This article originally appeared in our 2016 Shootout issue. If you are interested in seeing more stories like this, click HERE to subscribe.
Upgraded furniture, a high-end look, and of course the fact that it’s the only expanding pontoon on the market are just a few highlights of this 22/26 pontoon.
When you come up with a unique concept, you’re sure to attract a lot of positive attention, and the numerous innovation awards Island Boats has earned since entering the pontoon industry are proof of that. However, the key to long-term success is to continue to improve the product and that’s where we feel this Florida-based manufacturer has grown the most in such a short amount of time.
The retractable pontoon has improved by leaps and bounds since its first prototype version. The concept is simple, yet it’s still extremely impressive how it has all been engineered so everything works together. The pontoon starts out at 7 feet, 6 inches wide on the trailer and because it is a foot less than traditional pontoons, it’s easier to store as well as transport. Then, once on the water, you press a button and the pontoon expands to be 10 feet wide. The floor stays level the entire time and what’s equally impressive is the Bimini top uses a slide mechanism so it expands and retracts automatically too. You don’t have to worry about a thing. The same can be said for the bow and stern gates that both pivot in the center and can be used in either position. With this 22/26 model you gain comparable square footage to a 26-foot pontoon, but in a 22-foot version, hence the model name.
Using the revolutionary R & E Slide, the floor retracts or expands in just over a minute and the control is conveniently located at the helm. Using an electric drive, the patented system will lock into place as it goes, so even if you’re only halfway through the process it’s secure. Even though you could drive with the pontoon only partially expanded, for stability reasons the manufacturer recommends you only operate it at higher speeds at its intended 10-foot width.
Upgraded furniture and high-end amenities are the biggest improvements since this boat was first introduced. It’s worth noting that, other than the bow table/cooler and additional exterior lighting, basically everything you see comes standard with the boat. This includes the entertainment center behind the helm that comes with a sink and wash-down sprayer, LED lights and LED-lit cupholders.
There is also a changing room in the port stern corner that stands nearly 6 feet tall when open, with plenty of room to add a portable toilet inside if wanted.
Below deck the two modified pontoons are the base of this performance hull, which doesn’t need lifting strakes or an aluminum splash skin. Up top the rail stands at a family-friendly height of nearly 27 inches tall around the perimeter of the boat.
We were beyond impressed by the durability of the two-logged pontoon that took on some tough waves and never flinched. The performance hull helps improve the handling and at full throttle we nearly reached the 40-mile-per-hour mark with the Mercury 150hp four-stroke. She turns flat in the sharp corners, but it’s the solid platform that really got our attention.
While a lot of pontoon boats could be considered wheelchair accessible, it would be hard to argue that this 22/26 from Island Boats isn’t the most capable we’ve ever tested. It’s truly ADA accessible and with gate openings at 41 inches (bow), 37 inches (stern) and 32 inches (port mid-ship) wide, there might not be a more wheelchair accessible pontoon out there.
2016 Boat Specifications
Number of Occupants 11
Maximum Speed 38.6 mph
Wild Ponies 150 hp
No. of Gates 3
0-20 MPH 7.14 seconds
Ladder Measurement 2’ 9” deep
Why we love this boat…It feels solid when you’re on the water as if it were a traditional one-piece design and that’s saying a lot for a retractable pontoon.
Just being picky…The Lowrance Depth Finder/Fish Finder is a nice added touch for the helm, but we’d like to see it either built into the console or mounted more securely.
PDB Days Reader Choice Feedback
The way everything interacts together as it expands and retracts is impressive. This would be perfect for trailering.
R & E Slide, standard gauges, fuel, tech, speed, volt, changing room, blue LED courtesy lights, blue LED lights in cup holders and speakers, galley with 3-gal. wet bar sink and full lounge bench seating all around.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
LED exterior strip lights, LED strip docking lights, additional removable armrest cup holder and bow cooler/table.
Beam 7’ 6” – 10’
Hull Design Two Pontoons
Dry Weight 1762 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 35 gallons
Engine Mercury 150
Cylinder Type Inline 4
Cubic-inch Displacement/Horsepower 183ci/150hp
Lower Unit Gear Ratio 1.92:1
Propeller 13 X 16
RPM vs. SPEED vs. DB-A
625 2.0 72
1000 3.9 83
1500 5.5 88
2000 7.8 83
2500 9.9 89
3000 12.7 92
3500 17.3 94
4000 22.5 96
4500 31.5 100
5000 35.3 100
5500 37.4 103
5800 38.6 106
Vero Beach, Fla.