britain.
The last word…
In the United States, pontoon boat sales will be in excess of 40,000 each year. That’s on the increase and doesn’t include the sales of used and second hand.
However, pontoon boats have never caught on in the UK, and despite the wishes of the manufacturers, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
It’s very rare to see a pontoon boat in the UK. The reporter from Boats.com said he had only seen them twice in all his years of reporting in the marine industry.