So you’ve thought it through, convinced your wife & kids, and finally purchased a pontoon boat. Now what?
Well, if you think that all there is to a pontoon boat is buying it and riding the waves, you’re pretty much wrong. This kind of purchase may very well be a lifetime investment, as it’s nothing out of the ordinary to have such a boat for 20 or 25 years. What’s more, the true beauty of a pontoon boat is only revealed after you’ve made it more personal – that is, by adding a couple of accessories that can truly make your boat yours. There are many amazing things you can use for customization, and the best part is that many of them are actually pretty easy to install, even if you’re not the rocket scientist in your neighborhood.
You can find examples of beautiful and useful customization all over the Internet and probably all over your local harbors. In order to spare you the search and give you some nice ideas, we’ve compiled a list of stuff you may really enjoy having on your boat (or on you, for that matter, while you’re steering it). Here’s what you can go for:
1. Rail-mount grill
The question is not why you should buy one, but rather why don’t you have one already? There’s literally no better thing to get some good comfort food for a family dinner or a party with your friends than a nice grill.
There are a couple of options regarding the grill mounting. You can put it on a pedestal, secure it to a rail mount bracket, or simply put it on a table. However, the latter option is not very advisable, as placing an unstable fire-thingy on a moving platform without securing it in place can result in rather unwanted consequences. The first option is better, but the problem is that it usually takes up space on the deck, space which would normally be used for a table or yet another comfy armchair for your 15th guest.
As such, you’re left with one option: a rail mount grill. You can get a pair of adjustable mounting brackets by Arnall – they’re quite cheap, have great reviews, and can be used with virtually every type of portable grill, with little adjustments. Amazon also offers a pack of Arnall brackets + Cuisinart barbecue, for a fairly good price. At any rate, this type of mount can be fitted on any standard 1.25” railing and the work itself is a no-brainer and doesn’t require any specialized tools. All you have to do is grab a screwdriver, get your grill running, and don’t forget about the pickles when you make burgers.
2. Sound system
If you want to bring life to a party, enjoy some good time with your family, or simply have something cover the annoying screeches of the seagulls while you’re relaxing with a beer and a book, getting a good sound system is a must. There are many options available and any serious pontoon boat owner should think about getting one.
There are a couple of things which you need to take into account when getting a sound system. Just like any other speakers, those made for your boat must be as loud and clear as possible. This is because you want to cover, at times, the sound of the engine, without losing any of the sound quality. However, unlike a normal car or home system, a boat sound system must also be as weatherproof as possible. It’s recommended to get something that will resist rain, mist, wind, dust, and whatever else necessary.
If you’re not sure what to get, we recommend the Infinity Reference 612M. The quality/price proportion is amazing – they’re basically high-end speakers for an only average cost. They’re also pretty, which matters a lot when you want to make your boat look good.
3. Towing bar
Pontoon boats are renowned for their great versatility, and one of the things they can turn into is a ski boat. Yes, we know, the speed and sharpness when turning are not really awe-inspiring, but a pontoon boat can still give you a fun ride nonetheless. What’s more, a towing bar is by no means limited to dragging a pair of skis. You can also use one of those inflatable bananas, an air mattress, and a good many other floating objects that can offer your kids the ride of their life.
From our side, we recommend the Monster Swing Tow Bar. Yes, we know, it is a bit expensive. However, it’s a lot better than simply attaching an impromptu ski rope to the edge of the boat. The most important thing is the angle at which it keeps the rope above the engine, which can improve the traction and removes the risk of a tangled rope. It’s relatively easy to mount, you can do it in about two hours, and it will definitely be a great asset for your boat.
4. Diving board
ARE YOU CRAZY? If yes, this is totally for you. If not, you may still want to give it a shot. For the love of God, it’s a diving board! Forget about the risk of capsizing when jumping off the platform. You can now go full pirate and push the women and children off the board without flipping your boat.
Of course, you can’t just take a plank and nail it to the deck. That’d be a bit too pirate-ish for a pontoon boat. Our recommendation is the Lillipad Pontoon Diving Board. Made of heavy wall aluminum and stainless steel, it’s designed to support even your bodybuilder friends who tip the scales at 240lb, let alone your kids. What’s more, it also has a spring-based energy-canceling design which allows you to jump without affecting the boat’s balance.
5. Rail-mount fishing rod holders
Unlike the previous accessories, you can buy this by simply giving up a beer or two. It’s one of those little things that you don’t realize you need until you buy them and then you think “Oh my God, why didn’t I get this sooner?”.
Anyway, if you’re into fishing, you should try the pontoon boat rail fishing rod holder sold by Extreme Marine Products. The advantage of this particular model is that it holds the rod outside the boat, eliminating the risk of bumping into it. What’s more, it’s made entirely of metal and it’s sturdy enough to hold the “big catch” until you can take it into your own two hands.
6. Corner bumpers
You love your boat, don’t you? As with everything else you love, you must do your best to protect and preserve its beauty. A pontoon boat, much like any other boat, is prone to scratches and dents while docked, due to the wind, waves, and such. A set of corner bumpers could prove life-saving when approaching the docks or other boats.
While not the most aesthetically pleasant accessories, the Taylor Made models 31033 and 31034 (square and round corner) are exactly what you need to keep your boat’s fine lines intact. You can get them for a lot less than what you’d otherwise pay in maintenance fees.
7. Bungee dock line
As far as we’re concerned, we’re going with the AIRHEAD AHAB-2 bungee line. You can get the 6 feet version (stretches to 9 feet), which can handle a 4000-pound boat and has a tensile strength of 2500 pounds. It only takes a couple of seconds to install and it gives your boat enough freedom while still keeping it safely docked.
8. Under-deck lighting
A jump from the field of safety to the one of fancy, the under-deck lighting is something that’ll make your boat look like a Christmas tree or a firework show, whichever you prefer. It may seem like an accessory for kids (and make no mistake, the kids will love it), but a bit of light in the water will definitely brighten up your party.
If you need a recommendation, we advise you go for the RestorePontoon LED Pontoon Boat Light Kit. It’s easy to install and, as the name says, made of LED: safe, economic, and really bright.
9. Emergency light
Yet another shiny item, this one goes back from fun to safety. It’s quite possible that you return to the docks when it’s dark and you can’t see your own shoes, let alone where to tie your dock line. At any rate, a powerful flashlight is exactly what you need at this point.
The Streamlight 44902 Waypoint Spotlight is what you’re after. For a really decent price, you get output range of 20-210 lumen, long-range targeting beam, a shock-resistant bulb, and 50.000 hours of service. It’s powered by either 4 C alkaline batteries or your day-to-day 12V DC power outlet.
10. Fire pit
We know what you’re thinking. Why would I light a fire on my boat? Well, mainly because it’s absolutely awesome. Anybody can fish and throw a party on their pontoon boat, but gathering around the fire at night and telling horror stories… now that’s an entirely different!
If you’re into unique pieces, you can find everything you could ask for online. Of course, we understand that it’s yet another investment, but who knows? It may be that one thing your pontoon boat needed to become the ultimate fun vehicle.