How to Dock a Pontoon Boat? Expert tips are here!

Spending time on the water is fun, and docking a pontoon boat should also be fun and easy. Isn’t it? If you are still new to this, it’s probably like parallel parking for your car at the market. Practice makes you perfect!

Wants to know the expert tips how to dock a Pontoon Boat? Here are the expert tips for you, handpicked for beginners and tested and tried for years!

How to Dock a Pontoon Boat

Let’s start! Where Can I Dock a Pontoon Boat?

There are several types of docks, as there are various benefits for the waterfront property owners. Most pontoon boats are parked in these personal dock areas or at a port. Let me discuss the dock types one by one, so you can choose what’s best for your pontoon boat.

Stationary Docks

These are the permanent docks, usually on the shoreline at a fixed location, and support poles and posts. Stationary docks are great for protecting your pontoon from the tides and waves.

But on the other hand, even if it works as a shield, it may collide with your boat if the length of dock lines is insufficient to let the movements caused by tides and wind. These traditional fixed docks are common for pontoon boats in many areas. 

Some stationary docks use boat lifts to prevent corrosion while docking the pontoon as an extra safety measure. It’s a direct way to dock a pontoon, and since it’s getting lifted, the growth of algae is not an issue anymore if you use a boat lift at the dock. 

Portable Dock

Unlike the stationary docks, these portable docks are removed off-season while the boats are not sailing anywhere. These are the best option for you if your sailing area has ice on the water.

Using these portable docks with wheels is convenient during winter as the water and ice can damage the permanent docks. These Portable docks are usually placed at ground level, easily removed when no more pontoons come there.

Floating Dock

Floating docks are the ideal dock type for the areas with changing water levels, such as water bays with high water levels and beaches.

Like the stationary docks mentioned earlier, floating docks are permanent, fixed in a place. It’s not movable, but with these types of docks, slight changes can be expected with the change in water levels.

How to Dock a Pontoon Boat

Step by Step explained!

Knowing the dock types was a baby step; now, it’s time to learn the process. But, first, you need to get prepared before approaching the dock and check your dock lines and fenders. Knowing your dock type is important to a smooth job; you know the main dock types now! 

1st Step: Check your surroundings

Before you reach the dock, you need to study the area and check the weather, wind conditions, and current. If it is a windy day, you may have to put more force into the docking. Also, you need to know the boat well and how it works at different speeds.

Finally, you need to see the dock clearly, so if you get guests in the boat, get them to clear your sightline. Let them sit in the rear seats, giving you a good vision before docking. If you are a beginner, you may try docks with a lot of space, but if it’s not, that’s all fine. You will learn these once you get to do it more often. 

2nd Step: neutral and slow

The First Step for docking is setting your pontoon into neutral and slowly moving towards the dock. Why do you have to approach slowly? Yes, it’s essential to slow down as you get enough time to make decisions. No one wants to bang the dock with excessive force; it could damage both the dock and pontoon

3rd Step: Slow approach

While you slow down, you need to trim the motor as well. The water level is usually shallower close to the dock, so if you trim the motor, your steering capabilities are not blocked when getting close to the dock.

If you are a beginner, this is a must you need to keep in your mind. A neutral pontoon also moves, but not fast as in gear, which is good to approach the dock safely without collisions.

You can start coming at the dock at a 45-degree angle, and once the bow has reached the dock, drift slowly and put the pontoon to reverse gently. Then, to the neutral mode to avoid a collision, make your boat float to the dock. 

You are all set; now you exactly know how to dock a Pontoon Boat! But keep reading to get my tips and tricks about docking.

How to Dock a Pontoon Boat

Tips for Docking your Pontoon Boat like an expert

Use fenders

If you are not comfortable with docking, you can use side fenders. Even if you have perfect docking skills, having fenders do no harm to the pontoon. On the contrary, it can really save you from accidents such as collides with neighboring boats. You may look at my previous article about Pontoon Boat Fenders, a complete guide to keeping your boat safe.

Speed matters

Approaching slowly to the dock is important to keep the boat safe when docking. You get more control over the boat when it goes slow; you can adjust steering and take time to check if you need to check anything. No need to rush; the slower, the better when docking a boat. 

Weather can be your enemy somedays

Checking the weather is essential for any boating activity; you never know what’s gonna happen next when you are in the middle of the water. During harsh conditions on windy days, you may have to put more force into the docking. You need to approach the dock faster than normal to keep the direction steady on those days. 


There is a first time for many things in life, but you can be perfect in docking with the practice. I really hope these tips are helpful for you to dock your pontoon safely. Always know your boat and the dock, every element in the boat has to be attended to avoid any accident. All you need is a bit of patience to be a professional on docking. Good Luck!


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