Hurricane’s 236 WB is a crossover that runs like a sportboat but entertains like a pontoon.
When Godfrey Marine created the FunDeck concept, it used best practices from across its holdings. It took what Hurricane had learned over the years about how to build a fiberglass deckboat hull that’s stable, fuel efficient and planes quickly at speeds lower than most other boats. Then it took the lessons gleaned from its experience building pontoons such as Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater to produce a boat that does a lot of things really well, including providing enough room for a wet bar and enough open floor space to bust a move should “your” song come on.
While the Sundeck 236 WB has been in the lineup for years, it underwent a refresh this year, both inside and out. Capitalizing on one of the hottest trends in pontooning, the 2017 version of the 236 WB employs the blackout package, which includes black anodized aluminum D-rails, and for customization, buyers have a choice of five colors each of hull color, canvas, fencing and accent panel. The new rails contrasted nicely with the white fencing on our test boat and matched the black hull stripe over the white hull bottom.
The upholstery is all new. Its foam is more supportive but still soft, and its vinyl features elegant double top-stitching, which is a feature taken from Godfrey’s high-end pontoons. Our test boat had optional Soft Touch vinyl ($231) in gray that complimented the black rails. And the black/gray theme was carried over to the helm dash, which featured a gray matte finish and faux wood accents that didn’t glare in direct sunlight (like the prior dash accents were prone to do).
One would expect a fiberglass hull that measures 23 feet, 6 inches to be substantially heavier than its aluminum pontoon counterpart, but there’s only a slight difference. Comparing the 236 WB to its closest Godfrey pontoon sibling — the 9-inch-longer Aqua Patio 235 CB — reveals the Hurricane is only 146 pounds heavier. Combine the weight savings with a relatively flat hull that measures 13 degrees at the stern, and the manufacturer didn’t have to use a lot of ponies to get decent performance. The 236 WB’s minimum recommended horsepower is 150, but owners who go this route probably won’t be thrilled by its performance, especially if they are carrying the maximum 12-passenger load.
Our test boat was powered by the “Mama Bear” of the power spectrum, a Yamaha F200, which is 50 hp shy of the max 250. There is no weight penalty for moving from the F150 to the F200, since they share the same in-line four-cylinder platform and both weigh 489 pounds, but considering the F150 and F200 are basically the same engine, the price differential of $5,661 seems pretty steep. Moving to the F250 means going to a V-6 that weighs 73 pounds more but runs a bit smoother thanks to the extra two cylinders. The price gap between the F200 and F250 is $6,431, which is more understandable given the significant differences. On the plus side, Hurricane will rig this boat with any major engine brand, so buyers have a whopping 63 outboard choices (I counted).
With the Yamaha F200, the Hurricane FD 236 WB got on plane in three seconds with very little bowrise. It reached 30 mph in 8.1 seconds and achieved a top speed of 40.4 mph. With the F250, I would expect a top speed in the mid-40s.
Despite an upper section that resembles a pontoon, the boat itself has a classic Hurricane deckboat hull. Its relatively shallow 13 degrees of deadrise creates a stable platform. When guests walk around, the boat won’t heel far over, which can happen on boats with a deep-V hull. That said, the lack of more deadrise can make for a bumpier ride when conditions get rough. Hurricane designed the hull with pronounced reverse chines that serve two purposes. They deflect spray down and out for a drier ride, and they help its tracking during hard turns. I can vouch for the effectiveness of both of those. We stayed dry and the FunDeck handled hard turns very well. The flatter hull, combined with the chines, modulated its inward lean during hard turns, an excess of which can alarm rookie riders.
The beauty of the boat’s pontoon upper is it provides more passenger room than sportboats have, which gives it plenty of room for its signature feature: the aft wet bar, complete with a stainless steel sink and a spigot for cleanups. The working bar surface is a large acrylic table with plenty of room for food and four cupholders that are set into its curved length. Just aft are twin bar stools that are rated Class A, meaning passengers can schmooze on them at the floating Cheers station while the boat is underway. They are raised high enough to provide a great view forward and over passengers in front. The 236 WB is rated for 12 passengers, though there’s really only enough seating for 10 typical Americans. There are two chaise lounges up front for folks who aren’t bellied up in back. The one in front of the driver’s console is longer because of the port gate. Just in front of the bar is a companion captain’s chair that can swivel around to join happy hour.
The FD 236 WB is more than just a party place, as our test boat showed with its standard stainless steel soccer goal–style ski tow. The flatter hull stays on plane at only 16 mph, which is perfect for towing youngsters on tubes. A bump of the throttle puts the boat at wakeboarding speeds, though its flattish wake is really more suited for slalom skiing. The massive standard centerline locker takes care of all water toy storage needs — with room to spare — showing off one of its advantages over pontoon-based pontoons. An optional popup changing room ($400) tucks away in the portside bow lounge when not in use. There’s even room here for a portable toilet ($208). The changing room also comes as part of the Preferred Option Group ($1,762), which includes a boat cover, a battery switch and a stern washdown, for rinsing off after a ski run.
The boundaries of the 236’s usefulness can be pushed to include fishing by adding a few key options, such as a trolling motor harness ($270) for the scalloped bow section and a fishfinder; our test boat had a Lowrance Hook 3X fishfinder mounted on a gimbal. Also up front is something not found on most standard pontoon boats: an anchor locker with dedicated storage for a Danforth-style anchor.
The 236 WB comes standard with an upscale Marine Audio Bluetooth stereo, which can be bumped up with the addition of lighted Polk speakers for $508. To add to the entertainment capabilities, add a matte-finish wood-grain table ($262) and underwater lights for a mere $331. For some extra wow factor, there’s an available power Bimini top that costs $1,993. Hurricane offers four choices of snap-in flooring, to replace the non-skid fiberglass deck, including three vinyl options ($1,047) and a carpeting choice ($662).