The Loaded Trifecta

With Hella Marine underwater lights

Published in the March 2023 Issue February 2024 Feature Brady L. Kay

Most boaters live for bright sunny days and dread the thought of cruising in total darkness after the sun has dipped beyond the horizon. However, this Trifecta pontoon is not your typical boat. When the sky is at its darkest, this pontoon that is enhanced with the new Apelo surface-mounted LED underwater lights from Hella Marine, truly shines...literally.

We reviewed the loaded Trifecta with Marty Scott, who is a partner with SGL Sales & Marketing and represents many of the upgrades on this boat, and Gary Stidham, the Hella Marine US/Canada Sales Manager. The 2023 Trifecta 25 SB2 SS is loaded with upgrades, but the one that gets noticed the most by other boaters are clearly the lights.

“The best comment I've received on these new underwater lights is they look like two jet engines on the back of the boat,” says Marty with a smile. “That's how cool they look.”

Apelo is available in models producing 1,800 or 3,000 lumens of blazing blue/white or RGB light and marks the debut of Hella's innovative Edge Light technology.

“We have an A1 series and A2 series in the composite, aluminum and bronze versions,” said Gary. “The A1 Series is 1,800 lumens and that is our basic introductory light. The A2 is 3,000 lumens and it has what we call our Edge Light technology. It stays on with fully functional RGB lights as soon as you power up the boat.”

Backed by an industry-leading five-year warranty, Apelo can be relied on to set the perfect dockside mood, boost the party vibe or attract the next trophy catch.

“The lights are amazing and these are raw lumen ratings so 3,000 lumens is very, very bright on the back of the pontoon, even changing through all the different colors through the RGB spectrum,” adds Gary.

This boat had the A2 series Hella underwater lights on it that easily can change colors. Hella's unique Optical Intelligence focuses the asymmetrical light pattern efficiently below the waterline in a narrow vertical angle for a spectacular effect. Compact at only 3 3/4 inches in diameter and less than an inch high, Apelo A1 and A2 fixtures install easily with Hella's robust surface mounting system. Unlike some underwater lights that require a large cutout, they need only a 5/8-inch center and three screw holes.

“These lights may very well be the best underwater lights for the price available for a pontoon,” adds Marty. “If a boat is going to have underwater lights, they should light up the water!”

Lithium Battery

Expion360 is another company Marty represents and one of its lithium batteries was on this Trifecta. It is what powers the Hella Underwater Lights and the KICKER audio system.

“It should be noted that you should not use a lithium battery to start a boat, it's just not made for it,” cautions Marty.

This boat uses a cheap lead acid for starting the boat and a lithium battery that's used for everything else. The e360 battery used gives the boater twice the power of a comparable lead-acid battery, plus an industry-leading 12-year warranty and half the weight. And the nice thing about a lithium battery is you can take it all the way down to zero and recharge it and you're fine. If you take a regular battery past 50 percent you're cutting the life of it significantly. The e360 lithium battery has greater than 4000 life cycles while a typical lead acid battery has less than 500 life cycles. Thus, you may never replace this battery.

The 25-foot Trifecta floor plan includes a multi-position rear-facing lounger in the stern, a standard Power Electric Bimini top that is a must-have feature for any boater, as well as the wireless holder/charger for your phone.

The Cool Touch upholstery through Trifecta is considered a must-have upgrade as well that despite the darker color remains cool to the touch. 

Boaters have come to like darker interior colors, but some have shied away from them due to how hot they can get. With this cool touch upholstery, even when the sun is shining and you're in 100-degree weather you don't need a towel to sit on these seats.

Full Control

With the power of a 250hp Mercury on the back, this boat was equipped with Single Engine EPS E Actuator steering from Dometic. This ground-breaking product is an all-electric steering actuator for outboard engines and is ideal for pontoon boats.

“It really is the best outboard steering system you can get,” states Marty. “Three and half turns lock-to-lock at low rpms and about six turns lock-to-lock at high rpms. Customizable steering promotes adjustability for easier docking maneuverability, safer steering at higher speeds and a customizable steering effort at the wheel. No hydraulic pumps, fluid or hoses needed with the E-Actuator.”

Another Dometic product included on this boat is the Direct Fill fuel tank that provides user-friendly access for filling the boat with a gas can.

Custom Tunes

Adding a second 10-inch KICKER subwoofer was another upgrade on this boat which, along with the Trifecta speakers being elevated off the floor, produced a great sound. The actual system consists of a KICKER KMC100 media center unit with four 8-inch speakers in the boat, plus two rear-facing ones.

“The KICKER audio system with RGB lighting provides a great, proven brand name that produces a crisp sound that just plain rocks on this boat,” adds Marty.

Additional Touches

The boat is loaded with other unique aftermarket products that you may not realize at first glance, but only improve and add to the overall feel, including the Vantage Pontoon Guard, which is made from a heavy-duty extruded PVC material that protects your pontoons from inevitable dock/bumper rash, trailer guides, and boat lift rails that tend to make your pontoon tubes look old and damaged. The Vantage Pontoon Guard is UV-protected for durability and adds to the life of the tubes. Bluewater push buttons at the helm provide a modern, up-to-date look on the boat too, along with adjustable lighting for a nighttime cruise. Also at the helm are upgraded Veethree gauges with GPS speedo included, along with great styling. And the built-in Lowrance touchscreen is another feature that improves the ease of the pontoon.

All of the aftermarket features combined with a quality and well-built Trifecta pontoon from Forest River Marine equal a great time on the water, but of course when the sun drops and the 3,000 lumens underwater lights from Apelo turn on, that's when the real fun begins.

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