What is a pontoon boat, the type of vessel Naya Rivera was on when she went missing?

Naya Rivera on the red carpet
Glee star, Naya Rivera, has been reported missing after hiring a pontoon vessel in Lake Piru near Los Angeles, Ca. Pic credit: © Carrie-nelson

Glee actress, Naya Rivera, has been reported missing after hiring a pontoon boat on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. But what type of vessel is a pontoon boat?

The 33-year-old actress is presumed dead after her 4-year-old son Josey was found alone on a rented pontoon in the lake. A fellow boater reportedly raised the alarm when they spotted young Josey alone on an adrift boat.

When rescued, Josey (who is thought to be unharmed) told the emergency services that he and his mom had been swimming.

The boy was wearing a life jacket, but there are reports that an adult life jacket was found onboard, leading searchers to suspect that Rivera was not wearing an inflatable aid.

A search and rescue team has been deployed, which includes a dive team and an air unit.

What is a pontoon boat?

A pontoon boat
An image of a small, fast pontoon. Pic credit: YouTube

According to, a pontoon is essentially any boat with a large, flat deck mounted atop two or more metal tubes called pontoons. Sometimes, these boats have three pontoons or tubes, known as tri-toons.

These tubes create a lot of reserve buoyancy and tend to be very stable, allowing designers to create a large flat area of decking. This deck area can include a vast array of accommodations, including lounge areas, stand-up bars, and sun pads.

Pontoon boats come in all shapes and sizes and can be used for a wide variety of activities from fishing, to a family get together, to ferrying goods across rivers. The average length ranges from 16 to 30 feet long.

Generally, These boats are for leisure activities on freshwater, best used on lakes and in canals. It is unusual to find one designed for use in seawater.

Pontoon boats have a reputation for being slow and cumbersome. Designers are increasingly putting more powerful engines on board. Pontoon engines are generally an outboard that sits at the stern.


The search for Naya Rivera continues

Naya Rivera has not been declared dead, and the search continues. Last night the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said they suspended the search until daylight returned this morning.

As well as finding fame as Santana Lopez on Glee, Rivera was also known for starring in Step Up, a dance drama series that airs on Starz.

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