South Bay vs Bennington

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South Bay vs Bennington

#1 Post by JESSE JAMES » Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:29 pm

I am seeking free advise from some pontoon veterans.

I have been boating all my life, and know a lot about boats, but when it comes to pontoons i am a rookie. Have come to the conclusion i would like one. My choices have been narrowed to Bennington or South Bay, fishing floor plan, around 24 foot with about a 150 hp. Could some of y'all give me the pro's and con's of each.

Not trying to start an argument, just trying to educate myself.

Thanks in advance.

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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#2 Post by Bamaman » Thu Jun 01, 2017 6:33 pm

Both are beautiful boats, however the Bennington has quality in places that cannot be seen. They remain the largest selling pontoon boat in the retail market, and that means resale value is tops. Bennie also has 4 lines of boats--from nice to ridiculously plush. My 24SSLX is as nice a boat as I'm willing to pay for, and its F150 Yamaha runs 40 mph @ 6000 rpm's with a Reliance 15 pitch prop.

Of course my opinion is somewhat slanted. A 10 year warranty's best in the industry. But I never had any reason to see my dealer in my first 5 years' ownership--no warranty claims.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#3 Post by captain28570 » Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:00 pm

Over half of their sales are smaller toons and not tritoons. So that's a little misleading. That came from one of the biggest Bennington dealers in the U.S. Very honest dealer. He sales over 500 a year.

SB makes a great toon also. I would choose the one you get the best deal on.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#4 Post by Gonefishing » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:10 am

I have a excursion x23rfc which is made by the same maker of South Bay Forest River and I love it. It is the rear fishing model. Has a tackle center, live bate tank, rod holders and two nice fishing chairs in the rear. Also has a nice front area for lounging and a stand up changing room for changing or for a porta pottie for the lady. fresh water sink and plenty of storage.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#5 Post by ron nh » Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:19 pm

Both great boats, I'd say go with the one that you like best. There are no cons to consider.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#6 Post by ROLAND » Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:37 am

You have picked 2 great choices... my personal preference would be Bennington, but full disclosure, that may be because I have one. I can tell you I have had my boat for 7 years and not one issue to speak of... I would pick out the one that has the best floor plan / style that suits your family needs, and then go from there. regardless of which you pick, you're not going to make a "wrong decision". Both are very nice... Good luck.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#7 Post by Bamaman » Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:41 pm

I'm with Roland. Try to buy locally if you absolutely can. And buy from the dealer you feel very comfortable with.

And if you're going to be fishing with your toon, get a huge trolling motor--remote controlled.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#8 Post by Strake » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:54 pm

We have a Berkshire, which like South Bay, is ALSO made by Forrest Marine. I LOVE it, and it's high quality too.

My best lake buddy has a Bennington also the same length and layout as our boat..... 24 ft, Tri toon with lifting strakes. The seating layout is identical too. While his Bennington comes with a 7 year warranty, my Berkshire ( Forrest Marine) has a 5 year warranty. I also have been under both boats quite a bit and our Berkshire is fully under skinned, INCLUDING the entire under side of the bow. My buddies, GSR model has underskirting that starts about 4 feet back from the bow.

I will say that I like the Bennington aluminum fencing rails top side that hold the painted side pieces on, as they are ANODIZED, where mine are painted silver. His look better after 3 years than mine do at 2 years old.

I opted for hydraulic power steering, as we put a Yamaha 200 on the back, and my friend has a Yamaha 150.

All in all, the quality on both these boats is excellent and I'm sure you won't go wrong either way........ I would base a large part of your decision on which DEALER you are more comfortable with, who will make a better deal, and who you want to come back to for service, repairs, etc.

In my case, the Bennington dealer doesn't deal much at all. I went to the Berkshire dealer, who was also the Sea Ray dealer, and we traded in our 250 SLX for basically what I could have sold it for privately ..... In addition, they REALLY dealt on a new, factory special order for the boat we wanted, exactly as we wanted it.

I priced out as close to Apples to Apples comparison between Berkshire and Bennington, and my $49k Berkshire (after discounts) would have been $10k higher had I chosen a Bennington ( after best deal offer) .

In hindsight, I could have done a little better had I gone with a Mercury Marine Outboard, as Berkshire ( and all the other Forrest Marine brands) are partnered with Mercury. Didn't matter, as they will put on what ever I wanted, and I was partial to Yamaha. I also happened to catch a special Yamaha was offering which gave me 3 EXTRA years of full warranty....... so I got 6 years warranty on the motor !

Bennington, is partnered with Yamaha. I would imagine, you would do better with Bennington if you choose a Yamaha outboard, rather than Mercury, or something else.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#9 Post by Bamaman » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:40 am

All dealers (other than some Tracker locations) are independent businesses, and they're free to set their prices. Some are aggressive at dealing with customers and some are willing to compete for your business with better prices. If a dealer's $10K higher for a comparable boat, they're not being competitive and playing prospective owners for suckers. My Bennington was priced about like Strake's Berkshire mentioned above and about $3K less than a comparable Tracker tritoon.

Bennington is Yamaha's largest wholesale purchaser of outboards. But they also purchase Mercury motors and Suzuki motors at bulk discounts. But they can give you any brand motor you wish. The Mercury motors on a Bennington hull may be $500 less than a comparable Yamaha motor purchased with the hull.

Like I say, buy local if at all possible--even if you have to pay a little more. And try to deal with a dealer that you feel comfortable with. There's nothing better than to have a dealer that you can trust--and one that takes care of your parts and service needs. My Mercruiser mechanic was like my uncle--until I abandoned I/O's for Yamaha outboards in 1985.
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Re: South Bay vs Bennington

#10 Post by mpilot » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:17 pm

Bennington's do hold their value well. The ESP package is good if you need the handling but it rides a little rougher than their regular tri toon.

I'll say on outboard motors do your homework on cost of ownership. Yamaha makes a great outboard but the mandatory 20 hour service and the extras like valve adjustments make the cost of ownership higher than a lot of others. My mercury has no 20 hour service and no valve adjustments. Regular 1 year/100 hour services. At 300 hours it's an impeller and alternator belt then repeat that same cycle.

We had the dealers we looked at give us a breakdown of the first 3 years service costs when we bought our boat. For us that was 6 services as we put right around 200 hours a year on our old boat...a little behind schedule with this one but only a little because we have a 14 month old that didn't allow us to use it as much when we first got the boat last year.

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