The Sun Tracker Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 yields a large platform for multi-purpose use on the water, whether fishing, family cruising, entertaining, or water sporting on the lake. Her proven tri-tubes with lifting strakes offer an exciting ride with handling characteristics similar to a V hull, yet still supplying the space and stability that Sun Trackers are known for. In our eyes, the builder continues to rethink, refine and re-produce an excellent crossover pontoon boat.
Sun Tracker has put a lot of thought into the design of its actual pontoons, so much so that it backs them with a lifetime warranty. One of the first primary differences we find with Sun Tracker pontoons is the actual shape. While many competitors use elliptical or U-shaped logs, Sun Tracker uses a cylinder shape that offers maximum structural strength through the actual geometric shape and displacement. The builder also uses an efficient no-keel design. It compensates for the structural integrity by adding bulkheads that separate each chamber and are welded over the entire circumference of the tube. This design provides an airtight seal, and reduces drag while underway. Should a pontoon puncture there are still numerous airtight chambers to keep passengers safe and dry. Additionally, round multi-chambered pontoons are significantly lighter and ride higher in the water. This reduces drag, offers better fuel economy, and decreases the likelihood of a puncture in the first place.
XP3 Performance Series.
The extra performance models, including the Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3, feature three 26”diameter pontoons with six lifting strakes for enhanced performance and increased stability and control. Because the performance series pontoons are encountering higher forces and speeds, the builder increased the thickness of the tube to .100 gauge alloy.
Once we have our solid pontoons, the next crucial component is naturally the brackets that support the deck. Sun Tracker uses M-shaped brackets that weld to the top of each pontoon. These brackets run the entire length of the pontoon, adding an additional level of support. Z-Bar cross members attach to the M-shaped brackets that are already attached to the pontoons and extend the full width of the boat. Four bolts are used on each end of the Z bracket for support and reduced flexing while underway. Moving to the deck itself, we find a ¾” (1.9 cm) thick 7-ply pressure-treated deck that is warrantied for the life of the boat. This deck is attached through TEK fasteners, which friction weld to the Z-bars as they are tightened. TEK fasteners have been used for years on Sun Tracker boats and have yet to fail, according to the builder. Sun Tracker also utilizes more than double the deck fasteners, as compared to the leading competitors, in an effort to create a stronger, longer lasting product.
The bow of the Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 is set up for the avid fishing family. There are dual working stations on both sides of the deck. The starboard station includes a rod holder, beverage holder, and hatched compartment with an integrated measuring tool, ensuring a legal catch. Beneath the hatch is an optional self-contained marine battery that easily connects to a trolling motor for added flexibility ($1,025). On the port side, an additional station includes a rod holder, cup holder, and an 12-gallon (45 L) rotomolded aerated livewell. This hatch also includes an integrated measuring tool. The forward livewell was designed with the fish in mind, as it decreases the distance and time the fish are out of the water, ensuring they stay alive. In the center of the bow, an anodized aluminum entrance gate is securely bolted to the floor and Z bars below. Each fence panel is securely attached to the rails using sound deadening insulation strips. The deck itself is finished with fishing-friendly easy-to-clean vinyl flooring.
Moving slightly aft, two fold-down pedestal fishing seats are constructed with all composite seat frames and heavy-duty finishing materials. Ensuring high quality control, all seats onboard are designed and assembled in-house. Each piece of upholstery is custom sewn and carefully tailored using marine-grade vinyl, UV resistant threads, multiple-density foam for enhanced ergonomic support, and moisture barrier for years of protection from water intrusion.
For those looking to taking a break from the fishing festivities, a large L-shaped sofa with dual storage compartments will certainly provide guests with ample seating and ergonomic comfort. For added functionality the builder also designed moveable drink holders that Velcro into place directly behind the seat cushion. Both storage compartments are held up with built in straps and can easily house life jackets and emergency gear for all guests on board. A standard removable table with molded drink holders has two pedestal locations, one being around the L- shaped sofa, providing space for preparing tackle or even lunch with guests.
The helm of the Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 appears well engineered with a removable tinted windscreen, an ergonomic captain’s chair with flip-up armrests, and a swivel/slide capability. A custom tilt hydraulic wheel and built-in non-skid footrest adds to the ergonomic comfort and support for the helmsman. We would like to see a raised helm platform for increased visibility over passengers, as well as a seat bolster for added visibility when approaching the dock. Looking at the dashboard, a standard Bluetooth/MP3 capable stereo is conveniently within reach, followed by backlit gauges and an optional Mark-5x Pro fishfinder ($1,025). Lighted rocker switches are standard and easily accessible, as well as an ergonomic throttle control. While the builder seems to frequently use fuse panels, we would like to see the rocker switches with reset breakers directly below. This feature makes it much easier to diagnose whatever system has failed without the hassle of opening up a panel and reading through labels. Finally we have a convenient built-in location for a cell phone and a 12-volt charger. The built-in concept is clever and a neat place to keep a device while underway, assuming the seas are calm and conditions permit.
A standard Bimini top with built-in pull-down loops help keep the fabric taut for best appearance and reduced vibration. This Bimini top features multiple LED courtesy lights that add a sense of quality and convenience when cruising after dark. Another clever design feature is the addition of built-in pockets within the Bimini for storing towels and clothing while underway.
Directly behind the L-shaped couch we find a sun pad that contains a fold up changing room, allowing guests an opportunity to change from a wet swim suit to something more comfortable for the cruise home. Behind the changing station two additional fold down pedestal seats are mounted aft for additional fishing space. Opposite the changing station a lockable rod compartment sits against the starboard bulwark for easy access. Similar to the forward configuration, rod holders are built into the floor and stanchions for added convenience. We like how the builder created a separate space at the stern, essentially designing the boat with three individual areas in mind, each of which serves a purpose. The removable table is also re-locatable aft should the guests want to have dinner facing the sunset.
Finally we move directly to the stern where we find a bench seat with a padded backrest. This bench has dual compartments underneath, both of which serve different functions. On the starboard side we find convenient access to an enclosed battery compartment. On the port side, a larger 16-gallon (60.57 L) aerated livewell with removable bait bucket and a shut off valve completes the fishing experience.
The stern also features a dual locking safety gate that leads to a swim platform with a four-step reboarding ladder, containing wide treads for easy balance and comfort on bare feet. An optional ski tower ($470) is also available for those families interested in the watersports arena.
The Sun Tracker Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 is powered by Mercury outboards, and comes standard with a 115 ELPT Pro XS FourStroke ($30,355). As mentioned above, there are numerous power configurations, all of which are available on the builder’s website. The top rated engine configuration for the Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 would be the Mercury 200-hp Verado ($37,295).Because the boat is advertised and designed around fishing we would encourage any buyer to consider the Fish Package ($1,025), which includes the Mark-5x Pro fishfinder, and MotorGuide W55 wireless 12V, 55-lb. thrust foot-control trolling motor. If the boater plans on trailering their Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3, Sun Tracker also offers an optional tandem-axle trailer with brakes ($3,195).
The following items are part of the Sun Tracker Warranty --
Ten-Year Bow-to-Stern Warranty
-- that means factory-installed workmanship and materials are covered for ten years from the time of purchase, including electrical components, livewells and plumbing, carpet and vinyl, furniture, Bimini top and much more. Your engine is covered by the Mercury manufacturer's warranty.
Lifetime Limited Structural and Deck Warranty
-- provides coverage for pontoon logs, motor pod, other structural elements including deck supports, perimeter fence rails and gates, and more, for the life of the boat.
Transferability to Second Owner
-- the resale value of your boat can be enhanced by provisions to transfer warranty elements to a second owner. Your Sun Tracker dealer can help you put applicable elements into effect when you are ready.
One-stop Warranty Resolution
-- 10+LIFE coverage offers a one-stop solution, eliminating the need to pursue separate warranties with component manufacturers.
Full Coverage During Warranty Period
-- means there is no pro-rating, or reduction of your coverage over time. So the peace of mind you enjoy at the outset carries throughout your coverage period.
In addition, Sun Tracker even backs its optional trailers by warranting the Galvashield steel tubing against structural failure due to corrosion for three years!
Overall, the Sun Tracker Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 contains many of the same impressive features as her older sister, the Party Barge 24 XP3, which is more entertainment based. The layout of the Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 is well thought out and the builder clearly maximized the functionality within the space it was given. We were very impressed with the builder’s ability to create three different functional spaces within a confined deck, and while we question the name “barge”, the boat certainly serves a purpose for families looking to get out on the water and into the sport of fishing.
Standard and Optional Features
|Limited lifetime Yes http://www.suntrackerboats.com/about/warranty.cfm|
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