Boat Buyer's Guide 2013
Author: Alan Jones
Pontoons are red hot right now, and their popularity has been spreading from inland lakes to the coast, where owners are recognizing their versatility. Sweetwater’s 220 DF (Deluxe Fish), when equipped with the Coastal Edition Package, is the poster child for this trend and comes with a host of features that make it a strong buy-coastal proposition. The package gives owners a vinyl floor for easy cleanup and oversized 27-inch pontoons for enhanced performance and a better ride in the chop.
The 220 DF is the perfect pontoon for people who are as enthusiastic about fishing as entertaining. The stern is given over to the pursuit of a seafood dinner and features a pair of pedestal fishing chairs along with a huge bait-prep table that has a built-in aerated livewell as well as rod storage for six. Four of the storage holders allow you to secure your rigs with the rods protruding through a narrow slot above the lockable lid with the reels underneath to help prevent their unauthorized removal. Under the table is a pop-up changing room/head compartment.
When it’s time to shift into entertainment mode, the bait-prep station becomes a huge food-prep area and snack presentation table. The front three-quarters of our boat is a luxurious haven for relaxing, with twin forward recliner couches and an L-lounge with a rearward-facing recliner adjacent to the helm station. All lounge seats feature Soft Touch expanded vinyl that is true to its name. The captain sits on a sculpted helm seat that’s extra wide for comfort and faces a console that sports an optional flush-mounted Humminbird fishfinder on our test boat. If fishing is your thing, the standard 220 DF is equipped with twin bow pedestal fishing chairs complete with rigging tables, which replaces the forward settees and eliminates two of the four speakers on the Sony MP3 stereo.
The larger 27-inch tubes on our test boat allowed it to perform like a boat with triple pontoons. Powered by a Yamaha F150 outboard, the 220 DF leapt on plane in 2.5 seconds and accelerated strongly to 30 mph in 5.5 seconds, reaching a top speed of 36 mph. This performance is sufficient to allow the 220 DF to participate in all watersports, as evidenced by the optional ski tow bar that encircles the Yamaha.