Sterndrive power may still be rare in the pontoon-boat market, but the Harris Grand Mariner SEL 230 clearly showcases the platform’s advantages. Start at the stern, where a large, unencumbered swim platform offers uninterrupted sightlines and plenty of real estate for those wishing to hang out while at anchor or nosed into the beach. The lack of an outboard means you can tow with a ski pylon rather than a bulky over-engine tow bar or cumbersome tow harness. And Harris doesn’t resort to an elevated aft deck to conceal the power; the aft bench and sun pad combine to seamlessly — and anonymously — form the engine cover, maintaining the open interior layout that is so important to pontoons.
Performance is impressive. Our test boat’s 350 hp MerCruiser 6.2 topped out at 48.7 mph, with a 7.1-second time from zero to 30 mph and a confident nature in the turns. A good portion of the latter is thanks to Harris’ PIII Performance Package, a design incorporating three 25-inch pontoons that drops the center tube 1 inch and adds performance-oriented strakes to both sides of that center tube and the interior of each outer pontoon. Underway at speed, the result somewhat mimics the feeling of a V-hull, with the craft confidently banking into turns with a familiar inside lean, as opposed to the outside lean often felt on pontoon boats.
Within the perimeter fencing, the layout is all comfort. Forward, an optional gate seat combines with the 4-foot port and 5-foot-6-inch starboard couches to form a wraparound U-shaped lounge. Underknee bolsters, diamond-pattern lumbars, and pillow-top seats display Harris’ classic attention to detail. Aft, an L-shaped lounge follows suit, with a flip-over backrest expanding the already generous sun pad to create one large recliner overlooking the swim platform. As to the driver’s accommodations, the optional raised helm is elevated a full 5.5 inches for enhanced visibility well beyond the industry norm. A classy leather-wrapped, three-spoke stainless-steel wheel rounds out the hit list.
* Anglers will appreciate the standard Lowrance Hook-3x fish finder/depth finder featured prominently in the center of the dash.
* A center tube not only enhances performance but also adds the space for a large, 16-inch-deep ski locker with its own dedicated bilge pump and woven matting to protect water toys.
* Standard features include digital gauges, a high-back helm seat, sea-grass flooring, and four-step stainless-steel telescoping ladder.
Price: $86,890 (with test power)
How We Tested
Engine: Mercury MerCruiser 6.2L 350 ECT
Drive/Props: Bravo Three/24″ propset
Gear Ratio: 2.00:1
Fuel Load: 20 gal.
Crew Weight: 320 lb.
Harris – Fort Wayne, Indiana; 260-432-4555; harrisboats.com