It's no secret that the new luxury Pontoon's have taken a major chunk out of the performance boat Market. We have watched quite a few board members switch from High Performance Cats and Vee's make the switch just for sheer functionality purposes. They are great to party on, family friendly, and you can run them up on any beach that you feel like without being overly worried about a hidden rock in the sand doing damage.
Our breed of people can't seem to leave well enough alone though, and many of them are tired of going 35-40 mph. Now we have a new breed of pontoon boat that has evolved into big block powered I/O toons, and twin and in some rare cases even triple outboard configurations. Others that have made the jump are used to turning heads with flash gelcoats and graphics. Many in this segment have resorted to polishing the toons, which in every instance regardless of coatings, makes it more of a nightmare to keep looking good then a fiberglass boat ever will be. The price tags are soaring, the manufacturers can barely keep up with this new "custom" fanatic breed of customer, and are coming out with bars, and LED lights, and every other piece of "bling" imaginable to try to keep interests high in their models vs the competitors.
Wasn't the whole point of the Toon program to be functional, easy on the wallet to purchase, family/party proof on the water, and bullet proof from a reliability and maintenance perspective? Now that some of these Toon's are in the 100+ thousand dollar range, we might have lost sight of the original goal a bit.
Nordic is now offering something that could likely take a lot of Toon owners, and put them back into a fiberglass hull. They are currently building a 26' deck boat with a 350 Verado.
I'm going to take a few minutes to explain the obvious upsides to this over a pontoon. The first and most obvious thing is the floor. Most pontoons are constructed with an aluminum frame and a wooden floor that sits on top of it. Overtime water gets into the wood and rots it out, and almost regardless of brand if you put a lot of hours on them, in ten years or so you will have to disassemble the entire top deck of the boat and replace the floor. Not only does a fiberglass deck not have this problem, Nordic's are built completely wood free, so you will never have this problem anywhere else in the boat either.
To continue on with the floor discussion next we are going to talk about carpet. If you take the kids out, spills happen. If you take the party crowd out, spills are definitely going to happen. In any kind of upper end or classy pontoon you will have a nice "plush" carpet that feels great between your toes. Along with that great feeling you might as well either get to know your local carpet cleaner on a personal basis, or buy stock in Hoover and begin wearing out their home carpet cleaning machines. After your first outing, unless your friends are drinking out of kids sippy cups, your boat will never look the same.
As you can see in the pic above the Nordic is a fiberglass innerliner boat. This opens up options of running the boat as it sits, where you can hose it out at the end of the day, or if you have to have carpet, Nordic will provide snap in carpeting. With the snap in carpeting that even opens up more custom options of putting graphics in the carpet, your boat name, or anything you could imagine.
To continue with the utility theme, this 26' Nordic actually has MORE STORAGE to take your gear out on the water with you then any pontoon on the market. We will start with the "beach coolers" it has built right into the front sponsons. You don't need to bring coolers with you, this boat has them built in, both front and back. It has the same setup as a toon with Storage under the seats, but the storage in the bow goes to all the way to the bottom of the hull. Too really large cabinets at the midships double the storage capacity of most standard toons that have one, will take us to ample storage under the back seats, that can double as built in coolers if you would like. Most of the typical performance guys think this ends with that last sentence, but they forget this boat is an outboard. You open up what is typically the Engine hatch, and you have your own personal storage unit in there now. You can delete the walk off stairs in the back (option) and there is enough room to fit a 12 or 18' roll up watermat UNDER THE HATCH! Along with everything else you could possibly imagine.
This takes to the extreme rear of the boat, where the Nordic has an integrated swim step at the waterline. I could right an entire paragraph on the upsides of that, but I think it's pretty self explanatory.
When it comes to performance, the toon manufacturers are now making larger toons, giant center toons, adding lifting strakes, and more or less turning old displacement hulls into planing hulls. Some of them like placecraft and others have actually pretty much got this nailed now and are putting up some decent #'s. What none of them ever will be is a planing hull that is a true air entrapment performance cat. With the pontoons you cross this threshold where the faster you go the spookier it gets. With a cat the faster you go, the better they work. This particular 26 isn't being built to go set any records at LOTO. Rather this one is being built with a budget in mind, to be competitive with a mid range pontoon, except with this single 350 Verado they are shooting for 60+ mph!!
Finally pontoon manufacturers are dazzling us with bling, and LED lit up bars, what they don't want to shine a light on is build quality. While not all pontoons are created equal, compared to the upper end performance boat world they are junk. Yes I said it.. Junk. Most everything is either riveted or sheet metal or wood screwed together. If your lucky and you bought a high end brand then the cleats of the boat might actually be through bolted, and the outboard. The wiring harnesses are rats nests laid out in aluminum caves, and the gauges are the cheapest you can buy that have been re-badged to the manufacturer. If you go super high end you can get a touch screen on some toons that will work for a year or two, and when it breaks, god forbid it is out of warranty you better have some equity in your house to get it fixed, if you can even find someone local to fix it.
Nordics boasts some of the highest build quality in the custom boat market today. Everything is through bolted, everything is stainless, and everything is serviceable by ANY reputable shop. If you get a touch screen it's going to be a Mercury Vessel View. If you want a complete set of gauges they are going to be the same price (no upgrade for vessel view at Nordic btw), but are going to be Autometers, or Livorsi. The controls and steering wheel aren't going to look like they came out of your grandfathers cabin cruiser, this utility boat still does have it's performance roots.
We will be doing an on the water test of this boat as soon as it is ready. If it pulls mid 60's at a competitive price, then I'd say the next move is to get in with a pontoon dealer network, because I can't think of too many cons, but the list of pro's is overwhelming. Starting with remembering why a bunch of Powerboaters went to Toon's to begin with.
To view the discussion thread about this boat and article please click the following link that will take you to the thread in our forums.
For more information on pricing please call Nordic Boats 800-279-5398
written by RiverDave