Pontoon Boats: Get ‘Em While They’re Hot

There is a big bright spot in the marine industry at present, and I must admit I’m at a bit of a loss to explain it. Pontoon boats are hot.

How hot are they? Two companies previous uninterested in building pontoons have recently introduced entire model lines of their own. Cobalt has debuted the Marker One series of pontoon boats and Larson Boat Group has introduced its Escape line.

Larson's Escape pontoons are a bold foray into a big market.

Larson’s Escape pontoons are a bold foray into a big market.

These boats are equipped like you would never have expected a couple of years ago, and they come with big outboards, too. It’s admirable what these two companies have added to what was once a fairly primitive market segment.

Yet that’s what I don’t understand. As nice as the new pontoons have become, and as comfortable as they are, and even as fast (in a relative way) as they’ve become, they’re still…  well, pontoon boats. I guess I don’t ‘get’ them. I don’t think I ever have. Maybe it’s because I think a boat should move me in the way it moves itself. I want it to be rewarding to drive, but every pontoon I’ve driven is about as composed and wayward as a clumsy puppy on a long leash, especially if it lacked power.

Now, granted, I haven’t driven all pontoon boats out there, so there might be a few that throw the driver a bone. But I think most of the models on the market are probably closer to my experience. The only explanation I have for the segment’s newfound popularity is the graying of America. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, about 8,000 people a day turn 65 years old. So maybe these thousands of boaters are now content to putter around the lake, pulling young grandchildren on a tube.

Cobalt is firmly on the bandwagon with the Marker One pontoon.

Cobalt is firmly on the bandwagon with the Marker One pontoon.

However, all this means a couple of things for used-boat buyers. Right now, it means that whatever those aging baby boomers used to drive around every summer is coming onto the market. That means runabouts, ski boats, wakeboard boats, deck boats, and cruisers are all in play as boating boomers adopt a new lifestyle.

And a few years down the road — if you’re into pontoon boats — it will mean there will be more used pontoon boats on the market, and all of them will be equipped like no used pontoon boats have been before. That means deals.  And if that suits your lifestyle, a good deal on a used model makes it that much sweeter, whether it’s now or later.


Boat Trader has plenty of  Buying and Selling advice, but also check out the hundreds of articles in the Boating section, with tips on everything from seamanship to maintenance, how-to, where to find replacement parts, and much more.



  1. Jeff Junker says:

    Pontoons are great because they are comfortable first and foremost. They also can go just as fast as fiberglass bowriders or deckboats, pull skiers, wakeboarders and tubers and they ride the rough water much better than fiberglass boats do, particularly the tri-toons. They have much more space so everyone isn’t sitting on top of each other or having to get out of each other’s way just to move around in the boat. Since most have outboards compared to most bowriders having sterndrives there is also less maintenance (no winterization needed). You don’t have to wax them. They have great resale value. They’re less expensive up front. I could go on and on. The only thing pontoons have as a downside is “the look.” It’s funny to me that with all these positives, “the look” is your paradigm and reason you can’t get on the pontoon bandwagon.

    Do yourself a favor and drive a Premier PTX with a 300 Yamaha on a rough day. Take it in some tight turns. It may surprise you.

  2. Mark says:

    Bret Becker are you a psychologist? I really liked your sales techniques articles.


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