With a name like “Party Barge,” you’d expect this 24-foot pontoon boat from Sun Tracker to serve up some serious fun and relaxation. Well, I’m here to tell you that it does, and in ample quantities. But what might surprise you is that part of that fun equation is speed and handling. (Yes, I just used the words “speed” and “handling” to describe a pontoon boat.) Let’s dig deeper and find out why.

To see this boat in action, watch the Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 XP3: Video Boat Review.

Blastoff! The Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 isn't just a great party platform, it's fast, too.

Blastoff! The Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 isn't just a great party platform, it's fast, too.


OK, let’s get this party started.


The layout of the Party Barge 24 is all about lying in the sun, relaxing with friends, and soaking up the waterscape around you. I found all of the Party Barge 24’s vinyl upholstery to be extremely supple and buttery. And let me tell you—there’s a lot of seating on this boat. Enough for 12 people, in fact.

The aft section of this pontoon has an expansive sun pad lounge with nice back support and a two- to three-person bench, which also has good bolstering for your back. Amidships are a ultra-comfy L-shaped lounge and the helm, which has a swiveling captain’s chair. I really liked how this L-shaped lounge kept the captain and guests in the same plane of conversation. Up forward is a long lounge to starboard, with a shorter one to port. In between the two is a drop-in table that’s situated a little to far in the center to be handy from those lounges, but it also doesn’t interfere with bow access. Cup holders are everywhere, as you’d expect.

You can't have a boat full of people aboard without comfy places to sit, and lots of room for gear. There's plenty of room for all of that, on the Sun Tracker Party Barge 24.

You can't have a boat full of people aboard without comfy places to sit, and lots of room for gear. There's plenty of room for all of that, on the Sun Tracker Party Barge 24.


Power up


Our speedy test boat was tipped with the maximum power for this boat—a 200-horsepower supercharged Mercury Verado. It was also equipped with Sun Tracker’s XP3 performance pontoon log system, which includes a lowered center tube, lifting strakes, and wave deflectors that not only help make this boat fast, but also make it able to slice out sharp turns with the best of them. So how fast is fast? Forty point eight miles per hour, that’s how fast. And it doesn’t take long to get there, thanks to that aforementioned XP3 performance pontoon system.
Specifications
Length22'2"
Beam8'6"
Draft (hull)N/A
DeadriseN/A
Displacement4,631 lbs
Fuel capacity35 gal.
Water capacityN/A

And when it comes to handling, the Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 doesn’t disappoint. After driving this boat all around Lake Wawasee in Indiana for an hour or so, I felt comfortable enough to make some pretty aggressive turns at speed, very close to the chase boat where our videographer was capturing the action. While I wasn’t comfortable enough to turn it over as hard as I have with some top-end pontoons, the Party Barge 24 certainly provides top-notch performance for a boat that starts at $41,200. That’s about 20 per cent less than a lot of the premium pontoons in this size range.

As I drove the Sun Tracker Party Barge 24 XP3 back to the docks, I looked at my colleagues and said, “You know what? It may not ultimately be the fastest or best-handling pontoon of its size, but I’m not convinced that the extra few mph or half a G in handling is worth another $10,000 to $15,000.” If you’re looking for an affordable pontoon that delivers fun, speed, handling, and a party attitude, this one’s worth a look.

Other Choices: If you're in the market for an affordable but fun 24-foot pontoon boat, also consider the Cypress Cay Seabreeze 250 or the Princecraft Vectra 23.

See all listings for Sun Tracker Party Barge 24s.

For more information, visit Sun Tracker.

 

Written by: Gary Reich
Gary Reich is a Chesapeake Bay-based freelance writer and photojournalist with over 25 years of experience in the marine industry. He is the former editor of PropTalk Magazine and was the managing editor of the Waterway Guide. His writing and photography have been published in PassageMaker Magazine, Soundings, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters, Yachting Magazine, and Lakeland Boating, among others.
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