Author: Alan Jones
Most people drawn to the pontooning lifestyle want a boat that’s roomy enough for family and friends, sporty enough to keep the kids happy and luxurious enough to become an island oasis for total relaxation. With the 240 Sun Lounge, Aqua Patio shoots and scores a three-pointer. Add a free throw for the stylishly curved D-rails and tasteful choice of fence colors that coordinate with the upholstery, and you have a pontoon that in a very short time has become a top seller for the company that invented aluminum pontoons.
Although rear-facing loungers are one of the hottest trends in pontooning, getting them right often proves elusive. For starters you have to use the right upholstery, and the Aqua Patio 240 SL features the same GX 50 expanded vinyl you’ll find on Godfrey Pontoon Boats’ top-of-the-line Sanpan models. This soft-touch surface is overstuffed to give you the ultimate in luxury, and the lounger is extra wide and long enough for riders up to non-center NBA-player proportions to stretch out on. Designers were careful to get the perfect amount of recline, so it feels more like sitting in a Barcalounger than convalescing in a hospital bed. Because they are enclosed within the stylish fence, lounging on them while on plane won’t pose any passenger security issues. Two more layback seats in front will have your passengers in a Zen-like state while aboard. “Ooooooommmm … can I get some chips and a Diet Coke up here, please?”
Helm stations on many pontoons are about as plain as a cake doughnut, but on the 240 SL it’s decidedly upscale. The rosewood/metallic sport wheel channels the spirit of a vintage Jaguar but is more ergonomically correct. The dash features sculpted gauge pods with eyebrows for better viewing in bright sunlight and has a full array of Faria gauges, including a built-in Ritchie compass and a depthfinder, which was placed a little too low and to the side for easy reading. Our test boat features the optional 4-inch raised helm for better driver visibility, especially when passengers are seated forward.
Our test pontoon has the standard setup for this model, with twin 25-inch tubes, and is powered by a Yamaha F115, which is a versatile workhorse that can power anything from fishing boats to pontoons and even houseboats up to 60 feet long. It’s got some guts, as evidenced by our time to plane of 3.2 seconds and a time to 20 mph of 5.2 seconds. Around 21 mph seems to be its happiest cruising speed, which has the engine spinning at 4500 rpm. Since this boat has rear loungers instead of a stern sunpad to muffle engine noise, quietude is especially important, and the Yamaha comes through, registering just 82 decibels on the soundmeter. Top speed was 25.9 mph, which is fast enough for tubing and junior wakeboarding or leisurely cruising.
Aqua Patio gives you the opportunity to boost performance with its G-Force III Sport Package: triple 27-inch tubes, lifting strakes, aluminum underskin and Sea Star hydraulic tilt steering. With this package and a Yamaha F150, a similar Aqua Patio model, the 240 Sport, reached a top speed of nearly 40 mph.
The handling with twin 25-inch stock tubes is typical for pontoons with this configuration. Trimming the engine up doesn’t have a tremendous effect, so the driver doesn’t have to spend a lot of time tweaking it to get the most out of it. Hard turns give you the expected outward lean, and the cable steering requires some effort to crank the wheel. If you occasionally load it up near the maximum 14-passenger load and don’t want the G-Force III option, a nice intermediary option is the Performance Package. This twin-tube setup gives you an underskin, Sea-Star hydraulic steering and lifting strakes, which will get you on plane faster and allow the 240 SL to ride higher in the water when on plane.
Our test boat is rigged for taking it easy and soaking up the sights until you find the perfect secluded cove to throw out the hook or beach it. Our sound system features the new Sony stereo that includes an iPod docking station so you can secure your mini jukebox. This four-speaker system is capable of cranking out the tunes with enough gusto to get your passengers grooving. Bring along all your boating paraphernalia thanks to the abundance of under-seat storage. All lounger seatbacks flip up, and the seat bottoms hinge open toward the centerline for total access. Shucking your wet swimsuit is easy thanks to the pop-up changing room at the end of the port-side lounger.
Your proposed list of activities will dictate how you option your 240 SL. Leisure cruisers will be fine with the two-tube package, which can be upgraded to 27-inchers for a higher ride. But if you are serious about watersports, the G-Force III package is the ticket. It already comes with a stout stainless steel tripod ski tow and a generous rear deck that is wisely surfaced in vinyl on our boat, so there’s plenty of room to get ready for a run. A four-step boarding ladder sits deep in the water, which, combined with swimming-pool handrails, makes reboarding easy. Anglers will be pleased to find an option for a livewell along with a choice of fishfinders. Although the 240 comes standard with a large color-coordinated Bimini top, an option that will garner some oohs and aahs is the Power Toon electric top. Upgrading to the Fusion stereo with two extra speakers and a subwoofer with its own dedicated amp will add some attitude to your on-water festivities.