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Pontoon shopping at Chicago boat show

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  • Pontoon shopping at Chicago boat show

    My sibling and I our looking to replace our 24' foot party barge with a smaller pontoon. 18-20', 4 stroke motor, composite floor, etc. I know bennington is a good brand, can others here name a few other good quality co.'s? It will just be for cruising, I would think a 50 hp would be enough (maybe). Any motors to avoid? Other options? Thanks for the replys.

  • #2
    If you like the Harris Flotebote line, I can get you in touch with a tremendous sales person my family has worked with for 18 years.

    I don't have much input on your questions however. I know Merc 4 strokes were backordered for a while and that was causing rigging delays. I don't think that signals a reason to avoid them though.

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    • #3
      Crest and Premier are both good brands as well. You wont find many brands that use composite decks. I know for a fact that Bennington and Premier both use plywood in their decks.

      Really no difference in price between the major 4 stroke brands out there, although Yamaha does offer a 5 yr warranty on their motors.

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      • #4
        Premier makes a really nice boat, nothing wrong with those E-TEC motors either, they work well and are super quiet!

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        • #5
          Honda has a 5 year transferable warranty on their outboards as well. They are a little more, but worth it.
          "In conflict, straightforward actions generally lead to engagement, surprising actions generally lead to victory."

          Six in, Six out.


          2007 MasterCraft X-1, CHARCOAL Black

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          • #6
            Harris is the best!! They last forever!!


            Sent from my iPhone 4S using Tapatalk

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            • #7
              That's a pretty small pontoon. I'm assuming you are looking for a 2 logger and will be on relatively flat water and you don't plan to tow anything. Even at that size I think you may be underpowered. I'd look at a 75 or 90 minimum. If you stay with the big brands, you will be fine with reliability. There really isn't much to go wrong with a pontoon other than the motor. I have a premier with a honda motor. However, for me it came down to the floor plan. I just couldn't find a Manitou, or a Bennie with the floor plan that fit our families needs. I didn't shop any of the other brands because non of then had a true performance package at the time.

              The software for outboards may be a bit more proprietary than the inboards that are all mainly versions of a small block chevy (no offense to the PCM/Ford guys). Having said that, you may need to check with your mechanic if they can and will work on your Yamaha/Honda/Merc/'Rude. My old mechanic when I had my MerCruiser told me he could no longer work on my boat when I bought the Honda as he didn't have the software to interact with the on board diagnostics. Fortunately, I do most of my own work anyway.

              Another brand not mentioned above is AquaPatio. Also, South Bay makes a nice toon.

              In the end, since your needs seem pretty basic, your decision on brand will likely be more influenced by dealer/service proximity than the "best" brand.

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              • #8
                Any of the Godfrey products would be ok. The Aqua Patio is the best value for the $$$$. Sanpan brings lot of extras, but cost many $$$. Sweetwater is entry level and I doubt if you will be happy with it.

                I have and still owe Merc Honda and Yamaha. The Honda is best for pontoon. Quality, quiet, warranty cannot be beat. You should be able to negotiate a good price at the show by comparing dealers. Good luck.

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                • #9
                  I have a 23 footer with a Honda 60HP. I got lucky on the engine size... its quiet, energy efficient and has enough power to pull a tube, a skier, kneeboard or wakeboard - Doesn't compare to the xStar, but works for fun with the family in a pinch
                  2002 X-Star - Current
                  1993 PS190
                  1990 TriStar

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                  • #10
                    Have no other experience then my Father in Laws 24 ft Weeres with a 60hp 4 stroke Johnson. Great boat, no issues what so ever, and she sits in the water 5 mos a year with just a basic cover. Starts every spring on the first turn of the switch, we grille, fish, party, cruise you name it on her. No complaints vessel is 10+ years old now and we have nothing but gas into it.

                    *dont mind that ugly boat in front of the Weere's Pontoon*





                    JTR
                    Last edited by 03geetee; 01-06-2013, 06:20 PM.
                    1983 MasterCraft Stars and Stripes
                    Cream/Red Metal Flake
                    "Powerslot"
                    "The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of GREED-the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of all men will pass, and dictators die and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die Liberty will never perish."
                    -Charles Chaplin-
                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      I've heard great stuff about Premier and Bennington, but if it's me, gotta go with a MasterCraft. Pontoons are overrated anyway.
                      I spent most of my money on booze, broads and boats. The rest I wasted. - Elmore Leonard

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                      • #12
                        We have a TMC pontoon (built in Poskin, Wi) and bought it used with a 50 Honda. It's 24.5 ft, 2 toons and a nice interior. Not lavish, but nice and clean. Since we already had a ski boat, we did not feel like we needed any more "omph" than the Honda would provide.
                        The pontoonie is a 1998, and it looks almost brand new. Just take care of it an it will last. Honda engine has given no problems at all. Interior is original, has a treated plywood deck with no soft spots. But we have gone through 3 covers. Dont ride hard-put away wet.
                        Bottom line is if you use it alot with kids (as a swim raft) and it's your only boat, then spend more. If it's not, find a good used one an it can fill the bill.

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                        • #13
                          madcityskier:

                          My wife and I had that debate. The only answer we could come up with was to have both. For what they do, its hard to beat a pontoon. I would never consider grinding my MC up a beach but I don't think twice about it with my toon. In the same light, having both, I would never consider using the pontoon as a towboat again.

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                          • #14
                            Keep the replies coming, love it. We are going smaller because it will be easier to store, dock and, since it will stay in the water, not beat the dock ( or boat) up to bad. Less of a sail too on the windy days. I dont see us pulling skiers or tubers except on a rare occasion. We ( all in our 50's with kids) just want a reliable long lasting pontoon. I thought premier and Bennington went composite, oh well that just opens it up to other brands. Sun is usually the killer on the interior anyway. Do certain brands have better canopys?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by liledgy View Post
                              Keep the replies coming, love it. We are going smaller because it will be easier to store, dock and, since it will stay in the water, not beat the dock ( or boat) up to bad. Less of a sail too on the windy days. I dont see us pulling skiers or tubers except on a rare occasion. We ( all in our 50's with kids) just want a reliable long lasting pontoon. I thought premier and Bennington went composite, oh well that just opens it up to other brands. Sun is usually the killer on the interior anyway. Do certain brands have better canopys?
                              My dad has an Aqua Patio with a Yamaha 115 hp and while it is a great boat, getting really good gas mileage, he still would like a bigger engine. He has told me the next toon he will buy will be a Harris with a 150hp engine. Harris puts Mercs on the back of theirs and my dad is more of a Yamaha fan, although most of the 4 strokes are good. Bombardier/Johnson, have some kind of service plan on theirs to where you do not even have to touch the engine for the first three years, I believe. If I were you, I would probably consider looking at a 75 hp at a minimum. It would help on resale with a larger engine, when that time comes.

                              I believe most of the brands have a plywood deck, with sheet metal on the bottom side, keeping it dry from the lake water. a few of them also offer an aluminum deck, which may be what you are thinking. I did notice that Bennington has a lifetime structural warranty, which includes (deck, cross channels, tubes, ladder, bimini fittings, seat frames, motor pan, etc.) The canopy can usually be customized just about any way you want it. You typically do not see a full canopy on a smaller pontoon like what you are considering though.

                              I know there are many hard core MC fans on here, but a pontoon absolutely has it's place. My dad, (60 yrs old) does a good bit of cruising and on a rough day, I would hate going across the lake in my MC. It also makes a decent fishing platform at night.

                              Avalon is another nice brand. Harris also has a "bargain" brand called Cypress Cay. They are still very nice boats but it will save you a few thousand over the Harris.

                              You may want to take a look at this checklist before you make a decision. It will help answer some questions you may or may not have.

                              http://psndealer.com/dealersite/imag...rs%20guide.pdf

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