Even when you’re talking about pontoon boats, it’s the high-performance, eye-catching models that get all the attention. In the case of Avalon, that means boats like the Ambassador 27, which has an art deco look, carries up to 300 horses on the transom, breaks 50 MPH, and comes with an electric wine rack. Yowza, it’s cool—but it also costs over 80 grand. It’s too bad that super-cool boats like this overshadow those like the Avalon Eagle, a miniaturized pontoon boat that you can get for less than the cost of a new car.
The Eagle comes in two sizes, 14’ and 16’, and can be had in family or fishing flavors. The main difference between these versions is seating. In the family models the bow has a pair of side/aft facing lounges, while in the fishing version, they get replaced by pedestal-mounted fishing seats. Don’t expect these fishing pontoons to excite die-hard anglers, as there aren’t accommodations made for items like livewells, fishboxes, rodboxes, or rodholders. These boats are pretty basic in nature. But as long as you’re willing to carry a minnow bucket and cooler aboard, they’ll serve just fine for dipping a bait in the lake.
The less-is-more attitude is also found in the family versions. They have the lounges, cup holders, carpet, and Bimini top that are prerequisites for a day of water-play, but that’s about it. If you want to jazz things up, you can choose from a long list of optional features including goodies like faux teak decking, a misting system, a stereo with Sirius satellite radio, and even LED mood lighting. Just how much will it cost you, to go from the bare-bones to fully-equipped? The range for the Eagle line starts at just under $12,000 and peaks a hair over $18,000.
Of course, there are pontoons out there which can be had for less. Some which are down-right cheap. And even though they may save you a grand or two while providing the same LOA, “cheap” is usually an accurate word to describe them. Not so, for the Avalon Eagles. The best thing about these boats is that they’re built with quality and attention similar to that of the company’s more expensive boats. Note that the seat bases, for example, are aluminum instead of the cheaper, more common plastic type. The pontoons are 23”, rails are anodized and radiused, and cleats are stainless-steel.
Another indication of quality is the fact that the 16’ Eagle carries a max-power rating of 50 horses, while many pontoons of this size can’t handle more than 40. And check out Avalon’s warranty, which covers the bow to stern for five years. Flooring, pontoons, and seat frames are protected by a limited lifetime warranty. You simply won’t find that sort of back-up in a “cheap” pontoon boat.
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The biggest down-side to the Avalon Eagle is pretty obvious: there’s not a ton of space on these boats. They don’t offer the performance of a larger pontoon, nor do they have the many amenities. But if you’re on the lookout for a small, inexpensive, easy to handle pontoon boat that isn’t best described as “cheap,” the Eagle is an option you should know about.
Other Choices: The Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 costs less, but its pontoons are four inches shorter than the Eagle 16. If speed isn’t your thing and you want to reduce your carbon footprint, you might consider the Paddle Qwest 16, which runs on electric or paddle-power (the Eagles are also available with electric engines).
See Avalon Eagle listings.
For more information, visit Avalon.