Pontoons are floatation devices. They have buoyancy sufficient to support themselves, as well as a load. Pontoons are used on barges, airboats, seaplanes, rafts, and boats. If they support a house-like structure they are called a houseboat. If they are a fixed platform they are called a dock. There are different kinds of pontoon boats with different names. For example, a catamaran has two pontoons. A trimaran has three pontoons. Pontoons are created from different kinds of sealed containers, such as sealed barrels or pipes.
Pontoon boats are used for fishing and pleasure boating. They are not designed for power and speed, like a ski boat, but to drift or float in a more leisurely way in the water for sightseeing or fishing. This is not to say that there are no motors on pontoons, there can be, but it is to say that the motorized versions are generally for more gentle propulsion than aggressive speed racing. Due to its construction, if a pontoon is top-heavy and capsizes from a large force to its side, it is called the pontoon effect.
Not all pontoons are motorized. In some parts of the world they are used as ferries to cross rivers, and may be pulled across by cables. These cables may be run by human or motor power. Some pontoons are anchored. For example, in a lake where vacationers go to swim, there may be a pontoon anchored a little ways out where swimmers can climb onto the pontoon and dive off into the lake. Sometimes diving lessons are held off of pontoons.
The pontoon motorboat was invented in 1952 by a Minnesota farmer. He put a wooden platform on steel barrels that were welded together. He figured it would be sturdier than a regular boat. His idea took off and he was later nicknamed “Mr. Pontoon”.
Pontoon boats may be used on private or public lakes. A private pontoon boat provides a way to carry a number of friends and family out on the water for a relaxing afternoon. The same holds true for pontoons that can be rented at commercial boat rentals on public waters.
If purchasing a pontoon boat, it is possible to order a boat design with desired specifications. For the fisherman, this can include such details as a trolling motor, the number of seats, rod holders, a fish finder, an umbrella holder, a depth finder and more. For a family, a different size and style is possible.
If a person already has a private lake, or goes frequently to public waters, it is worth considering seeing if a pontoon boat will match the needs and purposes desired.