Help with boat build

lakelifeMN

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Alright team, I need help with my boat build. I wanted to get the 26LXL ESP with a 300. By the time I add in all the features I wanted I'm only about $5,000 over budget. The wife about beat me when she saw MSRP (over $100,000) but I told her the final product wouldn't be that bad. I want to keep the peace here so that means cutting a few more things but that is hard. I want this to be my last boat first and I won't have to make anymore big purchases. Please help. If I downsized to a 250 will I really miss the extra 50? What would my top speed be with the 250?

Some background. 90% of the time it will just be me and my wife with the possibility of our 2 small dogs. We like to go out on all sorts of lakes (in MN lots of small ones) and she doesn't like going faster than 20-25 but I would like to open up the throttle sometimes. Is a 26 too big? I like the idea of a big boat and speaking to a local dealer he said the main difference between the 26 and 24 (in the LX) is you loose room outside of the playpen. I like the idea of a nice big aft deck for the kids to dive and swim off of so smaller rear deck would not be ideal. I could delete popup cleats but that wouldn't make much difference. I have not been to the dealership to see how big a 23-26 is in person but I don't know where cutting would not hurt so much.

Help me Bennington Forum your my only hope. ;)
 

CLDave

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The difference in HP is bragging rights mostly. And maybe 2 or 3 MPH. 250 will be fine.

Keep the popup cleats - they're worth it to avoid stubbed toes. I'd go longer (I did after all) to get more room. EDIT: If you plan to trailer around a lot, I'd maybe go with a shorter boat. My R25 is a BEAST to trailer around. It's huge.

You can also lose any audio upgrades- easy to install for much cheaper later. Good luck!
 
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Jack M

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'IF" you wanted to save more . With a 250 you could get the SPS Plus instead of the ESP .
 

lakelifeMN

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I did have the thicker .125 ESP tubes selected. Around here with the sandy beaches a lot of people beach their boats and ours will spend the first year or two on and off the trailer. Is the thicker tube necessary or to save $700 is it fine to go with the standard ESP? Do the regular tubes dent easier? Thank you all for you help and input.
 

Jack M

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I get the SPS ,because , I like to wipe my tubes down at the sand bar .There is no way I can get between an ESP .
 

lakelifeMN

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What are anyone's thoughts on the Wavetamer to bow upgrade? The ESP package already comes with the underdeck wave shield. Is that good enough? Some lakes have bigger waves but I regularly won't be on those. Also with the added buoyancy of the ESP will the front Wavetamer make much of a difference? Thanks!
 

CLDave

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ESP should be all you need on MN lakes, unless you're going out on Mille Laccs. Even then, the floatation is fantastic with ESP. I wouldn't have any concerns. I wouldn't worry about the thicker toons either - I'm pretty sure mine are stock thickness and they're fine. Anything that will dent or damage the normal toons is also going to put a hurt on the thicker stuff.

The other thing to consider on ESP vs. SPS is the fuel tank size - 56 gallons will get you a lot more runtime than the 30-something on SPS. Of course if you're trailering all the time it won't be that big of a deal to gas up off the water - but if you're going to dock up for weeks at a time that extra 20 gallons will help a lot.
 

lakelifeMN

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ESP should be all you need on MN lakes, unless you're going out on Mille Laccs. Even then, the floatation is fantastic with ESP. I wouldn't have any concerns. I wouldn't worry about the thicker toons either - I'm pretty sure mine are stock thickness and they're fine. Anything that will dent or damage the normal toons is also going to put a hurt on the thicker stuff.

The other thing to consider on ESP vs. SPS is the fuel tank size - 56 gallons will get you a lot more runtime than the 30-something on SPS. Of course if you're trailering all the time it won't be that big of a deal to gas up off the water - but if you're going to dock up for weeks at a time that extra 20 gallons will help a lot.

I am hoping it is just the way Bennington's website is set up but when I select the ESP package the 31.7 fuel tank is still an option (which I checked). Is is standard on the ESP to go up to the 56 gallon tank or is that only on certain models? I would like a bigger tank so if that is standard with ESP that sure would be nice (one more box I can uncheck). Thanks!
 

Remediation

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The boat is never big enough. We have a 25' boat and by the time the floats and coolers and bags and towels get on there is not enough room to get to the back to hook the tube up. I have to to calm down and not say much during the day. From experience, I agree with CLDave, a 26' boat is a big boat. Our 25' destroyed the trailer that came with it. I just bought a Boatmate trailer with a 8,000 load capacity. It tows much better but is a big load. Do you have a big enough vehicle to tow a 26' boat? If you are not on LOTO I don't know that you need the thicker tubes. It is always better but maybe not needed.
 

CLDave

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One last suggestion (for now lol) - I'd recommend looking at local dealers for floor models right now. Big discounts and there's a ton of variety out there. You may even find what you're looking for. I searched my dealer and 107 Bennies popped up. I got a smokin' deal on my boat because I picked it up off the floor. There's 2 dealers in Northern MN, and then one down south that also has a bundle of well-optioned boats. You should be able to get into the 30%-plus discount range over list on the website (I did, and this was in July).
 

lakelifeMN

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The other thing to consider on ESP vs. SPS is the fuel tank size - 56 gallons will get you a lot more runtime than the 30-something on SPS. Of course if you're trailering all the time it won't be that big of a deal to gas up off the water - but if you're going to dock up for weeks at a time that extra 20 gallons will help a lot.

Just got off the phone with a local dealer and he said even with the ESP the standard gas tank size on the LX is 24 gallons. He said the 56 gal fuel tank was an option on other models as an upgrade but not standard. Guess I'm going to have to keep the 31 gallon tank upgrade (wish I could have gotten a bigger tank though...). :(
 

DejaWiz

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As far as the engine goes, what are your WOT performance goals?

200-225 HP will be in the same ballpark, as will 250-300 HP, just like 350-425 HP...and there will likely only be 1-3 MPH difference between each step up of HP rating, especially on a longer length and heavier pontoon.

There will be some minor variations/nuances in there, such as the difference between a Yamaha 2.8L 200 and the 4.2L 200: the 4.2L has additional torque to turn a slightly bigger prop, thus a better hole shot and a bit better top end. Same applies for the Merc 6 vs 8 cylinders in these HP ranges.

I'll echo what the others have said about the ESP vs the ESP+ - unless you are going to be frequenting a very rough BoW, the thicker pontoons likely aren't going to serve you much purpose.

However, if you feel that there's a possibility of selling this boat in 5, 7, 10 or so years, then more HP always means more resale value, and the thicker pontoons in the Plus packages can have a small advantage for appealing to a slightly broader audience (rougher inland or brackish/salt coastal residents).

Wavetamer to bow, now there's an option that I would get, since it will aide with smoothing out the ride in chop or when crossing over wakes, etc. It is something that can be added later on, however.

At the end of the day, it's your wallet, therefore your (wife's?) choice. :)
 

lakelifeMN

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Dealer is trying to talk me out of the RGB underwater illumination. Anybody have this feature and use it much? I don't foresee we will be doing much night swimming (since my wife doesn't like the idea of being out after dark) but I like all the lights. I am keeping the side illumination. Is that gong to be good enough for evening boating? Love to hear everyone's thoughts. Thanks!
 

lakelifeMN

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Deja - Great feedback as always! I think I will be able to keep my 300 if I go with the mechanical. What would be your suggestion on prop for this setup? I'd like to have some input so I can make sure the dealer and I are on the same page with this. I was going to go with the Yamaha 300 mechanical setup on the ESP. Just looking for all-around good performance. Thanks!
 

CLDave

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Dealer is trying to talk me out of the RGB underwater illumination. Anybody have this feature and use it much? I don't foresee we will be doing much night swimming (since my wife doesn't like the idea of being out after dark) but I like all the lights. I am keeping the side illumination. Is that gong to be good enough for evening boating? Love to hear everyone's thoughts. Thanks!

I had underwater illumination on my last Bennie, and I'll be installing again on the new boat this spring. If you have interior RGB you're probably pre-wired in the bow for side illumination, and you can save yourself some dough and DIY that too (I posted a DIY article on how to do both sides RGB for $50 or so - it's dead-simple).
 

lakelifeMN

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CLDave - do you use the underwater lighting much? Since it is only on the back of the boat is it very useful if you aren't night swimming? Thanks!
 

DejaWiz

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Deja - Great feedback as always! I think I will be able to keep my 300 if I go with the mechanical. What would be your suggestion on prop for this setup? I'd like to have some input so I can make sure the dealer and I are on the same page with this. I was going to go with the Yamaha 300 mechanical setup on the ESP. Just looking for all-around good performance. Thanks!

Saltwater II SDS in either 15.5x16 (6CE-45938-20-00) or 15.5x17 (6CE-45978-20-00) flavor would be my choice, since they round out the highest speed pontoons equipped with an F300 on the Yamaha Performance Bulletins, although the most common for the F300 series seems to be the 15.75x15 (6CE-45976-20-00 ), but those top out between 40-43 MPH, whereas the others will push into the mid to upper 40s territory. I'd talk with your dealer and ask what their past experiences and feedback has been for similar length and HP boats, so that they can give you a recommendation based on your BoW and goals.
 

lakelifeMN

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Saltwater II SDS in either 15.5x16 (6CE-45938-20-00) or 15.5x17 (6CE-45978-20-00) flavor would be my choice, since they round out the highest speed pontoons equipped with an F300 on the Yamaha Performance Bulletins, although the most common for the F300 series seems to be the 15.75x15 (6CE-45976-20-00 ), but those top out between 40-43 MPH, whereas the others will push into the mid to upper 40s territory. I'd talk with your dealer and ask what their past experiences and feedback has been for similar length and HP boats, so that they can give you a recommendation based on your BoW and goals.

The dealer has great pricing as they are a higher volume dealer but they don't do water testing or delivery on the water (no water nearby). I'm sure they have gotten feedback from others but I don't foresee much assistance after the purchase. Not to mention we are over 2 hrs away from them. Hope to find the best prop first too... ;)
 

DejaWiz

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The dealer has great pricing as they are a higher volume dealer but they don't do water testing or delivery on the water (no water nearby). I'm sure they have gotten feedback from others but I don't foresee much assistance after the purchase. Not to mention we are over 2 hrs away from them. Hope to find the best prop first too... ;)

You can always try to have them throw in one of each as part of the deal, especially since it never hurts to have a spare prop on hand. :)
 

Michiman

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I have a GCW 2574 ESP with a 250 Mercury Verado and it tops out at 40MPH pretty much regardless of load. It has plenty of power to do whatever we've thrown at it over the past five seasons, so I don't think you'll miss the extra 50 HP. As far as the wave tamer, I can't imagine that you'd ever need it unless you're on really big water. Our boat sits quite high and I've never come close to having a wave approach the top of the bow on our 20K acre lake. Honestly, I'd forgo the 300 and go digital rather than mechanical. It is a big improvement IMO.

Too bad about the fuel tank size. While we pretty much cruise around 17 MPH (best economy), we can certainly go through 25 gallons without too much problem if it's a heavy watersports day for us.

All that said, good luck with your order and welcome to the family!
 
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