Torn between the sportiness of a runabout and the passenger and deck space of a pontoon boat? There is a middle ground, and you’ll find it in the deck boat market. Deck boats are built in such a way that they offer more room for people and gear than your typical runabout and but they offer a measure of performance and handling that you will never get from a pontoon boat. For buyers who need that compromise, deck boats present a magnificent way forward, a boat roomy enough for family and friends, and all the gear and toys they bring along. Here’s a list of some of our favorites available on the market.
Hurricane SunDeck 187 OB
It would be impossible to write a story about deck boats and not include something from Hurricane, a company that’s been making deck boats for decades—and doing it well. The Hurricane SunDeck 187 OB is a favorite for a number of reasons, the first of which is that it’s affordable, starting at $31,000 and change with the standard 115 horse Yamaha engine. Deck space is ample for a boat that measures less than 20 feet long and seating is wide and spacious.
Standard features are a little scant, but you can check options boxes to get what you want, and those options are priced well enough to get out the door under $40K.
See Hurricane SunDeck 187 OB listings.
Bayliner Element E21
No one company has helped introduce more people to boating than Bayliner. Its affordable offerings bring in people who want a good price, but don’t want to shop in the used market. That new-boat smell and a warranty are powerful persuaders.
Take the Element E21 for example. It comes as a package on a tandem-axle trailer with a folding tongue. That lets the owner put the boat in the garage rather than a storage facility. The trailer is standard as is a four-stroke 115-horse Mercury outboard. On deck, the Element E21 shows some fresh thinking and innovation. Although front and rear filler cushions are optional, they turn the fore and aft sections into playpen-style seating areas, and they really turn the E21 into something different, unexpected even. Remove them for a more traditional deck layout, which is spacious and open.
See Bayliner Element E21 listings.
Four Winns HD 180 OB RS
The first thing you notice about the Four Winns HD 180 OB RS is its design. It’s sleek and futuristic, and with a base price of $35,067, which includes a custom trailer, it’s a complete package. It’s also well thought out, with a convenient aft deck that offers a walk-through to twin swim platforms. The cockpit is broad and spacious as is the walk-through to the bow, which offers wrap around seating and an optional playpen filler cushion.
We love the bold use of color, the smoked windshield and the little tasteful and sophisticated touches and materials choices that make the HD 180 OB RS feel like a much more expensive boat.
See Four Winns HD 180 listings.
Just when you think you think about boats too much, you come across a Stingray model like the 192SC and you realize that Stingray designers and engineers think about boats a lot more than anyone. Just look at how many features they were able to pack into the 192SC, a single-console deck boat that has walk-throughs to the bow and swim platforms, a port side sink and boarding steps. The 192SC has stowage under the seats and bow walk-through and the swim platform, the doors of which make it easier to walk to the port side from the starboard walk-through.
Then, of course, there’s the Z-Plane hull design that makes great use of the boat’s standard 115-horse Suzuki outboard power. Base MSRP is $34,406, but you’ll have to spend more to get a splash of color on the hull.
See Stingray 192SC listings.
Chaparral 191 SunCoast
It was just a few years ago that Chaparral debuted the 250 SunCoast at the Miami Boat Show. Now, the SunCoast model line has grown to four models, and it now includes the 191 SunCoast. Coastal boaters are the target market for this line, and it shows. The 191 SunCoast is rugged and practical, with all the features you look for in a deck boat. For example, there are large platforms fore and aft for beaching and swimming. The decks are self-bailing and there is ample cockpit space and seating for big families.
There are a host of options available, but even in standard trim, the 191 is a lot of boat for the money. How much? How about $32,090 on a standard powder-coated trailer. Add in the optional $585 bimini top and you’d be good to go for summer.
See Chaparral 191 SunCoast listings.
Regal 22 FasDeck
The models Regal has been putting out in recent years have been setting benchmarks in terms of design and functionality, and the 22 FasDeck is a perfect example. For starters, it’s probably one of the better looking boats in its size, and that makes it even more of a standout on the deckboat market.
In terms of functionality, the 22 FasDeck features innovative cockpit seating. The observers seat backrest adjust so that a rider may face forward or aft, and it also folds flat to create a port side sun lounged tucked out of sight of passers by. The rear bench also conceals a walk-through to the full-width swim platform, which also has its own aft-facing bench for keeping an eye on the kids while they’re swimming. A telescoping ladder tucks neatly beneath the platform for easy access and good aesthetics.
You also can get the boat with outboard power, but Regal calls that model the 23 OBX. In either trim, Regal takes the deck boat to another level. Prices for the 22 FasDeck start at $54,075.
See Regal 22 FasDeck listings.
Sea Ray SDX 250
Sea Ray is another boat builder that is taking the deck boat design to new heights and you need look no further than the SDX 250. Take the bow area, for example. Sea Ray has flipped the seating arrangement on its side—literally—by arranging the bow lounges port to starboard rather than fore and aft. You still have the ability to stretch out while the boat is at rest and while it’s in motion, there’s lots of room for kids who want to be up front. The bow is nice and deep, too.
Behind the windshield, the SDX 250 features a double-wide helm seat and Sea Ray’s “glass cockpit” helm. Tucked beneath the dash is a head compartment. The port side seat also accommodates two, with a backrest that adjust to face fore or aft. The aft bench back rest also lets people face forward when under way and aft when at rest. It’s a very clever setup.
In base trim, the SDX 250 retails for $89,525, and it be fitted with options limited only by your imagination and budget. In any trim, the SDX 250 delivers what buyers expect in a deck boat and a whole lot more.
See Sea Ray SDX 250 listings.