Originally Posted by liledgy
Keep the replies coming, love it. We are going smaller because it will be easier to store, dock and, since it will stay in the water, not beat the dock ( or boat) up to bad. Less of a sail too on the windy days. I dont see us pulling skiers or tubers except on a rare occasion. We ( all in our 50's with kids) just want a reliable long lasting pontoon. I thought premier and Bennington went composite, oh well that just opens it up to other brands. Sun is usually the killer on the interior anyway. Do certain brands have better canopys?
My dad has an Aqua Patio with a Yamaha 115 hp and while it is a great boat, getting really good gas mileage, he still would like a bigger engine. He has told me the next toon he will buy will be a Harris with a 150hp engine. Harris puts Mercs on the back of theirs and my dad is more of a Yamaha fan, although most of the 4 strokes are good. Bombardier/Johnson, have some kind of service plan on theirs to where you do not even have to touch the engine for the first three years, I believe. If I were you, I would probably consider looking at a 75 hp at a minimum. It would help on resale with a larger engine, when that time comes.
I believe most of the brands have a plywood deck, with sheet metal on the bottom side, keeping it dry from the lake water. a few of them also offer an aluminum deck, which may be what you are thinking. I did notice that Bennington has a lifetime structural warranty, which includes (deck, cross channels, tubes, ladder, bimini fittings, seat frames, motor pan, etc.) The canopy can usually be customized just about any way you want it. You typically do not see a full canopy on a smaller pontoon like what you are considering though.
I know there are many hard core MC fans on here, but a pontoon absolutely has it's place. My dad, (60 yrs old) does a good bit of cruising and on a rough day, I would hate going across the lake in my MC. It also makes a decent fishing platform at night.
Avalon is another nice brand. Harris also has a "bargain" brand called Cypress Cay. They are still very nice boats but it will save you a few thousand over the Harris.
You may want to take a look at this checklist before you make a decision. It will help answer some questions you may or may not have.