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9 Tips for Docking Your Pontoon Boat

How to Dock a Pontoon Boat

Docking your pontoon for the first time can be frustrating and even a little embarrassing if there are lots of people on the shoreline watching you. It is an experience we all go through and, no matter what happens, always remember that some stressful trial and error is well worth the countless excursions that you, your friends, and your family will enjoy. To make your pontoon docking experience less of a challenge, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1. Use Side Fenders

Bumping into the dock is going to happen when getting the hang of docking your pontoon, especially if you are dealing with crosswinds and strong currents. You can keep your pontoon protected from scratches and dings by hanging fenders off the sides of your pontoon.

2. Slow Down Your Approach

The slower you approach the dock, the better. Slower speeds will give you more time to make steering adjustments and better control over your pontoon. Take your time. Make your approach in neutral and shift into gear every so often to maintain your forward momentum.

3. Pay Attention to Wind, Current Direction, and Traffic Conditions

Pontoon docking can become increasingly difficult or almost impossible depending on the strength of the wind, the current direction, and the degree of traffic. Be keenly aware of your surrounding at all times and adjust accordingly. For example, while it’s best to approach the dock slowly, this may not always be possible or advisable when facing strong winds and waves. There may be some situations that will require you to approach the dock at a faster speed to maintain momentum and control of your pontoon.

4. Get to Know Your Pontoon

If you have yet to become familiar with your specific pontoon, intentionally put aside time to learn how it handles with varying boat speeds, wind speeds and water currents.

How much space does your pontoon need to complete a turn? If you’re not sure, practice making turns at different speeds, with varying sharpness, and in various currents.

Be sure also to test how far and with how much force your pontoon coasts when you shift into neutral. With this knowledge and understanding, you will be more comfortable when docking your pontoon.

5. Have A Crew Member Assist You From Land

If you are having trouble docking your pontoon or want to make sure your first attempt goes a little smoother, you can have an extra crew member hop on the pontoon dock and help guide the vessel into the dock with a line.

6. Learn to Use Reverse When Docking Your Pontoon

Once your pontoon has started to get close to the dock go ahead and throw the engine into reverse. This is the most effective way to stop the forward movement of your pontoon and avoid colliding with the front end of the dock.

7. Be Aware of Kick

Kick is the sideways movement on the stern after shifting into gear. When you shift into reverse while docking your pontoon, the kick can occur and mess up the docking process. Kick varies with RPM and the direction of the prop’s rotation. To reduce the effects of kick, reduce your speed and focus on the rudder, drive, and gear case position before shifting into reverse.

8. Know the Type of Dock You Are Dealing With

Depending on the location, you may be forced to use a pontoon dock with which you are unfamiliar. Thankfully, there are only two types of boat docks: fixed and floating.

As the name suggests, fixed docks are connected to the bottom of the body of water with pilings. On the other hand, floating docks are connected to land but not anchored to the bottom of the body of water. Pontoon floating dockscan be more friendly to the inexperienced, especially if you are all by yourself. You can often drive your pontoon right onto the dock and adequately secure it in place. Best of all, pontoon floating docks store your craft completely out of the water whether you have a twin-hull or tri-hulled pontoon boat.

9. Practice Makes Perfect

Never become discouraged as you learn how to dock a pontoon boat. Practice and experience will only continue to perfect your ability to dock your pontoon safely, consistently, and in a variety of circumstances.

To learn more about pontoon docking, call or contact JetDock. Our experts would be happy to answer your questions and find a pontoon floating dock solution that meets your unique needs.

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