Some pontoons are built for luxury, some are for putting around in comfort. And others, like the new Avalon 26 Paradise, are built to give extravagant luxury that moves along at a high rate of speed.
Coupled with a Mercury Verado 275, and complete with digital throttle and shift and hydraulic steering, the boat handled more easily than its 26-foot length would suggest. A Pro Hi-Jacker jack plate, one of only two options on board, lifted the long-shaft outboard to the ideal position for optimum hookup. The patented Wave Glider performance system — Avalon’s answer to lifting strakes — lifted the tubes at speed, giving the boat a high and dry ride.
I enjoyed that ride from the Comfort-Plush helm seat, and then shut the motor down for a little lounge-around. Seats converted to lounges that beckoned for a nap and challenged my determination to compile detailed notes on the boat.
Aft, the transom is left open for three compelling reasons. It gives an unobstructed view of the water from the lounges and lets one enjoy both the view and a magazine from the rack beneath the aft bar. The open transom also accommodates visiting boaters in the raft, allowing easy access across the deck to the next boat. And, the arrangement allows the aft seating and the bar to tie together in a relaxing area that promotes social interaction.
Further enhancing the social front on the 26 Paradise, Avalon engineers added a galley. Ours featured the only other option on the boat, a pop-up wine rack for after-hours refreshment. Stainless-steel sliding drawers and an electric-powered faucet add to the good looks and convenience.
• Comfort-Plush highback recliner chairs and aluminumframed lounges are durable under any conditions.
• Stereo system has one gigabyte of memory to accept MP3 downloads.
• Standard flagpole with American flag telescopes 20 feet to make it easy for friends to find you.
• Umbrella table is standard — but umbrella should not be deployed at speed.
Test Drive * Test Engine: Mercury Verado 275 * Test Load: People (400 LB.) Fuel (20 GAL.) Vital Stats * Length Overall: 26′ * Beam: 8’5″ * Dry Weight: 3,125 LB. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 12/2,400 LB. * Fuel Capacity: 42 GAL. * Max HP: 250 * MSRP: $55,712 * NMMA Certified: Yes