Some of the most popular boats in the industry today are on pontoons, the wide-open carriers that look built more for comfort than for speed.
But these pontoon boats, which have helped buoy the industry the past two years, can provide both at once, according to several dealers at the Atlantic City In-Water Power Boat Show, which runs through Sunday at the Farley State Marina.
The 29th edition of the show offers 350 boats of all kinds at the marina’s extensive docks or on land, with 2014 models of yachts, cruiser, sport fishers and more.
Pontoon boats offer relatively affordable means to get into boating, are fuel-efficient, can still come with luxuries and — for more money on the high-end side — very powerful engines that can move them in the 50 mile-per-hour range.
“Our pontoons are probably the biggest seller right now,” said Shawn O’Neill, salesman for Sheltered Cove Marina with locations in Tuckerton and Vineland. The marina has a prominent area near the entrance of the boat show, and set up a row of Bennington pontoons to showcase.
“Everybody’s got a lot of pontoons. It’s an affordable, entry-level way to get into boating. You can run low horsepower, they don’t carry a lot of fuel so they don’t use a lot of fuel, and you can fit 14 people on them,” he said.
They can come with luxuries, like bathrooms that pop up on the deck. They typically travel around 20 miles per hour, he said, and some versions have a third buoy that adds stability.
Glenn Gioe, owner of Bayville-based New Jersey Outboards, said these “triple toons” can carry 150- to 300-horsepower engines and have become more popular recently.
“It’s not your grandfather’s pontoon anymore,” he said.
Of the 300-horsepower ones, Gioe said, the business sold around seven this year for about $70,000 each.
“People are spending money on these boats, and they are liking them,” he said.