REVIEW: SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON BOAT

By: ANGELO SAN GIORGIO, Photography by: JACK MURPHY


SWEETWATER 2286 DECK AREA SWEETWATER 2286 DECK AREA
SWEETWATER 2286 DRIVING SWEETWATER 2286 DRIVING
SWEETWATER 2286 FRIDGE SWEETWATER 2286 FRIDGE
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON 18 SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON 18
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON AFLOAT SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON AFLOAT
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON CLOSE UP SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON CLOSE UP
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON CONTROLS SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON CONTROLS
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON LADDER SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON LADDER
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON LOUNGE SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON LOUNGE
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON PRIVACY SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON PRIVACY
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON TURNING SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON TURNING
SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON WIDE SHOT SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON WIDE SHOT
SWEETWATER 2286 PRIVACY SCREEN SWEETWATER 2286 PRIVACY SCREEN
SWEETWATER 2286 UNDERWAT SWEETWATER 2286 UNDERWAT
SWEETWATER PONTOON SWEETWATER PONTOON

We spend a bit of quality time with Sweetwater’s new 2286 and reckon this might just be the boat to ignite the pontoon boat spark in Oz.

While the absolute origin of the contemporary pontoon boat is shrouded in secrecy and myth, the Sweetwater 2286 can trace its lineage back to the 1958 World Fair in Chicago, Illinois where a gentleman by the name of SS Deputy debuted the first all-alloy pontoon boat, the Sanpan, for the Godfrey Conveyor Company. The parent company, now Godfrey Pontoon Boats, comprises three brands: Sweetwater, Aqua Patio and Sanpan and spans a range from 5.49m to 7.4m.

 

SWEETWATER PONTOON BOATS

SWEETWATER 2286 BOAT

There’s plenty of clever thinking gone into the Sweetwater 2286 and it reflects an empathy with its market and the way in which its customers interact with their products. A central passageway flows from bow to stern and is fringed on either side by comfortable lounges featuring moulded polyethylene boxes topped with padded two-tone upholstery on stainless hinges. Angled backrests form an impromptu chaise lounge to sprawl out on while removable armrests with built in stainless refreshment holders ensures no one risks dehydration. A 25L Igloo cooler resides in the console hidden behind a reinforced hatch.

Wandering around the Sweetwater 2286, you can’t help but be impressed at how much useable real estate they’ve squeezed into its 6.79m x 2.59m footprint.

 

LAYOUT

SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON LAYOUT

The Sweetwater’s helm is a pleasant place to be. The generous fibreglass console is accented with gloss grey faux-timber trim while a smart black and silver three-spoke wheel is complemented by a tilt helm. The driver rides tall perched on a heavily upholstered chair with flip up armrests. A low profile windscreen wraps around the console and helps deflect breeze up and over the skipper when seated. Partially hidden behind the wheel are Honda’s analogue speedo and tacho gauges, their view obstructed more or less by the angle of wheel-tilt. A fuel and battery gauge flanks the wheel on the right, complemented by a cluster of pop-out circuit breakers while a lone 50mm Ritchie X-21 dash mount compass sits to its right. Below that resides the standard Sony CDXM-20 CD/tuner that provides the soundtrack for a big day on the water.

 

TRIM

SWEETWATER 2286 TRIMU PHOLSTERY

The 2286 is also an inherently safe boat, affording loads of freeboard courtesy of the mid-thigh wraparound alloy rails filled in with lightly ribbed aluminium panels – rail skins – that add substance and style. The metallic blue of our test boat complemented the beige and blue accented upholstery beautifully turning it into a 22ft oasis. Three clever gates provide access and are located on the forward bow, port midships and starboard transom quarter. I was pleased to see Sweetwater omitted the common barrel bolt lock in favour of a clever lift and drop system for each. 

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

SWEETWATER 2286 PERFORMANCE

There was no need for any hijinx as that’s not what this rig is about. Sure we could rev it out, which you’d do if you were towing a skier or boarder, but in this moment, relaxation reigned supreme. Legs were stretched out on soft couches, seagulls squawked in the distance and the clear waters of Yowie Bay, south of Sydney had me mesmerised.

Time and the stress of the day drained away and if it wasn’t for our young camera jockey yelling about losing light, I could have enjoyed the company of this charming boat and its equally accommodating owners – the Bartletts – until night engulfed us.

What’s more, for the rest of us who are only treated to waterfront views when we leave the sprinklers running for too long, the Sweetwater 2286 could well be the ideal solution, offering 360-degree seascapes for a small monthly investment.

 

ENGINE

SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON PERFORMANCE

Presented with one of my favourite outboards, Honda’s bulletproof 90hp four stroke, and despite it being down on the maximum-rated horsepower (115 is the limit), the Sweetwater 2286 gave a good account of itself. Sure it was no rocket ship, but it suits the boat’s intent and as long as you keep the boat on song, she’ll comfortably sit on around 50kmh all day. Owner Alan Bartlett’s owned a string of boats. This time he wanted a versatile platform that would accommodate a crowd one day and drag the grandkids around on skis and tubes the next. He also wanted a rig that could be enjoyed on a daily basis without a regular investment in fuel and sweat to keep his new toy fed and maintained.

While the rig seems to have been propped for grunt and mid-range rather than outright top end, the smooth Honda 90 provided ample motivation and complemented the experience. I noted it only had 27.5 hours on the clock and having owned one of these engines, I know they really start to free up once they’ve ticked over 80 plus hours.

 

THE VERDICT

SWEETWATER 2286 DECK

Rated to 10 adults (eight if the standard 57.5cm tubes are selected) the Sweetwater 2286 is a fine way for a couple of families to indulge their on-water passions. While originally conceived for sheltered lakes and rivers, my time with the 2286 revealed a much more capable craft meaning bay and inshore adventures could also be on the cards. It’s not going to be for everyone but if you’re in the market for a spacious and versatile rig that is easy to use, you’d be crazy not try one on for size. 

 

HIGHS

  • Stable platform
  • Versatile layout
  • Loads of hidden storage
  • Comfortable dry ride

 

LOWS

  • Not an all-weather craft
  • Probably wouldn’t take it marlin fishing off the shelf
  • 2.59m beam means wide load regulations apply

 

SWEETWATER 2286 PONTOON SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED 

$47,990

 

OPTIONS

Upgraded tubes 25in optioned on every Webbe Marine order, LED docking lights, ski towbar, hydraulic steering, and more

 

PRICED FROM

$39,990 with Honda BF40

 

GENERAL

Type Aluminium pontoon boat 

Material Aluminium alloy

Length  6.79m

Beam 2.59m

Weight 871kg hull (dry)

Deadrise n/a

 

CAPACITIES

People  10

Rec. HP  90         

Max. HP 115

Fuel 80lt

 

ENGINE

Make/model Honda BF90

Type Four-stroke outboard

Weight 166kg(XL)

Displacement 1496cc

Gear ratio 2.33:1

 

MANUFACTURED BY

Sweetwater Boats

4500 Middlebury Street

Elkhart, Indiana, USA

 

SUPPLIED BY

Webbe Marine

17 Yalgar Road, Kirrawee, NSW, 2232 

Phone:  (02) 9521 7944

Web: webbemarine.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #449, February / March 2014. Why not subscribe today.

Find Sweetwater boats for sale.

 


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