What Lies Beneath Part 3

April 2014

There is a lot of hard work that goes into a pontoon boat that is often times overlooked. In our What Lies Beneath series, Pontoon & Deck Boat magazine has closely examined some of the ingenious innovations that have brought pontoon boat building from its humble infancy to the titan of ingenuity and first-class seafaring found today.

In part one of the series, we examined how the pontoon logs and cross-members were brought together to provide comfort, stability and longevity, creating a robust and versatile frame to provide owners a dynamic and enjoyable platform. In part two, we took a look at more intricate details of how the frame was designed. We also examined some of the finer details of the internal construction with a focus on a pontoon's electronics, seat construction and the hardware that holds it all together. For the final part of this series, we'll look over the more aesthetic and practical design aspects, bringing the pontoon boat together in a beautiful, dynamic finale.

That's A Wrap

The finishing touches are usually the first items people notice on any pontoon boat. From the shiny stainless steel accents, to the comfortable upholstery of the seats, pontoon companies have spent years researching and developing some of the best in maritime comfort and aesthetic flair. Godfrey pontoon boats from Nautic Global Group is responsible for the Sweetwater, Parti Kraft, Aqua Patio and Sanpan models, which share some similar characteristics inherent in pontoon construction, but are ultimately as diverse and unique as a fingerprint. Each brand of pontoon boat comes in a variety of configurations and offers a wide range of different standard and optional features. With them being different from one another, it's also safe to assume they are vastly different from other manufacturers. One key difference to think about is the materials being used in the construction of Godfrey boats.

Found throughout it’s entire line is the GX-50 vinyl upholstery used to construct the seating. Having a smooth, leather-like texture, this marine-grade vinyl not only feels good to the touch, but will undoubtedly stand the test of time and Mother Nature to provide owners a long, comfortable ride throughout the years.

While each boat offered by Godfrey is nothing short of amazing, it is important to note that the level of standard features and materials used in each begins to alter from entry-level and higher-end models. The Sweetwater Sunrise SW 186 C offers a bucket-style captain's chair, while its big brother, the Sweetwater Premium SW 240 WB has a standard reclining captain's chair with fold-down arms. The Sunrise is equipped with four fixed nylon cleats, while the Premium's cleats are stainless steel. And while the Premium offers LED docking lights as a standard feature for the exterior, the Sunrise stays a bit more modest and doesn't include them. For owners looking for a little extra in their boat, the Sunrise model does offer some optional features that help spice up the aesthetic value of the vessel; however, the Premium SW 240 WB offers still more. Pound for pound, there's no contest about which Sweetwater pontoon offers more in comfort and luxury, but that's why it's called "Premium."

It's important to remember that whatever you're looking for in a pontoon boat, you can surely find it on virtually all models, but the higher-end platforms not only give you want you want, but add more than you would ever believe.

Godfrey is just one company in a large industry that uses innovative technology and stringent dedication to create a great pontoon. While Nautic Global Group utilizes the GX-50 vinyl for their seating, Premier Pontoons uses a wood-free seat construction with their Rotocast framework and upholsters them with DuraSoft7 vinyl, which is resistant to the elements and light as a feather. The proprietary composition of this vinyl adds resilience to wear and tear, so even after years of use the vinyl remains strong and comfortable. On some models, the furniture is even further reinforced with Premier's Flexsteel technology, which implements springs into the seating for added comfort. Another key plan in Premier's design is the waffle-board seat bottoms, which have been engineered to channel water away from the cushions and allow owners to enjoy a smooth, dry seat without the hassle of constantly cleaning and drying during a day out on the water. Most of Premier's innovation can be found throughout its lineup, but as with Godfrey, the more high-end you choose to go will govern which features will be standard, optional and available for your boat.

More Is Never Too Much

While the focus has mainly been on the furniture construction and composition, there are a myriad of other features throughout the pontoon industry that can be included in most models. Another technology to consider is the electronics package found onboard. While on entry-level models the standard sound package may seem like the bare essentials, upgraded models are sold standard with additional inclusions and higher value products equipped onboard. Premier's Navigator model was designed to be more of a value-driven vessel, and so the features located on it are more modest. Having an AM/FM stereo and two speakers, the Navigator is meant for owners who are more invested in the simple satisfaction of driving through the water, or a great morning of fishing. Premier's Grand Isle model, however, offers four high-performance speakers with directional mounts, a 10-inch subwoofer, a USB cord for hooking up an MP3 player, a Beacon electronic system and a whole lot more. What's more, if you're looking for premium sound, one of Premier's popular options is a Polk Audio Sound package, so there's almost no limit to what you can have equipped to your favorite water toy.

There are may different people in the world, so making a model that would suit every need and desire is impossible. Some people may wish to have vinyl carpeting, while others prefer a Seagrass style flooring. People who aren't looking to have a luxury outfitted vessel may find the basic chair packages more than enough, while those who want more class and style out of their pontoon may be interested in the upgraded reclining chair with folding arm rests. The fact of the matter is there are many different styles, configurations and materials used in the construction process of a pontoon boat, leaving buyers with endless possibilities for how they desire to see their boat. The best part of it all is that customers are given the choice to have whatever they want onboard, so no one has to deal with the phrase "Here's what we have." Instead, they have the pleasure of hearing "What would you like?"

While you're on your way to purchase the pontoon boat of your dreams and your picking out your features and boat configuration, you can now appreciate every aspect of your maritime toy and take a moment to stand in awe at the incredible process of building a pontoon boat and constructing everything that lies beneath.

“What Lies Beneath” is a three-part series on the building and construction process in the pontoon industry. Part one in our March issue was an in-depth look at the materials used for making strong, durable and long-lasting pontoon logs and cross members, while part two in April focused on the assembly process.

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