How Fast Can Pontoon Boats Go (You Would Be Surprised!)

How Fast Can Pontoon Boats Go

Is speed a major deciding factor for you when buying a boat? Are you wondering if pontoon boats can offer you the acceleration that you need? While pontoon boats are not designed for high velocity, newer versions may be able to meet your need for speed.

Pontoon boats can be very versatile, aside from using it for fishing and cruising, they also have the capability to pull tubers and skiers. This makes it a great buy for those who want to do more with their boats. If you are interested to learn how fast they can go, we’ll give you some ideas of which model to check out and how you can boost the speed of your pontoon boat.

What is a Pontoon Boat?

What is a Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon boat is a recreational boat that uses pontoons or tubes to stay afloat. They are initially designed for recreational activities such as fishing, cruising, and sometimes for partying. The pontoons allow designers to explore and play with different deck plans and designs like putting sun pads and lounge areas. A pontoon that is well-designed can improve the horsepower on the stern.

The tubes on pontoon boats are hollow, airtight, and water-resistant. It is almost impossible to sink these tubes. Most pontoon boats have more than two tubes so they can float easily on the water. Even with additional gadgets and improved interiors, boat owners are not worried about the added weight on their boats.

Older versions of pontoon boats are a bit slow, but thanks to the ever-changing advances in technology, a lot of pontoon boats now are much faster. However, there are also basic pontoon boats that are capable of making tight turns just like fiberglass boats.

Typical pontoon boat designs have either two hulls or three hulls. Boats with two hulls are called catamarans while those with three hulls are trimaran or tritoon boat. This type of boat is versatile, while it is commonly used on rivers and lakes, it can also travel on oceans that are nearby the shore. For those who are into watersports, pontoon can also be utilized in wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing.

When it comes to accessories, there are numerous add-ons you can use such as bimini tops, diving board, inflatable slide, and sun shades. Aside from being used for watersports activities, they can also be utilized as small vessel ferries. Pontoon ferries can be motorized, pulled by cables, or by another boat. You can also find pontoon boats that can only carry one or two people. This type of catamaran boat is small and inflatable and is designed for fishing and leisure. The most common materials used in this type of pontoon are PVC and nylon with aluminum that is abrasion-resistant. The frames are typically made of plastic and steel.

An average pontoon boat today is commonly frameless and is powered with oars, paddles, and with electric trolling motors with lead batteries that are deep cycle. Since pontoon boats are more suitable for rivers, lakes, ponds, and seas they are typically furnished with fishing rod holders, canopy, motor mount, space for battery storage, small anchor, and other fishing gear. Since they are lightweight, they are prone to capsizing when used on ocean or seas in windy and wavy conditions.

Pontoon Boat Speed Chart

Pontoon Boat Speed Chart

There are many reasons why a person would want a boat that is fast. It can be due to the thrill of speed, for some it may be because they want to pull kids on the tube, or for wakeboarding. However, you don’t really need to be on top speed when pulling a skier or a wakeboarder. Most skiers or wakeboarders like their boat speed at around 18-22 mph. Those who are into slalom-water skiing prefer 25-36 mph. When pulling kids, 16-20 mph would be enough.

If you are scouting to buy a new pontoon boat and would like to know how fast they can go, here are some examples you can check out.

Model & Size Horsepower Miles Per Hour

16ft Bass Buggy 40hp 15mph

18ft Bass Buggy 60hp 17mph

24ft Sweetwater 90hp 18mph

30ft Gigantic 115hp 21mph

18ft Party Barge 75hp 24mph

23ft Sweetwater 2386 115hp 25mph

21ft Tritoon 90hp 27mph

24ft Excursion 255RFX 115hp 27mph

26ft Crest III 90hp 28mph

20ft Quest 820 Lanai 115hp 34mph

21ft Bennington 21 SLX 135hp 38mph

23ft Manitou Encore SHP 373 250hp 45mph

25ft Berkshire Sport RFX9 300hp 50mph

29ft Premier Pontoons 290 600hp 52mph

26ft Manitou 25 X-plode XT SHP 300hp 62mph

31ft Playcraft X-t-Treme 3110 400hp 65mph

Classic pontoons that have 17-28 miles per hour are the ones that you commonly see cruising on the water. Montoon boats listed above with speeds over 50 miles per hour can be very pricey. These boats are high performance and price range can go higher than $170,000.

Pontoon Boats on Water Sports

Pontoon Boats on Water Sports

If you are buying pontoon boats to use on water sports, your top consideration would probably the pontoon boat speed. When it comes to water sports, you may be surprised to find out that you don’t really need to use top speed. To give you an idea, below is a list of water sports with the speed they need.

Water Sport Speed

Inflatable tubes (kids aged 4-6) 5-10 miles per hour

Inflatable tubes (kids aged 8-10) 15-20 miles per hour

Inflatable tubes (teenagers-adults) Maximum of 25 miles per hour

Kneeboarding 13-20 miles per hour

Slalom skiing 22 miles per hour

Wakeboarding 13-18 miles per hour

Water skiing (two skis) 15-26 miles per hour

Depending on what water sport you plan to use your pontoon boat, the list above will somehow help you decide which pontoon model to get to achieve the speed you need. A pontoon boat that runs at least 22mph would be sufficient for water sports use. That speed is the average for most pontoon boats in the market, however, there are also models that are high performance, but expect to pay more as they can be extremely expensive.

Factors that May Affect Your Pontoon Boat's Speed and Performance

Factors that May Affect Your Pontoon Boat's Speed and Performance

It is clear from the chart above that the size and horsepower can affect a pontoon boat speed and performance. But aside from that, let’s take a look at other factors.

Load of the Boat

As mentioned earlier, the weight of the boat can affect the boat’s performance and speed, which is why it is important to ask about the load capacity before purchasing. Now, the weight of the boat is another factor to consider, be reminded that the dry weight (the boat’s weight with an empty fuel tank and without other accessories) is different from the actual total weight of the boat. So, check with the manufacturer or company first if the weight mentioned in the specifications is dry weight or not.

It is not only the passenger’s weight that you need to consider as an additional load, but also other stuff like coolers, grills, fishing gear, and bimini top if there’s one. The bimini top and changing room can drag the boat down, causing it to slow down. While their effect on the speed is very subtle, a speed enthusiast will be able to tell the difference.

Stock Propellers

The propellers that come with your pontoon may be one reason why you are not able to achieve top speed. However, you can always

Pontoon Stock Propellers Increase Performance

Another major cause of slowing down a pontoon boat is the stock propellers. However, you replace the stock propellers to get more speed and reach a higher RPM.

Algae and Dirt Deposits

If you always leave your pontoon in the water, dirt and algae can build up. When this happens your boat will slow down. To avoid this from happening best to avoid leaving your pontoon on the water for long periods or regularly wash it down.

Corrosion

Over time your boat may experience corrosion particularly if you often use it in saltwater. This can affect the boat’s electrical wiring and engine and will affect the boat’s power and speed.

How to Make Your Pontoon Boat Go Faster

If you are still not satisfied with your pontoon’s speed, there are ways you can improve and make it faster.

Install Lifting Stakes

If you have an existing pontoon or are on the lookout for pontoons, you may want to go for a boat with lifting stakes already. If there’s none, you can always install lifting strakes. So, how can this help your boat to speed up? Lifting strakes can help lift pontoons on the water, making them glide easily which will then help with the boat’s speed. Another advantage of installing lifting stakes is it will improve fuel efficiency.

Trim the Engine

Trimming your engine will tilt your engine a little higher with the help of the hydraulic motor. Raising the front of your boat off the water surface will improve your speed and performance. You’ll know you have to trim your engine when you get lots of water splashing underneath the boat and in between tubes.

Clean Your Tubes

Clean tubes regularly so it will reduce drags and help your boat achieve faster speed. Debris and algae and slow down a boat.

Lighten Your Boat’s Load

If you are using your pontoon boat to pull water skiers, it would be best to lighten the load to make it easier and faster to pull the skier. Most pontoon boat captains will suggest that other passengers get off the boat first when pulling wakeboarders or water skiers. Most of the time only the captain and the spotter are left to stay on the boat during water sports activities.

Transform Your Pontoon to a Tri Toon Boat

Converting your pontoon to a tri toon is very easy, you just need to add a center tube to your pontoon. Tritoon is a boat with three tubes beneath the boat. Adding a third tube will significantly increase pontoon boat speed.

Don’t Run on Full Tank

Again weight can make boats go faster or slower. A medium load can make a big difference over a boat in its maximum capacity. Your tank fuel can put a lot of weight on your pontoon if it is full. Try filling your tank with at least 50% and you’ll see an improvement as it will reduce drag on the water.

While it is more exciting to ride on high-speed pontoons, always remember to drive within legal limits. With proper care and upgrades, a pontoon boat can go as fast as some speed boats or a fiberglass boat. How fast can a pontoon boat go will all depend on you.

Questions to Ask When Scouting for Pontoon Boats

Buying a pontoon boat is a big decision to make, they are not cheap and it is only wise to think very hard before deciding which model and brand to go for. When purchasing one, asking questions is very important, as you need to know every aspect, feature, and capacity of your new boat. Here are some of the questions you should be asking the salesperson.

What is the pontoon boat speed?

Boat speed is important for most boat owners and it is one question that you should never forget to ask. When it comes to boat speed, you should also have some follow-up questions such as the speed when the boat is fully loaded, the minimum and maximum speed capacity. Remember, that weight can significantly affect the pontoon boat’s speed.

What is the size and weight of the boat?

It is also important to ask for the size and weight, especially the maximum load capacity it can hold. You don’t want to overload your boat. Aside from it can affect the boat’s performance, overloading may cause your boat to be unbalanced and to capsize.

What is the boat’s engine? Is it inboard or outboard?

Depending on how you want to use your boat, deciding if you need an inboard or outboard engine is also vital. The main difference between the two is that an inboard motor is placed inside the boat’s hull, the outboard motor is connected to the boat’s transom. It also has housing and a self-contained engine. The outboard motor uses regular or ordinary gas, while the inboard engine uses diesel fuel for more power. You might also want to ask about the boat’s engine size and if it can be replaced with a bigger engine.

What is the boat’s horsepower?

Knowing the horsepower of your boat will also help determine how fast the pontoon boats go. If you are new to boating and have no idea how much horsepower your boat needs, you have to find out the total weight of your pontoon boat. As a general rule, 1 horsepower for every 25-40lbs. For example, if your boat’s total weight is 900lbs your horsepower should be at least a 23 to 36hp engine.

What are the available upgrades I can do with the boat?

Of course, over time you would want to upgrade your boat in the future. It is best to ask now what you can add or upgrade to your boat and how it will affect the boat’s motor or engine and speed. While most pontoon boats already come with added accessories for fishing and other recreational accessories you may need.

Ask also if you can upgrade the engine or if it can be replaced in case it breaks or you experience engine failures.

Those are some of the important questions to ask to help you decide which model or pontoon boat to purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

How fast will a 300 hp pontoon boat go?

It can go as fast as 50 miles per hour or more

How fast will a 150 hp pontoon boat go?

Around 15 to 24 mph

How fast will a 24-foot pontoon boat go?

It will depend on the horsepower but a 24ft pontoon boat with a 155hp can go at least 25 miles per hour

How fast does a 20 HP pontoon boat go?

Around 16 to 25 miles per hour

Factors that May Affect Your Pontoon Boat's Speed and Performance

Factors that May Affect Your Pontoon Boat's Speed and Performance

It is clear from the chart above that the size and horsepower can affect a pontoon boat speed and performance. But aside from that, let’s take a look at other factors.

Load of the Boat

As mentioned earlier, the weight of the boat can affect the boat’s performance and speed, which is why it is important to ask about the load capacity before purchasing. Now, the weight of the boat is another factor to consider, be reminded that the dry weight (the boat’s weight with an empty fuel tank and without other accessories) is different from the actual total weight of the boat. So, check with the manufacturer or company first if the weight mentioned in the specifications is dry weight or not.

It is not only the passenger’s weight that you need to consider as an additional load, but also other stuff like coolers, grills, fishing gear, and bimini top if there’s one. The bimini top and changing room can drag the boat down, causing it to slow down. While their effect on the speed is very subtle, a speed enthusiast will be able to tell the difference.

Stock Propellers

The propellers that come with your pontoon may be one reason why you are not able to achieve top speed. However, you can always

Pontoon Stock Propellers Increase Performance

Another major cause of slowing down a pontoon boat is the stock propellers. However, you replace the stock propellers to get more speed and reach a higher RPM.

Algae and Dirt Deposits

If you always leave your pontoon in the water, dirt and algae can build up. When this happens your boat will slow down. To avoid this from happening best to avoid leaving your pontoon on the water for long periods or regularly wash it down.

Corrosion

Over time your boat may experience corrosion particularly if you often use it in saltwater. This can affect the boat’s electrical wiring and engine and will affect the boat’s power and speed.

How to Make Your Pontoon Boat Go Faster

If you are still not satisfied with your pontoon’s speed, there are ways you can improve and make it faster.

Install Lifting Stakes

If you have an existing pontoon or are on the lookout for pontoons, you may want to go for a boat with lifting stakes already. If there’s none, you can always install lifting strakes. So, how can this help your boat to speed up? Lifting strakes can help lift pontoons on the water, making them glide easily which will then help with the boat’s speed. Another advantage of installing lifting stakes is it will improve fuel efficiency.

Trim the Engine

Trimming your engine will tilt your engine a little higher with the help of the hydraulic motor. Raising the front of your boat off the water surface will improve your speed and performance. You’ll know you have to trim your engine when you get lots of water splashing underneath the boat and in between tubes.

Clean Your Tubes

Clean tubes regularly so it will reduce drags and help your boat achieve faster speed. Debris and algae and slow down a boat.

Lighten Your Boat’s Load

If you are using your pontoon boat to pull water skiers, it would be best to lighten the load to make it easier and faster to pull the skier. Most pontoon boat captains will suggest that other passengers get off the boat first when pulling wakeboarders or water skiers. Most of the time only the captain and the spotter are left to stay on the boat during water sports activities.

Transform Your Pontoon to a Tri Toon Boat

Converting your pontoon to a tri toon is very easy, you just need to add a center tube to your pontoon. Tritoon is a boat with three tubes beneath the boat. Adding a third tube will significantly increase pontoon boat speed.

Don’t Run on Full Tank

Again weight can make boats go faster or slower. A medium load can make a big difference over a boat in its maximum capacity. Your tank fuel can put a lot of weight on your pontoon if it is full. Try filling your tank with at least 50% and you’ll see an improvement as it will reduce drag on the water.

While it is more exciting to ride on high-speed pontoons, always remember to drive within legal limits. With proper care and upgrades, a pontoon boat can go as fast as some speed boats or a fiberglass boat. How fast can a pontoon boat go will all depend on you.

Questions to Ask When Scouting for Pontoon Boats

Questions to Ask When Scouting for Pontoon Boats

Buying a pontoon boat is a big decision to make, they are not cheap and it is only wise to think very hard before deciding which model and brand to go for. When purchasing one, asking questions is very important, as you need to know every aspect, feature, and capacity of your new boat. Here are some of the questions you should be asking the salesperson.

What is the pontoon boat speed?

Boat speed is important for most boat owners and it is one question that you should never forget to ask. When it comes to boat speed, you should also have some follow-up questions such as the speed when the boat is fully loaded, the minimum and maximum speed capacity. Remember, that weight can significantly affect the pontoon boat’s speed.

What is the size and weight of the boat?

It is also important to ask for the size and weight, especially the maximum load capacity it can hold. You don’t want to overload your boat. Aside from it can affect the boat’s performance, overloading may cause your boat to be unbalanced and to capsize.

What is the boat’s engine? Is it inboard or outboard?

Depending on how you want to use your boat, deciding if you need an inboard or outboard engine is also vital. The main difference between the two is that an inboard motor is placed inside the boat’s hull, the outboard motor is connected to the boat’s transom. It also has housing and a self-contained engine. The outboard motor uses regular or ordinary gas, while the inboard engine uses diesel fuel for more power. You might also want to ask about the boat’s engine size and if it can be replaced with a bigger engine.

What is the boat’s horsepower?

Knowing the horsepower of your boat will also help determine how fast the pontoon boats go. If you are new to boating and have no idea how much horsepower your boat needs, you have to find out the total weight of your pontoon boat. As a general rule, 1 horsepower for every 25-40lbs. For example, if your boat’s total weight is 900lbs your horsepower should be at least a 23 to 36hp engine.

What are the available upgrades I can do with the boat?

Of course, over time you would want to upgrade your boat in the future. It is best to ask now what you can add or upgrade to your boat and how it will affect the boat’s motor or engine and speed. While most pontoon boats already come with added accessories for fishing and other recreational accessories you may need.

Ask also if you can upgrade the engine or if it can be replaced in case it breaks or you experience engine failures.

Those are some of the important questions to ask to help you decide which model or pontoon boat to purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

How fast will a 300 hp pontoon boat go?

It can go as fast as 50 miles per hour or more

How fast will a 150 hp pontoon boat go?

Around 15 to 24 mph

How fast will a 24-foot pontoon boat go?

It will depend on the horsepower but a 24ft pontoon boat with a 155hp can go at least 25 miles per hour

How fast does a 20 HP pontoon boat go?

Around 16 to 25 miles per hour

Conclusion

Have you decided which pontoon boat has the right speed for you? Or are you ready to make your existing boat reach higher speeds? A pontoon running at 25 miles per hour is a good average speed already. However, if you still prefer a faster pontoon, there are several ways you can do it, such as limiting your boat to a medium load, adding a third tube, and going for a bigger motor. You will be surprised how fast can a pontoon go with all the upgrades you’ve done. However, keep in mind that an average pontoon is already good enough. It can give you a smooth ride and can also reach speeds you’ve never thought possible. Sometimes it is not all about high speeds, cruising in pontoons on average speed can also be as fun.

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