This article originally appeared in our 2016 Shootout issue. If you are interested in seeing more stories like this, click HERE to subscribe.
A great value, family-oriented and user-friendly is probably the best way to describe this PARTY BARGE.
For those who feel you can’t find a great pontoon under $50K these days, think again. Tracker Marine Group has been offering its haggle-free standard pricing for years, which truly simplifies the buying process. And when you’re able to offer up a pontoon package like this one that includes a 150hp four-stroke for around $30K, it’s easy to see why these boats are so popular nationwide.
Starting at the helm console, the simplified dash includes gauges on one side, rocker switches on the other, with a spot for an optional fish finder to be added later if you prefer. The controls for the Jensen Bluetooth stereo are located on the left and close by is a USB/Auxiliary port so you can easily bring your music with you. There is even a designated spot to secure your phone, which is something we always like to see.
The Rotomolded bases offer up great dry storage below the seats and we particularly like the lockable storage box in the bench seat directly across from the helm. A lot of pontoons have removable cupholders, but we like on this model that you can secure them temporarily anywhere with an attaching strap below the seat cushion so when you lift up the seat to access the storage, the cupholder stays put.
For a value-driven model, we were pleasantly surprised with the innovative features found throughout the boat. For example, the new QuickLift deployment system for the 9-foot Bimini is one of our favorites. What normally would be considered a two-person operation to raise and lower the Bimini top can now be easily accomplished by just one. Little touches like this clearly indicate that the engineers at Tracker Marine Group use and enjoy the boats they design.
Another feature we like can be found below the large two-person rear-facing sun lounge in the stern. Below is a large pop-up changing room that has been engineered to be a little taller—5-foot, 9 inches to be exact—with another smooth one-handed operation that increases the overall curtain height with a sliding mechanism. Not only is this area spacious, it also includes a flip-up bench inside the enclosure that we really like.
Just outside the stern gate there is just enough room in this corner to towel off before coming into the boat after using the four-step boarding ladder. The water sport enthusiasts in your family will love the optional ski/tow pylon that is very stylish-looking. It’s worth noting that the model we tested included a non-skid vinyl flooring, which helps make cleanup a breeze.
Three 26-inch diameter multi-chambered pontoon logs feature internal bracing for additional strength and full-width, heavy-duty extruded Z-bar deck supports are used that are thru-bolted to the M-brackets.
From inside the bow gate to the rear bench there is nearly 12 feet of usable deck space and throughout the boat the rail height is at a consistent and family-friendly height of 26 inches tall.
While a lot of people should rightfully be impressed that this boat is capable of top speeds near the 40 mph mark with the Mercury 150hp four-stroke outboard, it was actually how quickly she jumped up on plane that took us by surprise. This ‘toon is a lot of fun to drive.
When you factor in the value and all this PARTY BARGE has to offer and then add SUN TRACKER 10+LIFE warranty that includes 10 years of bow-to-stern coverage, it really is hard to beat.
2016 Boat Specifications
Number of Occupants 10
Maximum Speed 39.0 mph
Wild Ponies 150 hp
No. of Gates 3
0-20 MPH 5.01 seconds
Ladder Measurement 4’ 1/2” deep
Why we love this boat…There is a ton of value built into this boat and we feel it’s powered perfectly with this 150hp.
Just being picky…The optional vinyl non-skid flooring looks great and is easy for cleanup, but it can be a little slick when wet.
PDB Days Reader Choice Feedback
I like the layout and that this boat is roomy. You get a lot of stuff for the price.
It looks good and seems sturdy—nice layout.
New fencing design w/ built-in Rail-Lock system for optional mooring cover, 3 high-performance 26” logs w/ lifting strakes, color-keyed 9-foot Bimini top w/ new QuickLift deployment system, pop-up changing room, lockable dry compartment, spacious drained storage under couches and lounge, removable table w/ molded-in cup holders and 2 pedestal base locations, deluxe helm station w/ cooler storage and Bluetooth-capable stereo, courtesy lighting throughout, full-width aft swim platform w/ non-skid surface and fold-down boarding ladder.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
Vinyl interior flooring.
LOA 22’ 2”
Beam 8’ 6”
Hull Design Three Pontoons
Dry Weight 2840 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 35 gallons
Engine Mercury 150 ELPT
Cylinder Type Inline 4
Cubic-inch Displacement/Horsepower 183ci/150hp
Lower Unit Gear Ratio 1.92:1
Propeller 15.3 X 14P stainless steel Enertia
RPM vs. SPEED vs. DB-A
850 2.6 73
1000 2.8 81
1500 5.2 85
2000 7.2 86
2500 9.9 87
3000 12.8 95
3500 18.3 98
4000 22.0 100
4500 26.5 104
5000 34.5 108
5500 35.6 111
5900 39.0 110