Pontoon boats, aka ‘party barges,’ are one of the best kinds of boats a water-loving person can own.
Whether it’s a cocktail party or a lazy day out fishing, these versatile boats can handle it all. You can even hold elaborate barbecue parties on their spacious and super comfy decks.
But can you pull a tube with a pontoon boat? The answer depends on a lot of factors, which I’m going to discuss in the following post.
What are the boat’s requirements for tubing? What equipment do you need? And most importantly, how do you safely tow tubes with a pontoon boat? Keep reading to know the answers!
Pontoons and Tubing – Is It Possible?
The short answer? Yes, it’s possible. The long answer? It depends on your boat and the people in it. While pontoons are superbly versatile boats, there are certain things you need to consider before you can go tubing with them:
Type of Boat
Your boat’s horsepower is the main factor that determines whether you can pull a tube with a pontoon and make it enjoyable.
As you may already know, a pontoon is not exactly a speed demon and has an average speed of 15 to 25 miles per hour. While this speed range is good enough for tubing, your boat’s horsepower will decide if it can pull a tube at these speeds.
For instance, a pontoon with a 70 HP engine will be enough to reach 10 to 15 miles an hour, which is great for kids. 90 HP will take you up to 18 to 20 miles.
But the real fun starts when you’ve got a 115 or 150 HP boat. This will give you a super thrilling ride, reaching speeds of up to 25 miles or even more (though I don’t recommend going faster).
However, your boat’s size also comes into play here, as it has to drag its own weight as well. For example, an 18 feet long boat with an HP of 90 can give you a considerably fast ride compared to a 22 feet, heavier boat.
To sum, pontoons with a higher HP, preferably 115 or more, will be best for tubing. You can enjoy it with a lesser HP as well, but it won’t be exactly thrilling.
Number of People Tubing
Horsepower isn’t the only thing that matters. The second most important determinant is how many people will be tubing behind the pontoon.
If the boat has to drag one person, that’s great – it won’t have to work too hard to reach a high speed. But if you’ve got a low HP engine, and have two adults being pulled behind, then they won’t be enjoying any fast-paced rides.
Moreover, the people on board also add to the weight of the pontoon. So if you want to experience a thrilling ride with a slow pontoon, don’t let more than two people get on board.
Does your pontoon boat even support towing? If not, you might want to get the appropriate equipment fitted on to the boat.
Typically, pontoons come with tow bars, where you can attach ropes for skiing, tubing, etc. If your boat doesn’t have it, you can either install it yourself or ask your dealer to get it done for you.
However, make sure your tow bar is strong enough to pull tubes, as some of them can’t take the stress.
If it seems weak, look for some strong U bolts on the transom of your boat to tie the rope. Even if they seem sturdy enough, double-check to ensure that these bolts run deep into the boat and are secure enough to handle the pressure.
How to Pull a Tube With a Pontoon Boat
So, you’ve got the right type of pontoon boat for pulling tubes? Great! I’ve put together a list of necessary tubing items and a guide for tying a towable tube to a pontoon boat.
Here’s the stuff you’ll need for tubing:
The length and tensile strength of your tow rope matter a lot when it comes to tubing. Always select ropes that are between 50 to 65 feet in length – not any more or less. This is especially important if you’re going to tow the tube at faster speeds.
Also, make sure you’ve got a strong enough rope, as tubing requires more tensile strength. For a one-person towable, buy a rope that has at least 1500 lbs of tensile strength.
Oh and, if you’re going to use the U bolts on your pontoon, then purchase a Y harness.
Of course, you need an appropriate inflatable towable for tubing. If your boat doesn’t have the required horsepower, consider getting a one or two-person tube. And if you’ve got children who want you or another adult to ride beside them, consider a multi-person tube.
Either way, you should never exceed the weight or persons limit on the tube – it could prove very dangerous.
Protective Tubing Gear
Don’t forget to buy some protective gear for tubing. This includes life jackets and water tubing helmets, especially if you’ve got kids tubing together. This is because injuries due to heads knocking into each other are very common on multi-person tubes.
Tying the Tube to Your Pontoon
Follow these steps to pull a tube behind a pontoon safely and effectively:
- Inflate your towable until it’s crinkle-free, firm, and steady. Also, ensure that its caps/valves are secure and no air is escaping from them.
- Attach one end of the rope to your towable.
- Tie the other end of the rope to either a tow tower or a U bolt in your pontoon. However, make sure you don’t tie a knot, and instead, use a series of loops, as shown in this quick video tutorial.
- If you’ve tied the rope to a low tow point like on a transom, you might want to attach a booster ball to your rope to keep it above the water.
- Give the rope a good tug to check if everything’s secure and tight.
- Jump in!
But wait – before you go ahead pulling tubes with a pontoon, ensure that you’re following these precautions:
- Keep a fully-equipped first-aid kit on board.
- Ensure that everyone who’s tubing is wearing a floatation device.
- Don’t exceed speed limits, especially with kids. (16-18 MPH is good enough).
- Be careful of the wake: don’t go too fast or turn too sharp.
- Check the weather forecast for a clear and sunny day ahead.
- Always have a ‘spotter’ on board who should be on the look-out for any warning signs or potential accidents.
- Ensure that everyone is in the center of their tubes and not at an awkward angle.
You might be satisfied knowing that you can go tubing with a pontoon boat and have a perfectly enjoyable time. However, I would advise you to pay close attention to the details, such as the towing capacity of your boat, its weight, size, etc., before doing anything.
If you have a small pontoon that isn’t very powerful, make sure you don’t have too many people on board or on the tubes. More importantly, ensure that the tow rope is tied to the tube and boat securely.
If you’re unsure of the tow tower or bolt’s strength, contact your dealer to check if it can handle tubing.