Pontoon boats and watersports: Can you ski behind a pontoon boat?
A leisurely ride on a pontoon boat can be great fun, especially with family and friends. You can relax, have fun in the water and even enjoy different water sports.
Yes, pontoon boats are not meant just for fishing or cruising; you can use them for skiing as well.
People are often surprised when you mention the words pontoon boats and skiing together. Can you ski behind a pontoon boat, is a question on everyone’s mind.
Well, the answer is yes, you can ski behind a pontoon boat. But, you cannot ski behind all pontoon boats. Your boat has to meet specific requirements for you to be able to ski behind it.
Let us read more about pontoon boats and whether you can ski behind a pontoon boat?
It all comes down to horsepower: What size engine you really need!
Many different factors determine whether your pontoon boat can pull a skier behind it. The most crucial factor is the horsepower of your pontoon’s engine.
40 Horsepower engine
You can forget about even trying to ski behind a 40hp fishing pontoon. These boats are not even capable of reaching the speeds that you need to ski.
70 Horsepower engine
A boat with a 70hp engine is capable of just the basics. You can not expect high speeds, and you can do just fundamental skiing and tube towing. To ski with this engine, you will also have to limit the number of passengers and equipment on board.
90 Horsepower engine
A pontoon with a 90hp engine is suitable for skiing and taking part in other watersports. You can reach good speeds with this engine, but you still will not reach high speeds.
You will also need to reduce the number of people on board, or you will notice a significant dip in speed.
115 Horsepower engine
A pontoon boat with a 115 hp engine is ideal for watersports like skiing. With this engine, you will have no problem hitting high speeds.
Your boat will not struggle no matter how many passengers you have on board.
It is important to note that these are just general guidelines and other factors can change this equation.
If your boat is overloaded, it will move slowly even if the engine is powerful. For example, a 90hp boat with ten people on board will move slower than a 90hp boat with two people.
Similarly, you are going to need a more powerful engine to ski behind a 22’ boat.
People also ask – can you ski behind a deck boat? The answer to this question also depends on the horsepower of your deck boat’s engine.
The higher horsepower ensures that your boat can go at the speed needed for skiing.
You will also like to learn about:
What safety precautions to take when hunting from a boat?
Boat won’t go over 3000 rpm under load – Solutions
Where is the best place to put PFDs while you are out on your boat?
How fast do you need to go skiing behind a pontoon boat?
In general, your boat needs to be moving at a speed of 20 miles per hour for someone to waterski or wakeboard behind it. You may not be able to do anything very interesting or challenging at this speed.
Here are the ideal speeds for different water activities on a pontoon boat –
- Waterskiing with two skis- 21 to 25 miles per hour
- It would be best if you went a little slower for kids.
- Tubing- 16 to 25 miles per hour
- Tubing does not require as much speed as waterskiing.
- Wakeboarding, slalom, and knee boarding – 16 to 24 miles per hour
- Many wakeboarders prefer slower speeds.
How is skiing behind a pontoon boat different from a ski boat?
You can ski behind a pontoon boat if your boat has enough horsepower. However, the experience of skiing behind a pontoon boat is quite different from skiing behind a ski boat.
Serious skiers prefer ski boats due to the following reasons –
- It takes longer for you to get up behind a pontoon boat than it does when you are behind a ski boat. A ski boat quickly reaches the speed required for skiing, while a pontoon boat is slower in doing so.
- Water skiers love to be thrown around to every side by the sharp turns of the boat. You cannot experience the same fun behind a pontoon boat.
- You cannot enjoy many thrilling jumps when skiing behind a pontoon boat due to the low turbulence that it leaves in its wake.
Overall, skiing behind a pontoon boat is not as thrilling and exciting as skiing behind a ski boat is.
But it is excellent for beginners and people who want to enjoy a fun time in the water.
So, don’t put your pontoon ski boat for sale yet and enjoy the good times.
Limitation of skiing behind a pontoon boat
Though most pontoon boats have enough horsepower to pull skiers, they are quite different from ski boats.
Most people find wakeboarding, skiing, tubing, and other water sports behind a pontoon boat quite fun; serious skiers or wakeboarders will not find skiing behind a pontoon boat as challenging.
The two limitations to using a pontoon boat for skiing are-
1. The wake has less shape
Serious skiers don’t like the shape of the wake behind a pontoon boat. A traditional v-hull boat has a humped shape, while a pontoon boat makes a wake from the prop and two small wakes for the pontoons.
This means you have less rough water to play with when you are on your skis. Without a wake that skiers enjoy, you cannot get any jumps while skiing.
2. Pontoon boats aren’t as maneuverable
Maneuverability is another significant limitation you will face when using your pontoon boat to pull skis.
Being slung from left to right while skiing as the boat makes sharp turns makes skiing exciting and fun. Unfortunately, pontoon boats are not designed to make sharp turns. Pontoon boats have a wide turning radius, which makes them sluggish when it comes to turning.
If you like to do water sports like skiing and tubing, you can choose a ski boat.
However, if you like water sports, fishing, cruising, and like to have lots of friends on board, then nothing can beat the versatility of a pontoon boat.
Can you do wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat?
Yes, you can do wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat, but you do need to maintain a certain speed.
The correct speed to tow a wakeboarder is between 15 to 25 miles per hour. The faster you go, the cleaner and firmer the wake will be, making it more enjoyable for the wakeboarder.
The ride would not be as enjoyable if your speed is less than 20 miles per hour. You can also try different tricks at a faster speed, but it is not possible to do surfing behind a pontoon boat.
If you are a first-time wakeboarder, stick to a speed of 15 miles per hour. After a few tries, you can move to 19 to 20 mph. Once you have gained some experience, you can wakeboard at 20 to 25 mph and try some tricks.
You can’t make sharp turns while wakeboarding behind a pontoon boat, but overall it is an enjoyable experience. So remember to carry your wakeboard on a pontoon boat for a great experience.
Can you do tubing behind a pontoon boat?
Yes, you can do tubing behind a pontoon boat, but there are a few factors to consider. These include –
- The horsepower of the boat.
- How much weight is on the boat
- The number of passengers on board
- The size of the boat
- The weight on the person in the inner tube
Most pontoon boats don’t have massive horsepower, and if there are other people on board, they will weigh it down and slow the boat.
There are a few other things to consider if you are wondering how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat. These include-
- Ensure that you have the proper equipment, including life jackets, tow rope, towable tube, and a boat in good condition.
- Designate a driver and a spotter.
- Attach the tow rope to the tube properly.
- Tie off the rope to the stern of the boat.
- Review all safety hand signals for communication between the spotter and the person riding the tube.
Safety tips to keep in mind while skiing behind a pontoon boat?
Many people wonder if it is safe to ski behind a pontoon boat. A pontoon boat is relatively safe; in fact, it is safer than a sporting boat due to the limited performance of a pontoon boat.
However, you must follow these safety tips to prevent injuries –
- Wear a United States Coast Guard-approved life vest. This is important for all skiers, especially so for those who aren’t good swimmers.
- Always have a spotter on board. A spotter’s job is to keep an eye on the skier while you are driving the boat.
- You should never go at a speed that is too fast for the skier to handle. You don’t want to faceplant the water at 30 mph. The ideal speed for skiing is between 21 to 25 mph. It would help if you slowed down even more for kids.
- Never ski in crowded areas or no-wake zones.
- When you have to retrieve someone from the water, always approach on the same side as you are, so that you can always see them.
- If someone falls off the tube, have them raise their hand in the air so that they are easier to spot.
- Learn the hand signals that have been developed to have a channel of communication between the skier and the captain. These are –
- Okay sign: everything is perfect the way it is.
- Thumbs up: faster please.
- Thumbs down: slow down.
- Open hand: stop the boat. Alternatively, some people also pull a finger across their throat to signal this.
Final thoughts on can you ski behind a pontoon boat
The short answer to the question – Can you ski behind a pontoon boat is ‘Yes, you can.’ The experience may not be as thrilling and exciting as it would be to ski behind a ski boat, but it can be great fun.
You can also enjoy wakeboarding and water tubing on your pontoon boat.
Make sure you take all precautions and stay safe while skiing. Ski responsibly and away from other boaters.
Follow the safety regulations, state and local boating laws, and enjoy waterskiing on your pontoon.