Need advice on a new or used pontoon.

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Tasantherus, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. Tasantherus
    Joined: Feb 2008
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    Location: Warren, MI

    Tasantherus New Member

    Hiyas all, I'm pretty new to the forum and got introduced to it be looking for reviews on a Bentley pontoon. I see Bentley has gotten a pretty bad rap, whether deserved or undeserved I can't answer because I don't own one.

    I just need some opinions on the best make and model for my needs.

    1. I am a cold water inland lake Scuba diver from Michigan who is looking for a moving dive platform for myself, my wife and maybe a friend.
    2. I have 2 young children, and a wife + a friend or 4 that may or may not accompany me on these excursions so I need something big enough to handle a crowd but not overkill. I don't foresee more than 8 to 10 on any boat trip. That being the max, 4 or 5 is about average.
    3. I am all about quality... if I am going to sink money into what is a want and not a need, I want it to last and be able to either pass it on to the children when they get older or sell it after I am to old and frail to be able to continue.
    4. What size engine should I get? Don't plan on water skiing, but may take the little ones tubing.

    I'm pretty much newbish, and any help with a good make/model would be appreciated. I've been looking at the JD powers ratings and Manitou and Bennington seem to be at the forefront, but I would rather hear from real people and not a rating.

    Also as a side note I'd like to keep it under 20,000.00 price if at all possible.
     
  2. Boatman5454
    Joined: Mar 2008
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    Location: GA

    Boatman5454 New Member

    Bentley

    I am also looking for a Bentley. I see all this negative on the forum. Can it all be true?? I've been in retail for 15 years and know that the customer is always right but anyone in retail knows that is a bendable law. What is your opinion on all this stuff?
     
  3. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    Party boats like you are talking about aren't made for rough service. Though it sounds like you want one of these, they are hardly safe and capable vessels compared to some others out there.
    Their intended purpose is for protected waters and not open water where you might get caught out. Being essentially open with the passengers high up, they would be a nightmare in rough conditions compared to a monohull boat.
    If your peimary usage will be to go where you like and dive you will no doubt find yourself a ways from shore at times. For the same money, you could get yourself a slightly used small lobster boat, which has a nice platform in the back, a protected helm, and often room inside for sleeping or making a pot of coffee (and even a toilet!).
    Why anyone would pass up a real capable boat and choose a boat whose primary purpose is to simulate a dock is a testament to the powers of consumer marketing.
    I dissuade anyone thinking of a party boat from considering such a choice if they intend to go anywhere serious in safety. They are really movable docks with beer holders and plush furniture built in.

    Alan
     
  4. Tasantherus
    Joined: Feb 2008
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    Location: Warren, MI

    Tasantherus New Member

    Thanx for the input, just wanted to say that most of the lakes I'm looking to dive are small, under 1200 Acres with 400 being the average. Max depths of 50 or 60 feet. I'm not talking great lakes, just smaller flat water recreational inland lakes. I also need to be able to easily trailer in and out of water for multiple lake usage.

    I suppose if I was an advanced wreck diver doing the great lakes around me I'd go that route.

    If you don't think a pontoon boat would be acceptable, I am always open to suggestions.
     
  5. charmc
    Joined: Jan 2007
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    Location: FL, USA

    charmc Senior Member

    Here is a good overview of the pontoon boat concept, posted at a site for and about boat dealers: http://www.boat-dealers.us/blog/2006/09/21/review-of-pontoon-boat

    Note in the article that the term "party barge" is brought up immediately. This is from another review; "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". The manufacturers invest in amenities for comfort and convenience, because the primary mission of a pontoon boat is to be a floating gathering place for socializing and partying. The money does not go into safety in open water because that is not the primary, or even a secondary mission of the boat. They are designed for calm, sheltered water use only.

    When you review pontoon boat literature and websites, you'll see lots of pictures of small lakes, rivers, and backyard docks. Never a shot of the boat in waves. The marketing is to people whose primary purpose in buying a boat is to socialize on the water. The manufacturers have been criticized for this, but they have a point: there are a lot of people who want to be on the water just to party with family and friends in calm water. If they were described as motorized rafts or motorized barges, it would be more accurate, but I'm sure there are marketing studies showing a more positive response to "boat" than to "barge" or "raft".

    Don't even think about buying a pontoon boat for use on a bay, sound, or river near where it enters into a bay or the ocean. To my knowledge there are none designed for exposure to salty water or air.

    Alan raised a good point: many dive sites are in open water. A dive boat must be able to return the crew and passengers to shore safely if a storm or squall develops rapidly. A pontoon boat is not intended to do that.

    There are many "regular" boats designed with open decks. A used center console or cuddy cabin walkaround , or an express cruiser with a smaller cabin and open bridge with a large cockpit would give you lots of room for friends and family, in a "real" boat hull which can handle some rough weather in relative safety. Buying a well rated used boat is, IMHO, a much better way to get the most boat for your money.
     

  6. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    What matters in wave-making is fetch. Fetch is the distance the wind is acting on the water before it reaches your position. Small bodies of water can and do get rough from time to time.
    Enough about that though. The real question is whether you understand how very limited a pontoon supported platform is. I would be particularly concerned about safety but performance is also important. The thing is, a real boat has all of the capabilities of a party "boat" except floorspace per overall size, and none of the limitations.
    Investigate further and you'll forget about the party boat, I'm sure.

    Alan
     
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