I love my float tube, but I've been looking to get into pontooning for a while now. The main thing that's been stopping me has been money. With a recent gift card and a bonus, this is now less of an issue.
I'm wondering what you guys think the best pontoon boat under $500 is. Specifically the gift card is to Cabelas, so I'd like to pick up one of theirs if they have one you guys would say is a great deal.
Any pontoon fans want to point me in the right direction, or anyone want to tell me this is a waste of money?
I will try the 'point in the right direction' with this reply. Rafts are great for floating rivers and large creeks. They are not great for still water (my opinion) they don't track well and you need 2 anchors if there is a breeze to keep you from twisting with the breeze and they don't row very fast.
I love floating down a river on one and being able to get away from the hustle of the river boat. but because they only float downstream logistics can be an issue. You need to launch / drop off, and you need to haul out or be picked up on the downstream end of the float.
I figure there are lots of folks who don't use their rafts as much as they would like because of this matter of launch and haul out. I only do a couple floats each year and one destination has an outfit that shuttles my truck and trailer down river for 40 dollars. Whether you get a small raft or one that needs to be hauled by trailer you need to consider the shuttle business wherever you want to use it.
For still water I would just get a John Boat with a 5 HP motor and be a happy guy.
Most of them arent that heavy though and the pontoons deflate. Is it not possible to deflate it fit it in my car with the back seats folded down. The metal assembly should be the only thing that really takes up space if its deflated.
Sure they will break down for car transport but inflation can be a pain. There's still the matter of arranging a ride at the end of the float. Please don't get the idea that I'm trying to turn you against the purchase, I'm just giving you the details on what happens after you have the raft.
Tracking is.......... let's say you are paddling a canoe or kayak and you pause the stroking for 30 seconds. The boat, if it is well made with a bit of keel will glide along on the course you were stroking. Because a pontoon boat has 2 hulls essentially, neither of which usually has any keel they tend to drag to a halt but not without wandering a bit first.
Did that make sense? For floating rivers and large creeks I love them but on still water (if you will be there more often) than some sort of single hull craft will perhaps be better. We have some members who use motors on the Scadden rafts with success. I have a 3.3 HP mercury that I sometimes use on my 13' FishCat but still the tracking issue is a pain to deal with.
I understand what you mean by tracking now. That's what I thought it was but wasn't sure. I would just use it on ponds/lakes so no need for a pickup somewhere else.
I do think blowing around might be an issue now. I considered a kayak but I have no roof rack on my car and my car isn't very big (Civic). I thought a pontoon might let my cruise over some of the vegetation that blocks my way when tubing.
You can get into some pretty short kayaks you know. I'm thinking of what we called 'squirt boats' in the 80s - 90s. The ultimate is a Mokai. I know a guy who carries one in an old Volvo wagon with the hatch held down with a bungee.
Looks like they only sell one type of craft now. Which is about $4,600. The other reason I'm not too hot on kayaks is rolling over and losing all my equipment. Those old volva wagons were pretty long too, my car is pretty short and even with the back seats down cant fit a very long object. I doubt even a 7ft kayak would fit well.
I've looked into the inflatable boats like this one but I don't know how well they work or how well they might stand up to a sharp tree branch under water.
Nick, you may want to research the Old Town Discovery 119.
I do not own one, but have given it some serious thought. Most reviews I read are good reviews. About 12 foot and light...perfect for car-topping and Dicks Sporting Goods had them for $400 last week...not a sale price.
Do a search via Google and you will be amazed at the following they have.
Consider a double blade kayak paddle since it is a solo canoe.
Just food for thought.
---------- Post added at 09:01 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:50 AM ----------
Nick...I missed your last post.
Rolling over in a yak...not a problem if you get a decent sit-on-top. The cheap ones have hull designs that don't do a lot to keep you from rolling.
Then I see you can't car-top...you positive? My canoe is 15 foot and I car-top it with my Hyundai Elantra...it is longer than the car.
The Sevelor raft you put a link to...My opinion is stay away from them, not a durable product. You will regret spending any money on these. Again my opinion.
If money is the issue, save and eventually get something good. Don't waist money on junk now and have to save all over again.
My car has no bars or standard racking bars on the roof, so not sure How I would hold a big canoe or kayak on there. Plus its just me using it, I'm a small guy (140lbs) and some of those bad boys are heavy. Not sure I'd be able to efficiently cartop it and transport it to the water well. Dont want to scratch up my roof either. Id like to stay with something that can fit IN my car.