Considering New Bowrider

Steve I

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Looking to become a first-time boat owner and seeking some advice. Strongly considering a 25' R bowrider (build spec below). There seems to be a shortage of those in-stock though (no dealers within a few states of me (IL) seem to have any), although I found a dealer a few states away that has one (and it has most of the features I'm looking for). Have a few questions below that I was hoping to get some input on.

1. We'll be using it on Lake Michigan - roughly half the time we'll have 1-2 adults and 4-5 teenagers (doing tubing, waterskiing, etc.), and the other half will be a mix of 6-10 adults and 3-5 teenagers (mostly just leisure riding). The bowrider that we're looking at comes with a Mercury 200, and we could upgrade to the 250 for an additional ~$4.7k. I know from reading the forums that it's highly advisable to buy more horsepower up-front, but I'm already well (well) over the budget I had set for myself. Will I be okay with the 200, or should I upgrade to the 250?

2. One of the dealers that I was talking to about shipping the boat said that without buying the special trailer for the boat, it'd be dangerous or possibly damaging to have the boat shipped. Is that true? I see there are hauling companies that specialize in hauling a pontoon - I would have thought they could haul this without needing a customized trailer to do so.

3. During boating season, do you leave the pontoon uncovered when not in use (and if so, is there much cleaning involved after rain, etc.)? If you cover each time, is it a pain to put the cover on?

4. Pricing from the dealer is about 16% under MSRP - assume that's in the rough ballpark, in particular given the shortage of this model?

5. Any "must haves" or "strongly recommend" items missing from the build spec below?

Thanks!

Year: 2022
Model: 25RTFB - Bowrider
Length: 27' 6"
Primary Panel - Metallic Silver
Panel Accent - Smooth Midnight Black
Base Vinyl - Silver Simtex
Interior Accent - Perforated Metallic Carbon
Trim Accent - Zebrawood Slate
Canvas - Midnight Black

Dimensional Chrome Logos (R/RT/Q) Incl
Bimini Cable Stays
Bimini Top Electric Curved w/ Blue Ice LED Lighting
Pillowtop Diamond Stitched Upholstery (RT)
Fiberglass Port Console Upgrade (RT)
Stair Step Console Grab Handle
Stair Step Console Grab Handle (Port Console)
RGB Toe Kick Lighting (Ltfb/Rtfb)
Console Storage Pocket with Cupholder (Silver)
Bamboo Silver
Battery - Power Distribution Panel (SB/CW/Club)
Battery - Single Switch
Mercury Power Steering
Mercury Mechanical Go7 Simrad Display
Benny Quick Fender Latch Kit - Silver (Qty 6)
Bow Pop-Up Cleats
Sharkhide Tube Protectant (3 Tubes)
Ski Pylon 54" Aluminum (Removable)
Mercury 200 XL Pro XS 200 (or possible 250 XL)
 

CLDave

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Any chance you're going to Miller in MN? Great guys and the largest in the country, and where I got my boat.

The bowrider is already at a disadvantage for weight and surface area on-plane (e.g., speed) - so I'd for sure opt for the 250 if you can swing it. You'll never regret more horsepower.

RE: transport, the dealer's claim smells funny to me - they ship them from Indiana on big semi trailers, so theoretically they can do that without damage. However, if you're storing the boat or ever want to move it to another body of water you'll want the trailer anyway.

With this market and demand, 16% off list is about as good as you're going to get.

Good luck and you're going to love it!
 

Jack M

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That is a very heavy boat ,I would definitely get the 250. On my current boat it was more than $4700.00 difference to upgrade from 200 to a 250 Mercury . You will never buy hp for less than at the initial time of purchase. If you don't use your cover you are taking a chance on voiding parts of your warranty . Once you get used to covering, it doesn't take that long to cover . As far as a trailer ,have you seen the center toon on a bowrider ?
 

BigD

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Go with the 250. That's the easy part. But I find it hard to believe Bennington would ship ANY boat while having to worry about it's care. I would also think that you are going to get wetter than normal on a bowrider on Lake Michigan, but what do I know? Never been on one. Doesn't it have a lower profile ? 16% sounds pretty good. And you will want to keep it covered for sure.
 

Vikingstaff

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First, welcome to our group. How exciting! The specs for the boat you are looking at are very nice. I could comment on them if you want. Also, as a side note, I personally would go with the Mercury Verado if going Mercury, but those Mercury motors in the spec list are very good too.

Now to your questions. First - Some VERY VERY good points above for you.

My thoughts: The Bowrider is NOT the boat I would go with for Lake Michigan. Just wouldn’t.

1) Cons for Lake Michigan boating AND your stated uses above: Low profile with fencing, and sitting lower and closer to water - on an at times crazy massive Lake Michigan (Michigan residents ourselves, so know it well). Center pontoon is unique to carve out the step down into the bowrider: Very large, with a big draft. As a result, it is slower than any other tritoon type hull due to it center pontoon.

The unique bowrider hull negatively Impacts performance a lot. Thus, max out HP if you can. I woudln’t consider ANYTHING less than 250 for your uses with that hull. In fact, my guess is a 250 on a bowrider will perform like a 150 on a normal SPS or ESP hulled tritoon (at best like a 200…?).

2) Finally, the unique center pontoon is probably what the dealer is somewhat referring to with concerns with shipping (although obviously there has to be some workaround with special trailer bunks for it). They likely don’t have the right kind of trailer for it. A normal tritoon configured trailer isn’t going to work. You’d need the center bunks set up specific to the unique shape of the Bowrider center “pontoon”.

* Don’t get me wrong. I think the bowriders are sharp, and cool! But it is probably one of the less ideal hull types for the Great Lakes, let alone Lake Michigan. It is also less ideal for half your intended uses with tubing, water sports uses and large groups of people. A traditional tritoon hull is going to be better at those things, particularly on an unforgiving big body of water.

3) Ditto Jacks advice and insights above about covering it. Always cover. Always. Sun, rain, bugs, birds, etc will do a number on your boat otherwise. Ever seen a mooring cover totally covered in bird droppings? Yikes! Uncovered boats have their furntirue and interior deteriorate quickly. Keep it covered and clean it periodically and it will last a long time. Otherwise, be prepared for one ugly interior in a few years.…and one with a potentially voided warranty on its interior.

4) 16% off MSRP sounds pretty darn decent to me given the current boating market. Nice!

My advice: Have you considered an ESP hull?

The ESP tritoon hull is one of the strongest rough water tritoon hulls you can get in the industry, let alone with Bennington. Also, it handles amazing for water sports, and had great buoyancy for large crowds and supporting a lot of weight. The hull was actually designed for rough water usage.

I wouldn’t go on ANY of the Great Lakes in any other hull myself (and I have a darn nice SPS tritoon hull), and then only when the water is super calm on Lake Michigan. That said, big water like that intimidates me, so there’s that… I am one of those people that wouldn’t take any type of pontoon on a body of water like that. That’s me.
 
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TLLIFE

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As a new owner of 25 LTSB, I think the Bowrider is fantastic! Just curious…Are you boating in a protected area with the ability to wander into the big lake on nice days?
If you’re not into top speeds but like the idea of pulling skiers and entertaining up to 15 ppl, it’s a great choice. The VHull performs well in rough water, and turning radius is better than expected. Highly recommend a 250 HP, but maybe consider 300 HP? Even with the lower side rails it’s no different than a Bowrider experience. Keep us posted !
 

Jack M

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I had asked my dealer in the past about taking ours accross Lake Huron to Mackinac Island. He told me don't even think about it .
 

LaurencetheAdventurer

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Other issues with Bow rider - you loose a LOT of storage with no Center Tube. I store most of our tubes and floats in the center tube - without that I don't know how I would be able to take all the stuff we use. If out in the evening, the underwater lights are awesome! I do suggest looking at the LX - saves some nice dollars for a few features that I did not find important. Then drop a 300hp on it!
 

Bill N

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Some great advice above!
I don't think most marine transport companies would have any issues hauling this boat, but many dealers may not be set up to unload. Many dealers unload pontoons with forks under the tubes. With the center tube protruding lower that outer tubes, the obvious instability would make this method less than ideal. I would think best method would be using slings from overhead, which many dealers may not be set up for.
 

SEMPERFI8387

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Any marina type dealer should have rear loading forks that would go under the deck. That’s how they drop them in water from storage.
 

Bill N

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I would wager very few inland dealers are set up with forks that long.
Furthermore, that would work to unload the boat at the rear, but not the front boats on the load.
 
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