By Go Boating
JC NepToon 23 TT: Go Boating Review
JC NepToon 23 TT: Three tubes support one smoking-hot pontoon boat.
JC Pontoons has been in the business for nearly 30 years now and has learned plenty about what it takes to attract boaters. It discovered that many are interested in a pontoon because it allows them to get a big boat that can carry a lot of people without having to shell out 40 or 50 thousand dollars for a huge fiberglass boat, but JC still didn’t like the idea of making a wholesale sacrifice of performance and speed. This is where the idea of a triple-tube pontoon comes from — a pontoon with noticeable performance appeal.
Like many other pontoon builders, JC offers a number of triple-toon models, with the NepToon 23 TT being the company’s entry-level tri-tube offering. JC’s entire line of NepToon pontoons, ranging from 19 to 25 feet, is built with the concept of affordable quality in mind — and the 23 TT is no exception.
The tubes on the 23 TT are U-shaped and 23 inches wide by 24 inches high. U-shaped pontoons, which are a little more involved in terms of construction, actually offer more buoyancy than round tubes of a similar size. JC maintains that its 23- by 24-inch U-shaped tubes provide more buoyancy than 25-inch-diameter round tubes. The 23 TT, and all other NepToon tri-tubes, also comes standard with an aluminum under skin, which provides better performance while quieting the ride.
Going with a triple tube also allows you to get a 55-gallon fuel tank located in a pod in the center tube. This not only increases range, but it also helps keep things balanced by having the weight of the fuel located along the centerline of the boat.
Inside the playpen you’ll find attractive furniture and carpet along with useful amenities that we would actually say move this craft to the upper end of the entry-level triple-tube curve. The rotocast furniture bases have vents to prevent mildew from setting in and the 30-ounce marine action-back carpet is designed to stand up to the harshness of the marine environment.
Some of the standard features we appreciated include dedicated cooler storage, the dedicated trash receptacle and a satellite-ready Clarion AM/FM CD stereo with four speakers. Optional features on our test boat we found appealing include a stainless steel fender holder with two fenders, a ski tow bar and a filler seat that creates a huge U-shaped lounge in the bow. The craft can be had with or without a pop-up changing room and a sundeck at no extra cost. You’ll also be interested to know the NepToons have modular floor plans, which allow you to customize the furniture configuration to your liking.
Some of the new NepToon features for 2006 include silver powder-coated rails, a flip-top helm that offers ample access to electronic components and a table with a sea-rail that will help prevent cups and plates from sliding off.
Adding a third tube down the center of a pontoon boat provides more buoyancy, which increases your capacity both in terms of people/cargo and horsepower (a two-tube NepToon 23 will only support up to 115 hp while you can go as high as 150 hp with the 23 TT). It also allows you to increase the number of lifting strakes, which further increases performance.
We had a 135 hp Honda outboard with a 13-inch stainless steel prop for our test, so we were close to as high as you can go with power for this boat. In terms of load we had two people aboard and seven-eighths of a tank of fuel (about 48 gallons or 301 pounds).
With the throttle all the way forward we quickly posted a top speed of 30.6 mph at 5,800 rpm — perhaps a slight reduction in prop pitch would get you closer to 6,000 rpm and bump the speed up a point or two. You can expect a top-speed range of about 118 miles with this setup, and you’ll be pleased to know that our sound meter read only 85 dBa at top speed — very impressive. Our most efficient speed was 16.8 mph at 3,500 rpm, which will yield about 231 miles in range — another impressive number. The sound level at cruising speed was 76 dBa, so you’ll have no problem whatsoever being heard while cruising.
Acceleration was crisp with a 0-to-20 mph time of 4.8 seconds. We were thankful to have such a punchy holeshot when it came time to pull out the tubes and wakeboard.
The ride while cruising and at top speed was smooth and comfortable. The optional hydraulic steering made it easy to pull into and out of tight corners — we strongly recommend hydraulic steering for any triple-tube pontoon with 115 hp or more.
The driver’s chair on our test boat actually had an optional flip-up bolster, which is not something you see very often on a pontoon boat.
The JC NepToon 23 TT gives you the ability to load your boat with up to 15 people for large social cruising sessions while also giving you the power and performance to take a smaller crowd out for all kinds of watersports fun.
Even though JC presents this craft as an entry-level triple-tube pontoon, we’d definitely put it near the top end of that category. JC has had plenty of time to figure out how to do pontoons right, and the 23 TT will allow you to own a quality boat with plenty or room for people and power for fun. If that’s what you’re looking for, and you don’t have an additional $10,000, $20,000 or more to spend on a fiberglass deckboat or runabout with a similar capacity, the 23 TT should be on your list of considerations.
Editor’s note: To subscribe to Go Boating magazine for the latest boat test and product reviews, visit Go Boating online.
Manufacturer Contact Information
JC Manufacturing, Inc.
7248 St Road 13 N.
North Webster, IN 46555