While all boats have their advantages and luxuries, there’s just something about a pontoon boat that really beats the rest. For those who go sailing on lakes, rivers, and other inland bodies of water, a pontoon boat combines all the best things about a day on the water into one: swimming, lounging, fishing, and partying. Pontoon boats have enough speed and ease of navigation to tow water skiers, tubers, wakeboarders, and more as well as the stability to float easily along the water for smooth sailing and maximum relaxation. Because pontoons are rather lightweight boats being supported by a series of pontoons or “floats” (also called tubes or logs), you may be wondering what type of anchor should be used when sailing with this particular boat. When thinking about the best anchor for you boat, there are a few factors you must take into consideration such as the size and weight of your boat as well as the body of water you’re sailing on. To answer this question, we’ll run through which anchor(s) is the best for your pontoon boat.
Pontoon Boats vs. Traditional Boats: What’s the Difference?
Pontoon boats and traditional boats (or deck boats) are fairly different from one another. Unlike traditional boats, a pontoon boat is a flat boat that relies on pontoons to stay afloat on the water. Pontoons adequately keep the boat afloat because they contain reserve buoyancy that keep the boat upright and well-supported. Due to this, pontoon boats have ambitious designs that include large deck plans, lounge areas, sun pads, bars, and more. Pontoons are truly luxury boats built for fun and relaxation. The pontoons, or tubes, are always improving in design, allowing builders to put more accommodations on the boat as well as to include higher horsepower in the stern. The high horse power paired with the shallow pontoon boat drafts help to protect this vessel from problems like underwater damage, crashes, or running aground.
In addition to these larger luxury pontoons, there are also small inflatable pontoon boats that are builts for one to two people. Also known as a catamaran type boats, these smaller pontoons are also perfect for leisure and fishing when flying solo, with a friend, or your partner. Smaller pontoons usually do not have built in motors but instead use paddles, oars, or an electrical trolling motor. They are best used on lakes, ponds, rivers, and seas only during calm weather. Pontoons, large or small, do not do well on rough waters, meaning you should not take them out on the ocean or another body of water during bad weather.
Traditional boats, then, do not use pontoons or tubes to stay afloat. Rather, their buoyancy is in their design and depends on the weight of the vessel and how much water is displced by its weight and size. This tension between water displacement, boat design, size, and weight helps explain how large, steel boats can float on water. The pontoon is of a simpler design as it is flatter, shallower, and closer to the water than traditional boats. In addition, traditional boats often come with their own motors, engines, or sails rather than paddles or oars to move about the water.
Best Anchor Types for Lakes and Other Inland Bodies of Water
As mentioned, part of your criteria for finding the best anchor for your pontoon boat is considering the body of water you’re sailing on. Lakes and rivers require different anchors from the ocean or smaller seas mainly because of the type of bottom composition they have. Lakes tend to have bottom compositions of mud, sand, rock, shale, clay, and grass. This means there is a wide range of anchors that can be used with them.
Fluke anchors, box anchors, and mushroom anchors are rather versatile and can work well with sandy, muddy, clay, grassy, and rocky bottoms. Fluke anchors earn their name due to their “flukes” or arms that are used to grip the parts of the bottom and hold on. They work well with most all bottom compositions mentioned. Grapnel anchors are another type of fluke anchor, except that these flukes are foldable, allowing them to dig into certain bottom types. Box anchors are shaped like boxes (hence their name!) use their four arms or flukes to dig into soft bottoms (i.e. sand and mud). They can cover a large surface area, offering a stronger hold and more tension to keep your boat in one place.
Mushroom anchors are best known for having little holding power and for their distinct mushroom shape. Due to their rounded bottoms and weight, they work best in soft bottoms such as sand, mud, sediment, and even clay. They work by burying themselves into the soft bottoms and then hold tension, creating a suctioning effet that keeps them and your boat in place. Mushroom anchors are most popular for use on smaller boats on lakes.
The Best Anchor for Your Pontoon Boat
The best anchor for your pontoon is actually three! The following anchors are considered the best for pontoon boats because they work well with smaller, lighter boats and the types of bottom compositions exhibited in lakes, ponds, and other small inland bodies of water. Without further ado, the best anchors to use are:
- Fluke/Grapnel Anchor: The sturdy flukes of a fluke anchor are the perfect style anchor for your pontoon and for lakes. The fluke arms can dig deep into the soft sandy or muddy bottom and hold on, securing your boat in you chosen spot for as long as you need. Fluke anchors don’t need to be very heavy to be effective, making them easy to carry onboard while sailing to your anchoring spot. If your pontoon boat is between 24 or 30 feet long, a 15 pound fluke anchor can do the trick no problem.
The grapnel anchor is the perfect fluke anchor for rocky lake bottoms. Most anchors don’t do well on rocky bottoms, but grapnel anchors work well due to their large flukes (two or more) which grab hold of the bottom and hang on tight. Once a grapnel anchor is set, you are looking at one of the most secure anchors on the market - it won’t drift or lose its footing, giving you total peace of mind.
- Box Anchor: The box anchor is best used in bottom compositions that are muddy and have light vegetation like grass or kelp. Since most lake have a bottom composition like this, you really can’t go wrong with a box anchor. This anchor works by taking taking up a large portion of the muddy lake floor to get a good hold. Because it covers more of the surface, it gets a firmer hold. When using a box anchor, be sure to have enough line out. If the line is too short, the arms of your box anchor will have a hard time digging into the bottom and taking proper hold.
- Mushroom Anchor: The weight and suction power of a mushroom anchor is perfect for use on a pontoon boat. When lowered into the water, the mushroom anchor with accompanying cleat can bury itself into the bottom well, providing strong hold and suction for secure anchorage. They may be a little heavy to tote around, but are totally worth it once you find a spot you want to stay in for a bit.
And there you have it: there is actually more than one anchor good for use with your pontoon boat. Pontoon boats are interesting vessels that allow you to enjoy another side of boating. With the right accessories, your trip on the water in your pontoon boat can be the best sailing trip ever.