If you own a pontoon boat, then you know that it comes with many perks. However, you also know the struggles of maintaining the pontoon boat.
A pontoon boat cannot sit in water for long periods of time. Dirt, grime, and mold can form on the boat’s tubing. This is why lifts are used to take the boat out of the water when it is not being used.
But, lifts can sometimes prove just as damaging to pontoon boats. This is where pontoon sea legs come in.
Pontoon sea legs are relatively new hydraulic mechanisms that serve as a promising alternative to regular lifts. Moreover, they can be a great way to preserve the look and longevity of your pontoon boat. Read on to find out how!
What Are Pontoon Sea Legs
Essentially, pontoon sea legs are portable hydraulic lifts for pontoon boats. The sea legs are actually two hydraulic lifting legs. Placed underneath the boat, sea legs can lift or lower a pontoon boat an impressive six feet out of the water.
The sea legs act as an alternative to the traditional lifts used at docks. Both are used to preserve the quality of your pontoon vessel.
Leaving your pontoon at a dock for long periods of time leads to eventual wear and tear. By lifting it out of the water with sea legs, the hull of your boat remains free of dirt, dents, or grime.
You’re probably wondering why you wouldn’t just use a lift.
Here is the problem with pontoon lifts: they are attached to the dock and not to your boat. This means that the only time you can protect your pontoon boat is at a dock.
Fortunately, sea legs can work anywhere, as long as it can touch the bottom part of the lake or river. This way you can raise or lower your boat on demand, up to 6 feet in height. As such, sea legs are considered a more flexible and accessible option.
How Many Sea Legs Do You Need
The number you need depends on the size of your boat. In general, anything longer than 30 ft. or shorter than 18 ft. will not work well.
The general placement of the sea legs positions them near both ends of the boat. As such, the longer your boat is, the more sea legs you may need.
However, you should go along with your dealer or installer’s advice on that one.
The Construction of Pontoon Sea Legs
One of the most common materials used to construct sea legs is aluminum. This material is chosen for a very good reason. Aluminum tends to be light-weight and it also can withstand water erosion.
To construct sea legs, the aluminum is extruded into alloy tubing. The tubing is then set an angle to offer the right amount of strength to support a hefty pontoon.
Then, a 48” x 18” footpad is placed at the end of the two legs to solidly plant the whole structure on the bottom of the lake or river.
There are four hydraulic cylinders attached to the legs. Each of them is supported by the steel-alloy piston rods that can carry up to 6,5000 pounds. This way, the heavier pontoon boats can still use the sea legs system.
Do the Sea Legs Interfere with Boat’s Performance
The entire construction of the sea legs is built for strength and stability. However, they do increase the average pontoon boat weight and affect its overall performance.
On average, the added weight equates to the average weight of two people. However, the impact is still noticeable.
First, you might notice some of your average speed decreasing. This is due to the added weight of the sea legs.
They are strategically placed on the boat to avoid drag in the water. However, that does not eliminate or redistribute the weight in any way.
Granted, if you think about it, a pontoon is not constructed for speed anyway. I’ve written about that in another article titled Pontoon Boat Speed – How Fast Is Your Pontoon Boat. So, how much of a disadvantage is this?
The other concern is stability. There have been some instances where sea legs have tipped over.
Though this could have been because of improper use of the sea legs. If you are not mindful of where you are planting the legs, you could end up in mud or on a rocky bottom. Both can make your sea legs unstable.
How Much Do Pontoon Sea Legs Cost
There is a variety of sea leg brands out there, meaning the costs can vary. However, one thing is for certain: sea legs can get pricey.
Here is a general pricing template:
Let’s start with the average price of the sea legs alone. The sea legs for a 2 tube pontoon boat costs around $4,000. Installation can cost around $700, which brings the total to almost $5,000.
The prices will increase with the size of the pontoon. A three-tube pontoon will require sea legs that cost $6,500 and $1,000 for installation. That’s almost a whopping $8,000.
That’s not all.
Without installation, the 26-foot lift canopy can cost up to $5,000. You can add remote control to the package for up to $400.
An upside to the high prices, many sea legs brands will offer a warranty. The rates may vary so do your research and get the best deal available in the market.
Again, these prices are not perfectly accurate. However, they can just act as a foundation and comparison when you do go hunting for prices. You might not find spectacularly low prices but at least you will know a deal when you see one.
You should also consider the sea legs cost before buying the boat. They can considerably increase the true cost of a pontoon boat.
Should You Have Insurance
Nowadays, there is insurance for everything. Your sea legs are no different.
Due to their construction, they are considered temporary structures. This means they might have a different insurance policy than your pontoon boat’s insurance.
This is definitely something to research alongside your pontoon boat insurance. First, you want to ensure you are finding the best rates and great coverage. You also want to see if your insurance company can do a bundle deal to save you more money.
One of the top benefits of sea legs is how it protects your pontoon from damage. Not only does this preserve your pontoon’s appearance, but it also improves the longevity of your boat.
Improving the longevity of your boat is valuable, especially if you plan on selling your boat in the future. If your boat is in good shape, you will find that its value has not depreciated. As a result, the payoff will be greater.
While sea legs have many positive aspects, they might not be practical for everyone. If sea legs do not seem to fit into your budget, there are still some affordable ways to secure your boat.
First, you can go with the classic route of tying your pontoon off at a dock. The shortcoming with this method is that it does not protect your boat from mold, erosion, and denting.
You will also need a pontoon cover so you can protect your boat against the elements.
The second method is to use the pontoon boat trailer. Granted, this method could also grow exhaustive over time.
If you are not sure about investing in sea legs, these are good methods to try. They do have their shortcomings, but they do save you from bleeding out your wallet.
Pros & Cons
Sea Legs Conclusion
Pontoon sea legs are a great alternative to classic pontoon lifts. Due to their sturdy build, they can better protect your pontoon from long-term damage, especially if you need to protect your boat from the saltwater.
But, sea legs come with their flaws.
Aside from high prices, they can have stability and performance issues. As such, it is natural that sea legs might not be a practical option for everyone.
Regardless, pontoon sea legs are an eye-catching accessory for any boat. If you need something that combines functionality with a bit of theatrics, sea legs are great for you.