Caravelle dives headfirst into the red hot pontoon business with Razor, an entirely new take on pontooning.
Author: Alan Jones
Since the builders at Caravelle have been making fiberglass boats since 1966 in Americus, Ga., it was only natural they would make the pontoons out of fiberglass as well. And the styling is like nothing else on the water. The look is decidedly aggressive with a fiberglass fence that swoops down in front like a Can Am racecar. At the helm is a racing wheel with a truncated bottom section that looks sporty, but unless you are going in a straight line the flat end ends up on the sides, or even at the top in turns, and is a bit distracting. Graphics are designed to grab your attention, and there is no question that if you own a Razor 247 Etoon you will be noticed, so prepare to be bombarded with requests to be boarded by curious onlookers.
Because the patent-pending Revolution Etoon hull is made from fiberglass, the designers weren’t constrained by having to bend metal to create different shapes like on aluminum tubes; fiberglass can be made in any configuration. Littlefield describes the running surface: “Half catamaran up front with a stepped racing hull in the back. It’s definitely not your grandfather’s conventional pontoon.” Our test boat is powered by Mercury’s 200 Verado, a supercharged four-stroke with lots of kick out of the hole. The 247 stretches 25 feet, 3 inches long and weighs 3,220 pounds, so it’s a lot of boat to be pushed by a 200, but thanks to the high-performance hull, it planed in 3.8 seconds with very little bowrise. It accelerated in a linear fashion to 30 mph in 7.5 seconds with a respectable top speed of 45.7 mph, thanks to its stepped hull, which reduces friction by introducing air under the hull.
Although the Razor 247 outwardly resembles a pontoon, its handling is more like a traditional sportboat. It tracks well in turns and leans inward more like a monohull. It also features a 17-degree deadrise on the running surface, which helped it slice across the waves on a fairly windy day on Lake Blackshear not far from where Caravelle and Razor boats are built. The 247 is about 3 inches narrower than most 25-footers, with a beam of 8 feet, 3 inches. Although this gives you slightly less interior space, narrower hulls do a little better in the chop and get slightly better fuel economy. If you are comparing the ride of the Razor 247 to that of an aluminum pontoon, it’s closer to a three-tuber than a twin-tube pontoon, despite the impression you get from seeing the twin sponson, catamaran-style front end. It rides high in the water and gives the driver confidence. Despite the stainless steel tubular gate at the bow, which could potentially let water in if a large wave crashed over the bow, the ride angle is sufficiently high to make this unlikely.
Since Caravelle was purchased by an owner with strong ties to the RV industry, it’s only natural some features would migrate over, such as the two-burner Coleman grill on the port-side entertainment system. Its only downside is it rattles underway, so stuffing a few kitchen towels inside might quiet it down. Just below the stove is a pull-out cutting board that can be used to hold a platter to receive the goodies you just cooked. Something you don’t often see is a dedicated drawer to hold silverware, but to minimize the rattle, you better make it plasticware. To the right of the stove is a sink with a spigot fed by a 6- or 9-gallon reservoir. Another unique feature is the optional 33-quart DC cooler to keep food and beverages cold without ice, which in effect doubles your capacity. It also has a function to keep hot food hot, so load up the buffet from home and serve it hot hours later. A huge, square cockpit table gives you plenty of room for food display, and there are four stainless steel cupholders in each corner.
Our test Razor has the optional watersports tower, so we are ready for any activity that involves dragging people across the surface of the water. A centerline locker is deep and long enough to hold a grown adult (for demonstration purposes only, as it’s not a cabin), and the under-seat storage compartments don’t have bulkheads, so even long skis will fit easily there. Our Razor also has the optional stereo system that gives you eight speakers (four are standard) along with a subwoofer for some extra attitude.
Razor takes a “podulized” approach for seating groups and features. Our test boat has the UU configuration, which means there is a U-shaped seating arrangement up front and a U-lounge in back that has a flip-up section to allow easy access to the rear swim platform. The upholstery on our boat is a dark chocolate brown, which looked like it might get hot, but the fabric-like vinyl stayed relatively cool — and looks cool. The double-U configuration is ideal for entertaining large groups up to 14 people, with a seat for everyone. Angler-philes can choose to have fishing seats in the bow or at the stern; for more sunning options, owners can choose to equip the 247 with a pair of recliners in the bow for use at anchor. On deck is Sea Grass flooring that feels good on bare feet and is easy to clean up at the end of the day. The helm station is compact and arrayed with a full selection of gauges, and there’s no room for a flush-mounted display, but if you want a GPS/fishfinder, there’s room on the top of the dash for a gimbal-mounted model.