If you pay attention to groundhog-related news, you know that the underground rodent popped its head out of the ground in Pennsylvania on February 2 and predicted six more weeks of winter. While some may bemoan that prediction, we’re sort of amped that the end of winter is at least in sight—it’s once again put us on the hunt for great boat deals.
Among Boat Trader’s extensive listings this month we found a classic and legendary center-console boat, a speedy and good-looking Downeast day boat, and a roomy party barge from a reputable pontoon builder. Read on to see if one of these boats is a good fit for your boating style.
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
1997 Regulator 26 CC
The Regulator 26 is the boat that started it all for the Regulator brand back in 1988, when Owen and Joan Maxwell started building boats in an old snack distribution facility. A thousand and some boats later, the Regulator 26 CC has been replaced by a shorter 25-footer, but there’s no doubt that the 26 CC is one sweet ride for the history books. That’s why this 1997 model caught our eye.
Drawn by celebrated naval architect Lou Codega, the Regulator 26 CC was crafted with an eye toward plying the rough waters off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which have a reputation for chewing up boats and then spitting them out. For starters the 26 CC’s got 24 steep degrees of transom deadrise baked in, which is perfect for splitting steep waves. Add a rugged single-skin hull with composite construction in just the right places and you’ve got one heck of a solid boat. In fact, one Regulator 26 CC survived on its own for thousands of ocean miles after a mishap sent its occupants overboard. The boat drifted across the Atlantic Ocean until it was discovered—very much floating—off the coast of Spain. That’s a true testament to the quality of these boats.
The 1997 Regulator 26 CC we found in the Boat Trader listings has twin 225-hp Mercury Optimax (two-stroke) outboards that both have a reasonable 700 hours. Expect a top end in the low 40-mph range with an efficient cruise that’s still quite fast in the low to mid 30s. A 260-gallon fuel tank means offshore canyons are within easy reach. And, with a dual-axle trailer you can also tow this fishing machine anywhere the fish are biting.
The layout in the 26 CC is typical Regulator, with a full open bow and aft cockpit for maximum fishability. Rod stowage abounds, with rod racks under the gunwales, flush-mount rod holders in the side and aft decks, and in rocket launchers welded into the metal-piped soft-top framework. Also aboard are a ton of fish-finding gadgets, including a Furuno GP-1650D chartplotter and FCV-667 fish finder. Topping off the fishability list is a 50-gallon livewell, aluminum outriggers, Penn downriggers, and more.
A new Regulator 25 CC will run you well over $100,000, so it makes the $37,900 asking price of this 1997 model even tastier.
2008 MJM 29z Express HT
“MJM,” in case you’re wondering, is an acronym that stands for “Mary Johnstone’s Motorboat.” It’s an homage to J/Boats cofounder Bob Johnstone’s wife, Mary, and gives some hints as to the character of this great-looking Downeast day boat.
This 29z Express is equipped with a single 260-horsepower Volvo Penta D4 diesel inboard that’s mated to a Volvo sterndrive with Duoprops. MJMs are known for their fuel efficiency and overall speedy performance, and the 29z is no different. Expect a top end in the low to mid 30-knot range, with an efficient cruise of 25 knots. Most notable is that you’ll enjoy nearly three nautical miles per gallon at cruise and an approximate 335-nautical mile range, thanks to the 29z’s efficient hull shape and inboard diesel.
Like most MJMs, the focus of the 29z is on above-decks entertaining and living. The bridge deck and aft cockpit are on a single cohesive level, and smothered in luxurious teak decking. The aft cockpit has a huge U-shaped lounge with enough space for eight people to relax comfortably. Drop-in tables facilitate dining or enjoying happy hour snacks. Two Stidd captain’s chairs sit behind the expansive windshield—perfect for couples cruising together. Below is a galley, to port, equipped with a microwave, sink, single-burner electric cooktop, refrigerator, and tons of stowage cabinetry. The forward berth is a V-shaped affair, usable as either a dinette with a drop-in table or as a double berth when an insert cushion is installed. An enclosed shower/head is situated to starboard just aft of the V-berth. Rich cherry cabinetry and cushions wrapped in buttery beige ultraleather provide a warm, rich feel below. Opening ports and a single overhead opening hatch improve ventilation and let in a good helping of natural light.
If you’re in the market for a good-looking Downeast day boat with lots of performance, good fuel efficiency, and the ultimate in build quality, this late-model MJM 29z demands a close look.
2006 Harris FloteBote Sunliner 220
When it comes to pontoon boats, Harris FloteBote is one of the most respected names in the business. The company is famous for solid build quality and copious use of high-end materials both inside and out. That’s one reason this 2006 Sunliner 220 caught our attention. Loaded with extras and with a low-hour engine, it looks to be ready to go for the 2017 boating season.
Inside the deck fencing is a layout that focuses on comfort and relaxation. The lounge-heavy theme is evident both fore and aft, with a long, L-shaped lounge nestled into the aft port quarter and two huge L-shaped lounges in the bow, all with ample and easily accessible stowage located beneath each seat bottom. There’s a sunpad at the transom with a flip-up changing compartment that could also be used to house a porta-potty. A gorgeous starboard-side helm comes with a luxurious swiveling captain’s chair, full-featured dash, and complete instrumentation.
This Sunliner 220 is powered by a Mercury Four-Stroke Bigfoot outboard, which means that it’s geared and propped for maximum thrust. The most visible difference on the Bigfoot model is its large-diameter propeller. Though this boat isn’t a screamer with this engine setup, it is amazingly fuel-efficient and still provides a top end in the 20s. A leisurely cruise in the teens will net you the best fuel performance. Also worth noting is that this engine has only 226 hours.
The whole platform rides on a twin-tube pontoon setup with shaped nosecones, splashguards, and an underdeck skin. Additional gear and trim includes a dual-axle trailer, fold-down Bimini top, full custom canvas cover, a drop-down, foldable swim ladder, stereo, and fully carpeted interior deck.
Folks looking for a capable pontoon with lots of comfort, solid build quality, and a power plant with low hours would do well to give this 2006 model a closer look. Drop the trailer on your vehicle’s hitch and take it wherever your boating taste steers you.