Florida pontoon builder debuts with two models at Miami show

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New Florida-based boatbuilder Island Boats is making its debut at the Miami International Boat Show by offering two pontoon models, the Island Boats 180 and 220.

The Vero Beach company is headed by Ralph and Tim Poppell of Float-On Corp.

“Our new Island Boats definitely aren’t your grandfather’s traditional pontoons,” Island Boats CEO Ralph Poppell said in a statement. “These new boats represent cutting-edge pontoon engineering technology, coupled with all the comfort and luxury you’d expect in a higher-end product in this niche … with many surprising design features that set them apart and in a class uniquely their own.”

Island Boats has a patent-pending R&E Slide, a marine engineering innovation that allows the company’s boats to retract or expand their beam on command. The company said the R&E Slide mechanism allows the boats to be stored in a standard garage when locked into retracted position. It also allows for easier hauling with the narrower size.

Once the boats are launched, the floor expands to create what the company said are the most expansive pontoon boats by total square footage in their size and category.

“The 180 offers virtually as much square footage as most 22-foot pontoon boats, while our 22-foot model delivers virtually as much square footage as most 26-foot pontoons. The room and sheer entertaining space is amazing,” Island Boats president Tim Poppell said in a statement.

The series expands more than 27 percent in usable space, Poppell said.

“We believe our boats set a new standard in the industry,” he added. “For the first time in history, boat owners who love the pontoon lifestyle can enjoy all the benefits of a much larger, luxury pontoon while taking advantage of unprecedented small-boat efficiency, improved docking, towing and garage storage capability, all at a highly competitive price.”

The Poppells, who purchased Float-On Corp in 1984, said they have designed, built and supplied thousands of trailers for a mix of consumers, manufacturers and specialty organizations, including the government and military.

They said the concept for Island Boats developed organically after many years of addressing the constant complaints of pontoon owners who sought a better trailering solution to accommodate their boat.

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