Even though pontoon boats are some of the most popular recreational vessels globally, they are not perfect and have some flaws. To minimize some of the flaws, we can make some modifications.
These changes and additions can improve pontoon boat speed, maneuverability, and performance.
From underskins to engine trimming, there are many things that you can do to soup-up your boat.
Nonetheless, pontoon lifting strakes are some of the most effective speed-enhancing modifications available. These simple structures can hold the key to a faster and smoother ride.
Pontoon Lifting Strakes – What You Need to Know
Any new pontoon bost bought should already have lifting strakes fitted. This is because of the overwhelming benefits that they offer.
Some enthusiasts say their maximum speeds increased by 15% (on average) after installation. With that in mind, it makes sense that they now come as standard with most vessels.
Strakes are a sound investment for anyone who likes to get the most out of their time on the water. If you love your boat, this is something you should take into account.
What Are Pontoon Lifting Strakes
Pontoon lifting strakes are metal structures welded onto the vessel tubes to increase lift at the bow. They provide lift by displacing water and raising the bow above the waterline. This allows you to glide above rather than plow through the water and reduces drag.
Generally made of aluminum, lifting strakes are fitted to the sides and bottom of a boat. Fitting pontoon lifting strakes to the side is key to improving performance. After all, the motor of a 3000lb boat needs all the help it can to get things moving.
Some strakes, however, provide lift by sitting at a negative angle. This can damage the quality of your ride by increasing slamming loads at higher speeds.
Why You Need Lifting Strakes
Pontoon boats are now some of the most versatile recreational vessels on the market. They can be used for fishing, skiing, tubing, and leisurely floats and cruises. As a result of this, outboard motors have been getting bigger with time.
While this might suggest that boats are getting more powerful as a result, this isn’t always true. The extra weight began to inhibit lift generation.
As such, some heavier boats were unsuitable for water sports. Pontoon lifting strakes were implemented as a way to offset this weight and improve lift.
The Benefits of Lifting Strakes
When appropriately installed, pontoon lifting strakes offer many benefits. Of all these benefits, the increase in performance and efficiency is what stands out most.
Lifting Strakes Increase the Speed
By providing lift, they can increase your maximum speed by 10 – 15% and make towing tubes and skiers much easier. This is because they prevent the front of your pontoon boat from plowing through the water. This creates less resistance and allows your engine to shine.
The decrease in drag and resistance means that your boat uses less fuel to reach top speeds. In fact, moving at all becomes easier, which means you make the most of each tank of gas.
Offers Smoother Ride
When placed and fitted well, they will improve the balance of your vessel. More than this, they can give you a smoother ride and increase your comfort while out on the water.
There are few (if any) drawbacks to installing these structures. However, you should consider the cost of them to an older boat. Fitting pontoon lifting strakes is one costly undertaking.
Fitting Lifting Strakes
If you have bought or inherited an older used pontoon boat, then fitting pontoon lifting strakes are a good idea.
This is a good idea if you are invested in keeping the boat you have already. After all, you can do it yourself if you have the right skills.
If you intend to fit them yourself, seek advice from a marine mechanic. They can help you decide where to place them and how many to add.
Secondly, think about whether speed or maneuverability is more important to you. Putting strakes on the inside and outside of your pontoon boat offers a significant performance boost. However, your ability to bank into corners will suffer.
If you want a balanced result, fit them on the inside only.
If you lack the skills to fit them yourself, the process can become a little more complicated.
Adding them to an older boat, in particular, is a delicate job that can result in costly damages if done wrong. Finding a marine mechanic who can install it safely and quickly isn’t cheap; the average cost is around $2,000.
With that in mind, many people prefer to buy boats which come with strakes fitted. Newer models are more likely to have these structures as standard. They often have more powerful engines, too.
This is appealing for many reasons, and so those who can afford to tend to buy new. However, if you are passionate about renovation, you can learn to fit them yourself.
To recap, pontoon lifting strakes are structures that ‘lift’ the bow of a pontoon out of the water to allow it to glide.
This small design change can have huge benefits for boating enthusiasts. Most notably, they increase speed and fuel efficiency and provide a smoother ride.
In fact, if you intend to spend a lot of time on the water, they are an essential feature.
Because they will make sure you maximize the power of your boat.
The main problem is that fitting them is not easy. There is always a chance that your boat will be damaged when adding these structures. So, think carefully before making a choice.
Furthermore, unless you can do it yourself, it can be expensive and time-consuming. With average costs in the thousands, many people feel the process isn’t worth it. After all, the results can be nominal.
As a result, some recommend trading-in your old pontoon boat for a newer model; by doing that, you remove the need for fitting altogether. Of course, only you can decide what is right for you.