I was given the assignment to go off for a weekend and put the new 310 Boundary Waters Sky Dek RE from Premier through the paces. The Sky Dek was built with one goal in mind: comfort. Or possibly parties. Is having a good time a goal?
Anyway, if you bring a Sky Dek to your next family reunion on Percy Priest Lake, be prepared to deal with fights about who gets to ride on top.
Before we get to the long list of amenities, I want to make clear that the Sky Dek is no lumbering oaf. Despite its size (almost 32 feet long and over 10 feet wide), I was able to get it up to nearly 40 miles per hour, thanks to its beefy Yamaha F350XCA V8 outboard. I've tested many boats that are half the size of the Sky Dek that can't even come close to its speed, and that's saying a lot about Premier's PTX performance package.
For this 10-foot-wide boat, this means the third pontoon is 36 inches wide and 27 inches deep, giving more flotation for such a big craft, and better speed and turning than a normal setup would give. This was definitely noticeable as I cruised around the lake with some friends; turning was smooth as silk and the 5,000-pound weight (dry) handled easily.
The steering wheel is power assisted courtesy of Sea Star, an option I definitely recommend. With a boat this long and this wide, the natural torque when turning at speed is pretty intense, and without power assist steering, only the stronger drivers among us could really handle it well. With the power-assist, anyone can drive the Sky Dek.
The support system for the upper deck looked very sturdy, and even with five people up top, I noticed no sway or give underneath. The underskinning of the upper deck also does a nice job of hiding the wires for sound and lighting above.
Making your way up the stairs, it's easy to notice the extra-wide steps and safety chain at the opening. All passengers loved the slide off the stern, and the adults were fighting the kids for who got to go next.
The upper deck gave a great view of the areas below, allowing adults to enjoy conversation while keeping an eye on children playing on the main deck. A new feature for the 310 are speakers under the seats, which means enjoying the breeze upstairs doesn't mean you're left out of the dance party down below. The cover for the upper deck is also high-quality and nice for when the sun is a bit too strong. And the vinyl flooring was a nice practical touch; no one wants to worry about even more flooring to clean after dealing with everything downstairs, and you can put the kids up there without worrying about them ruining anything. Finally, a remote controlled spotlight was fun and handy for night swimming.
Okay, enough fawning over the upstairs. Back down we go. I think it may be easier to name the amenities not present than describe everything on the Sky Dek. To start somewhere, there are two sinks. Two! The one at the stern is a vessel sink, with an electric faucet, soap dispenser, paper towel holder and lots of storage. And at the bow, another electric sink with another paper towel holder. I can tell you no mess went un-cleaned for very long during the weekend.
The helm is flat-out amazing. We loved the raised, lighted helm, perfect for seeing over passengers up front. When I sat in the captain's chair for the first time, I knew somewhere, my editor was jealous. It's a 10 Star FlexSteel seat, fully adjustable and extremely comfortable. More highlights: a nice wide base, adjustable arm rests and good back support. Overall, the helm's black and gray color scheme gives it a classy feel, and we enjoyed the digital Yamaha gauges and shifter. A full-color GPS was extraordinarily handy for finding our way around the lake, and it looked good doing it.
There are battery-operated LED cup holders throughout the Sky Dek, which just added to the already fun atmosphere.
Pull Up A Chair
One of the best features of the Sky Dek is the abundance of conversation areas. My favorite was at the bow, where a filler couch creates a nice semicircle of comfortable seating, perfect for a game of cards or just discussing the day's events. And at the stern, another area perfect for visiting, and the helm chair can turn to participate. We also made special note of a chair set up directly across from the helm. We figured out this would allow the pilot and a single passenger to converse while underway without either person having to strain their neck at an awkward angle, as is the case on most pontoon boats. A small touch, maybe, but a nice one.
An ottoman cooler, mobile arms rests on all chairs and more tilted speakers for premium sound continue to pile on comfort and fun on top of comfort and fun, almost to the point where it's funny.
There are throw pillows on the seating, but before you dismiss these are ordinary head-resting items, know these throw pillows are made from life jacket material. I'm pretty sure they aren't Coast Guard safety rated, but in an emergency, they're better than nothing. After tossing them into the water a few times, we also noticed no bleeding or discoloration; it appears they enjoy getting wet more than the average couch accessory.
In all, the 310 Boundary Waters Sky Dek RE is a masterpiece of luxury, without sacrificing power. If you're looking for a party boat to live up to your expectations for the Greatest Lake Bash of All Time, this is your craft.
After watching Premier's body of work over the last few years, it's easy to see how they came up with and executed such an amazing design. It will be fun to see what they put out in the future.
For more information on the 310 Boundary Waters Sky Dek RE, visit www.pontoons.com or call 800-815-6392.