Can A Pontoon Boat Sink? Everything You Need To Know About Pontoons Sinking

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 21, 2022
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Yes, a pontoon boat can sink, but it is very rare for this to happen. However, these boats can take a nosedive when overloaded or the weight is unevenly distributed. They can also get submerged if handled inappropriately in waves and choppy water.

Key Takeaways

  • You should keep in mind that if a pontoon boat sinks then it is either a result of a collision with another boat or due to human error
  • Overloading is one of the most common reasons pontoon boat sinks therefore you should only load the boat up to 80% of its weight capacity
  • You must ensure that the pontoon boat has an even weight distribution or it can sink
  • Pontoon boats are recreational vessels so if you sail the boat in the rough water then the boat has a greater risk of capsizing or flipping

This article takes you through why pontoons sink and how to avoid them. In the end, you should be able to stay safe on your pontoon boat without worrying about sinking.

Reasons Why Pontoon Boats Sink

Reasons Why Pontoon Boats Sink

1. Overloading 

Overloading is the main reason why pontoons sink; since these boats have a large and spacious deck, it is easy to overload them without noticing. When a pontoon is overloaded, and the tubes are low in the water, the boat still appears to be floating, and you will only see the boat is overloaded when you attempt to move.

The best way to avoid overloading your pontoon is to follow the weight capacity guidelines from the manufacturer. Ensure that the passengers plus luggage do not exceed the boat’s weight limits. It is advisable to load your boat only up to 80% of its weight capacity to be on the safe side.

You can tell if a boat is overloaded by looking at the pontoons against the waterline. Always ensure the waterline is below the middle of the pontoons. It is also essential to compare the waterline at the bow and stern of the pontoon to see which side is heavier. The boat should be lighter at the front to avoid a nosedive. Always ensure the passengers are not at the bow or assembled on one spot.

2. Poor Weight Distribution 

Another major reason pontoons sink is the uneven weight distribution, especially sailing on choppy waters. Make it lighter at the bow than at the stern to ensure your boat remains stable. Make sure your luggage and boat accessories are distributed evenly on the vessel. When you load too much weight at the front, the boat will plow through the water and start seeping in water from the front, causing it to take a nosedive.

3. Improper Handling Of The Pontoon Boat

Pontoon boats can accelerate quite fast and reach speeds of up to 25mph. However, you need to know how to control your boat’s speed, especially in choppy waters. If you drive the boat too fast in wakes and waves without proper caution, you risk capsizing the vessel. When you encounter wakes from an oncoming boat, ensure you slow down and take the wake at an angle, preferably 45 degrees. Try as much as possible to lift the bow at the initial wave and keep it that way on any subsequent waves.

4. Mounting The Wrong Motor Types

The type of motor you mount on your pontoon boat and how much horsepower it produces plays a significant role in ensuring the boat remains afloat. Ensure the motor you install has power that falls between the boat’s minimum and maximum power limits. This ensures the engine can lift the boat for planning and avoids the plowing effect.

5. Lack Of Draining The Pontoons 

Pontoons are the hollow tubes that your boat sits on to give it buoyancy and keep it afloat on the water. These tubes are prone to take in water because they are shallow; when water gets in the pontoon, your boat will sit lower on the water, making it unable to plane and causing a plowing effect.

It would be best to drain the pontoons regularly to maintain safety on your boat. These pontoons have drain plugs that you can unscrew to let water drain out then screw the bag. If your boat has chambered pontons, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation of draining these chambers to ensure you stay safe.

6. Sailing In Rough Waters

Pontoon boats are recreational vessels meant for sailing in calm and shallow waters. You can also use them on the ocean near the shore and under specified conditions. These boats are not designed for use on turbulent water and will struggle to navigate challenging waters. If the weather conditions are bad, your pontoon boat has a greater risk of capsizing or flipping.

How To Prevent Your Pontoon Boat From Sinking

Can you prevent your pontoon boat from sinking and guarantee your safety on water? Of course, you can. Below are some tips that will help you prevent your pontoon boat from sinking.

1. Close Your Drain Plug

Most pontoon boats have a drain plug for easy and efficient draining of any water getting in the tubes. Always ensure that these drain plugs are entirely closed and airtight before you launch your boat on the water. Water getting into your pontoon might sink the boat or add weight which causes a drag that makes the boat ride roughly instead of gliding. Always ensure the drain plug is closed and airtight to minimize the chances of sinking.

2. Always Inspect The Water And Weather Conditions You Will Sail In

Most times, pontoon boats capsize when the waters are rough or hit by objects such as rocks. You can avoid such accidents by ensuring you understand the water you are sailing in even before leaving the dock. Avoid waters with obstacles that might damage your boat and cause accidents. Avoid taking your pontoon boat out when the waters are choppy or in the ocean because they are not designed for such circumstances.

3. Check Your Pontoon Tubes Before You Start The Journey

Always inspect your pontoon tubes for any signs of damage, holes, or punctures. Ensure they don’t have a punch to let water into the boat. Drain any water that is in the pontoon chambers for you to have a safe and smooth ride on the water.

4. When Parking, Use A High-Quality Line To Reduce the Chances Of Snapping

A high-quality line reduces the chances of line snapping, which may cause damage to your boat. A good line also prevents the boat from flipping over or crapping against the dock. Ensure you park your pontoon boat carefully to make it last longer and avoid any damage that might cause it to sink.

5. Winterize Your Boat

Ensure that your pontoon tube chambers and log are empty before the cold season. If any water is left, it will freeze and cause internal damage to your boat. Damaged compartments are at higher risk of getting filled with water and sinking your boat.


Pontoon boats can sink, but it is rare for this to happen. These boats are designed with multiple chambers to ensure you stay afloat even when one chamber is punctured. Sometimes, a pontoon boat can take a nosedive and remain afloat on the backside. These boats can flip over and capsize, so you should be cautious when handling them. Always ensure you take necessary precautions before taking your boat to the water and even while sailing to ensure you stay safe and reduce the chances of sinking. You can keep your boat afloat and prevent sinking if you are careful.


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