While the common advice for winterizing outboards, sterndrives and fuel systems apply to pontoon boats, the non-traditional features of pontoon boat design call for some additional attention to get ‘em safely through the off season.
For example, if you plan to leave your pontoon outside and under cover over the winter months, special care must be taken to support the cover over the broad playpen area. The vast expanse of protective fabric has the capacity to catch and collect enough rain to morph the playpen into an above-deck swimming pool unless it sheds water – or the ice and snow that may also conspire to collect over the winter season and melt into a pool conveniently surrounded and supported by the railings come spring. A collapsed boat cover that traps water not only keeps deck and furniture damp by seeping and stifling air circulation, the massive weight of all that pooled water can break railings, seats and can even cause the pontoon logs to succumb to the enormous weight, creating flat spots or outright ruptures.
I use boat cover supports offered by Attwood Marine (attwoodmarine.com) to prop up my boat cover’s fabric with telescoping posts that allow me to seat them on the deck and extend the supports as needed to push the cover drum-tight from beneath. Even with such support, I make several off-season visits to my boat to make sure that weather conditions haven’t caused the posts to shift or retract.
In regions of the country that offer significant snowfall in the off-season, pontoon boat owners come up with some creative structures to support tarps, boat covers or shrink wrap material to allow the material of choice to shed snow and ice – or support the moisture’s weight until a thaw. Several years ago I wrote a magazine article featuring Kover Klamps (koverklampframes.com) to construct a custom pontoon boat cover frames, where the system has become popular in the Great Lakes states.
No matter where you live, if you put your pontoon rig “up” for the off-season, take care to make sure the boat’s protective cover is properly supported to thwart whatever ravages Mother Nature decides to rain down upon it.
TIP: When winterizing your pontoon boat, make sure the boat cover is supported properly to shed water in the form of rain, ice or snow – especially over the playpen area where water can pool in a collapsed cover and cause major problems.