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How Much Does a Pontoon Boat Cost Annually?

Buying a pontoon boat not only comes with a significant initial investment but also multiple recurring costs, such as boating license fees, maintenance, and refueling costs, tax and insurance, storage cost, buying accessories, etc. 

The cost most have to bear at first (for people new to boating) is going through the required training. New pontoon owners can expect to take courses such as general safety and theory courses, a VHF course, and other relevant online or in-person courses.

 You can directly contact the local marina or state boating body for all the information on completing these courses. Usually, taking the required courses cost between $100 – $200. 

Pontoon Cost

On average, pontoon boats can cost from $15,000 to $60,000 and above, depending on the boat brand, type, size, etc. This price, however, is just the initial cost. 

There are many secondary expenses associated with the cost of a pontoon boat, such as refueling, maintenance, docking, accessories, and any future upgrades. 

Here is a brief breakdown of how much a pontoon can cost, according to The Ocean Sailing Guide:

  • While the price will vary depending on the brand, a small pontoon can cost $14,750 on average.
  • For an average capacity of 8-10 people, the pontoon boat can cost up to $25,500.
  • An average 22-foot pontoon can cost around $35,000.
  • A high-end pontoon with more lavish amenities can cost $41,000 and above. 

Besides, factors like condition, size, materials, type of usage, and accessories all factor in how much a pontoon boat costs.

Condition 

A new pontoon boat costs more than a secondhand one like any other vehicle. Buying a new engine from any dealership, on the other hand, comes with a manufacturer’s warranty and less of a financial burden for costly repairs, cleaning, and upkeep. 

In comparison, buying an old engine without a warranty is riskier. Dealers’ bundles also often come with safety gear and additional equipment. 

While newer pontoons can cost up to $30,000, used pontoon boats start at $5,000. However, though buying a used boat saves money upfront, buying a new pontoon is more financially viable in the long term.

Size 

After deciding on a brand new or used pontoon, the next question is what size to get. The boat’s length determines the initial price of the boat and the boat slip needed to dock it. 

According to The Ocean Sailing Guide, a 16-19 foot pontoon boat, which can accommodate up to 8 people, is ideal for small bodies of water. A 20-22 foot pontoon is perfect for small lakes and rivers, while rough waters better suit a 23-27 foot pontoon. 

The average cost of a pontoon boat varies substantially depending on its size. For each two-foot increase in length, expect to pay $1,000-$1,500 more for your pontoon boat.

Materials 

The boat’s material also affects the cost of a pontoon boat. Aside from the base aluminum siding, buyers can upgrade to the more expensive fiberglass siding, which does not rust and offers the vessel a sleeker appearance. 

Variations in onboard materials, such as marine-grade plywood decking, aluminum, vinyl, or composite wood, also play a role in altering overall costs. Plywood and composite wood are frequently less expensive but require extra covering materials such as carpet, turf, or vinyl flooring, raising the final price. 

Type of Usage

The cost of your pontoon boat will change depending on how you plan on using it. 

While some pontoons are suitable for amusement, fishing boats often require features like a fishfinder, tackle holder, trolling motors, etc. Such usage-specific features alone can add $400+ to the overall cost.

Accessories 

After purchasing a pontoon boat, you will need to invest in accessories to handle your vessel. Here are some accessory costs to keep in mind for your pontoon according to Better Boat and Avalon :

  • Double bimini can cost around $700.
  • Full camping cover for the entire boat can cost about $2,000.
  • A fishing livewell can cost from $200 to $1,000 for pontoon models that don’t have one built-in.
  • Ski tow bars can cost between $200 to $700.
  • Ski ladders can cost between $200 to $500 if they aren’t built-in.
  • Upgrading from carpeting to vinyl can cost $300 to $1,200.
  • An extra mooring cleat will likely cost about $30. 

Besides these, some pontoon boats can require additional accessories such as boat trailers and lifts, anchors, covers, etc. Here’s a brief rundown of their expenses:

  • Boat Trailers can cost around $2,000.
  • Boat covers cost from $200 to $500.
  • Anchors cost from $50 to $200.
  • Deck Features like diving boards, patio pads, etc., can cost around $2,000.
  • Bottom Keels cost between $150 to $400.
  • Wave Shields come for approximately $1,500.
  • Power Assist can cost about $2,500.
  • Stand Features such as speakers, depth finders, etc., can cost around $3,500.
  • Wall features like buoy holders, gates, etc., can cost about $1,000.
  • Furniture features such as tables, floor matting, etc., can cost up to $2,000.

Inspection Fees

From getting insurance to checking the condition of a secondhand pontoon before purchase, you will probably need to run an inspection on your pontoon. 

It is crucial to have a marine surveyor or a professional evaluate a pre-owned pontoon. According to DeepSailing, you will be paying between $200 to $350 to verify everything, offer you a report, and estimate the value of the pontoon boat. 

Maintenance Fees 

The cost of maintaining a pontoon boat is relatively high, and The Pontoon Site says you can expect to pay roughly 1% of the boat’s price in maintenance fees if you want to outsource maintenance. 

The owner can do some maintenance work, such as washing the boat and the upholstery. But you’ll have to call an expert for other maintenance work like servicing. 

The average annual maintenance costs for a pontoon boat owner who takes a hands-on approach will be $600 to $1,200. If you need to keep your yacht in a marina, you should keep a budget between $1,500 and $2,500. The average cost of winterizing a pontoon boat is between $250 and $500.

Recurring Costs

When you own a pontoon boat, you must regularly keep track of specific expenses. The exact amount of these recurrent charges will vary depending on your pontoon boat’s storage location, size, age, and other factors.

Here’s a list of some common recurring costs pontoon owners have to face according to Boat Fanatics and Decide Outside:

  • Slip Rental can cost between $1,500 to $2,900 per year.
  • Winter Storage can cost between $300 to $1000.
  • Title, Taxes, and Registration Fees can usually cost up to 6-10% of the value of your boat.
  • Licensing costs can be between $50 – $80 annually.
  • On average, insurance costs are $150-$360 per year.
  • Mooring fees range from $3,000 to $15,000.
  • Repairs and maintenance can cost around $1000.
  • Cleaning fees can go up to $450.
  • Fuel usually costs $2.50+ per gallon.

While fuel costs vary depending on the size, capacity, engine condition, and frequency of use for your pontoon boat, it’s an essential aspect of a pontoon boat’s annual expenses.

Boat Fanatics states that smaller engines consume roughly 5 gallons per hour, whereas larger and quicker pontoon boats can consume 34 gallons per hour.

Remember to account for the weight that the boat will be carrying. In addition, the condition of the engine affects overall fuel usage. The next step is to figure out how long the engine has been running. Owners of pontoon boats typically spend roughly 5 hours running the motor. 

Boat owners can estimate their fuel expenditures every year using those two variables.

Tax, Insurance, and Other Fees

The qualifications for a boating license vary per state. Depending on local boating authorities and state requirements, you can usually apply for and obtain a permit online. 

According to Pontoonpedia, some licenses require you to take a class and pass before issuing your certificate or license. The U.S. Coast Guard also provides an online guide with suggested lessons. 

The BoatUS Foundation offers boating license courses for free in 35 states. According to Discover Boating, other license providers will charge you a fee of $29 to $50 (excluding state-imposed registration charges) for the course and exam.

Aside from the pontoon boat’s purchase price, boat owners must also pay state sales tax (which can range from 6% to 10% of the overall cost) and expenses for registering the boat with the Coast Guard or other authorities. The exact taxes and registration fees will vary depending on the state.

While pontoon boats are generally safe, theft, damages, and injuries happen. So it’s important to protect your pontoon boat with insurance after licensing and taxes. Moreover, most states require every watercraft to have liability and medical payment insurance.

 According to Avalon, the cost of insuring your pontoon boat varies based on the provider, the quantity of coverage, the price of the boat, the preferred method of boat storage (dock vs. boat lift), etc. 

While drawing up estimated insurance costs for your pontoon boat, these are some general factors to consider:

  • The model and year of manufacturing for the boat.
  • The size, length, and capability of the pontoon boat.
  • The current market value of the boat.
  • Size and condition of the pontoon boat engine.
  • Whether the boat uses an inboard or outboard motor.
  • Type of hull on the pontoon boat, etc. 

Final Words

Buying a pontoon boat might seem straightforward in hindsight, but there are a lot of factors involved. The brand, type, accessories, and extra features determine the final price of the boat. 

Besides the initial costs, there are various one-time and recurring fees. It can be difficult to factor in all these elements when deciding which boat you should buy. 

We hope this article educated you on the topic and made the process easier!

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