Review: Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford


With a name like FunDeck Winebar you’ll have no trouble filling this boat with 12 merry friends for a pleasant social afternoon on the water.

What is a deckboat — or pontoon boat as they are also known? Well they’re big in America for one thing, but not yet a household name here.

This style of boat has a history going back to the ’50s when the concept of creating maximum deck space on a pair of aluminium pontoons with modest power found favour among flat water and canal dwellers. In Australia the dawdling barbecue boat probably came closest.

Our FunDeck is a big step away from that, retaining full accommodation up top but with a sleek hull and lots of power. Hurricane joined the deckboat phenomenon in 1974 and now claims to turn out more of this style of craft than all the other manufacturers combined. To be fair, most other brands’ deckboats are like the Sea Ray Sundeck we tested recently, which has both fibreglass hull and topsides. On the other hand, Hurricane’s FunDeck range combines the pressed aluminium, fenced topsides of a pontoon boat with a fibreglass monohull, whereas a true pontoon boat has two aluminium tubes for floatation.

 

Hurricane FunDeck

Hurricane Fundeck 236 Winebar

Our boat review of a Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar was to occur via Lifestyle Marine on Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney. This boat dealership sees a big future for these leisure craft, particularly if our habit of eventually following everything American holds true.

According to Lifestyle’s owner Damien Hurt the Hurricane boat range is ideally suited to places like his own backyard where protected waters run for miles with an almost endless number of quiet little coves..

On its EZ Loader alloy trailer, the Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar is like no boat I have ever seen, so it took a bit to get my head around it. At 7.17m (23ft6in) and with its full width extending over the deep bow entry its proportions are impressive – it is the largest of a range including three other models down to 5.74m.

 

FunDeck layout

Layout of Hurricane Fundeck

The moderate vee of the Hurricane FunDeck Winebar’s hull suggests sporty performance, while the overstated chines that go close to looking like a tri-hull up forward imply enhanced stability at rest. It’s from the low gunwale up that things get interesting because the wide, flat deck is enclosed by metal rails clad with aluminium panels. I know it doesn’t sound too attractive and it does take some getting used to – however, it’s a practical and safe enclosure. This structure is also lightweight and maximises space on board and that’s important because the deck is all about having room to move, to spread out or mingle with family and friends.

Separate areas are defined by a pair of face-to-face lounges in the bow and a bar with seating down the back, while the helm offers luxurious skipper and observer chairs in between. The enclosed space takes up almost all the deck area, with only a narrow boarding platform at the bow and a rear platform and walkways either side of the engine well.

Hurricane Fundeck helm sink

Lounges along the sides at the bow allow a central walkway to a boarding gate and the fitting of a small table into a slot in the floor. With a sizeable crew on board, three adults have seating either side, but the comfortable padding will also make a tempting place to stretch out in the sun, so be quick to grab this spot.

Both lounges include storage bins underneath and monster storage hatches in the floor will swallow loads of watertoys, spare clothing and all the necessities of a day out. Gates each side allow access to a dock or the water and a foldout ladder built into the deck assist swimmers back on board.

 

WineBar deck boat

Winebar boat

Two fibreglass mouldings dominate the aft section of the Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar’s deck. One, the helm station, you would anticipate, but the other, a bar, is something of an anomaly in a 7m design. Hurricane calls it the wine bar and, while that sounds more sophisticated, I’m sure you could get away with enjoying a beer or a Bundy on the high and opulent bar stools. They are aft of the bar for a forward-facing view, leaving room ahead for a few to stand socialising at the novel setting. The bar top integrates a sink with a small preparation area and a raised shelf incorporating four drinkholders capable of use when underway, while at floor level is a 49lt Isotherm fridge.

Another sink is built into the forward section of the helm station and the 80lt of freshwater on tap should be enough for everyone for drinks and a freshwater shower and washdown at the end of the day.

A bimini covers much of the cockpit and there’s a nifty foldup changing cubicle that can also fit a Porta Potti, so all bases are covered for a trouble-free day on the water. However, none of this encouraged me to assume that driving the boat would be more exciting than mundane.

 

Handling and ride

Hurricane Fundeck on the water ride

To experience a typical pontoon/deck boat adventure, Damien had organised a crew of his extended family for a cruise on the beautiful azure waters lapping right up to his yard in Toronto. Six of us hardly made a dent in the space on board and we pulled away silently from the dock with hardly a murmur from the 200hp Mercury Verado outboard engine.

Away from the moored boats, Damien settled the children safely and gave the Mercury outboard motor the berries. This party boat can really move; not only that, as we drew into the centre of the lake there was about 18kts of cross-breeze kicking up some decent chop, across which the Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar scooted silently and smoothly at a decent 30kts. No spray came on board and no rattles from the aluminium siding, just squeals of delight from the well-versed nautical young’uns.

We pulled into a protected beach and I was impressed at the ease with which we unloaded everyone. The bow boarding platform includes an unobtrusive anchor locker that caused no impediment and the step down to the sand was easy to negotiate.

While the crew played merrily on the beach Damien and I set off to put the Hurricane through its paces. We achieved a two-way average of 38kts and an easy cruising speed in the mid-20s from the willing supercharged engine.

Hurricane deck boat

Handling was a complete surprise as I pushed the boat at full-lock through fast and slow turns trying to get it to slip or cavitate without any adverse reaction.

It handles like a big sporty bowrider, turning on those enormous chines like it was on rails. I can now see the future: dozens if not hundreds of Hurricanes clogging the waters of the Gold Coast, Rottnest and Sydney Harbour. More are hogging the shores of Lake Eildon and the Murray. The revolution is here.

 

The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar deck boat

You can fish, tow watertoys, picnic, relax, socialise, bond with the family, cruise the scenery or just anchor up and do nothing. At 2.59m beam there are restrictions on towing, but the overall weight should be around 2.5t so there are many mid-size 4WDs capable of taking it with you on holidays.

For a drive-away package price of around $100,000 it may not be everyone’s cup of Tia Maria but, if you are looking for something different, with loads of room and lots of mambo, then the FunDeck 236 Winebar might just be for you.

 

Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar sea trials

Single 200hp Mercury Verado outboard motor.

RPM

SPEED (KTS)

2000

6

3000 (on the plane)

11

4000

17

5000

24

5500

32

5800 (WOT)

38

*Sea-trial data supplied by the author.

 

Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar specs

Hurricane FunDeck 236 Winebar price: $100,900 (priced as tested)

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Monohull deckboat

LENGTH 7.16m

BEAM 2.59m

WEIGHT 1576kg (dry)

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 12

REC. HP RANGE 150 to 250

FUEL 182lt

WATER 80lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Mercury Verado 200 outboard motor

TYPE Supercharged inline four-cylinder four-stroke outboard motor

RATED HP 200

DISPLACEMENT 1700cc

WEIGHT 231kg

GEAR RATIO 2.08:1

PROPELLER 17in three-blade Mirage Plus

 

SUPPLIED BY

Lifestyle Marine

1 Wharf Road,

Toronto, NSW, 2283

Phone (02) 4959 1444

Web lifestylemarine.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #468, on sale August 6, 201. Why not subscribe today?

 


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