Pontoon boats are a vessel to fun times in the summer! They can do everything from tow water sport enthusiasts to cruise around the bay. They are a safe boating option, but accidents do happen. When those occur, you’ll want to be prepared to deal accordingly. We gathered up our top tips for safe driving of pontoon boats below. For all your pontoon needs, visit Norfolk Marine. You’ll find us in Norfolk, Virginia.

Proper Safety Equipment

Hopefully, no safety emergencies ever arise on your pontoon. But you will want to be prepared in the event they do. The right safety gear empowers you to respond quickly and efficiently to many different scenarios. If a passenger goes overboard, a life ring brings them back to the boat and a swimmer-in-the-water flag alerts boats to steer clear. If your engine gives out, stay in place until help arrives with an anchor and line.

You’ll want to create an emergency preparedness kit that has a:

Finally, every passenger needs to be wearing a life jacket. By every passenger, we mean every passenger. Sure, you are a strong swimmer. But wearing a life vest accomplishes two things. First, it lets you set a good example for any kids joining you. Second, it keeps you afloat if you otherwise cannot swim (such as a scenario where you get knocked unconscious or injured).

Weather Check

While pontoon boats are built to be sturdy, they aren’t superboats. Some weather conditions are too severe to safely go out on the water. Always look up the weather before you head out on an excursion. Even if there is a small chance of a storm, stay inside. Storms can erupt out of nowhere and it’s not worth the risk of getting stuck in one.

The weather does more than dictate whether you can go out on the water. It also affects what you wear. If it’s going to be hot out, wear lightweight clothing. You’ll also want to pack extra water and sunscreen. If it’s going to be cold out, wear multiple layers and bring blankets. If there’s a chance of a light rain, wear waterproof layers. A little planning helps prevent the weather from hurting the trip.

Check Government Regulations

There are laws in place about operating boats, both federal and state. Some of the regulations have to do with driving pontoon boats, like who gets the right-of-way. Others relate to how you use your boat, such as towing restrictions. Some correspond to driving requirements, like what type of boating license or insurance you need. Before you take your pontoon out on the water, make sure you’ll be compliant with the laws.

Defensive Driving

Defensive driving means you do what you can to reduce safety risks. It’s similar to the tactics you apply when driving a car. The driver must stay alert and sober. Driving drowsy or driving impaired is a huge safety risk.

As you drive your pontoon, leave plenty of room between you and other boats. A large number of boating accidents occur because boats collided. While you cruise around the water, scope out any potential hazards (like large sticks) that could hurt your engine.

Pontoon boats can hit top speeds, but be cautious about how fast you drive. Always be sure to slow down when you turn, near other boats, and enter wake-free zones. Be mindful of when the sun starts to set and head on home before it gets too dark. You’ll want to be able to dock when you still have plenty of sunshine to guide you.

For everything you need related to pontoon boats, visit Norfolk Marine. Check out our wide range of new and used pontoon boats. Our parts replacement and service department can get your pontoon running like new. We proudly serve those in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk, Virginia.