5 Weekend Upgrades for Your Pontoon Boat

Congratulations, you arguably own the coolest boat on the water.

Many feel that nothing is more dependable, durable or flexible than the pontoon boat, and I personally feel the same.

The best part is that flexibility—you can literally change it into a new boat every year or even every weekend if you want.

If you have owned a pontoon boat for any time at all, as I have, you have probably seen your same base boat model built out in many different ways. In this way, pontoon boats are no different than your favorite American muscle cars. All of your work makes it uniquely yours and it will always be that way.

Your boat is a representation of all your interests and joys. Are you a scuba diver like me? Are you a fisherman? An explorer and survivalist? I am sure that your boat reflects this—and if it doesn’t yet, it should. After all, your boat supports you in all your other outdoor activities. It is your primary tool for getting there and back again.

While the projects mentioned in this article may not be perfect for everyone’s boat and style, they should serve to give you some good ideas. At the very least, the projects will let you know the options that are available for your boat. We all want to be different and look cool. So, let’s get on with it.

5 Weekend Upgrades for Your Pontoon Boat

The Grill

Okay, so you have the party boat. If there is one thing a party needs, it is food.

The first weekend upgrade I ever made was a grill. Magma is just one company that produces these, but it is the one I recommend you start with as they have a whole diverse line of marine-grade grills. These grills can be either charcoal or gas, and you can choose according to your own preference.

Magma Gas Grill

Magma Products, Original Size Marine Kettle Gas Grill, A10-205
  • Made of 100% 18-9 mirror polished stainless steel with a combination "easy to clean" grease catch pan / wind baffle
  • Hinged lid won't slam shut and has a "stay cool" handle with air cooled supports. Cooking grill diameter: 13 inch
  • Swiveling, windproof turbo venturi & control valve virtually eliminate blowouts, places the fuel valve where it's safe and convenient
  • Before lighting the indexed bowl and lid may be rotated to act as a windshield in gusty wind conditions
  • Uses both radiant and convection cooking with burner and hi-tech radiant plate heat distribution, quickly comes to temperature

Magma Charcoal Grill

New Cabo Adventurer Marine Series Charcoal Grill Magma A10-703c Cooking Area Primary - 9" L x 18" W 162 Sq. in.
  • 100% Mirror Polished Stainless Steel, for lasting beauty and superior corrosion resistance
  • 9 inch x 18 inch or 162 square inch grilling surface, perfect for grilling foods of all sizes
  • Fold-Away legs, perfect for that quick picnic ashore or at the park (Do Not Use Folding Legs On-Board a Boat)
  • Oversized, balanced, lockable lid won't slam shut and secures all inner component for transportation
  • Durable heat resistant all weather plastic handle with air cooled supports will hold up in the harshest environments

Regardless of which brand you choose, you will see that most marine-grade grills are corrosion-resistant and offer various mounting options.

If you already have fishing rod holders on your boat, this is often a convenient mounting location. If the grill you select does not have this mounting option built in, you can purchase a separate mount, like this quality Magma mount.

If you do not have fishing rod holders but instead have rails, many grills can be found to mount on the rails of your boat. And again, there are always separate rail mounts that can be purchased and attached—see this single, round rail mount and this dual, horizontal rail mount, both offered by Magma.

Magma Products T10-590 Dual Horizontal Round Rail Mount, 1-1/2 inch Rails, Multi
  • Incredibly strong and rigid, these rail mounts will not slip on the rail
  • A unique pivoting design allows them to attach to curved rails or across the corner of a stern rail
  • Made of 18-8 stainless steel and 356 hard anodized aluminum
  • Instantly detach without tools for compact storage leaving no hardware on the rail
  • Not for use with the TrailMate Connoisseur Series Gas Grill or Cabo Adventurer Series Grills

Either way, many mounting options offer quick releases so that you can remove the grill when it is not in use. Additionally, many grills also have collapsible legs so that the grill can be used on a table or the ground when not attached to your boat.

Make no mistake about it, people get hungry even when they are alone on the water. I know I do. A grill is always a popular and quick weekend project for your pontoon boat. This is especially true if you like to tie off to other boats on the water and make your party even bigger.

The Tunes

BOSS Audio Systems MCK1440W.64 Marine Package Includes MR1440U Single-Din Marine AM FM CD Receiver with Detachable Face, 2 Pair 6.5 Inch MR6W Marine Speakers, MRANT10 Antenna
  • Weather Proof Two Pair of MR6W 6.5" Full Range Marine Speakers with Poly Carbon Cone and Rubber Surround
  • 180 Watts MAX 90 Watts RMS Power Handling per Pair
  • Marine Rated MR440U has 60 Watts x 4 Max Power, Preset Built-in EQ, Wireless Remote
  • Plays CD/USB/SD MP3, FM/AM, Smart Phones
  • USB, SD, Aux inputs and Front, Rear & Subwoofer RCA Outputs

Yeah, I know, your boat probably already has a radio. However, there are tunes, and then there are Boss Audio tunes. We are Americans after all, and when it comes to music we don’t go halfway. This is a favorite area for me!

Here, of course, the options are limitless. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that all equipment is not created equal. These tunes are floating in water and exposed to sun, rain and, of course, your friends.

Do not go shopping for equipment at an auto parts store if it is for your boat. You want to locate equipment that will hold up to the harsh environment that you will be installing it in. This means water-resistant if not waterproof, UV-resistant and anti-corrosion components from your deck to your speakers. When I say “deck” here, this does not mean the deck of your boat—we are talking about the head unit for your audio empire.

However, while these are the basics for all components of the system, it is still not the total system these days. Today the options are limitless. From satellite radio to iPod connections to amplifiers and subwoofers, you have it all available to you today. If you like to be on the water but not hear the water—or if you just want to let everyone know you are coming—then play it loud.

The Power Inverter

Rally Marine Grade 400W Power Inverter with USB Charging Port and Map Light (7637)
  • 400W Continuously/800W Peak Output
  • Corrosion Resistant Circuit Boards & Clips
  • Dual AC Ports for 400W output and two USB Port 5V-3.1Amp Shared
  • Replaceable Fuses in End Cap (2x 35Amp Spade type) & one 15Amp Glass type in 12Volt DC Accessory Plug
  • Replaceable Fuses in End Cap (2x 35Amp Spade type) & one 15Amp Glass type in 12Volt DC Accessory Plug

Well, we have done it now, and it may be obvious I’m techy. We opened Pandora’s box when we started talking about electronics. It doesn’t stop with your tunes.

That is why the next item on important to me because I always have more gear.

Now, I can see some of you looking at me like the RCA dog and asking, “what is a power inverter?” To put it simply, your phone, iPod and notebook computer, among other equipment, are made to be plugged into a wall, not a boat. So, a power inverter is just a device that wires into your boats electrical system to give you real outlets.

This is great for many reasons, but one of the biggest is not needing to run extension cords everywhere. Extension cords not only give you something to trip over and create a safety hazard, but they just don’t look very nice.

However, never forget that your power inverter is also an electronic device, so it needs all the same considerations as your tunes.

My top choice for a reliable power inverter is the Rally 500W marine grade option, which comes with a few handy features for avid pontooners. I am not sure what it is going for these days, but can you check the current price on Amazon here.


Garmin GPSMAP 547xs 10Hz GPS/GLONASS Receiver without Transducer
  • With the integration of a 10Hz GPS/GLONASS receiver, the 527 refreshes position and heading up to 10 times per second
  • It displays constant and fluid on-screen location and proves to be incredibly accurate when marking and navigating to any one of 5,000 user-created waypoints
  • It also has wireless connectivity, giving you the opportunity to connect and access marine-specific apps via smartphone or tablet
  • without transducer; includes worldwide basemap; US BlueChart g2 and US LakeVu HD data card

Let’s face it, you know you get lost. I have been there. Guys don’t like to ask for directions, and when you are on the water it is kind of hard to pull over at a gas station, buy a six pack of beer and ask another guy for directions when your girlfriend isn’t looking.

This is where a Garmin GPS comes in handy. The Garmin GPSMAP 547 is my personal recommendation. It is loaded with useful features and pre-installed maps for adventurous pontooners, and the installation instructions are clear as day. Certainly a manageable weekend project.

Whether it is a dive spot, fishing spot or your favorite hangout, the GPS can make sure you find your way back when you stumble upon something cool in the water.

Additionally, if you want to find places you have never been before, it is a whole lot easier with a GPS and coordinates as opposed to just wandering around like Moses in the desert. Of course, if you do get lost, at least you have tunes and a grill now.

Take care with installation, follow the instructions every step of the way, and pay careful attention to the best practices for installing marine electronics.

The Battery Charger

All that power for our electronics has got to come from somewhere and on a boat, it comes from your battery. By now it should be obvious that electricity and water really do not mix, so this is a component you really need to take care of.

Additionally, if your boat sits for long periods of time without the engine running this can, of course, end with a dead battery.

That is why we are rounding out this list with an excellent battery charger from Battery Tender. This has saved my butt more than once!

This is a pretty simple device, but it saves you a lot of work and heartache when you have been neglectful of your boat.

Quite simply, it is merely a that you plug into when you get back to the dock, and you leave it plugged in until it is time to go again. It will keep your battery charged without overcharging, and it only takes a few seconds every time you hit the dock to make sure your boat starts when you need it next.


Well, there you go friends.

This is my list of five weekend upgrades for your pontoon boat—everything but the spinning rims. Try making these simple upgrades this weekend to ensure that your pontoon adventures are the best they can possibly be.

Your pontoon is meant to be fun, functional and durable, and everything listed here is meant to make this your boating reality.

Happy boating, all.