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Sailing into savings: The best time to buy a pontoon boat and gear

Take advantage of significant markdowns, availability and preparation for the next boating season

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By Alice Jones Webb

Owning a pontoon boat is one of the best ways to relax on the water. These versatile vessels are perfect for family outings, fishing, parties and laid-back cruises. A pontoon boat can be the ideal way for first responders to unwind. However, living on a fixed budget can make it challenging to invest in leisure activities.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, purchasing a pontoon at the end of summer is a strategic move that can lead to substantial savings on the overall investment. Waiting until the long, hot summer days start to shorten offers not just a change in weather but also some serious advantages in terms of cost, availability and preparation for the next boating season.

Take advantage of end-of-season discounts and inventory clearance

As summer draws to a close, boat dealers are eager to clear out current inventory to make room for next year’s models. This period, typically from late August to early October, is when dealers offer substantial discounts on pontoon boats. These markdowns can be quite significant, sometimes ranging from 10% to 20% or even more. By exercising patience and waiting until the end of the season, you can make a smart move and take advantage of these significant markdowns, allowing you to get more boat for your buck.

Because dealers are pressured to move pontoon boat inventory before the offseason, buyers also have major negotiation leverage. As the boating season winds down, the urgency to sell grows, so you can haggle in extras, such as free accessories, extended warranties or better financing terms. This bargaining power is much stronger at the end of summer compared to the beginning of the boating season when demand is high.

Also, as dealers prepare for next year’s models, they aim to clear out current inventory. This means buyers will find a wider selection of models available for immediate purchase. From high-end luxury pontoons to more affordable, basic models, the variety can be much greater compared to other times of the year when inventory is either sparse or picked over.

End-of-season sales often include not just the boats themselves, but also a range of accessories. Whether it’s advanced navigation systems, high-quality seating, fishing gear or entertainment setups, these items are more frequently bundled into end-of-season deals. Buyers can trick out a new pontoon with all the latest features and gadgets at a fraction of what it would cost in the spring or early summer.

Stock up on essential pontoon boat accessories

RAILBLAZA Pontoon Boat Fillet Table

The RAILBLAZA fillet table makes an ideal fish-cutting station. It installs easily and requires no drilling.

Wise Pontoon Double Drink Holder

Floating around on a pontoon is a great way to relax. Add a cold drink, and the experience becomes even more enjoyable. This holder features dual stainless steel cups, a marine-grade plastic frame, vinyl and foam padding. The attached weighted vinyl flap secures the drink holder to the boat seat by tucking the flap in between the seat and back cushions.

KEMIMOTO Boat Fenders

Upgrade your pontoon boat bumpers with these molded closed-cell foam detachable fenders. Simply connect the straps and lock them into place; no nautical knots required.

Jranter Bungee Dockline

Sure, you can just use regular ropes when docking your pontoon, but these bungee dock lines make it so much easier. There’s no need to tie knots and because they are stretchy, you never have to worry about not having enough rope to properly secure your boat the dock.

Better Boat Boat Hook and Extension Pole

This heavy-duty boat hook is made from thick reinforced plastic that won’t break or buckle, even when tossed around in rough water. It functions as a push pole, telescoping pole with a hook to assist in docking or to pull lines to make docking much easier. It also floats, making it easy to retrieve if it accidentally goes overboard.

GRAOSO Waterproof Boat Organizers

These heavy-duty, large-capacity boat organizers are made of durable PVC Tarpaulin with two-way zippers to keep all your goods safely dry. They feature adjustable straps, so they easily attach to your railing or boat chairs of any shape or size.

Benefit from improved financing options

Even with heavily discounted end-of-season prices, purchasing a pontoon boat can be a hefty financial investment. If you don’t have cash to slap down on a new pontoon, waiting until the end of summer could garner benefits if you choose to finance your purchase.

Financial institutions often offer attractive financing options towards the end of the summer. With fewer buyers, lenders may provide better interest rates and loan terms to stimulate purchases. Additionally, because dealers are motivated to sell, they sometimes offer special financing deals that are more favorable than what they provide during the peak boating season.

Prep for next summer

Purchasing at the end of the summer gives you all winter to plan and prepare for the next boating season. That means you’ll have plenty of time to complete any custom work, install upgrades, schedule maintenance and organize outings.

The offseason is also the perfect time to complete boating safety courses, read up on local regulations, and get familiar with all the ins and outs of your new vessel. With everything ready to go by the first warm days of spring, you can enjoy the water instead of whiling it away in preparation.

The end of summer can be a strategically smart time to purchase a pontoon boat and its accessories. The combination of significant cost savings, wider selection, improved negotiation leverage, and ample prep time makes this period ideal for buyers. Whether you are a seasoned boater or a complete noob, the end of summer is the perfect time to invest in a pontoon boat, ensuring many fun, memorable days on the water.

About the author

Alice Jones Webb is an outdoor writer, editor and speaker; and contributing writer for “Field & Stream” and “Recoil Magazine.”