It’s no secret that many of today’s best pontoons, like those we called out as our Top 10 Favorites, do things few ‘toons dreamed of 10 short years ago. They handle like V-hull runabouts, and sometimes carve an even tighter turn. They blast across the water at impressive top speeds, and can be used for skiing and wakeboarding. And looks? Let’s just say today’s sweeping lines and high-end interiors are far removed from the boxy fences and simple bench seating of the pontoons of old. But while the end product has changed, a pontoon’s traditional goal — cruising in comfort — is still very much the same. Today’s consumer just has a lot more ways in which to do it, especially on a boat like Harris FloteBote’s Sunliner 240.
Start at the bow. To starboard, our test boat gave us the traditional lounge, complete with an angled backrest against the helm. Stretch out with your legs up, or make room for several friends. After that, however, things get interesting. To port, a pair of plush, swivel chairs flank a flip-up table. It’s an intimate spot to toast the sunset, while still keeping the day’s munchies at the ready. Or perhaps you want the comfiest solo seat in the house. Across from the helm, Harris gives us the “club chair,” a luxurious, roomy perch with cupholders in the armrests and even an optional slide-out ottoman tucked below.
And then there’s the dual, aft-facing lounge setup that occupies the boat’s back third. One of several available floorplans, it features individual lounges that look like they were lifted from the ultimate man cave, with rich, sculpted vinyl, aft-facing backrests, enough length to truly stretch out, and naturally, a cupholder (and netted pocket) in the wraparound sides. The pair make for great spots to watch the wake fall away or observe the crew playing at the end of a towrope, but also the ultimate waterside lounge when stationary. You can kick back and watch the kids as they swim aft, doze off on a sunny day, or relax with a cold one and a good book.
Getting out of your seat and into the water is a breeze via the center gate and deep, five-step starboard ladder off the swim platform. Recognizing that this will be a spot that’s frequently wet, Harris replaces carpet with textured vinyl. There’s also plenty of space underneath those recliners to stow some of the gear you’ve brought aboard. Just lift up the gas-assisted bottom cushion. The rotomolded seat base below, guttered with drains like all of the below-seat stowage, promises low maintenance.
|Fuel capacity||32 gal.|
Lots of occupants demands adequate support below to handle the load. Harris uses 3/4” tongue-and-groove marine plywood for its decking, filling the space between sections with liquid butyl rubber to prevent water intrusion. Crossmembers are spaced every 16”, rather than 24”. Tighter spacing lessens torque and twisting, and better supports the weight of both passenger and heavier four-stroke outboards. That deck is attached to the pontoons with full-length, rather than segmented, risers. A full-perimeter rubrail surrounds the deck for added protection. Further examples of quality are found up top, where seat bases pivot out and down on two-part hinges to allow full access to the stowage below. You’ll also find full-length gate stops, which can withstand 500 pounds of force.
|Test conditions: Calm seas and winds to 5 knots, 2 POB|
|Power||Single Mercury Verado outboard, swinging a 14.5" x 15" three-bladed stainless-steel prop.|
Our test boat was powered by a 150hp Verado outboard, and featured the optional P3 Performance Package. That upgrade adds a center, 25” pontoon dropped one inch below the 25” outer logs to give a hint of a V-hull. The center pontoon features lifting strakes on both sides; outer pontoons add a lifting strake to their interior side. A full-length aluminum skirting provides a smooth, obstruction-free surface across the bottom. The end result is more aggressive handling, good acceleration, and a top speed of 36.2 mph – all traits Grandpa’s pontoons could only have dreamed about.
Other Choices: The Cypress Cay Cozumel 250 is another option which exhibits the traits of a modern, top-end pontoon boat. The Princecraft Vectra 23 provides a lower-cost option, which still offers prime relaxation territory and solid performance. The Sunliner 240 also offers fishing options; read Can A Pontoon Boat Be A Serious Fishing Boat to learn more about going this route.
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