Do Jon Boats Flip Easy?


Jon boat flipping over

Jon boats are excellent inland water boats. They are known to be shallow draft vessels that perform best on calm water. So it is no wonder some people are concerned about there stability. Will a Jon boat flip easily? Let’s find out.

A Jon boat is very difficult to flip. Jon boats will not flip when they are used in the correct marine environments and under the correct conditions for which they were designed. On calm water a Jon boat is one of the most stable watercraft you can use. Even in relatively choppy water a Jon boat will remain stable. A Jon boat will only flip over when it used in the type of environments it is not designed to be used in, such as very turbulent ocean waves.

Is a Jon boat easy to flip?

Jon boats are designed for inland water use. They have a flat bottom and a very shallow draft. It is well known that these hull characteristics allow a Jon boat to be used in waters that have just a few inches of depth. Those same characteristics also give a Jon boat incredible stability.

The flat bottom hull design means a Jon boat basically “sits on top” of the water. The large flat surface at its bottom runs the entire width of the boat and displaces enough water to give the boat exceptional stability.

On calm water it is possible to walk about on a Jon boat without feeling any of the side-to-side motion you would experience on deep water boats, like a rowboat.

Jon boats are so stable that they make excellent bowfishing and duck hunting boats where stability is essential for shooting.

From all the different types of shallow water boats available, from skiffs and drift boats, to canoes and kayaks, a Jon boat is the most stable and the hardest to flip.

However, just because a Jon boat may be very difficult to flip this does not mean you can’t flip one.

When will a Jon boat flip?

Jon boats are shallow draft boats designed to be used in marine environments that often have shallow water such as rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes.

Although some of these bodies of water can be deep, or have deep areas, and they can experience chop, such as large lakes, a Jon boat will still remain stable and safe to use on them. It takes a lot to flip a Jon boat.

Even though large bodies of water like lakes can be very deep and can experience chop a Jon is more than capable of dealing with these conditions and will remain stable even in waves as high as 5 feet. A Mod V Jon boat can handle waves much higher without taking on water or flipping due to its semi-v bottom and pointed bow.

A Jon boat will only run into trouble in very turbulent waters. Unless you encounter freak weather you will only usually experience trouble when you use a Jon boat in bodies of the water that it was never designed to be used in, like the ocean.

Although some Jon boat owners will take their boats into the ocean, these shallow draft watercraft are not seaworthy. As we outlined in this article, taking a Jon boat into ocean water requires strict adherence to certain rules.

You must only take a Jon boat into the ocean when the weather is optimal. The ocean water must be calm. A certain amount of ocean swell is okay but turbulent water and high waves will create trouble for a flat bottom boat.

When using a Jon boat in the ocean you should also always stay within sight of the shoreline. A Jon boat is not a seaworthy craft and if the conditions turn bad and you are too far from shore your Jon boat may not make it back.

Very turbulent water with very high waves hitting the side of a Jon boat could flip it.

How to avoid flipping a Jon boat

Avoiding flipping a Jon boat is easy – only use it on inland bodies of water and if do you take it into the ocean only do so on a calm day.

However, just because it is difficult to flip a Jon boat that doesn’t mean you can’t sink one!

Jon boats rarely flip but they can easily take on enough water to sink when they are not used correctly.

Below are a few things you can do to ensure your Jon boat does not take on water. These include:

  • Avoid overloading the boat.
  • Ensure you distribute the load correctly.
  • Respect the weather.

Avoid overloading the boat

When it comes to inland watercraft this is probably the most common cause of sinking.

Overloading your Jon boat will probably not cause it to flip but it will almost definitely cause it to take on water and sink, especially in choppy water.

A Jon boat has a very low freeboard and so its lowest part, on the bottom of the boat, sits very close to the waterline. This means that weighing down the boat too much pushes down the sides of the watercraft dangerously close to the water. This can result in only one outcome – water will get into the boat, weighing it down even more, thus leading to more water getting into the boat and weighing it down further etc., etc.

To avoid taking on water and sinking your boat you must stay within the weight capacity of your vessel (see our Jon boat weight capacity guide).

Correct weight distribution

Overloading the boat isn’t the only problem you can encounter when it comes to cargo and passenger weight. Incorrectly distributing the weight on your boat can also lead to problems.

For example, putting too much load at the bow area of the boat will weigh down the front of the vessel and you will be unable to get your Jon on plane. At best the boat will continually porpoise. At worst it will take on water and sink.

Putting all the load at the back will weigh down the stern and force it too deep in the water. With the added weight of the outboard motor and motor operator the boat will take on water.

To avoid these problems be sure to distribute the weight of cargo and passengers evenly on your boat.

Respect the weather

Although Jon boats are extremely stable watercraft on inland bodies of water, do not push the boat past its limits.

In extremely bad weather conditions, especially when the wind is really picking up the water, stay on land. Jon boats and turbulent water do not mix.

If it looks to bad to boat in, then it probably is!

Giving a Jon boat extra protection against flipping

Although a Jon boat is extremely stable on inland waters there are modifications you can make to the boat to improve its stability even more.

These modifications include adding outriggers at the sides of the boat and/or pods at the back and even widening the hull (to mimic a double wide Jon boat).

You can read more about these methods in our article how to make a Jon boat more stable.

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