The only limitations to purchasing boat accessories for your pontoon boat are its size and the depth of your finances to fund your wants. Many pontoon boats come with the accessories you need to go boating. Others will need to be outfitted from stem to stern.
However, they generally don’t come with fishing gear, toys, and the equipment you need to make your time in the water fun-filled.
There are many boating products to choose from for your pontoon boat. This list will sort them out and help you decide between those that are necessary, those that would be nice to have, and those that are luxuries.
Accessories to keep you and your boat safe.
There are rules when boating, and your boat must have the necessary safety gear based on the number of passengers you are carrying. Boating rules are different from state to state. If you are a new boater or need a refresh of regulations about where you boat, find out what equipment is required for your safety in the areas where you will go boating.
Related: Boat Accessories
1. Fire Extinguisher
A fire extinguisher may be required for your pontoon boat, depending on where you are. However, if one is required by law, it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on board as best practice and safety precaution. You never know because you may come upon another boater that needs it.
There are several fire extinguishers; you will need a Class C fire extinguisher as most boat fires are caused by gas. However, grills and electrical issues can also cause fires, and a Class C will also take care of those types of fires.
2. PFD (personal flotation device)
Whether you equip your pontoon boat with traditional orange life jackets, which are acceptable in an emergency, or life vests, you will need one for every passenger aboard. Rated as Type I, II, or III, and sized by age and weight, be sure to get PFDs that match your boating activities.
Of these two flotation devices, a vest is much more comfortable than a bulky life jacket. Life vests are also sized for a better fit, are easy to adjust to fit, and are available in small enough sizes for kids. Don’t forget your pet, too, because they need a life jacket.
3. Throwable flotation device
Also known as a life ring, every boat, even small ones, needs a throwable floatation device.
4. A device that can produce sound
A sound-producing device can be a whistle, a bell, or a horn and is required on boats in many areas. However, they are only required for boats that exceed 39.5 feet in length.
The purpose of a device that can produce sound is to keep a boat following navigational rules; a sound device may be used in times of limited visibility or to alert other vessels of its location. Although you may not be required to carry a whistle, bell, or horn, having one in times of low visibility can keep you out of trouble.
Many bridges cross the country’s rivers, and you will need a horn or radio to hail the operator, to open the bridge if you live in an area where they are still used.
Attaching a whistle to a life jacket and a waterproof light helps find someone who has gone overboard at night or when visibility is low.
5. Visual distress signal (only necessary on the ocean and coastal waters)
Although some pontoon boats are large enough to cruise coastal waters and enter ocean waters, they are more often seen and used on rivers and lakes.
If you are one of those who venture into the big water of local bays, into the Gulf of Mexico, or other large bodies of water, visual distress signals are required equipment.
Visual distress signals include red flares, orange smoke, floating smoke, and electric distress lights. These items can often be found in a kit that contains the things you need to attract enough attention to get help.
6. Required boat lighting
Your boat will need lights if you plan to be out after dark. But, again, some pontoon boats are sold with everything you need to get on the water, except the beer, soda, and food.
However, others are sold as bare-bones units, an open palate for you to turn into the kind of boat you want. For example, the lights you must have if you are on the water at sunset are red and green bow lights (front lights) visible a mile away.
White stern light is required when operating your boat after dark, and many stern light poles also double as flag poles, from which you can fly your colors.
Electronics for your pontoon boat
7. VHF Radio (handheld or fixed mounted)
VHF radios are the CB of the boating world. The signals from them are monitored by the United States Coast Guard, Marine Patrol, and other boaters.
A VHF radio will give you access to each other when on the water and a straight line to help if you need it.
You can purchase VHF radios as handheld devices that have a limited range. Or you can buy a larger radio mounted under your Bimini, overhead, or on the console of your pontoon boat. When you attach an antenna to one of these units, your range of communication becomes much more expansive.
8. Cell phone signal booster
A cell phone signal booster will give your cell phone more range and a stronger signal when in the water. Most places you take a pontoon boat will be in the range of a land-based cell tower.
I live right at the five-mile mark between two cell towers, and when I am in my house, my phones and wireless wi-fi will not work without a booster.
However, there are a lot of coasts where people boat, that are miles of wilderness where cell phones will not work, booster or not. Thus, the VHF radio, because someone is always listening to their signals.
9. GPS Unit
There are GPS units used to let others know where you are and for contacting help. And then, GPS units that tell you where you are. They both serve the same function, so combined units will give you charts of where you are boating and satellite connectivity for text-based communication when you are out of cell range.
10. Depth finder
A depth finder on a pontoon boat is unnecessary because very little of it sits below the water. However, they can keep you from running aground if you plan on slipping up into backwaters.
You rarely see a boat under 30 feet with a radar system. However, if you live in an area that is highly trafficked by other boaters, a boat at night, or have fog as often as not, a radar system may be an addition to your boat worth having.
12. Solar panel with inverter
A solar panel can be used for many things and can be connected to your batteries when you aren’t using your boat. For example, adding batteries to your system can give you enough electrical power to keep the blender for Margaritas running and party and underwater lights lit all evening.
Solar panels are also excellent for charging electronics while you are boating. You can purchase a unit for a specific purpose or a solar charger that will power your 12-volt batteries.
Securing your pontoon boat — on its trailer, at the dock, when at anchor
Every boat needs an anchor, and some do better with two. The type and weight of the anchor you buy depend on the bottom type where you anchor. Is the bottom sand, or is it rock? Because different types of anchors work differently from each other.
The weight of the anchor is a factor for safe anchoring. It would be best if you sized your anchor to the length and weight of your pontoon boat. Also, when beaching your boat, use an anchor to hold the bow in place and one to hold the stern in place. Doing this will keep your boat where you want it and keep it from floating parallel to the beach and possibly getting stuck there.
14. Anchor line/chain
Anchor lines are like anchors; they need to be sized to your anchor, and you need enough feet of rope to go to the bottom. If the areas you boat are shallow, then 25 to 50 feet should be sufficient.
However, some anchorages will require more anchor rode, so your anchor makes it to the bottom and has enough slack that the anchor will set. Also, if you live in an area where the bottom is rocky, a length of the anchor chain will keep the rocks from chafing your anchor line and cutting it in two.
15. Anchor winch
This is a handy tool and makes anchoring a breeze. First, get a remote-controlled unit, and anchoring is a breeze. Then, if you need an anchor on both ends of your boat, add an anchor winch bow and stern and never get covered with river mud again. Well, seldom.
16. Dock lines
One would think that dock lines would come with a boat you buy, and they may have a basic set of lines on board. However, a complete set of dock lines will be located at each side of your boat, forward and astern, and you may even need additional lines, spring lines, to keep your boat in place at the dock.
17. Bungee dock lines
Bungee dock lines are stretchy, like a typical bungee cord. However, they are made to work with your regular lines to add a spring that keeps your boat from being jerked around at the dock when the winds and waves get high.
18. Dock boxes
A dock box stays ashore at your boat slip and can be used to store items you don’t want to take with you every time you go out but may need it sometimes. For example, fishing gear, float toys, slides, and other accessories don’t need to go with you every time you venture out in your pontoon boat. A dock box can help you keep your gear organized and secure.
19. Ratchet straps
Ratchet straps are often used to secure your pontoon boat to its trailer. They are made from nylon webbing, have hooks on either end and have a ratchet apparatus that tightens the webbing to keep your boat from flying off its trailer.
The minimum number you need is one in the front and one in the back. However, if you have an extremely long pontoon boat, you may want to add a strap in the middle, just in case.
20. Bungee cords — in various sizes and lengths
Bungee cords are a wonderful accessory that you can use anywhere you need to secure an item, hold two things together, and generally make your life easier. They come in sizes from very small to very large, and you can find assorted sizes of bungee cords at most hardware stores for a reasonable price.
Let’s throw a few shrimp on the grill and have a party!
There’s something about being in the water that works up an appetite. Depending on the size of your pontoon boat, you can take a cooler at the very minimum. Some pontoon boats are available with designated cooking areas with a sink, ice cooler, counter space, and storage. However, if your boat doesn’t have all that, you can add what you need, one piece at a time.
21. 12 Volt Blender
This is a handy item, especially if you have margarita drinkers in the crowd or want to make other frozen cocktails to take the heat from the day.
22. 12 Volt Refrigerator
Ice coolers are great for keeping your catch of the day, sodas, beer, and other items. However, an actual fridge with shelves and no need to be filled with ice is an excellent addition to a pontoon boat if it has enough space for such a luxury.
23. Portable rail-mounted grill
Several rail-mounted grills will work on your pontoon boat for grilling a burger, hotdog, or the mess of bass you caught. Cuisinart, a brand we know, makes a rail-mounted grill that takes up little space yet has enough grill area to cook a meal. Other manufacturers also create versions of the rail-mounted grill, and at least one adds a smoker function.
24. Bar caddy
A bar caddy is an excellent way to keep bottles of liquor together in the same place. It can be pulled out when needed and stored after everyone’s drink is made.
25. LED lighting
LED lighting makes a boat festive. This type of lighting is inexpensive and can be draped along the outside rails, under the Bimini, and inside the boat, where it can add soft light.
26. Underwater lighting
Underwater lighting can be mounted a foot below the water line and will provide light in the water around the perimeter of your boat. This lighting also gives your boat a festive air but is more challenging to install than LED lighting that you drape across the rails.
27. Wire it for sound
You can get waterproof boat speakers in many sizes. A couple will give you enough volume to listen to your favorite music while in the water. Or, you can put speakers everywhere and be the life of the next sandbar party you attend.
28. Bluetooth/ waterproof speakers
If you want to add speakers without the hassle of wiring them to your electrical system, then Bluetooth speakers may be your best purchase. Bluetooth speakers come in a variety of sizes, and
Cover it up —from the sun, the weather, and the eyes of others
29. Bimini Top
On a boat without a Bimini or cabin to hide under, a day in the sun can get quite miserable. Many pontoon boats come equipped with a Bimini; however, many do not, and you will need to have one installed. They come in different styles, colors, and materials.
Some pontoon boats have hardtop Biminis onto which you can attach rod holders underneath, a horn, and radar to the top, if you so choose.
30. Complete Enclosure
If you want to close your pontoon boat in from the elements or to turn it into a camper, a full or partial surround of canvas or aluminum will turn a pontoon boat into a cabin cruiser that you can use to spend the weekend aboard.
31. Head Enclosure
Finding a bathroom ashore can be a challenge when boating. So, taking the toilet with you makes life easier for all aboard. However, when you add a portable toilet to your boat, you must also add a collapsible enclosure. The enclosure will make bathroom visits more private.
Related: Different Types of Boat Covers
Additional accessories for your pontoon boat
32. Portable toilet (known as a head on a boat)
As mentioned above, you can use a portable toilet while you are boating, then empty and clean it when you get ashore.
33. Foldable lawn chairs
Foldable lawn chairs can be used on the deck of your boat for added seating and can also be taken ashore so you can sit comfortably on the beach.
34. Folding table — for onboard and the beach
A folding table is easy to store under a seat on your pontoon boat and, like foldable chairs, can be used aboard your boat or set up on the beach.
Let’s go fishing
The smallest pontoon boats, at 15 feet and less, are often used as an inexpensive way to get on the water and wet a hook. Larger pontoon boats can be rigged for fishing or at least have equipment on board for those who want to try their hand at catching dinner.
35. Rod holders
You can mount rod holders on the rails of your boat where you can place your rod so you don’t have to hold on to it. They are also handy when using more than one fishing rod. For example, with a rod holder, you can bait up several rods, set them in a holder, and wait for the fish to bite.
Leaving fishing gear aboard your boat makes sense if you are an avid angler. Tackle boxes come in many sizes, so find one that will fit in a nook or cranny of your boat.
37. Rods and reels
The rods and reels you use need to be suitable for the fish you are going after, so keep several types aboard your boat so you are ready for whatever fish you encounter.
38. Fish finder
Fish finders work well to find schools of fish hiding beneath the water, and they also work well as depth finders, too.
39. Live bait well
Most pontoon boats are not equipped with live bait well. However, many different portable, self-contained live bait wells can be used to keep your bait fish alive. In addition, they have built-in aerators powered by a 12-volt power source.
Pontoon boat accessories for having fun
40. A deck of waterproof playing cards
A deck of cards can be pulled out at any time and used to play many different games that can keep you occupied for hours.
41. Inflatable toys
Most pontoon boats have enough power to pull an inflatable toy. In addition, larger and faster pontoon boats have enough power to pull a skier, so you have the option of toys to use with your pontoon boat to entertain your family and friends.
42. Pontoon boat slide
A pontoon boat slide will offer hours of fun for small and big kids.
43. Pontoon boat pool
Boat pools float and tie to your boat. They are great for not-strong swimmers and those who want to relax in the water without the threat of minnows nibbling your toes.