Author: Mike Brunn
I couldn’t believe it when Ty Mellott from the Yachtsman asked me to test a pontoon boat for the May issue. I always believed that a pontoon boat was nothing more than a slow-moving, drinking platform with an old rusty barbecue tied to the rail. I soon realized that my impression could not have been further from the truth.
Technology and Performance
Ty assured me that the Manitou Oasis would be much different from any boat that I’ve ever tested. He was right. The 24 feet Manitou Oasis is far more than two pontoons, an outboard motor, and an ice chest. The Oasis SHP is the perfect combination of technology, performance and quality.
Speaking of quality, 12,255 Manitou owners can’t be wrong. They love their Manitous so much that J.D. Power and Associates awarded Manitou Pontoon Boats of Lansing, Michigan, the prestigious “Highest in Customer Satisfaction” award. This award speaks volumes about the manufacturer, dealer network and product.
Manitou Oasis 2006, Not an Ordinary Pontoon Boat
The Oasis SHP is not an ordinary pontoon boat. The acronym SHP stands for Sport Handling Package. Basically, this package adds a center pontoon of larger diameter than the two outside pontoons. The larger diameter pontoon with lifting strakes gives the Manitou added lift and an increased planing surface. This provides increased stability, a faster time to plane, and greater handling characteristics.
Another component of this package is the Sea Star hydraulic steering. The power-assisted hydraulic steering makes steering the boat with a heavy outboard effortless and precise.
All of this sounds great, but how does the Manitou really perform? I was amazed at how well the Manitou performed. From a dead stop, the 2,300-lb. Oasis was up on plane, level and smooth within four seconds. Thanks to the SHP option, you can throw the boat into an aggressive turn at nearly 50 mph, and she “leans-in” and tracks comparable to a competition ski boat. When crossing wakes or low chop, the three pontoons cut through the water like knives, offering a soft, dry ride with no hull pounding.
Driving a Manitou is addictive. I was having so much fun that I hated going back to the dock.
What about engine options? Manitou offers several engine packages to meet each customer’s needs. Our test boat was equipped with the new Evinrude® E-Tec 200 four-stroke engine. Evinrude’s new state-of-the-art E-Tec is smooth, quiet and economical. This environmentally friendly engine is the only production outboard to win the EPA’s Clean Air Excellence Award. Remarkably, the E-Tec requires no break-in period and no maintenance or oil changes for the first three years of operation. Undeniably, the 200 has more than enough grunt to pull a 200-lb. water skier behind the 24 ft. Oasis.
If you want a throaty V8, Manitou offers many of their SHP-optioned boats with a Mercruiser 350 Magnum I/O option, pumping a heart-pounding 300 hp. The I/O option is a popular power choice for serious water skiers. As a matter of fact, Manitou’s 24 Legacy equipped with the SHP and I/O package is the first and only pontoon boat endorsed by the USA Water Ski Association.
Important Detail on the Manitou Oasis 2006
Manitou offers eight different deck arrangements for the Oasis model. Our test boat was equipped with an L-lounge on the stern, captain’s chair, and a lounge on each side of the boat amidships. Each lounge seat lifts to expose a generous amount of storage capacity for gear, lines and fenders.
Small but important details are the PVC inserts that Manitou designed for the storage bins to keep the contents dry. Other manufacturers should take note of this rarely seen feature.
The vinyl upholstery used by Manitou is a heavy-duty marine grade vinyl that is 42 percent thicker than standard vinyl and includes UV- and stain-resistant protection. Although, you won’t have to worry about UV protection if you use the standard Sunbrella® bimini with a five-year fade warranty.
The helm station is a one-piece fiberglass unit that is ergonomic, attractive and features large gauges and a tilt wheel. The small Plexiglas® faring over the gauge cluster is ineffective as a wind deflector, but manages to keep the glare off the gauges.
The Manitou Oasis Comes With A Thoughtful Feature
Another considerate feature from the folks at Manitou is the optional privacy station. Pull out the portable toilet from under the starboard lounge, pull the privacy curtain around on its track and, voila, you now have a private head. The privacy station can also be used as a changing area. However, you may not want to use the portable toilet while the boat is underway. I’m certain that a small gust could blow the curtain overboard revealing a shocking site to fellow boaters. Besides, you could be arrested for indecent exposure. Nevertheless, the privacy station is a worthwhile option.
Manitou has four different models offered in various lengths with several floor plans to choose from. If you enjoy fishing, water sports or just cruising, Manitou has a boat for you.
- Pontoon Length/Diameter 24’ x 23”, 27”, 23”
- Deck Length/Width 23’5” x 8’6”
- Weight 2,785 lbs. (SHP)
- Capacity/lbs. 12 people/2,090 Lbs. (SHP)
- Maximum HP 200 (SHP)