Getting on the water is an important part of life for any watersports lover and sometimes you have to do what you can to get out there.
If you have a pontoon boat and want to learn how to wakeboard or wakesurf, you may have wondered if it is possible and worthwhile to try it out Pontoon boats are some of the most well-rounded boats on the water, providing a platform for massive amounts of people, relaxation, and sunset cruises.
There are so many options on pontoon boats that it is easy to believe they are capable of doing everything. For the most part, this is true; almost anything that can be done on the water can be done with a pontoon boat.
But, can they pull a wakeboarder or allow for wakesurfing?
I’ve done some research to find out just how capable a pontoon boat is and if you can wakesurf or wakeboard behind one.
Can You Wakesurf or Wakeboard Behind a Pontoon Boat?
Can you wakesurf or wakeboard behind a pontoon boat? In short, the answer is no. You cannot wakesurf behind a pontoon boat. But, you may be able to get up on a wakeboard with a pontoon boat, but it may not be a very fun ride since the wake will be small. This said, there is more to it than that. Read on to find out.
Especially for someone new to wakeboarding or wakesurfing, there is a lot of desire to get behind a boat to work on your new skills and wakeboard boats can be prohibitively expensive for a lot of people.
Pontoon boats, though, are readily available and very cost-effective. They are also very versatile and can be used for a lot of different purposes, making them very appealing for someone who doesn’t want the specialization or cost that comes with buying a wakeboard boat.
There are tradeoffs, though and a pontoon boat may be well suited for some things, but not other things. Wakeboarding and wakesurfing are two of the things pontoon boats aren’t well suited for.
The Anatomy of a Pontoon Boat
Generally speaking, a pontoon boat has either two or three metal tubes, called pontoons, that float on the water with a platform attached to the top.
The pontoons provide the water displacement need for the boat to float; they are also tapered at the front to allow them to cut through the water.
On the platform are all the amenities of the pontoon boat, including the helm, wraparound seating, captain’s chairs, table, cooler, and several other things depending on the boat.
Pontoon boats are designed to provide a stable ride with a large open space onboard and a lot of seating.
Most pontoon boats hold a minimum of 11 people and still have plenty of room to bring almost anything you want with you. Pontoon boats are powered by an outboard motor with the most common outboard sizes being between 40 HP and 115 HP.
For most pontoon boats a motor in this range provides plenty of power because they tend to be light-weight since they are made mostly of aluminum.
There is a wide range of pontoon boat sizes, amenities, and power options available. On the smaller side, you can get a 14 ft boat with a 9 HP motor, more of a bare-bones approach.
Still a great option to get on the water in a very affordable way, and still very versatile. On the other end of the spectrum are 29 ft. pontoon boats with the ability to have twin 450 HP engines.
These are a much higher-end type of pontoon boat that is much more sporty and can go much faster than other pontoon boats. They still have all of the versatility in seating arrangements and how you can use the boat, but they do it in a faster, more high-quality package.
In between the smallest and largest pontoon boats are countless options when it comes to size, configuration, power, and price. Some pontoon boats come with fishing chairs and a large platform on the front of the boat outside the railing that can be used for a fishing platform.
Other boats come equipped with a wet bar area complete with barstools and wine glass holders. Still, other boats come with an upper deck to expand the amount of space there is on the boat, and a water slide to enhance the experience for everyone.
There is almost no end to the way a pontoon boat can be configured or what it can be equipped to do. Your imagination is the limiting factor in most cases.
What Can a Pontoon Boat Be Used For?
As previously mentioned, a pontoon boat can be used for almost anything you would want to do on the water Whether it is fishing, tubing, or going for a sunset cruise, the setup of a pontoon boat makes it ideal for a lot of scenarios.
For fishing, pontoon boats have large, open platforms all around that allow space for casting and moving about the boat. They also often either come standard with or with the option to add, live wells and fishing pole holders.
Depending on the size of the boat, it would be easy to have 4 – 7 people safely and easily fishing at a time. For cruising, pontoon boats have some of the most stable rides available on a boat and enough seating for everyone onboard to be comfortable.
Most of the time there is also a bimini top to keep the main area shaded during the hottest parts of the day. A lot of pontoon boats also have a connection point for a tow rope and can be used to pull a tube.
The size of the engine will affect the ability and ease a pontoon boat will pull a tube and the size of the tube and the number of people that can be pulled.
Attempting to Wakesurf or Wakeboard Behind a Pontoon Boat
When it comes to wakesurfing and wakeboarding there are a few things that seem to be very important – the ability to create a large wake, the ability to get a quick burst of power to pop a wakeboarder up, and a clear area behind the boat free from anything dangerous.
Depending on the size of the engine, a pontoon boat lacks either 2/3 or 3/3 of this list.
On a pontoon boat with a larger engine, it may be possible to get up on a wakeboard, however, a lot of pontoon boats have smaller engines and would struggle to have enough power to pull up a wakeboarder.
To pop a wakeboarder up, it is important to have a quick burst of power that allows the boat to get on plane quickly and pops the wakeboard to the top of the water quickly.
If the boat isn’t going fast enough it will just drag the rider without giving the board the lift it needs to get on top of the water.
Pontoon boats, even the largest of them, are relatively light and don’t produce a big wake. The weight is evenly distributed and pontoons keep the boat sitting high in the water.
To create a big wake, it is important to add a lot of weight to the rear of the boat, increasing the amount of water being displaced and forcing the boat to sit lower in the water. The more weight and water displacement there is the larger the wake will be.
On a pontoon boat, however, you can add more weight to the stern, but there is a limit to the amount of water that will be displaced because of the pontoons.
They are designed to sit high in the water no matter how much weight is added. Because of the small wake of a pontoon boat, it would be difficult to do anything behind a wakeboard other than simply ride around.
All pontoon boats have outboard motors placing the propeller directly behind the transom. When wakesurfing you are riding on a surfboard only a few feet from the back of the boat, making it crucial that there isn’t anything directly behind the boat that could cause any potential for danger.
The propeller on an outboard motor is exactly the kind of dangerous situation that would need to be avoided. If you fell off the surfboard and went forward, there is the potential of getting severely cut by the propeller.
Pontoon boats are a great option for getting on the water and offer a lot of versatility for boaters. They are the ideal choice for a lot of people who are looking for a cost-effective boat with a wide range of options.
With as many things pontoon boats do well, wakesurfing and wakeboarding are not top of the list. You may be able to get up on a wakeboard with a pontoon boat, but it may not be a very fun ride since the wake will be small.
It would be dangerous to try wakesurfing behind a pontoon boat because of the outboard motor placing the propeller directly behind the boat.
That being said, pontoons are a perfect, cost-effective boat for people just looking to get out on the water and have a great time.