Options & more options. Which ones matter and are WORTH it?

Nautical

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I would be surprised if this exact question hasn't come up many times before but I spent 20 minutes searching and could not find anything close.

A lot of things have to happen before I am actually driving my first boat. I might end up buying a leftover, another brand or I might even end up with a fiberglass I/O so don't invest too much time responding to this (unless you want to go nuts and the admins make this a "sticky").  But while I sit here on dry land, waiting for the person who's going to buy my house finally come along and buy it, I can't help but browse the "build your pontoon" section. If nothing else, it educates me a little!

I'm asking about all of those little options, not the big ones. That research was done and I'm shopping for a 23 foot R class with ESP and a 225 to 250 engine - Lake use only - Will tow skiers, boarders and tubes on occasion - Virtually no fishing.  I'm planning on dealer applied Sharkhide.

So disclaimers now aside, what options are important?  What options matter?  What options are silly?  What options are better bought and installed elsewhere?  So here are some examples.  Feel free to add your own:

I can guess why two batteries are better than one but what's up with the switch and why does it matter where it is or how automated it is?

My wife wants the double bimini but is there a downside to that?  Does it block an exit while down?

Power bimini?

I saw a rear view mirror option for over $300 and a porta-potty (I'm getting a 75 series) for around $100.  Should I look at aftermarket or suck it up and pay because theirs is that much better?

Hydraulic helm pedestal?  Is that worth it?  I'm 5'10" and fit in most cars just fine.

What about packages?  Is there a "must have" or a "be sure to avoid" package?

Flooring is a big question and I know probably for a whole separate thread but I need to pick that too.  Is the teak worth it? Carpet? "Seagrass" whatever that is?

There are two levels of upgrades to the seating - pillowtops and such.  Worth it?  The stock R seats seem fine to me.

Water/fuel separator?  Will that work well enough that I can have a little less worry using ethanol fuels?  I doubt it can deal with full blown phase separation so I'm NOT going to count on it for that.

Underdeck wave shield?  Isn't some form of under-skinning standard on the R class already?

Radio and GPS, fishfinder etc.  I like the look of "factory/stock" more than aftermarket but the PRICES on their GPS seems crazy high and I'm going to want GPS for finding my way around on Lake Norman.  As for radio, I like satellite radio but for the times when I'm going to be on the boat, I can deal with FM as long as I can put in a MP3 CD or a USB flash drive with my own MP3 music files.

Ice chests?  Cup holders?

LED lighting? 

Rub rail protectors?  Stainless steel rub rails?  Being my first boat I'm sure I'll bash it around some at first and I HATE dents!

Center tube fuel tank and/or storage?  I'd rather have the storage if you can't have both but are either worth it?  I doubt I'll ever pull up to the pump with an empty 54 gallon tank and say "fill er up."  Maybe if I close my eyes when I do it?

Mooring covers?  COVERS for the mooring covers?

I realize some of these things are personal preference and budget controlled but I don't mind paying a little more provided I get VALUE.  Bang for the buck is what I always shoot for.

Thanks in advance!
 
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Link

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I'll offer my opinion on a few:

Water Fuel separator - Standard on Yamaha engines but I made the decision to carry in ethanol free gas; NOT to save money because it is better for engine

Underdeck wave shield - Don't have but based on others experience to prevent surging and have a better ride - I am adding over the winter

GPS - bennington standard depth finder is a joke.  Min get the 4" chart plotter, I got the 5" because I wanted a bigger screen

Ice chest - I have a cabin at the lake and very rarely out for the whole day, am happy with what came with my R

Cup Holders - enough built ins

LED lighting - the bimini and mood lights are a nice touch.  I have the sidelight and underwater, would definitely get the sidelight, underwater is ok but not great
 

BulldogsCadillac

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I would be surprised if this exact question hasn't come up many times before but I spent 20 minutes searching and could not find anything close.

A lot of things have to happen before I am actually driving my first boat. I might end up buying a leftover, another brand or I might even end up with a fiberglass I/O so don't invest too much time responding to this (unless you want to go nuts and the admins make this a "sticky").  But while I sit here on dry land, waiting for the person who's going to buy my house finally come along and buy it, I can't help but browse the "build your pontoon" section. If nothing else, it educates me a little!

I'm asking about all of those little options, not the big ones. That research was done and I'm shopping for a 23 foot R class with ESP and a 225 to 250 engine - Lake use only - Will tow skiers, boarders and tubes on occasion - Virtually no fishing.  I'm planning on dealer applied Sharkhide.

So disclaimers now aside, what options are important?  What options matter?  What options are silly?  What options are better bought and installed elsewhere?  So here are some examples.  Feel free to add your own:

I can guess why two batteries are better than one but what's up with the switch and why does it matter where it is or how automated it is? 

*I think two batteries are all must, as for where they are, I prefer them to be mounted together so as to not eliminate more storage. You can comfortably fit two under the port side lounger, for me having four, I had to separate and have 3 on one side and 1 on the other. 

My wife wants the double bimini but is there a downside to that?  Does it block an exit while down?

Power bimini?

* I have a tower, so not an option, my previous 2 weren't power and I had no problems doing it manually, but it is nice looking and very convenient based on what others say. If costs are a concern, this is one thing I PERSONALLY could live without. 

I saw a rear view mirror option for over $300 and a porta-potty (I'm getting a 75 series) for around $100.  Should I look at aftermarket or suck it up and pay because theirs is that much better?

* I like my rear view mirror, especially handy if your towing tubers and whatnot.

Hydraulic helm pedestal?  Is that worth it?  I'm 5'10" and fit in most cars just fine.

* I don't know that there is an option of hydraulic helm pedestal, I think it's just standard, but it is nice. I do much prefer my elevated helm!!

What about packages?  Is there a "must have" or a "be sure to avoid" package?

Flooring is a big question and I know probably for a whole separate thread but I need to pick that too.  Is the teak worth it? Carpet? "Seagrass" whatever that is?

There are two levels of upgrades to the seating - pillowtops and such.  Worth it?  The stock R seats seem fine to me.

* I would agree, the stock R are fine, that being said, I really like the diamond stitching, it is very comfortable. 

Water/fuel separator?  Will that work well enough that I can have a little less worry using ethanol fuels?  I doubt it can deal with full blown phase separation so I'm NOT going to count on it for that.

Underdeck wave shield?  Isn't some form of under-skinning standard on the R class already?

* underskinning is standard with ESP and well worth it. Even if you don't have ESP

Radio and GPS, fishfinder etc.  I like the look of "factory/stock" more than aftermarket but the PRICES on their GPS seems crazy high and I'm going to want GPS for finding my way around on Lake Norman.  As for radio, I like satellite radio but for the times when I'm going to be on the boat, I can deal with FM as long as I can put in a MP3 CD or a USB flash drive with my own MP3 music files.

* The bluetooth stereo works great, could you buy it cheaper aftermarket, probably, but it's nice to know that everything is done at the factory and all covered under the warranty. 

Ice chests?  Cup holders?

LED lighting? 

Rub rail protectors?  Stainless steel rub rails?  Being my first boat I'm sure I'll bash it around some at first and I HATE dents!

Center tube fuel tank and/or storage?  I'd rather have the storage if you can't have both but are either worth it?  I doubt I'll ever pull up to the pump with an empty 54 gallon tank and say "fill er up."  Maybe if I close my eyes when I do it?

* I would never buy another without the center fuel and storage. Especially with the RCW because you lose some of the "larger" storage like you would still have in the RL series, but it is amazing how much you can get in there and worth every penny!!

Mooring covers?  COVERS for the mooring covers?

I realize some of these things are personal preference and budget controlled but I don't mind paying a little more provided I get VALUE.  Bang for the buck is what I always shoot for.

Thanks in advance!
 
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Jack M

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Yes ,on the wave shield .

Let the factory put the sharkhide on ,I don't know if it is done pre assembly ,but if it is you will get better coverage .

If all you want is a depth finder and the water temperature  the lowest cost Garmin is fine ,it is Not a GPS ,if that is what you are looking for .

I don't know what mirror they have listed on the site but PTM Edge makes a nice one for $240 .( I am getting one for Christmas ) 

http://www.ptmedge.com/pontoon-mirrors/.

I have two batteries with a manual switch .

I also have the Blue tooth with the upgraded speakers ,I didn't want to be cutting holes and splicing wires on a brand new boat 

For the mooring cover that is mesh bag ,I bought it ,it is good to carry wet towels and clothes .

If you want a porta potty later ,you can get one at Walmart .

The other items ,I cant speak to ,what I don't have .( at least not yet ) 

Good Luck with your decision .
 
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dasalmon

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For me the raised helm would be a must. I don't have the wave shield but wish I did. The Sony stereo with upgraded speakers and bluetooth are enough for me. I have the full vinyl floor with snap out carpet and seagrass and love it. A double bimini I don't have but think it would be a personal preference. I do have a lighted bimini and it has a cool factor but could live without it. Same with the lighted cupholders. I like having dual batteries. I added an aftermarket Garmin GPS and would not want to be without it on our lake. I have kind of wandered around here but just my two cents.
 

lakeliving

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For me it comes down to your budget and what matters to YOU/SPOUSE. What some say is a must may not be the case for you. I'd say the most important thing to consider when looking at a boat is what you are going to use it for. Just for slow cruises around the lake, towing skiers, hauling a$$. My wife and I didn't research this enough when we bought our first toon. We thought a two toon with strakes and 115 would be enough. Sadly it was not what we were expecting and ultimately disappointing.

We took the approach of what can't be added later (easily, reasonably priced). You can change stereos, speakers, motors etc. but it is harder to change the toons, carpets rails etc.

Get the heavy duty rub rail. The stainless one looks nice but I don't see how that would hold up to any impact.

The center tube storage is nice but we live on a small lake and didn't see the need to spend the extra $$$ for something we didn't need. Our first boat was not filled up with stuff, so that is why we didn't get it on the second one.

I'd recommend going to a few different dealers in your area and see what they have in stock to look at, ask the salesman what they think. Ours originally suggested the led docking lights as we were thinking of just getting the plastic ones. He advised that you can step on them and they will not break, sold!

I could go on all night but at the end of the day get what your comfortable with and what you can afford.
 

ct0218

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Part of the decision is based on just how handy or talented you are at doing it yourself. In my case, I ordered options that would be extremely difficult or more expensive to do myself, and since I am somewhat of a do-it-yourself type, a lot of items will be added later by yours truly. I like the vinyl flooring with snap-in carpet---put in in when you need or want it. HD rubrail, raised helm for a better view, and the double bimini comes with the full enclosure. The underwater lighting, and all additional LED lighting is not that difficult to do. I have a couple quarts of Sharkhide, no problem applying it myself. I have used the Thetford Curve toilet, and that is the one I'm buying. The trolling motor, batteries, switches, washdown pump, and high-end depth finder/gps I will add for a lot less. I will spend several days at a time on mine, so the center tube storage was a must. The tritoon packages, underskinning, etc., has proven advantages, so no decision there. I find the standard upholstery fine, no need for the pillowtop. A few options were slightly more expensive than buying and installing myself, but with the Bennington warranty it made sense to save myself the trouble and let the warranty take care of any problems. The advantage is you can order the boat to fit your needs, time and abilities. 
 
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lakeliving

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Good call referencing the warranty ct0218!!! That was a huge consideration for us as well. If something goes wrong and it was on, or caused by an item listed on the original build sheet I'd have no worries down the road.
 

goldnrod24

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Consider how you plan to use the boat. In our instance, my spouse said, "I don't care about the brand, the length, the color or the power. If you are going to buy a pontoon boat it better have.......... a space for a portapottie." It's not just the cost of the pottie. If you need one, is it easily accessible? Can someone do their business without inconveniencing others (i.e. the rear lounger passengers)? In my experience, female passengers feel squeamish about using the pottie when others are aboard. That's what prompted me to buy the traditional deck design with the flip up rear deck and enclosure. Yes, other deck layouts have enclosures, but in the case of the "bar boat," it is mid ship. Who wants to do their business in the middle of a party, even with an enclosure?

Now, BM tells me that demand for enclosures/potties is low. To many, it's not needed. But, if your boating style requires it (women and children out on the water all day long with no easily visited facilities) it WILL be a big deal. No sense ticking off the first mate if she thinks it's important.

I suggest the water separator, either factory or dealer installed. Damn ethanol.

Also, if I was able to do a re-do, I would order the vinyl deck with snap in carpet. Soggy carpets take a long time to dry out. If you are boating with kids, they drag a lot of water aboard.

Oh, and yes to the wave shields and no to the underwater lights. They seem like a hassle, depending on where you boat.

You are doing the right thing by asking a lot of question before purchase. Otherwise, you fall susceptible to PAD.
 
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highpond

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I bought a GL2075. It came with a lot of options. Floor stock. The GPS is only for water temp., depth and fish finder. No locator. Handy for swimming to know how warm the water is. Full private room and portty a must for the bride. We got potty at Walmart. Water seperator a must. Think of where the storage tanks are. IN THE GROUND. They collect condensation The pick up is at the bottom of the tank. Guess who gets the water? Lighted cup holders, radio speakers,and on the bimini, great to show off. Pillow top is great we love it, but under the hot sun here in SC. you stay under the bimini. Vinyl gets very HOT. Two batteries and switch make for great back up if one goes down. Extended swim platform with ladder off the stern a must.

Have fun making up your boat.
 

Nautical

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These are exactly the kinds of responses I was hoping for!  Thanks much!

About the GPS . . . I was already figuring I would be buying my own.  I might have a hard time with that though because I'm not sure if they make one for the water that knows the surrounding street addresses too?  So I can be on the lake, punch in an address and navigate to that address but where the machine knows it's on the water and doesn't just draw a straight line.  That would be an awesome tool for real estate agents (of which, I'll be one). I'm going to do a search to see if such a beast exists because now I'm getting off of my own topic a little! 

Thanks again!
 

Jack M

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Some of the automobile Garmins ( Nuvi 1450 )  have the slot for a lake chip .

You can toggle back and forth between lake and street .
 
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