Best Boat Deals: Expert’s Choice—Pathfinder, MJM, Sun Tracker

Like it or not, the 2016 summer boating season will soon fade into memory, at least for most of us folks above 32º north latitude. Still, don’t be depressed; that doesn’t mean you should stop your search if you’re in the market for a new or new-to-you boat.

A recent browse of the many listings on Boat Trader gave us some tasty search results that we think merit a closer look; we’d like to share them with you here. Whether you’re eyeing a speedy performance-oriented pontoon boat, have an eye toward fishing, or want to do some fast cruising in Downeast style, we think at least one of the three boats will tickle your boating fancy.

This story will be available in the future as part of Boat Trader’s Best Boat Deals series,  but the boat listings below may not be. If you click through to an expired link it means that someone nabbed the bargain — or the owner had second thoughts about selling.

– Boat Trader editors


2013 Pathfinder 2300 HPS

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If you know anything about bay boats, you know that Pathfinder is one of the most respected brands in the business. And there are many good reasons for that well-deserved reputation. Pathfinders have sturdy composite construction, a great ride in nasty seas, fast performance, and lots of clever fishing features baked in. Let’s take a closer look at a late-model 2300 HPS model we found in North Carolina.

2013 Pathfinder 2300 HPS

2013 Pathfinder 2300 HPS

Equipped with a 200-horsepower Yamaha 200 SHO four-stroke outboard with only 67 hours, this 2300 HPS should catapult you right to 30 mph in about seven to eight seconds. Leave the throttle laid down and the 2300 HPS will eventually top out somewhere in the low to mid 50-mph range. The nice thing about the SHO (which, by the way stands for Super High Output) is that you’ll get acceleration performance similar to a two-stroke motor, but without the noise and fumes. A single-step hull also enhances acceleration and planing. Needless to say, you’ll get to the fishing grounds well before many other anglers.

Onboard is a slew of fishing features. Set up for skinny-water fishing, this 2300 HPS has a Power Pole, jack plate, and bow-mounted trolling motor. The boat draws only a foot with the motor up. On deck you’ll find a 35-gallon livewell, tons of rod and tackle stowage, and expansive fore and aft casting platforms. Deck hardware is minimal or stows flush, meaning less things for fishing lines to tangle up on. Onboard fishfinding and navigation gadgets include a Garmin 7612 multifunction display with GPS and sounder.

On deck is a flat and simple layout that’s engineered for fishing, but with plenty of stowage in eight built-in, gasketed lockers. An array of beautiful powder-coated pipework supports the T-top, which has an integral overhead stowage box. Assuming this Pathfinder is like others we’ve run, it should have a solid, well-built feel to it, not only when you walk around on deck, but also when you run her through the rough stuff.

We’ve got visions of snook, tarpon, and inshore tuna fishing rolling around in our heads. The 2300 HPS is a solid way to make those visions a reality, especially if you want to get to the fishing grounds before everyone else does.

2006 MJM 34z Express

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When it comes to Downeast-style boats—especially ones themed after lobster boat designs—MJM makes some of the best-looking high-performance craft in the business. A boat built to please cruising couples who want to make three- to four-day excursions, the 34z also has tons of space and seating for day cruising and entertaining family and friends. Those are a few reasons this 2006 model year 34z piqued our interest.

2006 MJM 34z Express HT

2006 MJM 34z Express HT

Fitted with a 480-horsepower, six-cylinder Yanmar turbo diesel inboard, the MJM 34z cruises efficiently in the upper 20-knot range and tops out in the low to mid 30s. Its unique semi-displacement hull design makes it not only fast, but also amazingly efficient on fuel. At the aforementioned upper 20-knot cruise speed the big Yanmar sips only 16 to 18 gallons of diesel fuel per hour. While some folks might be concerned about the maneuverability of this single-screw boat, a bow thruster makes docking and pulling up to a fuel dock easy.

Inside, this 34z is a long list of creature comforts and electronics that should make a day of cruising easy and enjoyable. Among the electronics are autopilot, radar, chartplotter/GPS, VHF, Fusion stereo, flat-screen television, DVD player, and more. Hot summer days out on the water won’t be a problem, thanks to the generator and air-conditioned cabin. The cabin is trimmed in rich cherry and features a V-shaped dinette that converts to sleep two, a simple yet well-equipped and spacious galley with lots of prep space, and an enclosed head/shower. There’s enough personal stowage space for two to three days of cruising, longer if you’re willing go slightly Bohemian.

The open, single-level main deck and aft cockpit are where most owners spend their time on the MJM 34z. The forward deck, which is enclosed behind a wraparound windshield, has twin captain’s chairs and two lounges that can be converted to dining space with a drop-in teak table. Aft is a super-comfy lounge at the stern and an opening transom door that makes boarding a snap.

If you’re looking for a fashionable, capable, and performance-oriented Downeast-style boat that can cruise a couple or entertain a group of friends with ease, the MJM 34z is a difficult boat to beat.

2011 Sun Tracker Regency 25 XP3

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Despite the fact that there being many pontoon boats out there than can zoom into the 50-mph range, lots of folks still think of them as slow, cumbersome, and, well, not a lot of fun, at least in the performance department. If you’ve not been paying attention, you might not know that today’s pontoon boats are better than ever, packing performance and handling that sometimes rival traditional powerboat hulls. One such performer is the 2011 Sun Tracker Regency XP3.

2011 Sun Tracker 25 XP3

2011 Sun Tracker 25 XP3

Regency is Sun Tracker’s luxury line of pontoon boats, and they carry a lot of extras. On this 25 XP3 you get upgraded carpet, buttery vinyl seating throughout, an upgraded fencing and deck layout, a wet bar and food prep area, aft sunpad, and more. There’s plenty of room for a good-sized group of guests, too. Aft is an L-shaped lounge adjacent to the swiveling captain’s chair at the helm. Farther forward is another cushy swiveling captain’s chair just across from the food prep island. Forward seating is relaxation-heavy with twin forward-facing chaise lounges. Tables can be dropped in ahead of the L-shaped lounge aft or between the chaise lounges forward for dining.

The “XP3” moniker refers to the pontoon tube package. Beneath the deck is a triple set of pontoon tubes fitted with lifting strakes and other running surface enhancements that improve planing speed, bolster cornering, and provide additional flotation. That additional flotation means the 25 XP3 can carry a larger engine, too. This model has a 200-horsepower Mercury Verado four-stroke outboard capable of propelling this party barge well into the 40-mph range. Also included is Mercury’s fly-by-wire engine control system, which makes shifting seamless and virtually silent. Handling should be impressive, too, thanks to the upgraded pontoon tube package.

The Sun Tracker Regency 25 XP3 an excellent design, and proof positive that the days of the slow, cumbersome pontoon are gone.

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