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Expert’s Tips to Dock a Pontoon Boat- Easy Instructions

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

how to dock a pontoon boat

After a day of joyful boating activities, it’s time for boaters to return to the port and dock their pontoon boat. Surprisingly, docking a pontoon boat seems to be one of the most annoying tasks that boat operators need to proceed.

This fact is understandable since pontoon watercrafts have bigger shapes and structures compared to other vessels. Many people find it difficult to park their vessels precisely in the dock, especially those with a large amount of water vehicles in presence.

If you are looking for an article that can compile knowledge about pontoon boat docking from A to Z, this is the perfect place! In this post, we will cover all the steps to tie a pontoon boat to a dock and provide detailed instructions on specific situations like how to dock a pontoon boat in a slip or ways with expert’s tips to dock a pontoon boat.

Moreover, other pontoon boat docking aids that can support boat operators during the procedure will be highlighted throughout the article. Continue reading to learn more!

Before Docking a Pontoon Boat

Before I describe techniques for docking your pontoon crafts, I need to emphasize the need of planning ahead of time. When you first consider docking, there are a few steps you have to do.

Prepare your fenders and tie lines carefully before reaching the port. If you have people onboard, inform them about what they should do to assist, like monitor the dock lines or prepare to jump off the vessel to assure those ropes. However, you should still follow these tips to ensure that your lines and fenders are secured:

  • Install the fenders on your watercraft at an appropriate height so they will reach the pier when your boat arrives.
  • Tie the front and back wires to the craft cleats that will be attached to the dock’s side.
  • Remove barriers if you’re on a watercraft with gates, especially pontoon boats, for enhanced visibility.

Where Should You Dock Your Pontoon Vessels


The majority of pontoon boats are parked at a port or personal docking place. Different types of docks can be designated to pontoon boat anchoring locations. There are four main dock types that are appropriate for pontoon boats.

1. Boat lift

It is open to a straightforward method of docking pontoon vessels. You may use it to totally remove the pontoon from the sea. It is a procedure that can prevent corrosion and disasters caused by altering water depth. The boat lift is often used in conjunction with a fixed dock as an additional precaution to minimize the growth of algae, barnacles, or mussels.

2. Floating docks

This style of dock is used in areas where the water depth varies, such as seashores and deep sea bays. It is also permanent, similar to the fixed dock. The distinction is that it is constantly anticipated to float when the water depth varies.

3. Stationary docks

Living up to its name, this dock is securely erected and found at a set location. It has a traditional look and is supported by poles and posts. According to experts, this is the greatest alternative for shielding your craft from waves and winds.

However, there is a risk that your boat will collide with the dock. This is more likely to occur when the mooring lines aren’t long enough to account for changes due to water levels, tides, or current.

4. Portable docks

As pontoon boats are stored on land, this is preserved during the off-season. It is typically utilized in regions where there is ice in the waterways. Since the water freezes in the winter, a transportable dock is the best option. Portable docks are typically placed on level ground. It’s also designed to be wheeled.

How to Dock a Pontoon Craft? – Expert Tutorials


Now that you have prepared all the gadgets and know where to dock, it’s time for you to practice the process. In this section, we will deliver a detailed tutorial on the way to dock a pontoon boat. Follow these steps and dock your vessel properly:

  • Step 1: Set your watercraft in neutral and begin slowly cruising towards the dock. Simultaneously, start reducing the motor because the water will likely grow narrower when the boat comes closer to the port. However, ensure your propeller is still under the water so you can steer.
  • Step 2: Continue to make your approach to the dock with caution. Entering gently is critical, especially for novices. The vessel will still move when in neutral, but not nearly as much as while in gear. Hence, this makes it critical to engage the gear shift if you have to prevent a collision.
  • Step 3: Allow yourself enough time to stop as you approach the dock by shifting your pontoon into reverse. Set your boat back into neutral mode and enable the weight of your craft to float closer to the dock once you’re 20 feet away from the port.
  • Step 4: Put your boat in backward and allow a little gas to ground to a standstill after the vessel is around halfway up the dock. Move to the pillion then use your line to secure your boat to the pier.

For more details, check out this video:

Tips for Practicing Docking Pontoon Vessels

While docking your pontoon craft, you may encounter some problems. Therefore, to reduce the difficulty when practicing pontoon boat docking, here are some useful tips given by experienced boat operators:

1. Reduce the speed

Don’t be frightened to reduce the speed of your engine. It’s not an issue if you accidentally use reverse longer than expected and the boat comes to a standstill. Simply re-engage the motor and resume forward motion. After the boat is cruising, return the engine to neutral mode while preparing to enter reverse gear.

2. Boat fenders

Even if you understand how to dock the boat, having side fenders on board is a smart idea because accidents can occur from time to time. Boat fenders might rescue your crew if another boat collides with it.

3. Weather checking

I already advised approaching the pier slowly to get greater control. However, if you are facing severe waves or gusts, that might not be practicable. In these tough conditions, attempting a gradual approach may result in your boat moving the other direction. To retain momentum, you should approach quicker than usual.


This article’s advice will offer you confidence in docking a pontoon vessel with expert’s tips to dock a pontoon boat. To strengthen your talents, remember to practice frequently. When traveling with your pontoon boat, appropriate docking is indeed a part of the safety precautions. Pay attention to every vital element to avoid colliding with the dock and other boats.

I hope you found this informative and useful. Did you enjoy the article? Do you want to add anything else? Please let me know and leave a comment below.

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