CAN I USE A PONTOON BOAT IN SALT WATER
SALT WATER PONTOON BOATS
While pontoon boats are primarily designed and used for fresh water, in certain circumstances and with some precautions they can be excellent for certain salt water uses.
The 2 biggest concerns with using Pontoon boats in salt water are safety and corrosion.
For salt water uses in bays, rivers and estuaries the design of a typical pontoon boat will work just fine, the problems arise when a pontoon boat is introduced to large waves or rolling seas. In these cases the front design of a typical pontoon boat does not break through and deflect the water as does the flared bow design of a more conventional salt water boat. While the salt water pontoon boat would most likely have sufficient buoyancy and stability to ride through the waves without capsizing or sinking, it would most certainly take significant amounts of water over the deck and have the potential for inadequate ability to handle or steer correctly in bigger seas.
In my opinion, the addition of a 3rd pontoon (tri-toon) and bigger engine would certainly improve the boats rough water handling but still not make a pontoon boat the best boat for rough water use.
For occasional salt water use where the boat is trailer and then removed at the end of the day nothing more may be required than to thoroughly rinse the boat with fresh water upon removal.
Pontoon boats that are left in salt water for extended periods of time require special preparation and maintenance.
Most Pontoon boat manufactures do not prohibit saltwater use but remind their customers that corrosion due to pontoon boat use in salt water is not something covered by their warranties. Preparing a pontoon boat for salt water use requires similar techniques to those used on any salt water boat. While similar, there are some things that require additional attention. The correct sacrificial anodes must be added to the pontoons and or motor well and also to the engine itself. A proper coating should be placed on the portion of the pontoons and motor well that will be in constant contact with salt water.
A bottom coating product designed specifically for aluminum must be used and applied according to the manufacturers instructions. Typical application will include preparation of the metal by cleaning, roughing up the surface and removing any oils or residue from the aluminum.
Typically the surface may be etched and several layers of a barrier coat applied before application of the final bottom paint. Touch-up and partial/full recoating of the bottom coat may be required on a yearly basis while the metal prep you performed and the barrier coat should last many seasons.
In addition to the above a thorough inspection of the underside of the deck should be performed in order to determine if any additional corrosion protection should be applied to exposed structure, fasteners, wiring or components.
While the installation of a proper bottom coating can be done by you, I would recommend paying a professional as it can be a very time intensive, messy job.