Pontoon boats are not designed for high speed – they’re made for relaxing cruising down the lake or river, a slow and satisfying fishing session or a nice towing tube ride. For the last one, you might need quite a bit of acceleration going on. It might be hard to find some boosting devices that won’t cost you a whole fortune and won’t require you change your engine (which is the equivalent of spending a fortune). Here is a couple of simple, yet effective way so add some extra horsepower to that lovely pontoon boat of yours. They’ll be divided according to price ranges and difficulty level, so you know what to expect from each method.
1. Trimming your engine
Trimming the engine isn’t as scary as it sounds – it’s actually a pretty much foolproof method of getting an extra speed boost to your pontoon boat. All you have to do is to tilt the engine to a higher angle using the hydraulic motor on the boat. This will lift the front of the boat a tiny bit above the water level, increasing its speed and minimizing the water splashing. The best of both worlds!
2. Sailing downwind
Difficulty: well, if you already have a boat, it shouldn’t be something you don’t know how to do.
That one’s pretty self-explanatory. Sail downwind for a slight speed increase of your boat – expect to feel it only if the wind is strong enough. Nevertheless, it should give you a small, 1 to 3 mph boost, which will make your experience smoother and more enjoyable.
3. Distribute weight
Difficulty: Elementary physics knowledge required. Just joking, if you know that heavier things tend to be harder to move from point A to point B, you’re good to go.
There are a couple of moments you should consider at this point. Cruising with more than 5 people will slow down your average-sized pontoon boat, so if you can avoid overcrowding it, this will give you a pretty strong speed boost. We suggest you stick to groups of 3-4 adults for a decent speed. Besides that, you might want to make sure you gather the company on the back of the boat, as weight in the front can give you that ugly and unpleasant plowing sensation (where the front is constantly going up and down into the water).
Also related to weight is the amount of gas in your tank, and you might want to not fill it up to the brim. A gallon of gas weighs about 8 pounds and your average-sized pontoon has a 25-gallon tank. Which basically means that having it filled to the brim will feel like having an extra person on board. So, as soon as you make sure you have enough to ski back and forth to where you want, stick to the necessary gas amount only and bring an extra friend instead. It’s more fun having company than too much gas (Russia wouldn’t agree on that one).
Besides that, if you have a towable tube attached to the boat, it’s only natural that your pontoon will accelerate slower. The maximum speed will be transferred to the towable device, so the riders can enjoy that adrenaline rush and high speed. That won’t be the case with you driving the boat, as you’ll have to settle to a rather slow and constant speed with the foreign body on your tail. So, if you want a pleasant and fast skiing session, leave the towable at home – you won’t be able to develop a very high speed because it might be dangerous for the riders as well.
4. Use a Booster Ball
On to pricier alternatives, the booster ball is the perfect alternative if you feel like you need some extra performance for your skis and tubers. This football-shaped device is to go in the center of your tow rope, and its main function is to lift it out the water. It will not give you a real improvement of the speed – just an increased feeling of roaming free. A simple and rather cheap opportunity, these balls can be purchased anywhere, both online and offline.
5. Lifting strakes
Lifting strakes are small metal plates that have to go on the bottom and to the side of the boat, that are meant to give it extra lift. Some adventurous and crafty people can install them themselves, but they’ll most likely come as an accessory to a new-bought pontoon boat. If you’re still thinking about buying one and consider speed as being your main concern, you might want to request to have these installed by a professional or buy one which has them already installed.
Again, this is one upgrade that boats should come with. Installing them is technically possible, but again, it’s better to get them done by a professional, which will charge around $500 for it. Basically, what these are is a number of metal plates placed on the bottom of your boat, which take on the force of the splashing water onto them instead of the metal studs supporting the main deck. While this may not exactly offer a huge difference in speed, it will surely make your ride smoother and your passengers will love it.
7. Raised ski harness
Yet again, this is something you might want to request a professional to do. A raised ski harness works somewhat similarly to the booster ball, but with less consumption.
9. Having a tritoon
We saved the best for last – tritoons are becoming a huge trend in the world of boating, as the offer your boat more agility, speed, and generally provide a much better experience for you and your passengers. You have two options with this one – either having a third log installed by a professional or get a new boat with this third log already in place. As said, the price for having it installed on an already existing pontoon starts at $4000, but can be significantly more, all depending on your boat model, its initial cost and the cost of the log itself. If you’re only searching for a pontoon to buy and you consider speed to be a primary concern, buying a tritoon will be much more satisfying in the long run. And it will also spare you going through all the steps mentioned above, as your boat will be the equivalent of a racing car on water.
These would be some of our recommendations when it comes to increasing the speed on your pontoon boat. However, do not limit yourself to these and feel free to do more research and even come up with creative solutions – we’re waiting to hear your suggestions!