Here’s Exactly How Much it Costs to Maintain a Pontoon Boat – BoatFanatics

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So, you want to buy a pontoon boat. You picture yourself casually floating down the river with your family and friends. But you have heard BOAT stands for “Bill On Another Thousand”. Can you really afford to buy and maintain a pontoon boat?

On average, it costs about $4,000 to $6,000 annually to keep and maintain a pontoon boat.

This includes set costs like:

  • Storage
  • Licensing
  • Insurance

As well as variable costs such as:

  • Gas
  • Repairs

Owning a boat seems like it could be a costly venture. However, the benefits of owning your own pontoon boat can be worth the costs. Let’s take a look at what really goes into the cost of owning a boat and if a pontoon boat is really that expensive to maintain.

What Goes Into the Cost of a Maintaining a Pontoon Boat

When you are thinking about buying a pontoon boat, you need to consider the whole cost of your investment. Maintenance is only part of the total cost of boat ownership. It is however an important component of that cost and something you need to consider when you are in the market for a pontoon boat.

Boats are considered a luxury and they can be quite expensive to buy and maintain. It is true that the up-front cost when you actually buy the boat can have a hefty price tag. However, boats keep their resale value very well. Often you can recover up to 80% or more of the initial cost of the purchase when you eventually sell it a few years down the road.

Of course, how much you get on your resale will depend on the quality of the pontoon boat you are selling. If you have kept up on repairs and regular maintenance, your pontoon boat will be in better condition and much more appealing to buyers, even if it has some age on it

On top of physical maintenance, there are also other costs that go into maintaining a pontoon boat. These can be recurring annual or monthly costs such as fees and taxes. You also will have one-time costs that are essential. Lastly, there are the consumables like fuel and items that make the trips out on your pontoon boat even more fun.

What are the Recurring Costs for Maintaining a Pontoon Boat

When you own a pontoon boat, there are certain costs that you need to account for on a regular basis. The costs given here are just estimated averages.

The actual amount of these recurring may vary depending on:

  • The location of your pontoon boat
  • The size of your pontoon boat
  • The age of your pontoon boat

Recurring Costs For Maintaining a Pontoon Boat

Item Cost
Slip Rental between $1,500 to $2,900 per year
Mooring Fees $80 – $250 per year but could be much more
Winter Storage Between $300- $1000 for a professional
Title, Taxes, and Registration Fees Usually 6-10% of the value of your boat
Licensing between $50 – $80 annually
Insurance $150-$360 per year

Slip Rental Versus Mooring Fees For Your Pontoon Boat

A slip is a place on a dock where a boat has an assigned spot. You can walk out onto a slip. A slip can also have available electricity.

A mooring is a spot out in the water like a buoy or an anchor. When you are “moored” you need a dinghy or other type of craft to get to land. If you decide to go with a mooring, you should include the cost of that dinghy into your budget.

The actual cost of either mooring or a slip is based on the length of your pontoon. Most pontoons are around 22 feet.

In the U.S. it is more common to rent a slip to house your boat, while mooring is more popular in the Mediterranean and other parts of the world. What you choose is dependent on availability in your area and which option you prefer.

Winter Storage for Your Pontoon Boat

Once the boating season is over, you want to make sure your pontoon boat will be ready and in good shape for the next year. While you can do this task yourself, getting a professional will save you some time and effort and ensure nothing is missed. If you’re interested in how to store your boat for the winter, we have a guide here.

The idea behind winterizing your boat is to get any moisture out that could cause mildew or rust and damage your pontoon boat. While you can do this with a thorough cleansing routine, you need some way to keep your boat protected. There are a few ways to do this.

  • If you keep your boat indoors, you don’t need to worry about moisture. In this case, a simple tarp will do.
  • If you are storing your pontoon boat outside, you want to make sure it stays dry. A fitted tarp or cover can work.
  • For even more protection from the elements, you can choose to shrink-wrap your pontoon.

Shrink-wrap involves using a frame to drape plastic wrap over your boat and then heating until it shrinks to fit snuggly. A shrink-wrapped boat can withstand harsh winters even in more northern climes.

Title, Taxes, and Registration Fees for a Pontoon Boat

These costs vary according to your location. In general, you can estimate these costs to run about 6-10% of the value or cost of your pontoon boat.


Each state has different requirements for a boating license. In most cases, you can obtain your license online. Check with your local authority for the regulations in your state.


You want to make sure you have the right amount of insurance for your pontoon boat. Check around with the various companies to make sure you get the best deal. No matter which insurance company you choose to cover your pontoon boat, there are some common factors they will consider to determine your premium.

The bigger, newer, and fancier, your pontoon boat is, the more expensive it will be to insure. Older boats have less value and may be more difficult to cover.

Also, insurance companies will want to know about the engine on your pontoon boat. While some pontoon boats do have stern-drive engines, they are rare and for specific purposes. Most pontoon boats have outboard motors.

Pontoon boats do not have a reputation for speed. They are generally designed to float down rivers and maneuver around lakes. However, due to the growing popularity of pontoon boats, the size and the power of the engines for pontoon boats have been increasing.

One last thing to consider about insurance costs for your pontoon boat is the type of hull. Traditionally a pontoon travels across the water on two aluminum tubes. Increasingly you are starting to see tritoons. These newer types of hull allow for more power and speed.

These are the things to consider when pricing insurance for your pontoon boat.

  • Model and year of the pontoon boat
  • Length of the pontoon boat
  • Value of the pontoon boat
  • Size of the pontoon boat engine
  • Which type of pontoon boat motor: inboard or outboard
  • Type of pontoon boat hull

What are the Start-Up Costs for Maintaining a Pontoon Boat

Now that you understand the expected costs to maintain a pontoon boat, let’s take a look at what it will cost you to get started. These start-up costs are the one-time costs of the physical equipment needed for pontoon boat ownership.

Start-Up Costs For a Pontoon Boat

Item Cost
Pontoon Boat Purchase between $15,000 and $60,000
Trailer between $2,000 and $5,000
Boat Lift $6,000 to $10,000 installed
Safety Equipment $1,000 – $1,500

How Much Should I Pay For My Pontoon Boat?

You found your dream pontoon boat and now you are ready to write the check. But how do you know if you are getting a deal or sinking in debt?

The average cost of a pontoon boat is very broad. Depending on the size and the features you want, you can expect to pay anywhere from around $15,000 for a small boat up to $60,000 for a bigger boat with all the bells and whistles. An average-sized pontoon boat is about 22 feet and will run you about $32,000- $35,000.

You can save money by buying used. There are plenty of reputable dealers that can sell you a good quality pre-owned boat.

What is a Trailer Versus a Boat Lift? Which do I need for my Pontoon Boat?

Part of the expense of maintaining your pontoon boat is making sure it is protected. You can do this with proper storage once your boat is out of the water. The first step is getting it out of the water

A boat trailer allows you to tow your boat from place to place. To load the boat on to the trailer, you must maneuver the trailer to the boat and then slide the boat on to it. Once you have loaded your pontoon boat on to the trailer, you can drive it to your house for storage. A trailer takes some work to get the boat onto it and then launch it again when you are ready to go.

A boat lift is a fairly new product. A lift remains at the dock and “lifts” your boat out of the water so that the hull is protected from the water. Since it is powered, a lift can easily and quickly raise and lower your boat. To get your pontoon boat on to the lift, you just need to float your boat over the boat lift and flip the switch.

There are even some trailers that incorporate a lift onto the trailer itself. Which option you choose is up to what works best for you and your budget.

What Safety Equipment Do I Need for My Pontoon Boat?

Safety is an important part of owning any boat. This is even more so when you have your friends and family on your pontoon boat.

The U.S. Coast Guard requires all boats to have these:

  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)-Make sure you have enough for all your guests, including children.
  • Visual Distress Signals
  • Sound Producing Devices
  • Fire Extinguishers

Other good safety supplies to keep on hand are:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Anchor to keep you from drifting until help arrives
  • Bucket or something to bail water
  • Oars or paddles in case the engine dies
  • Radio and cell phones to call for help
  • Powerful flashlight
  • Knife and other tools
  • Skier or diver down flags

What are the Variable Costs for Maintaining a Pontoon Boat

Owning a boat is not cheap, but it does not have to be overwhelming. These variable costs really can depend on your preference and how frequently you need them.

Variable Costs For Maintaining a Pontoon Boat

Item Cost
Fuel Up to $1000 per month during the season
Repairs $1000 per year
Upgrades Depends on your options
Training $250 to $300 per class
Cleaning $400-$500 a year
General Maintenance $1000

How to Estimate the Fuel Usage for Your Pontoon Boat

Fuel costs are always changing. You can’t reliably predict the cost of a gallon of fuel from one month to the next, let alone guess how much it will cost in a year from now.

The same goes for trying to determine how much gas you will use from season to season. Some years you may be on your pontoon boat every weekend during the summer while other years you may not take your pontoon boat out hardly at all.

The thing to remember is that bigger boats use more gas. Don’t forget to factor the weight you are going to be carrying on your pontoon. Also, the condition of the engine will add or subtract from your fuel consumption.

Smaller engines use about 5 gallons per hour while larger, faster pontoon boats can use up to 34 gallons per hour for the really big motors.

Now, figure out the actual time the engine is engaged. You probably will drive your boat to your destination and then spend most of the day swimming or playing around. On average you will probably spend about 5 hours actually running the motor.

Use those two factors and you have a vague guess as to how much your fuel costs will run from year to year.

How Much do Repairs Cost for a Pontoon Boat

The cost and the number of repairs needed to maintain your boat really depend on the condition of your pontoon and the amount of work you are willing to put into it. You could save money by doing some if not all smaller repairs yourself if you have the talent. Bigger repairs may require a professional and be more expensive.

Depending on the age and condition of the pontoon boat and the amount of work that needs to be done, repair costs could range around $1,000.

How Much Do Upgrades Cost for a Pontoon Boat

You have your dream pontoon boat…almost. You just need to add a few more things to make it perfect. When you are buying a new boat, you can customize it to have all the features you want. Of course, that will add on to the initial purchase price of your pontoon boat.

If you are upgrading an older boat, there may be newer options that you want to add on which will also add to the cost of maintaining your pontoon boat.

These upgrades could include things like:

  • A bigger, more powerful engine
  • A ladder
  • A fishing-live well
  • A great sound system
  • Vinyl flooring

Whether or not these particular upgrades are on your list, odds are that sometime during your boat ownership you will want to make improvements to your pontoon boat.

What Sort of Training do I Need When I own a Pontoon Boat

Whether you are a newbie or an old salt, you need to know how to maneuver your pontoon boat in and around the water. Some licenses require you to take a class and pass before you are issued your certificate or license. The U.S. Coast Guard has an online guide with suggested classes.

What Are The Cleaning and General Maintenance Routines Involved in Owning a Pontoon Boat

A pontoon boat has very little general maintenance needed. A pontoon boat has aluminum hulls. If they are damaged, they are easier and cheaper to fix than other boats because they don’t have a gelcoat to repair. Usually, you may need to do an oil or filter change between winterizing or storing your boat during the off-season.

Cleaning is pretty easy too. The deck is exposed so there are no little hidden places that need your attention. Regular brief cleanings after you take it out of the water between uses should be enough to keep your boat in good condition.

Why Own A Pontoon Boat

Owning a pontoon boat is not a cheap venture. As with any boat, your need to invest time and money in your hobby to get the full benefit. But owning a pontoon boat has some big advantages as well.

  • They are comfortable. Pontoon boats aren’t called party boats without a reason.
  • They are safe.
  • They are great for fishing and skiing.
  • They last a long time.

Whatever your reason for buying a boat, a pontoon boat is an excellent choice. They are easy to budget for and they are not expensive to maintain.

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