Pontoon boats allow builders to get creative. In essence, a pontoon boat is simply a carpeted wooden (sometimes aluminum) deck attached to two or three aluminum tubes. It's entirely up to the builder to decide what mixture of furniture and amenities to include up top. Some stick with a plain grouping of couches, others mix it up with a recliner or two and still others get specialized with craft outfitted for fishing.
While it's hard not to find features like couch seating, rear entries and throne-like captain's chairs on many of today's pontoon boats, you'll find that PlayCraft's Ultra 2800 actually offers a refreshing combination of top-side features that sets this boat apart from others.
In the bow you'll find a standard set of barrel seats, which will come in handy for fishing — and there's a pedestal table that drops into a base between the seats. Under the seats of the rotocast couch seating to port and starboard you'll find plenty of storage room. A drop-in storage liner that can be used as a cooler or a livewell comes standard.
Our test boat was equipped with the upper sundeck and wet slide option. This is a great option if you have a bunch of youngsters to entertain, and the sun worshipers in your crew will be glad they have a full-beam area to stretch out and soak up the sun.
Rear entries are becoming more and more common on pontoons, and it's a trend we're glad to see catch on. The Ultra 2800, however, takes it a step (or, in this case, two steps) further with PlayCraft's patented rear entry with swing-down ladder and steps built into the end of the starboard log.
Some standard features worth mentioning include a color-matched Bimini top, an adjustable barrel-style captain's chair and a Clarion AM/FM CD stereo with four speakers. Our test craft was equipped with a doublewide helm seat with bolster, which is a great feature — especially if you like close company while you drive.
The Ultra 2800 comes standard with a pair of PlayCraft's Mega Toon Package 24-by-24-inch U-shaped tubes. Our test boat, however, was outfitted with the triple-toon package with performance shield and RAC-R-FINS. This was in addition to the reinforced surface-piercing nose on each pontoon, double-welded splashguards and nose castings.
For power we had a 200 hp Evinrude E-TEC H.O. spinning a 17-inch three-blade
stainless-steel prop. It's fair to say we were locked, cocked and ready to rock in terms of power and performance features.
We had two people on board and three quarters of a tank of fuel (about 23 gallons or 144 pounds). The water was calm with a slight breeze and a hint of wind ripple on the surface — about as nice a set of conditions as you could ask for.
The E-TEC powered onto a slight plane in about 4 seconds and passed the 30 mph mark in less than 6.5 seconds. Pinning the throttle all the way forward gave us 40.31 mph (at 5,580 rpm) on our GPS — plenty fast for a pontoon. There is a little over 200 more rpm to the E-TEC's top-end limit of 5,800, so there's probably room for a slight reduction in pitch, which might yield a slight increase in speed. Range at top speed with this setup will be about 53 miles, and sound level at top speed was a touch loud at 97 dBa.
Our optimal cruising speed was 19.4 mph at 3,000 rpm, which would yield a cruising range of 71 miles. Keep in mind that you can go with the optional 50-gallon in-toon fuel tank and the optional 20-gallon side-mount fuel tank. With 70 gallons of fuel, your cruising range with the E-TEC would increase to more than 160 miles.
The Ultra 2800 handled great thanks to the standard hydraulic steering. The 200 hp E-TEC provided great acceleration and speed, which suggests that this craft would be as much fun for watersports as it is for open cruising. We really enjoyed having the doublewide helm seat, and the bolster will help keep your view over everybody's head.
One interesting thing we learned about PlayCraft while testing the Ultra 2800 is that PlayCraft is a custom builder. This means that it'll "pretty much change or do anything anyone wants," according to the PlayCraft rep who was with us during testing. So if the published list of optional features isn't going to cut it for you and you need something different, all you have to do is ask.
We were impressed with the Ultra 2800. The 200 horses and the triple-tube setup along with the performance enhancements made a noticeable difference in terms of handling — and it was just fun to drive. The furniture was comfortable and there seemed to be numerous places for you to sit, lean back, lie down or whatever.
After testing countless pontoon boats, we can definitely say that the Ultra 2800 has combined many of the top pontoon features into one boat — it's an impressive mix that will allow you to have the experience you want from your time on the water.
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Manufacturer Contact Information
PlayCraft Boats, Inc.
Hwy. 7 North
Richland, MO 65556