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Advice on Pontoons

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  • Advice on Pontoons

    I finally talked my dad into looking for a pontoon for the family. I'm the oldest of three boys and I've got a few friends on the lake and I always wanna have friends on the boat but our Mastercraft just isn't the boat for it. We aren't gonna be picky we will just use it to get people on this instead of the X2. We know the size has to be between 22-24 (give or take). So my question is, as a first time pontoon buyer, what should we look for or look out for? Must haves, avoids, advice, etc.

    Here in Michigan it's getting a little warmer and I am going insane with excitement about pulling the boat out of the garage. I can't wait to get back on the water. Just thought I'd throw that in too cuz I'm so pumped

  • #2
    We have a MC and a pontoon just for this. I have been through this exact thought process. We bought a 22', only because so much of the floor area is unusable, but it still seats around 15. We bought a Leisure Kraft, hand made and sold out of the factory in Crossville, TN. Here is what I would definately want 1) Vinyl flooring (ours looks like berber carpet, but it's not - it is vinyl) - carpet is bad in pontoons because people ARE going to eat and drink, and lots of it. 2) Ours has the larger (I want to say they are 24" inch pontoons) - the industry standard is more like 19" - this makes the float a lot more stable. Also, since we knew we were not going to be going fast, we opted for a smaller engine to save money - the MC is for pulling - if that is your thinking, don't put a lot of money in the motor. Last thing I can think of is we paid to add a trolling motor, simply for fishing - which may sound weird, but it actually makes the boat quite usable for only another $200 or so. I would highly recommend Leisure Kraft -


    • #3
      I did the same thing a few years ago and have put plenty of hours on our pontoon and really enjoy it.

      Your four biggest decisions will be:

      1 - Length
      2 - # of toons (2 or 3)
      3 - Engine size
      4 - Manufacturer

      With this in mind, some questions you should consider:

      Will you pull anything with it (i.e. tubes) and if so, you need decent HP (and possibly 3 toons).

      How big is your lake/river and how far and fast will you want to go/cruise (HP and number of pontoons).

      Can your primary lake/river get rough (will dictate 2 or 3 toons and horsepower).

      How many people will typically be on the toon (will dictate length and ultimately # of toons and HP of engine).

      Will you ever fish out of it (can dictate seating arrangements)?

      Will you trailer often to multiple locations?

      I purchased a 20' Bentley (low end) with 90HP 4 Stroke then after two years moved to a 22' South Bay with 115HP 4 Stroke (2 toons). Our home lake is about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide so we dont go long distances and the water is calm. We have a boat for tubes/wakeboards/ski and have a jet ski as well - all of which factored into what we needed.

      There are a lot of high end, medium end, low end boats with Bennington, Harris, Premier, South Bay, being medium to high end poplular boats around here.

      IMPORTANT - Helton hit the nail on the head with Vinyl flooring. My Bentley had carpet and I will never do that again. The South Bay has vinyl and even in the south, it does not get too hot.


      • #4
        So is 115 HP enough power for several people and pulling a tube?


        • #5
          Last edited by waterlogged882; 09-19-2015, 04:51 PM.
          93 190
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          John 14:6
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          • #6
            yes, 115 will pull plenty well for a tube.


            • #7
              One of these is what you need. Anything less and you're just being a baby:

              Pontoon Boats that do it all, from Performance to Handling!


              • #8
                You own a MasterCraft so I assume you know what quality is all about.
                Our family was in the same dilemma early last year, went to the local boat show here and compared several pontoon boats and after all the dust settled opted for a Bennington 22 SL series with a 115HP Merc.

                We have been nothing but pleased with the choice, power is good for pulling tubes for the kids, roomy enough for 10 adults, and the quality is top notch. We did not opt for center pontoon, lifting strakes, or any of the performance stuff that make it go faster, we wanted a cruiser that is roomy, and glides along the water at 28mph with a great ride. We also opted for a good size rear platform so when we go to the sandbar to swim kids and grandkids have a ladder and a good place to jump in from. Whatever you decide on, make sure you get the max HP rating for the boat.

                Link for Bennington

                Good luck, pontoon boats are great and bring family and friends together.
                If for some reason you start to believe you are a person with influence, just try ordering somebody else's dog around.


                • #9
                  Two letters will give you the answer to your questions......JC. Best built pontoons on the water.
                  2003 ProStar 197, MCX and Powerslot.

                  "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty" - Thomas Jefferson
                  Oh no, watch out for the Racoon-Dogs? You might get sick.


                  • #10

                    Might be a bit excessive but hey I'd take it


                    • #11
                      the pontoon market for whats the best isn't as clear as the towboat market. there really isn't much to go wrong with a pontoon so what you look for in "quality" is different than in an inboard.

                      if you are looking for strictly performance, the top 3 are manitou, bennington, and premier (in no particular order).

                      if you are looking for an all around lake putter there are numerous brands. all the ones listed in the previous posts are good boats. sanpan and aqua patio are also good boats.

                      my advice on buying a pontoon is 1st to figure out what you want to do. it sounds like you want a 2 logger for maximum carrying capacity and general utility. for this you likely want the generic floor plan with 2 front sofas and a rear "L" sofa with a sun pad. some of the newer ones have 2 rear sofas with no sun pad which cuts down on storage some but maximizes seating. i'd don't like the models with captains chairs instead of the sofas. it cuts way down on seating. another way to maximize seating is to get one with a bow filler. it basically makes the 2 front sofas continuous around the entire front half of the pontoon.

                      my advice on motor is a bit different that what was mentioned above. even if you are only a lake putter, you will have a harder time selling a 22+ with a 60hp. I'd shoot for a minimum of 90 with the 115 as the sweet spot for the 22-24ft resale market.

                      as far as flooring, my ideal flooring would be faux teak on the bow and rear platforms with carpet in the middle. we spend alot of time beached on the toon and i like the feel of carpet on my toes while i empty the fridge.

                      toons ain't no towboat, but they can be alot of fun. good luck.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for all the info so far. I'll start by saying that a 100 MPH toon is a bit excessive haha. This isn't going to tow anything more than somebody floating on a tube with a drink in their hand so I'm not worried about a big engine. Just lookin for something to puts around in and basically be the party barge. Originally looking for the smallest engine (to be cheaper) but the resale topic is a very good thing to consider as well.


                        • #13
                          i previously owned a veranda and dont recomend it if you are looking for top of the line. but if you are looking for something on the cheaper side that will get the job done, its a decent toon. definitly want to match the motor with size of the toon or larger. mine was 20' that most people put 60's on. i put a 90hp on it and sold it in a week. we all know hp makes all the difference. i would look at your closest dealers, get a popular floor plan, if it suits your needs, which it should for what you want it for. 3 couch lay-out is still the most popular i think and the rear facing lounges are popular with the ladies. i got rid of mine for a ski boat but really like having one around at the lake. im trying talk my dad into purchasing one too! its going pretty good since he misses mine around when were all out there.


                          • #14
                            While all of this advice is good, engine size, toon size, etc, I haven't seen anyone mention flooring and seats. I'm not talking about the vinyl or carpet, I'm talking about what is underneath that. The majority of pontoons use plywood for their decking, get underneath the boat with a screwdriver (the tool, not the drink) and check the quality of the flooring. The last thing you want is someone to fall through it. Also check the undersides of the seats and storage areas. The upholstery may look great, but the wood could be rotten.

                            A few years back we talked our dad into getting a toon for the lake house, my brother and I found what we thought was a smokin deal on a 26 foot Starcraft with a 40 HP Honda. Less than 2 years later we were ripping up the floor and replacing everything on it, floor, carpet, seat bottoms and backs...


                            • #15
                              good point about the flooring. typically if you stay with the high end names, you shouldn't really have any issues with the flooring as they use pretty stout materials.

                              i also forgot to mention, buy used if you can. there really isn't much to go wrong or wear out (assuming the vinyl isn't trashed) with a toon as long as the motor was taken care of.

                              when you get your toon, if its used, acid wash the toons and sharkhide them. it'll save you some hassle down the road. if you get it new, sharkhide them before you take her for a swim.

                              one of the best things about an outboard powered pontoon is the winterization. i raise the lift, tilt the motor all the way down, kill the master power and walk away. i'm so good at it, i can do it with a beer in one hand.