Has the golden age of pontoon boats arrived? In the last 5 years we have witnessed pontoon boats morph from a very sedate 20′ model powered by a 40 horsepower to now something very different with lots of built-in excitement. Boat buyers who would never be caught dead in a pontoon….well I guess they died and have gone to heaven! The demand for performance pontoons is beyond strong…in fact most pontoon builder have production sold out for the 2019 model year. If you think your family is going to order and buy a pontoon in the late spring and get your boat for May…..you will be disappointed. Yes for 2019 there will be a shortage of pontoon boats throughout North America. Is your family considering a pontoon boat for 2019 or going to The Toronto Boat Show to take a look? My advice is to do your homework now…talk to your dealer of choice and get that pontoon of your dreams on order by no later than the Toronto Boat Show!
Each year it seems that more space, emphasis and display at the Toronto Boat Show is pontoon oriented. Expect at the 2019 Toronto Boat Show… Cruisers and bowriders while still shown at the Toronto Boat Show will be visibly taking a back seat to flashy pontoons and upscale fishing machines. For the last couple of years in Ontario, there has been double-digit sales increases in pontoon boats, strong increases in fishing but flat sales in the fiberglass runabout market.
Speed and performance in 2019 is now what pontoon shoppers consider prime buyer motivators. Standard pontoon outboard power has increased almost every year with this year projections being the 200HP Outboard finds what the majority of pontoon buyers are demanding. The most popular length in 2018 model year was 23 feet…the low power two tube 18 and 20 foot models just do not get much attention anymore. If you are attending the 2019 Toronto Boat Show be prepared to see big outboards to 400 horsepower and pontoons with two engines in all colours. Lots of eye candy…but which one?
The pontoon buying game has changed and buyers should recognize that if you are considering a major pontoon purchase in excess of $50,000….more than how soft the furniture is…should be considered. We are speaking about pontoon hull design…no not all are the same….while all claim performance just how do they stack up and how can a pontoon buyer make an informed decision? Two years ago at The Toronto Boat Show I had the opportunity to speak with some 250 pontoon shoppers…..not one asked a single question about pontoon design or even looked below the floor….in 2017 the results were just about the same! They are all the same…right….all work….all claim handling and speed? If you are going to shell out significant dollars for performance….then the pontoon hull should become a critical part of the decision process.
To be fair if you are purchasing a pontoon with an outboard of less than 60 horsepower, the design of the pontoon for handling does not really matter as speeds will never approach 20 MPH. You can still argue here that a pressurized fully sealed pontoon with no drains is superior due to improved wall strength. Today 25″ diameter pontoons is now considered the norm although on some price sensitive models 23″ are available. Entry level pontoons are never going to be more than a protective water small lake use boat.
To maximize performance with high horsepower the three tube pontoon hull has to be dialed in. Okay….well every pontoon builder claims to have a performance driven hull and for the most part….this claim is factual. So the question then becomes if all performance pontoons similarly equipped are essentially the same price…then how do you separate performance? If you are considering purchasing a bargain priced performance pontoon…prepare to be disappointed and make sure you order a side of life insurance with the boat! a true performance rated pontoon cannot and should not be built cheaply!
The pontoon buying conversation is just too complex to handle in 500 words or less. Lets take a deeper look at this decision over a series of articles so we can put some meat on the bones so as to speak. The next article Performance Pontoons….Make the Right Choice will be followed by Best Performance Pontoon Construction…Do You Know What to Look For! Our final article in this series will be Pontoon Boats….Is a Pontoon Boat a Good Choice For Our Family?
Listed immediately below are two historical Boater’s Chat articles with some background buyer information on pontoon boats.
To wet your appetite…take a moment and view the attached video from Manitou!