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Ksharp99

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Hi everyone,

We are considering the purchase of a Bennington 22SSXAPG EXP/ 115 HP Yamaha. We are complete newbies at boating...the test drive was the first time I have ever driven a boat, so lots to learn for sure! I have a few questions if someone doesn’t mind sharing their opinion:

1. Any opinions on this model? What does the EXP stand for (it is on the paperwork, but I can only find ESP when I look at the Bennington site)?
2. Any idea if $42k is a good price?
3. Thoughts on wet docking with a lift or dry dock?

Thank you so much!
 
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Stevez

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I'd suggest you take a look at the Bennington build site where you can build and price the boat you are looking at. That will give you the MSRP with your options. Search on here as many folks have discussed what you can expect to be a discount off MSRP, although there are a lot of variables such as time of year, location, etc. The EXP is the Express platform which you can price to and compare to other platforms such as ESP and SPS. All are three tubes (tritoons) but the Express is a platform with a shorter center tube. Not as stable and won't give the same degree of tight turning or smoothness of ride. The platform and model drive the maximum horse power you can get and the number of people on board. A lot depends on how you want to use the boat, such as slow cruises or if you are big on water sports. The EXP and SPS are much better for water sports. Anyway, much to learn here and this is a great resource. As far as the $42k price tag, no one could answer that without more details such as options but most important what engine model and size. The build site will show you the differences. Good luck!
 

Ksharp99

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Welcome to the forum and what are you going to use the boat for? When we know this, we can better spend your money. :)

Good point . Mostly just some casual fishing and just the enjoyment and relaxation of being out on the water. We don’t have plans for anything like pulling skiers or tubing etc. We recently moved to an area where we are 5 miles from a nice lake and my husband recently retired - so just time for a little enjoyment.
 

Vikingstaff

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Hello. Congratulations on your husbands recent retirement, and you guys moving so close to a large lake. Sounds like retirement is falling into place very nicely, and a little enjoyment on the lake will be perfect!

The suggestion above about spec’ing up your boat on the boat builder is an excellent idea to see how much off MSRP that $42k is, and whether it appears to be a good deal. Most forums say the +/- 20% off MSRP is most typical for pontoon boats, but there are A LOT of variables that go into it because of the extreme variety of pontoon boat options.

If you are not planning on doing any water sports, and not concerned about speed, that gives you a lot more options on hull and motor because you don’t need to concern yourself with certain extra expenses. There are a lot of us on here that consistently lean towards more HP, but a 115hp for what you intend to do will be just fine. The EXP hull is likely very good for your use, although I am partial to Bennington’s SPS hull. For mainly fishing and cruising with a 115hp though, it might not be worth the extra cost to go SPS.

Does the boat you are considering have an extended aft deck? That would be something at the very top of my recommendation list based on your intended use: makes covering easier, more flexibility of movement on the rear of boat - helpful for moving around, fishing etc...

Also, what kind of steering does it have. You mentioned driving it. Was it easy to turn? There are 3 different steering options out there, and depending on what level of ease in steering you want in retirement may impact what you want to consider: (1) cable steering (hardest, and not something I’d recommend based on some things you’ve already mentioned), (2) hydraulic steering (the next step up, and might be a good fit on a 115hp; not intended for fast turning maneuvers, and really makes lower HP motors easy to steer), (3) power assisted hydraulic (easiest to steer, and the best option for high HP motors, those with arm/back/shoulder troubles, or those doing water sports). I’m very partial to option 3, but understand its not a needed expense by everyone. I’d say option 2 or 3 for the two of you.

As you might be learning there are tons of options, so I will leave it with the above two items to look into. They are among the more stand out practical items to consider in my mind for your stated situation and use. If you have a spec sheet on the boat and post it in here, many knowledgeable forum members (likely with the same or similar boat, lifestyle, use) can also more easily give you advice.

In the meantime, congratulations on deciding to get into boating and out on the water. We are going on our 3rd summer now and wouldn’t change a thing. LOVE our Bennington and everything the lake life style adds to our families life.
 

Shmily

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Hello Ksharp99, and welcome!

We have a 2018 22SSXAPG with SPS and a Yamaha F150 with hydraulic steering (middle of the road), and we LOVE everything about the boat. However, we paid a little less than 42K, and our price included a trailer. We also have the center toon storage, stainless towing pylon, kicker speakers, heavy-duty rub rail, stainless "Bennington" cleats, Stryker fish finder/GPS, lighted bimini, stainless running lights, stainless swim ladder, two moveable dual cupholders, upgraded dual captains fishing seats, and probably a thing or two that I'm forgetting.

As others have noted, we need to know how the boat is spec'd, but, unless it has a lot of what I would consider to be "bling," I think that price sounds high with a 115.

Best of luck. You've come to a great community for help in your search.
 

Tomc

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Ksharp99.. welcome and you have come to a great, but confusing, place for new owners. Everyone expresses their opinions, which is EXACTLY what you want. And at the same time everyone loves to spend your money to get you the best you can get. Depending on the size of the lake you'll be on, 2 toons may be fine to save some money. If you will just be cruising and fishing, 115 will be great. Many will suggest 150 (it is after all, just your money) just in case you’ll want/need it, but I have found the 115 more than adequate, and I have 2 toons on a 20+ square mile lake. We just cruise, anchor, party, enjoy. No towing, speeding, etc. If you do think about that in the future, I would go for more HP.
 

Renegade34

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I agree, if you’re not on a big lake and don’t plan on doing much for water sports the 2 log with a 115 hp will be just fine. Just be aware that your speed will be drastically reduced once you load it up with any more than 4 adults and some gear with that set up.
 

Bronco

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Mar 16, 2019#16

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I've cut and pasted my first post on this forum below in the hopes that it helps you. One more tip: the members of this forum are extremely adept at emptying your wallet! Beware LOL.

I have a 22 ssbxp with SPS hull and love the swing back configuration. I also wrestled with a 115 but am very happy that I chose the 150:

Reflections on first season of ownership.


"First, thanks to everyone on this forum where I've been lurking on all of the critical information. You all helped me enormously to make decisions in buying a new 22SSBXP swingback tritoon, with a 150 Yamaha and SPS hull. Salt Water Series. It was a fantastic summer and she is safely stored away for the winter.

Given all of the assistance from which I benefited, I'm posting for the first time in an effort to maybe help someone else who is new to pontoons/tritoons sort through the numerous options and layouts. I could not be more happy with my selection.

Layout: I got L shaped seating and a table across from the helm. The swingback with this configuration really helped to maximize seating for my many relatives and visitors. I also really appreciate the center toon storage, even though I dock my boat right at my backyard dock and can just carry stuff from the house. Having the extra space was huge, whether for tubes (we tubed a lot), gear, life jackets, fishing rods, etc, etc. On the Swingback- we LOVE this configuration. It has a lot of storage and people really enjoy lounging out back there with their own built in cupholders, We also have the keeper rail so people can spot tubers and skiers or just sit back there while underway. For how we use the boat, the swingback and keeper rail are must haves. Others of course use their boats differently and Bennington has a huge number of layout choices to match those needs beautifully.

Motor: We tubed a lot and the 150 was plenty of HP to do this. We also deal with some strong tides (more about this later) and it still handled everything that we threw at it. It can move, is really quiet and sips the fuel when you are simply cruising and aren't at full throttle. It is a great match with the SPS hull. I did not get power assist on the hydraulic steering. I don't think I needed it, as the boat handles very well and easily, even at speed. This is a personal preference and many folks have differing wants, needs, etc.

Extended Decks: The SSBXP layout came standard with bow and stern extended decks. I highly recommend them, especially if you have a tow/tubing bar, fish or just jump off to swim. Getting in and out is a breeze, as is removing and adding the cover. We also have 2 large dogs, and it makes it easier for them to get on and off board quickly. We have Seagrass flooring and we really like it, though the teak flooring looks really good. I don't think that there is a wrong choice here. Easy to clean and not hot to the touch.

Lighting: I got the toe kick lights, cup lights and lighted speakers, but no exterior or underwater lights. I know that people love them, but I really didn't miss them at all. The kids really enjoy the interior lightshow. I didn't get the Bimini lighting. My dealer's rep said "If you are out at night you don't need the Bimini, so you won't see the lights." I don't miss them, though I do see people use them and they seem to enjoy the look and it is a nice effect. Total personal preference.

Stereo: I got the kicker system with an upgraded Wet Sounds amp and sub. It pushes out more than enough sound, even at speed. I did not get the rear speakers even though we beach at sandbars and remote beaches nearby. That may be something I would reconsider, but I haven't missed them yet.

Toon Protection: I added some Vantage Pontoon Guards and wrap. I'm not sure that I needed to, but they gave me peace of mind, especially as this is my first pontoon and learning to navigate it the first few days resulted in some dock bumping. My dock is on a large tidal river right off a small harbor which leads out to Buzzards Bay and Rhode Island Sound. It is a notoriously difficult spot due to wind and strong tides, rip currents, rocks, sandbars that move every year, etc. (Its notorious-Privateers, smugglers and pirates used to hide out here from pursuit back in colonial days). Knowing that the guards are on helped my mental state in challenging conditions, as well as rafting up to other boats. I also bought larger bumpers than what came with the boat. A few Nor'easters later, I'm glad that I did.

Seat covers: It came with the Simtex, and I don't have much to compare it to, but it has been easy to clean and no protectant is required. No staining, even with Cheetos!

Privacy Enclosure: We never used it. A "nice to have" but not a "must have"
I guess. No portable toilet, but they seem very easy to come by if we ever decide we need one. I just have to make sure it will fit under the Swingback.

Extra cupholders: We got a few of the movable cushioned ones that slip into the seating and stay put. I would recommend getting at least one. They saw constant use and are easy to stow if not needed.

Battery: I have 2 batteries. I would recommend it, as I needed the second battery once. Also, it is the cheapest of the options that I added. No brainer.

Elevated Helm: I did not get this. I wouldn't say that I need it, but in retrospect it would have been nice to have."
 

Ksharp99

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Thank you all so much for the information and advice you have shared here! We have visited a few of the local marinas and have just a few more questions to ask. If you wet dock your boat, do you really need a boat lift? We have heard varying opinions on that. As an example, whether you do wet or dry dock, they charge about the same ($300/month), but if you want a boat lift it adds about another $150/month to the monthly cost. The marinas are protected so there really aren’t issues with strong currents, etc., and they are floating docks. I’m leaning toward wet docking just because it seems easier.

Thoughts?
 

Jb75

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I’m in the water year round. I
Would prefer a lift if possible at my marina as it takes a good bit of time to keep my toons clean. I clean it about once a week during the season. Might take 30 mins a time. However, if your not concerned about losing speed and efficiency and thus don’t care about a dirty bottom......let it float.
 

cwag911

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We are not in a marina and this is how our boat sleeps. If you can afford the lift, do it. Much easier to keep the boat clean.
 

Vikingstaff

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If you can keep it on a lift, it’s a huge benefit: less chance of something going wrong wave, wake, some idiot nearby; and the toons stay pretty clean all the time because they drip dry instead of crud building up on them while they just sit in the water.
 

ILLINOIS AVE

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Thank you all so much for the information and advice you have shared here! We have visited a few of the local marinas and have just a few more questions to ask. If you wet dock your boat, do you really need a boat lift? We have heard varying opinions on that. As an example, whether you do wet or dry dock, they charge about the same ($300/month), but if you want a boat lift it adds about another $150/month to the monthly cost. The marinas are protected so there really aren’t issues with strong currents, etc., and they are floating docks. I’m leaning toward wet docking just because it seems easier.

Thoughts?
Buy a used lift! I got a 4000 l.b.s. Shore Station with a new Toon Rail System and new Canopy for $5500.00 and they put it in the water for me!
 

Dev75

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Welcome to the club! We have a 2016 22ssx with a yamaha 115. We love the boat and I almost have no regrets in the way we built it.

Having said that here are few experiences I have had that you might be able to use.

The Yamaha 115 - Great for my wife and the kids and adequate for fishing, water sports. However, we have large extended family and with the max of 10 on board the performance drastically reduced. In hindsight because of this I would have gone with the 150. But we still love the boat and the 115 finebfor us when we fishing, cruising...etc

As to the wet docking. One year we dry docked on a lift and the toons were nice and clean all year. We are now on a mooring ball in water all year. The lake is very clean and clear so we only get grime on toons below water line occasionally. We were once on a very large lake with a fair amount of algae and grime and I found myself cleaning off toons below water line every time wee went out.

In my opinion, if you wet dock the key is sharkhide the toons. While it doesn’t prevent buildup on toons below water line it makes cleaning much easier. I’d estimate its the difference between a light scrub of the toons in the water vs a hard repetative scrub to get some of the junk off them.

Hope this helps and congratulations. I’m a fairly new boater and can say you are in forums with some very experienced knowledgeable boaters and quite frankly just good people.
 

Michiman

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Wet docking isn’t the end of the world. Three years into such a life I speak with some experience. Dry docking will keep it looking new longer, though.
 

Ksharp99

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First, I would like to thank all of you so much for the information. I did a terrible thing, though. My husband and I were talking about the boat and the marinas we visited. He asked me what I wanted to do in terms of making the decision. I said “well, this is more you than me.” I only meant that I trusted him to know more about all of this than me...and I honestly don’t think every decision has to be 50-50 between husband and wife. I had been doing all I could to learn more about boating, etc., knowing that with his vision issue I would be doing most of the drive no, etc. He immediately shut down the conversation at that point, saying he didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on something if we both wouldn’t enjoy it. I tried again today to reopen the discussion, but he won’t discuss it further. :-(.
 
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