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Pontoon & Deck Boat Roundup

Versatility, stability and elbowroom to spare. Here are six of the latest models in both categories.

Sun Tracker Party Barge 254 XP3.

Sun Tracker Party Barge 254 XP3.

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It’s hard to beat a pontoon or deckboat for versatility, stability and elbow room while enjoying Heartland waters. Pontoons are a great choice for protected waters and family fun, while their hybrid deckboat kin combine the performance and handling attributes of runabouts with the roominess of a broad deck and forward seating. Here are a half dozen of the latest models we like in both categories.

Sun Tracker Party Barge 254 XP3
Sun Tracker offers two new pontoons for 2013, representing both ends of the size spectrum. At one extreme is the new Bass Buggy 16, the smallest in the buggy shop offerings. At the other extreme is the Party Barge 254 XP3. Measuring more than 27 feet in length, the big triple-’toon barge can handle engines up to 250 horsepower while accommodating parties of up to 15.

The 254 XP3 features an elevated helm station built of fiberglass, fitted with standard features any captain will appreciate, including a reclining helm seat with self-leveling armrests, power-assisted hydraulic steering with tilt feature and a premium Lowrance color fishfinder complete with a chartplotter.

An all-new refreshment center aft of the helm to starboard features an on-demand sink, food prep area, courtesy lighting and storage area. An aft-facing, doublewide lounge seat hiding a portable changing room dominates the boat’s comfy transom area to port. Overhead is an 11-foot bimini top fitted with integrated LED lighting, while below are a trio of 26-inch diameter pontoons constructed of marine-grade aluminum and fitted with performance strakes for better handling and spray-free cruising.

Length Overall: 27 feet, 5 inches
Beam: 8 feet, 6 inches
Dry Weight: 3,300 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 35 gallons
Max. Power: 250 horsepower
Base Price: $39,995 (w/200-hp Mercury Verado)

Hurricane SunDeck 2690 OB

Hurricane SunDeck 2690 OB
The brand-new SunDeck from Hurricane, which first introduced the "deckboat" style back in the mid-1970s, is the company’s first wide-beam model. Available with outboard power only, it has an equally new hull design constructed using integrated, foam-filled stringers to handle a robust engine up to 350 horsepower and to carry the boat’s nine-foot beam and entertaining deck layout. The internal stringer system also offers a seamless gelcoat finish inside nearly every compartment, and the head flooring and outboard walls are integrated into the stringer system for reduced weight.

The boat’s broad bow offers plenty of forward seating and access to shore and water from the Sundeck via an integrated swim ladder. The large, fully appointed helm to starboard is complemented by an equally large console to port enclosing a surprisingly roomy head with electric-flush toilet, countertop with stainless steel sink and a ventilation/lighting port.

Aft of the helm is wraparound seating, a standard electric grill powered by an inverter, a sink and a compartment for an optional refrigerator. Aft of that, tucked into the portside lounge seat at the transom, is an innovative Integrated Cooler Enclosure that features a sliding lid beneath a small cushion panel to allow passengers seated there to grab something cool out of the 36-quart insulated compartment without getting up. Due to the nine-foot beam, you’ll need a permit to trailer the new SunDeck in some states, so check the regulations if you intend to tow it across the Heartland.

Length Overall: 26 feet, 4 inches
Beam: 9 feet
Dry Weight: 4,150 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 96 gallons
Max. Power: 350 horsepower
Base Price: $72,500 (w/250-hp Yamaha F250XA)

Harris FloteBote Crowne 250

Harris FloteBote Crowne 250
At first glance, the new Crowne 250 doesn’t resemble a pontoon boat — at least not your granddaddy’s ’toon. The lines and design of FloteBote’s new flagship, a 2013 NMMA Innovation Award winner, are all new and radically different from past models, led by a forward-raked radar arch mimicking the curve of the side panels.

The Crowne features a reconfigured helm station and a stylish, clean layout with a classic woodgrain steering wheel, Ultra Lux high-back reclining helm seat and intuitive Touch Screen Control with GPS-based cruise control feature. Plush bow seats with a woodgrain table greet guests seated forward, and dual loungers with their own entertainment center are located for aft.

Faux-teak decking is underfoot in the cockpit, which is gently illuminated by integrated lighting surrounding the wet bar, cup holders and Sony Platinum stereo speakers for dramatic after-dark cruising and entertaining dockside. A large, deep-cushioned, aft-facing couch allows passengers a view over the board swim platform, which is separated by a polished stainless-steel rail and gate.

Optional upgrades include a well-appointed entertainment bar with stainless-steel drawers and comfortable bar seats, sea grass flooring, snap-in Berber carpet, collapsible/telescoping teak table, electronics and appliance packages, hydraulic and power-assisted steering, Alpine Diamond sound system, ski locker, and sport arch with integrated bimini and sunshades.

The new Crowne 250 from Harris is available in two- and three-pontoon configurations and is sure to turn heads across Heartland waters.

Length Overall: 26 feet, 9 inches
Beam: 8 feet, 6 inches
Dry Weight: 3,800 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 45 gallons
Max. Power: 300 horsepower
Base Price: $60,960 (w/90-hp Mercury 90 ELPT 4S EFI)

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