When the nation’s top-selling brand of outboard-powered fiberglass boats under 24 feet decides to offer a pontoon model, it’s worth a look even if you aren’t a pontoon enthusiast — which I am. Learning that one of Carolina Skiff’s new Fun Chaser fiberglass pontoon models would be on hand “sold’ me on accepting an invite to New Orleans to test it during an event organized by Mercury Marine.
“Family, fun and fishing all in one” is the Fun Chaser mantra of Carolina Skiff President Joe Kirkland, who added, “Think of these pontoon boats as your family’s own recreation or living room on the water. From pleasure cruising and tubing to skiing and fishing, pontoon boats are perfect for virtually any on-the-water activity.”
Even if they’re not exactly “perfect” for all on-water activities, pontoon boats are adaptable, roomy, stable craft that are great for families who want to enjoy a variety of watersports. Design limitations include handling, rough water capabilities and — at least with traditional aluminum-logged pontoons — their practicality in corrosive, saltwater environs.
After testing the 21-foot Fun Chaser FPG 2100 on the protected waters of a brackish bayou off the Mississippi River, I’m not convinced the new fiberglass-hulled craft is capable of significantly more rough water use than its aluminum-hulled contemporaries, but I’d like the opportunity to try. When I crossed the only significant “waves” we could locate — wakes generated by other watercraft — the pontoon performed much as its traditional aluminum-tubed brethren. Meaning there was considerable vibration, splashing and noise. What the Fun Chaser didn’t offer, which some pontoons do in rough conditions, was any hint of water over the bow.
The boat is buoyed by deep, high-volume “logs” and a high profile that combine to offer those aboard the feeling of riding above the water rather than across it. The pontoons have a sharp entry on the facing inboard sides for better tracking and traction in turns, and a reverse chine design on the outside to turn aside water and help with lift at the hole shot. They’re constructed using all-composite fiberglass and finished with polished, high-grade, stainless-steel trim, making the boats more suitable for use in saltwater, which can corrode traditional aluminum-logged pontoon boats.
In fact, all the fasteners, trim, latches, gates and bimini supports are built using saltwater-resistant stainless steel — including the standard, rail-mounted barbecue grill. What’s not stainless steel, like the deck fencing and the furniture bases, is constructed of fiberglass or composite materials, again with saltwater use in mind.
In addition to flotation, deck-accessible sections of the oversized fiberglass logs offer deep storage lockers, which complement a respectable amount of storage space up on deck. Most of the space is beneath seating that’s reasonably roomy and comfortable. Topside, the cruising model Carolina Skiff’s layout and amenities resemble a nicely appointed deckboat; fishing layouts and options are available as well.
By offering a fiberglass-hulled pontoon boat, Carolina Skiff appears to be among the first manufacturers targeting the coastal marine market with a category of boats that continue to be popular among inland boaters, coastal waters where Carolina Skiff can trace its significant roots to present day success. The Fun Chaser pontoon models are a good start in that market and a smart choice for boaters seeking the amenities and adaptability offered by a pontoon boat floated by fiberglass. www.carolinaskiff.com
Carolina Skiff Fun Chaser FPG 2100
Length Overall: 21 feet, 4 inches
Beam: 8 feet, 6 inches
Draft (hull only): 1 foot, 1 inch
Dry Weight (no engine): 3,375 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 27 gallons
Water Capacity: 13 gallons
Max. Power: 150 horsepower
Base Price: $30,233 (boat only)