Are you tired of scratches and dents in the side of your pontoon boat? Here is the answer you can make yourself. These are dock, carpeted sideboards that are mounted to the stringers on the dock. You will need one 8’ treated 2 x 4, a length of carpet to cover three sides, four 3/8” x 3” lag screws with washers, a stapler and ½” stainless or monel staples
Cut the 2 x 4 in half, measure down 1 foot from the end. This one foot will allow the board to be one foot above the dock when mounted. Then measure the width of stringer and drill two equally spaced holes in the 2 x 4. Counter bore the hole so that head and washer of lag screw will be below the surface of 2 x 4. Drill a 3/8” hole the rest of the way through the 2 x 4. Cut your carpet to go end to end and around three sides of the 2 x 4. Staple the carpet to one side of the 2 x 4 then stretch to other side and staple. Take a razor knife and cut an X in the carpet over the counter-bored holes, insert lag screws and attach to dock. Remember, leave 2 x4 one foot above the dock. These rub boards will protect your boat as the water rises and falls. You do not have to use your fenders and keep adjusting them as the water height changes. I have had mine on my dock for 17 years and have never moved them or changed them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 352-343-9113 for any help.
Is your boat fully and properly equipped for safe boating and hurricane season? You should inspect all of your boat lines for chaffing and rotting. All boat lines should be a minimum of 3/8” line, either premium or twisted. What you need on board your boat includes a minimum of four lines at all times, have at least one extending boat hook, four fenders, up-to-date fire extinguisher (not over six years old, check bottom of extinguisher for stamped on date), a throwable boat cushion with line, life jackets for each person on board, first aid kit, small tool box, some towels, bug spray, sun screen, and two anchors and lines (one 18# river anchor for front and a 10# mushroom anchor for the rear). These anchors work well in our muck bottoms. Be sure to bring your fully charged radio on all boat outings, cruises, and tours. A cigarette lighter plug-in charger for your VHF radio is a good idea. The above articles are not all of the items you may want to carry onboard; however, this is a good start.
It is important to have two anchors on board in order to control the positioning of the boat for wind or viewing purposes. Because of our mostly muck bottoms, I recommend you have an 18 pound river anchor and a 10 pound mushroom anchor. These anchors will hold best in the bottoms or our lakes.
This is a good time of year to review your tie-up procedures and the condition of the lines you are using. I suggest that you have two sets of boat lines. One set to carry on your boat at all times. The second set affixed to your dock.
Your attached dock lines should be tied to cleats on the dock and have clips on the end to hook to your boat. This way when you come back from a cruise your boat can be secured properly and quickly without the tying and untying of your lines.
The second set remains in a locker on your boat for use when you dock away from home. These lines should also be equipped with a clip on the end to attach to your boat.
Mounting cleats on the side of your boat will assist in attaching a spring line to control forward and aft movement at a dock. Ace Hardware has a great line of non-stainless-steel clips that work very well and resist rust. You will find this will create an easy and simple way to moor your boat at home and away. The side cleat can also be a U-bolt that is bent outward or a heavy duty eye-bolt. I personally mount two bent U-bolts on each side (one forward and one aft) of my boat which seems to fit any scenario for mooring
1. Check all three of your navigation lights and the docking lights.
2. Check the bottom of your fire extinguisher for the date stamp. The fire extinguisher can be no older than six (6) years. Walmart has a large white extinguisher for only $17.99. This is a good buy.
3. Check your horn.
4. Take out all your life jackets and check for wetness, mildew and mud daubers. Clean if necessary. When dry put a couple of Bounce scented drier sheets in the locker with the life jackets.
5. Check all boat, fender and anchor lines for damage and chafing and replace if necessary.
6. Check battery water levels and fill with distilled water if low. Clean all battery terminals and wire connections to battery with water and baking soda mixture.
7. Make sure your first aid kit is refreshed and complete.
8. Make sure that all switches and gauges are working properly. If the plastic lens of the gauge is cloudy, they can be cleaned and polished with an automotive headlight lens cleaner.
9. To keep your windscreen clean and shiny use a marine plastics cleaner and polish or Maquires Quick Detailer.
For those of you who have boat trailers or plan to purchase one, here are some tips to make your boat towing a more pleasurable and safe venture. For pontoons up to 20 foot, a single axle trailer is fine. Any length above 20 foot, a tandem axle is necessary. When purchasing a trailer, make sure you have E or F load rated tires on the trailer. These provide very safe and cool running on the highway. To properly place your boat on the trailer, either single or tandem axle, measure the distance from the front of the deck to the weld on the end cap at the stern of the pontoon. Subtract one inch from this measurement, adjust the winch stand as necessary, and set the distance from the rear of the bunks to the stops on the winch stand with the measurement that you have minus one inch. Next, measure center to center of front nose cones and adjust the bunks inward or outward as needed. You should mark the center line of the trailer so bunks are set evenly from the center. This will place your boat properly on the trailer. The next step is to use a hitch on your vehicle that will make the trailer ride level. Then place a scale under the jack stand and crank it up to measure tongue weight. For a car or light SUV you should have approximately 250 pounds. A pickup truck can handle more. If you follow these parameters and you have too much or too little tongue weight, you must move the axle assembly forward or backward to achieve your proper tongue weight. All of the above procedures are imperative on a tandem axle trailer. Without this procedure the trailer will have uneven weight distribution between the front and rear axle and therefore will tow erratically and cause severe wear of the tires.
I recommend that trailers use either E or F load rated tires. This is a multiple ply tire which carries a tire pressure of 90 pounds for the E and 105 pounds for the F. The reason for using these tires is that they run cool on the highway and have very little flex. Little or no heat is accumulated in the tire. A 20 foot or less pontoon will ride very safely on a single axle trailer with E rated tires. Above 20 feet I recommend the F rated tires on a tandem axle trailer. These tires and pressures are what I use on my own trailers.