Reviewed by Richard Crowder
Harris FloteBoat of Fort Wayne, Indiana, now part of the Brunswick Leisure Boat Company group, has been building and specializing in pontoon boats for over fifty years. In its catalogue, Harris states, “We have put those years to use in honing our boat designs to create the best pontoons on the water. Now, Harris has shifted focus to reinventing the idea of what a pontoon can be.”
And with an extensive twenty-five model designations within the very popular twenty to twenty-seven foot size range, and with a seemingly unlimited range of available options and features for every one of them, Harris can build a pontoon boat to suit virtually every person and every need for every purpose. That may include a sumptuous platform for luxurious get-togethers, a powerful watersports workhorse, a stylish but serious fishing machine, or a personal passport to the great outdoors.
The 26’4” LOA (length overall) of the Grand Mariner 250SL (25’ pontoons) that Boatdealers.ca had the opportunity to water test recently in Minnesota, comes standard equipped with Harris’ Performance III package consisting of what the company refers to as “a unique V-step design that lowers the center tube to create a sport boat-like ‘vee’ hull. In addition, the stepped running surface improves ventilation that creates a hydrodynamic release, increasing speed and acceleration.” To help further reduce drag, the underside of the deck is fully enclosed with a thin aluminum skin.
Out on the water, the results are indeed impressive. For such a large boat and equipped with only a Mercury 115 hp ELPT FourStroke outboard, the Grand Mariner ever so quietly and seamlessly attained 10 mph at 3000 RPM; reached 16 mph at 4000; and topped out at 25 mph at a full throttle 6000 RPM. A most relaxing and reasonably economic cruising speed was found to be 8 mph at 2500 RPM. All day out on the water at this speed along with friends and being pampered by the amenities and comfort offered by the Grand Mariner would be considered a true delight and among the most memorable of times. Even tight figure-eight turning was a breeze without disturbing any passengers on board.
Equipped with the optional XTR (Extreme Turning Radius) Performance package, the 250SL can be powered up to 300 hp offering the ultimate in watersports fun. Creature comforts abound on the Grand Mariner. The first thing you’ll notice is when you bury your hand into the premium Torino vinyl w/ PreFixx covering of the luxurious upholstery, it feels buttery smooth and soft just like the finest of leather. This material covers all of the deck furniture including the optional forward loungers, the standard aft L-lounger with flip-flop backrest, and the Ultra-Lux high-back helm seat. A refreshing touch is the classy appealing look of the standard two-tone Imperial 32-ounce carpet throughout. All furniture is constructed with non-deteriorating rotocast bases.
The centrally located fibreglass helmstand with removable windscreen offered excellent all-round visibility and was standard equipped with virtually all instrumentation you would normally want. A Sony Gold stereo system with CD player, USB port, MP3 jack, and six directional speakers is standard or choose to upgrade to a Diamond sound system with eight Alpine speakers and a 1000 watt amplifier and subwoofer. An 11’6” bimini top and mooring cover are both standard and you can opt for Harris’ patented automated fully deployable power bimini top with or without a full enclosure.
An extended swim platform and four-step telescoping ladder are standard as is a ski-tow bar, LED docking lights and a 25-quart cooler. Of course the very extensive option list will allow you to personalize your boat to your own needs from an entertainment galley, a rail-mounted stainless steel grill, to a ski locker, pop-up change room with or without porta-potti, all sorts of fancy lighting including underwater, underseat rope-type, and even around cupholders, to a whole selection of fishing options, plus much, much more.
Pontoon boats are growing more and more in popularity for inland lakes and rivers and it’s easy to see why. They provide easy access, lots of onboard room, flexibility and versatility galore, and now with performance characteristics as offered by those such as this Grand Mariner 250SL, the ability to enjoy virtually every facet of on-water enjoyment you could ever want.
|Length:||27' 4"||8.3 m|
|Draft:||2' 6"||76 cm|
|Dry weight:||3537 lbs||1607 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||31 US gals||117 l|
|Engine / Drive:||Mercury 115 hp ELPT FourStroke|