Avalon, Calif., is the only incorporated city on Santa Catalina Island of the California Channel Islands, and the southernmost city in Los Angeles County. It was this beautiful city that led to the name inspiration of the pontoon manufacturer based in Michigan. Jim Wolf, the president, CEO and owner of Avalon & Tahoe Manufacturing, Inc., enjoyed his time living in California and that’s how the Avalon Pontoons name eventually evolved. However, the story doesn’t end there. Catalina Island was also incorporated into the company, this time as a name for one of Avalon’s most versatile pontoon lines.
“Catalina is the most affordable version of our signature high-end series,” says Sales VP Brian Richards. “It has all the looks and quality and is the easiest line to personalize our signature look. It allows you to a la carte your boat exactly how you want it compared to our Catalina Platinum line that comes with a lot of those upgrades standard.”
When it comes to giving customers exactly what they want, no Avalon dealer does it better with the Catalina line than Bill Forenski, owner of WMF Watercraft & Marine in Delaware, which first began as a Jet Ski repair shop in 2004 before evolving into pontoon sales.
“For years, dealer rep Chris Thomas kept trying to convince me to sell Avalon pontoons but at the time we were just a boat repair shop so it was a big jump for me,” recalls Forenski. “In 2013 we started selling Avalon pontoons and today I’m their number three dealer in the world. We sell close to a hundred boats a year, mainly Catalina pontoons, and I’m the number one Catalina dealer for Avalon.”
The quick success led Forenski to eventually taking on the manufacturer’s other pontoon brand—Tahoe Pontoons—which showcases his complete loyalty as he now sells both Avalon and Tahoe pontoons.
“I’m very happy. I love the product, I love the company, I love their boats, and I wouldn’t sell anything but their pontoons,” said Forenski. “Plus I love connecting with my customers and I want them to be happy.”
Catalina is Avalon’s mid-range lineup and it combines high-quality construction at a popular price point. Ranging from 20 to 26 feet in length, Catalina is all about fun in its retro-inspired style and offers a variety of lounge styles as well as a specific fishing model. There is even a Catalina Funship in this lineup, which includes a slide on the top of the double decker model.
With WMF Watercraft & Marine being Avalon’s top Catalina dealer, finding a current customer in the area to offer up a little feedback was an easy task. John Cavanaugh loves his 2017 2385 Catalina Cruise, which is the second pontoon that he’s purchased through the dealership. His first pontoon was a 2014 2385 Catalina Fish, which he also enjoyed, but this time around he opted for more seating room instead of fishing features.
“With the fishing model it was useful having fishing chairs in the rear with a livewell, but I wanted to move up to three pontoons and it seemed like every time we had people fishing they were all over the place anyway,” said Cavanaugh with a smile. “Even though it was handy, I wanted to trade off to a larger seating area.”
Versatility and personalizing your floorplan is again one of the main attributes of the Catalina line, so after a long talk with the owner of WMF Watercraft & Marine, Cavanaugh opted for a three-logged pontoon with the Waveglider performance package and a Mercury 150hp four-stroke while keeping the length of the boat the same.
“My previous pontoon was a 23-footer and I considered going to a 25-foot version but Bill counseled me on staying with the same length and jumping up to 150hp from the 115hp I had before,” recalls Cavanaugh. “I was in the 23 to 25 mph range with the Catalina Fish and on this one I’m getting 34 to 35, so I’ve added about 10 mph to the top speed. Having the third pontoon really does help out in choppier water, with no splash or spray.”
“John’s boat is a loaded tri-hull,” added WMF Watercraft & Marine owner Bill Forenski. “It has a Garmin GPS, LED lighting, upgraded stereo, upgraded steering wheel, upgraded captain’s seats, Luna soft vinyl flooring, a ski/tow bar and of course the Saltwater package. I option all of my boats very heavily. When I order my boats I order them the way I would want them for myself so I don’t skimp on anything. Usually when I order a boat it has a page and half worth of options.”
It’s still early in the season as Cavanaugh is getting used to his 2017 model Catalina Cruise, but he’s already enjoying taking family and friends out into the Atlantic Ocean and that includes his 25-year-old son and his friends.
“I really love the lounge areas,” says Cavanaugh. “My son has lots of friends and they all still enjoy getting their sun on, so being able to stretch out was on my wish list.”
Cavanaugh loves his new pontoon, but it’s his relationship with WMF Watercraft & Marine that he’s really come to appreciate over the years. As an engineer he tends to take an analytical approach to things and he firmly believes in strong organizations.
“I checked out four dealerships in my area and I was impressed with the shop,” recalls Cavanaugh. “I understand the value of service from being in technical sales for over 35 years and I really liked what I saw. That was my big drive for originally going with the WMF organization and it has certainly proved to be the case. They’re great to work with and I would highly recommend Bill and his organization for a place for purchasing and serving your boat.”
As Tested: Catalina 2585 QL
Recently the PDB magazine staff had a chance to get behind the wheel of a Catalina ourselves and the ride didn’t disappoint. It was a 25-foot Quad Lounge model and the floor plan allowed us to lie out in the sun anywhere we wanted thanks to the spacious interior with two aft and two forward lounges. The open layout offers plenty of space and even features side-by-side seating with the driver.
One of our favorite features is the Deco style walls as well as the plush seating that includes exclusive Matrix 50 vinyl. Powered with a Honda 150hp four-stroke, at full throttle we reached speeds in the mid 30s with ease. We were pleasantly surprised with the burst of power and the overall handling. The triple pontoon model was a lot of fun to drive and it’s easy to see why these Catalinas are gaining in popularity.
LOA: 25’ 5”
Beam: 8’ 6”
Pontoon Diameter: 25”
Dry Weight: 2,450 lbs.
Max Capacity: 13/2,430 lbs.
For More Information
WMF Watercraft & Marine