In the discovery stage...

Check in here and say hi!

Moderators: Redneck_Randy, badmoonrising, lakerunner

Message
Author
CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

In the discovery stage...

#1 Post by CaptainJim » Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:28 am

Hello PontoonForums folks,

My first post here - we are considering "the next boat," and a pontoon is making a lot of sense. I appreciate the information available on this forum.

For some background, I am a mostly retired boat captain, USCG Master License; still do occasional 3 to 4 month gigs. We have owned a variety of personal boats, both sail and power; have lived on and done extended cruising. BUT, have never owned a pontoon. Our home is in the Tropical Tip of Texas, along the Gulf Coast. Our use for the boat would be day-tripping, mostly reasonably slow (displacement speed) sight-seeing and dolphin watching. Foremost on my list is something easy to maintain... my days of keeping fiberglass shiny and maintaining systems are behind me. We will keep the boat at the dock at our house (on a canal, salt water). I plan to check with a local boatyard regarding bottom paint (all of our previous boats have been bottom painted), but have no experience with this on a pontoon. We expect to have the boat in the water for about 3 months, then pull it (indoor storage) while we travel, for up to 6 months.

Use of the boat will be the Laguna Madre (the bay behind South Padre Island), not in the Gulf. The bay can get choppy when the weather turns snotty (mostly shallow water), but this will be recreational, no lot looking for any kind of serious weather capability.

Most of the boats in our area are flat-bottom, bay skimmer type, fishing boats. I am not a fishing guy. One of the whale watch operators uses pontoon boats and I have visited with them - they are happy with their boats as a "good viewing platform."

With all the water here, you'd think boat dealers would be everywhere, but that is not the case. And, as stated above, it is mostly skinny water fiberglass fishing boats. The only pontoon dealer in reasonable distance to us is about 50 miles away, a Bass Pro/Tracker Marine Center... so, I am looking at an 18' Sun Tracker with a 60 hp Merc, Command Thrust. Can I expect this to be a reasonably dry ride? Most of the time, it would be just the two of us onboard. Is there anything different about bottom paint for the pontoons? Our other previous boats have had epoxy barrier coats, then a couple coats of CSC so that it would stay effective when pulled out of the water and stored. I know the Micron product has some copper content - is that an issue with the alloy pontoon?

Thanks in advance for any info/suggestions you might offer.

Best wishes,
Jim

ralph
Posts: 315
Joined: Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:02 pm
Location: Elyria, Ohio

Re: In the discovery stage...

#2 Post by ralph » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:15 am

Welcome to the forum Captain Jim.

I keep our pontoon in the water all season (in a harbor off of Lake Erie). I had the bottom of the pontoons painted. They used a barrier coat of Primocon Metal Primer. The antifouling paint over that is Trilux 33 (black in color) which is an Interlux product. It is suitable for salt water. It held up very well and I expect to get 3 or 4 seasons out of it with doing some minor touch-up along the way. DON'T splash the boat without painting it first!

As far as maintenance is concerned, I think it is minimal. As far as a reasonable dry ride, yes I think so. You have to keep in mind that the more passengers towards the front of the boat, the greater chance of a wet ride. If I can make some suggestions for a few features to make your experience more enjoyable, please consider the following.

The larger the diameter the pontoon is the better. The larger diameter pontoon, the higher you will ride above the water, eliminating the wet ride in most cases. I have 27" pontoons and I believe most manufacturers start out at 23". There is a huge difference here.

Ease of maintenance - I suggest not going with carpeting and choosing vinyl (vinyl is probably an upgrade). VERY easy to wash it down with a mild soap (I use Simple Green). With carpet you stand the chance of mildew and it doesn't dry as quick. Vinyl dries very quickly.

The 60 HP Merc on the boat your looking at MIGHT get you to a top speed of 20-25 MPH. I have a 90HP Yamaha on mine and get up to just a shade under 30 MPH on the GPS with 2 people on board. I am not a speed freak and don't hammer it at all but it is nice to get up on plane quickly and it is extremely fuel efficient. Perhaps if it is in your budget you can up the HP on your choice of boat. You won't regret it at all.

A tritoon (3 pontoons) will give you more stability, a chance to run in sloppier conditions, and a higher HP rating. The trade off is the expense.

Whatever you choose your going to love a pontoon. I have about 40 years on Lake Erie and I wish I would have done this 20 years ago after owning 3 other boats with "pointy front ends" over the years.

Good luck and keep your questions coming.
2015 Sweetwater 2086 Coastal Edition - All Toon'd Up
2015 90 HP Yamaha
Mid American Dual Wheel Bunk Trailer
2017 4WD GMC Canyon

ron nh
Posts: 982
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:07 pm
Location: Litchfield New Hampshire

Re: In the discovery stage...

#3 Post by ron nh » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:33 am

Even though you're not talking about deep sea, I still would get a Tri-toon and larger than an 18'. You'll will not have a dry ride with that set up unless you're on glassy conditions with 2 on board. I have an 18' Tri-toon and have been in the ocean (mostly bays and inlets) any chop at all will toss you around with that size, Good luck, Sounds nice down there.
2015 Qwest LS 818XRE Tri-toon w/mercury 115.

CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

Re: In the discovery stage...

#4 Post by CaptainJim » Wed Nov 02, 2016 2:40 pm

Thanks for the replies, so far. Today, we drove across the Rio Grande Valley to look at another dealership that handles Sweetwater. They did not have much in the way of inventory compared to what we want size-wise, other than a 20' used Sweetwater that was close in price to the 18' new Sun Tracker, with the full warranty. The Sweetwater had been sitting on the lot for a while and was grubby, otherwise looked to be in reasonably good condition, on a better trailer than the Sun Tracker trailer.

I also checked at a local boatyard - they have bottom painted for me a couple times. Not cheap, but this seemed out of line: they quoted me "Upwards of $2,000 for bottom painting an 18 to 20 foot pontoon," and went on to tell me what "a pain" it is to work on pontoon boats. Not exactly what I was hoping to hear. Also, not smart business on their part.

Checking the internet, I can find aluminum priming and non-copper based paint that would run me less than $300. I am not a youngster and wouldn't relish the thought of crawling around under the boat to bottom paint it myself, but I also don't want to spend that kind of money. Incidentally, that boat yard will NOT allow an owner to work on "anything below the waterline" on a boat that they block up.

So, the "discovery stage" continues.

Best wishes,
Jim

ralph
Posts: 315
Joined: Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:02 pm
Location: Elyria, Ohio

Re: In the discovery stage...

#5 Post by ralph » Wed Nov 02, 2016 3:59 pm

Jim,

For what it is worth. I paid $900 for my paint job. They even had to clean off algae on the pontoons that I could not get to. 2 grand is a HUGE rip off.
2015 Sweetwater 2086 Coastal Edition - All Toon'd Up
2015 90 HP Yamaha
Mid American Dual Wheel Bunk Trailer
2017 4WD GMC Canyon

CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

Re: In the discovery stage...

#6 Post by CaptainJim » Thu Nov 03, 2016 7:53 am

[quote="ralph"]Jim,

For what it is worth. I paid $900 for my paint job. They even had to clean off algae on the pontoons that I could not get to. 2 grand is a HUGE rip off.[/quote]

This particular boatyard is all about gouging. They were the only option with my previous boat because they have a Travel Lift. I will block the boat up and do it myself before paying their outrageous price. I studied up a bit on aluminum bottom painting last night - doesn't seem that much different, just can't use a copper based bottom paint.

Reading more on this forum last night, I can see my use may be different from some here: we don't fish, not looking to pull anything behind it, and cruising leisurely around displacement speed suits us. Reading about the tri-toons with 200 hp motors made me feel a bit like riding a scooter to a Harley rally. :mrgreen: When I first started checking into a pontoon, the Sun Tracker 16' Bass Buggy looked reasonable to me, but the Blonde I've been married to for 44 years thought that we'd probably both want a couch/lounger when at anchor. At anchor? I have been spoiled by having an electric windlass to drop and retrieve a 22# Delta QuickSet at the push of a button. And an inside, protected helm. Fridge, microwave, hot & cold pressure water, and a comfortable v-berth for a nap after lunch. 8) A diesel fired heater when it gets chilly. Windshield wipers to keep the helm windows clear from rain or spray.

Anchor? As in: pulling it up by hand? I may have to re-think this "simple and easy" stuff. (Yes, that's a joke)

Not a joke: deciding if an open boat is the right choice again - I'm onboard and I think she is. Next step will be getting out on a pontoon.

Jim

ralph
Posts: 315
Joined: Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:02 pm
Location: Elyria, Ohio

Re: In the discovery stage...

#7 Post by ralph » Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:17 pm

I don't know about where you live. We have inland lakes up here where you can rent one for the 1/2 or full day. If you can find a place to rent one I think it would be a good idea to make sure you truly want to take the plunge.
2015 Sweetwater 2086 Coastal Edition - All Toon'd Up
2015 90 HP Yamaha
Mid American Dual Wheel Bunk Trailer
2017 4WD GMC Canyon

Bamaman
Posts: 3630
Joined: Fri May 06, 2011 1:44 pm
Location: NW Alabama--Tennessee River

Re: In the discovery stage...

#8 Post by Bamaman » Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:04 am

Most people will have to look hard to find any pontoon less than 20 feet as they're not nearly as popular or as seaworthy as 22' to 24' boats. And the larger diameter toons do matter. I've never found any very small engine on a pontoon to be very enjoyable, as I don't want to run my engine at full throttle all the time.
Using the boat in salt water on bays, you will want a larger boat that handles any weather that happens to come up.
I have a 24' Bennington tritoon with 150 hp Yamaha. It runs great and feels great. And with a 48" rear facing reclining bed, it's a very comfortable boat. I have never come close to taking a wave over the bow as my boat rides nose high at a cruise--and handles waves well. I'm good for 40 mph, although I seldom ever see over 35 mph.
Major manufacturers do have pontoon boats with a salt water option that provides better anodes to prevent any hull corrosion. And you would want to have the hull painted if left in the water any appreciable time.

But the shop that said pontoons are difficult to work on is one to avoid. Pontoons are probably the most trouble free and longest lasting boats anywhere. I own one in good shape that's 31 years old--and it's never been in the shop.

I just think you may be underestimating the boat that you need in salt water use.
'12 Bennington 24' SSLX Yamaha 150

RcgTexas
Posts: 2635
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:37 am
Location: Texas

Re: In the discovery stage...

#9 Post by RcgTexas » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:29 am

For operation on the Laguna I would definitely go the salt water option. Salt water is so hard on equipment. It will cut the life of any motor and hull in half.
1995 beachcomber conversion to tritoon with Honda 135 ,

Link to rebuild [url=http://www.pontoonforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=19016][Knot Normal][/url]

God Bless America

CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

Re: In the discovery stage...

#10 Post by CaptainJim » Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:07 pm

Yep, the Laguna Madre would be our home waters. Shallow water, high salinity. Displacement speed cruising, staying out of the way of the barges on the ICW and the ships in the ship channel.

The boat we were considering sold... ya snooze, well, you know. We went to the dealer yesterday to buy the boat, and found out once we got there. Spent some more time looking around. I think we have found an even better fit for our use; we'll check it out on Monday.

CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

Re: In the discovery stage...

#11 Post by CaptainJim » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:43 pm

Pulled the trigger today. We pick up the new boat on Thursday. I was looking for something small, considered the Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16, but didn't really want the two forward fishing seats. Moved up to the Party Barge 18 as an option, but the one we were considering (and they only had one 2017 in stock) sold. "Things happen for a reason," my wife said.

Looking on the dealer's inventory listing on their website, I came across a model year 2016 Party Barge 16'. Sun Tracker doesn't show that on their 2017 models, and digging around a bit more, I found out they didn't make them through the whole 2016 run. Small by any standards, especially for a "party" boat. Since it will almost always be just the two of us, it sounded right for our use. A call to the dealer confirmed that they did have one in stock, in their storage area. Never been on display.

We checked it out this morning, and it is the right fit for us. I'm sure it would be too small and underpowered for a lot of folks, but it clicks off all that we were looking for, and being small (to keep in our indoor storage unit when we aren't here) is a big plus.

We'll see how the ride is later this week. Smallest boat I've had to date was a 16' sailboat, with a 4 hp aux motor - and we enjoyed the heck out of that. By comparison, this one is spacious. Perspective. ;-)

User avatar
ROLAND
Posts: 3918
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:29 am

Re: In the discovery stage...

#12 Post by ROLAND » Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:43 am

Capt. Jim... congratulations on the new toon... as far as it being a 16 footer and not a bigger toon, I can understand what some of the other guys are saying because there is merit to what they stated... to me, buy the boat that will be used for what you intended it to be used for. If it's just going to be two people on board for the most part, and you and the wife are happy with the layout, then by all means go for it... I don't have a large toon either, 20 footer and honestly after I have 6 or more on board it starts to get a little cramped.. but again, it's normally just me and my wife and occasionally another couple, so it works well for us... again congrats on the new toon and don't forget to post some pics when you pic her up...
Roland & Jo
2010 Bennington 20 Sfi
Yamaha 75 4 Stroke
Shreveport, Louisiana

CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

Re: In the discovery stage...

#13 Post by CaptainJim » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:55 pm

Thanks Roland. As long as the ride on the rear seating is reasonably dry, it will be considered "the right boat" for our current needs. Looking at the boat, it sure looks simple and easy. The few reviews I've been able to find on this model show that it should run 16 to 18. Our previous boat would run 25 knots when loaded for cruising, but we generally ran at 6 knots (for range) or 16 knots, the most efficient and comfortable planing speed. I am thinking 8 to 10 is going to be sufficient for our local cruising. The big change for us will be not having a cabin with an enclosed helm... we are beyond that "wind in the hair" desire. ;-)

I'm getting excited to give it a shakedown. Our previous boat had a lot of systems (radar, full-featured chartplotter, autopilot, hot and cold pressure water, enclosed head with shower, 30 amp electrical system, fridge, microwave, sat TV, fixed mount VHFs, electric windlass, inside helm, etc); this new boat has... a tach. ;-) I will put a GPS/depthfinder on it, and probably not much else. I'm thinking it will be a LOT less upkeep.

I get enough adventure and fast helm time with my retirement seasonal job of driving whale watch boats in the Pacific Northwest. Going nice and easy, and enjoying the sunshine while watching the dolphins and ship traffic is how I plan to spend my time on this boat. No crew training, no schedules, and not having to go out when I look at the weather forecast and think: "That will be 'sporting'!" Crew knows what to expect when I use that "sporting" term while doing a safety orientation for guests.

On our own boats, better than 98% of the time has been with just the two of us onboard. Our friends have their own boats or aren't into boating. Our kid (in her 40s) and her husband live half way across the country from us; and our daughter is not a water person... no idea how that happened... she looks too much like the two of us to think there was a mix-up in the hospital nursery. ;-) But, I digress. It really will be just the two of us almost all the time.

Makes me smile just to think about it. :-)

See you out on the water,
Jim

CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

Re: In the discovery stage...

#14 Post by CaptainJim » Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:31 pm

Today was delivery day! Everything went well, a very pleasant delivery experience. The service guy who did the orientation with us said, "This is going to go fast - you already know boats."

"This is our first pontoon, so walk us through it..."

The size is going to be great for our use. I added a GPS/fishfinder and a tach with an hour meter. Yes, I am aware you can get the hours info from the engine, but we have always kept a log, and this will be easier. A Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro for the GPS.

It was pouring rain on the coast when we left to get the boat; dry at the dealer...

[img]https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OLQSXBl7AqI/ ... earJim.jpg[/img]

Then pouring rain again about 5 miles from home. I was hoping to get the boat wet today... just not from above. We'll see what Mother Nature has in store for tomorrow (more rain predicted); I'm looking forward to getting her in the water.

A bonus I wasn't expecting: I've hauled boats coast to coast to coast; a diesel truck with nice extendable mirrors. I could not only see just fine with the regular mirrors on the Honda, but I could see under and through the boat in the rear view mirror!

Jim

CaptainJim
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:07 pm
Location: Tropical Tip of Texas
Contact:

Re: In the discovery stage...

#15 Post by CaptainJim » Sun Nov 13, 2016 9:10 am

Launched and set up at our dock. After weeks of dry, Mother Nature has continued to "bless us" with spitty rain. Got our first local cruise in yesterday... easy and fun... sight-seeing and dolphins. Still doing the break-in, so keeping the RPMs low, but any concerns I had about how it might handle were unfounded. A feather compared to the whale watch boats I have been driving; not much inertia when you pull the throttle back; but, it goes where you put it. Learning that in a crosswind, the bow blows off faster than the stern - expected. Takes the chop and wake fine, with planning. Barely had it above 2000 RPM, so I'll have to wait to see how it does with any speed (mostly 5 knots or less on this first trip). Comfortable, with great 360º visibility.

I'm likin' it!
Attachments
Boat19JimHelm.jpg
Boat19JimHelm.jpg (54.6 KiB) Viewed 1741 times
Boat15DolphinClose.jpg
Boat15DolphinClose.jpg (72.03 KiB) Viewed 1740 times
BoatRain.JPG
BoatRain.JPG (70 KiB) Viewed 1743 times

Post Reply