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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte

A guide to floating pontoon boat hire

In previous blogs, we’ve described pontoon work boats as ‘the Swiss Army knife’ of marine equipment. Available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, they are essentially floating work platforms from which a range of construction solutions can be delivered safely and effectively.

Their versatility makes them ideal for a wide range of marine civil engineering projects. Before hiring one, however, it is important to understand what types of work pontoons there are, which one would be right for your project, and how you would go about hiring one.

Different types of pontoon work boats

Narrow Beam Digger Ponton — a specialist machine transporter and operating platform pontoon. It is capable of carrying machines of up to 2.5 tonnes to awkward access sites, and can either track the digger off onto land, or be operated from with a reach of up to 3-4 metres.

Wide Beam Digger Pontoon — similar to the above, but capable of carrying up to an eight-tonne machine with side stability tanks in place.

Powered Excavator Pontoon — perfect for carrying out piling, nicospan or dredging works, the 40ft powered excavator pontoon can also track a mini digger on/off the towpath and down into the bottom of the boat for transport.

Narrow Beam Crane Pontoon — a specialist narrow crane pontoon with a carrying capacity of 1.5 tonnes and a hold length of 20ft, a narrow beam crane pontoon offers a stable platform from which to carry out a number of works including piling, dredging and bank stabilisation works.

Wide Beam Crane Pontoon — a maximum lift of six tonnes, with a maximum outward reach of eight metres, and upward reach of 10m. The wide beam crane pontoon is ideal for gate lock changing operations, where the pontoon can transport and lift in new gates in one operation.

Survey Pontoon — with both powered and unpowered versions available, a survey pontoon is designed to reach awkward access sites and undertake bridge inspections.

Key considerations

As you can see, there is a wide range of pontoon hire options. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to construction projects, which is why The Rothen Group provides bespoke quotes for each individual case. To help decide which is the best option for your project, below is a list of the key considerations that you should keep in mind when choosing a pontoon solution:

· Width of the waterway – which helps to define whether a wide or narrow pontoon is required.

· Depth of the waterway – again, linked with the size of the pontoon which is suitable for the project.

· The type of works you are carrying out – whether you need access off the front, rear and sides or just one/two.

· Materials needed – this includes the length of piles, weight of materials, where are you trying to load from and unload to.

· The access restrictions like for getting work pontoons to site – in certain cases, for example, a narrow beam may be better than a wide beam with hiab lorries.

· Whether you are looking to track plant off the pontoon onto the site – ramps may be needed, and the pontoon’s size may need to be considered.

· Whether welfare is required at site – powered pontoons have welfare or welfare pods. Which can be supplied by The Rothen Group, and placed on a pontoon.

Logistics of floating pontoon hire

Depending on availability, we can often mobilise within 24 to 48 hrs. This can depend on locations and complexity of the project, but we have a team of experts who know where our kit is, and can manage the logistics of getting our equipment to your site.

There are further issues surrounding the delivery of the work pontoon to site that are important to be aware of. For instance, the time of year can have an effect, given that there may be navigational restrictions in place along waterways. This is especially true during the winter months, when the Canal and River Trust is often conducting works which close the canal.

In cases where the pontoon cannot be floated to site, we are often able to transport it by road before lifting it into the water. Our team can analyse sites to establish the best course of action, considering factors such as location, or the weight of the lift.

If you have any further questions about pontoon hire, or would like to know more about the services The Rothen Group can offer, please contact us on 01827 215715, or email

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