Considering a Sea-Doo Switch pontoon boat?
I’ve driven one and other jet drive boats, and I’d like to share my experience.
Thank you to Lake Norman Power Sports for letting me review one.
The Sea-Doo Switch has the potential to revolutionize the boating industry, thanks to Sea-Doo’s exclusive Polytec hull patent.
I feel the Switch exists because of the need for affordable pontoon boats; traditional pontoon boats have become expensive, cutting many out of the market.
With the ease of driving, predictability, repairability, and reliability of Polytec materials, Sea-Doo has hit all the right marks. Plus, it even comes with brakes, a unique feature in the boating world!
Here are the specs along with other details to help you when buying.
Sizes And Options:
The length varies from 13 feet to 21 feet depending on the model you want to buy. An extension platform can also be added to some models to give you an extra 2 feet.
The image below shows you the length and model options.
The seating capacity varies from 5 to 9 people depending on the model and size you need.
Is this normal capacity for a pontoon boat?
Yes, 5 to 9 people is about what I see for most pontoons of similar size on the market.
- 130HP (Only on the base model)
- 170HP (The one I recommend getting)
- 230HP (The only one with a supercharger!)
All engines are Rotax powered, owned by BRP, who also owns Sea-Doo.
The boat and engine are from the same company, so it simplifies warranty work.
The engine is not a “jet engine”; it’s a 3-cylinder 4-stroke engine, more like a motorcycle engine. Rotax is known for aircraft engines but makes others like ATVs, Go-Karts, and motorcycles.
Closed loop Cooling
Rotax makes purpose built marine engines with 3-cylinders and use closed-loop cooling. It’s also the same engine that Sea-Doo has used in their jet skis, so it’s not a new or unknown engine, it’s tried and tested.
- 130 HP = 26MPH – “Fast enough for pull sports, but don’t expect a lot”
- 170 HP = 34 to 37MPH
- 230 HP = 44MPH “It’s a pontoon boat, this is what most of them do”
That’s not fast enough?!
I get this one a lot, but other pontoons boats on the market top speed vary from 18MPH to 50MPH, so the Switch falls inline with other pontoons on the market.
Does It Come With A Trailer?
All models come with a trailer included in the MSRP.
The Best Boat For Beginners
The Switch has to be the best boat for beginners I’ve ever seen due to the handlebars, throttle controls, brakes and everything at your fingertips.
The Switch is easier to control; you use your fingers, not your whole body like with other boats.
It reduces fatigue, stress, and intimidation for new owners with its handlebar controls and precise jet drive, even in neutral.
The handlebars feel like a crossbreed between a steering wheel and a joystick; there is a reason why joysticks are making their way to boats, as it’s so much easier than a steering wheel and levers.
Driving The Switch
Driving it is not like driving any other pontoon, or any boat for that matter, it’s easier.
It feels like driving a large and heavy jet ski.
I joke that driving non-jet-drive boats looks like the man behind the curtain from The Wizard of Oz, but it’s true. Compared to the Switch, you move very little, and have such greater control.
Jet drive boats are always processing water, this means when the engine is on the impeller is moving, and you’re always in control.
Driving the Switch is like flying a helicopter, offering precise control. Other boats feel clunky, akin to driving a semi-truck with lots of shifting and a large steering wheel.
Brakes & Steering?
The Switch comes with brakes(iBR). Brakes, on a boat?
Yes, it has something that STOPS you, even going at speed! I know it sounds crazy, but Sea-Doo has had brakes on their watercraft since 2009.
The bucket in the picture above moves up and down to control the forward and reverse direction of the thrust. The brakes work by dropping the bucket when you’re at speed to create drag.
The brakes, or iBR as Sea-Doo calls them, really do work and will stop sooner than other boats.
Brakes on a boat are not common, and only the Switch has iBR. (Well, some Coast-Guard boats have “brakes”)
While braking is nice to have, what makes iBR so useful is when you’re docking or boarding your trailer. The control iBR gives along with the predictable nature of the Switch makes it so easy to dock.
A nozzle behind the reverse bucket controls steering. Since it’s only moving a small nozzle, you don’t need to move the handlebars much. The nozzle is also lightweight, so there is no hydraulics to maintain like you have with other boats.
iDF (Intelligent Debris Free system) is a Sea-Doo system to unclog your jet pump from debris.
With Ski Mode, you set the take-off power and top speed you want to pull a tuber or skier.
When in Ski Mode, you keep the same predictable pull which skiers and tubers love.
If you’re doing any pull sports, make sure you get a shock tube (Amazon Link Ad) to protect your impeller.
VTS And Trim Tabs
The Switch has VTS (variable trim system) and trim tabs for adjusting the boat’s level at speed.
With a jet drive, bow rise isn’t a big issue, so you don’t need to trim it much, if at all.
Timing a boat can be tricky for new owners, but with Sea-Doo, timing is less of a concern.
The DESS key is a crucial security feature for Sea-Doo.
It acts as a kill-switch and is programmed specifically for your boat, unlike standard cut keys found on other boats, which offer minimal security.
It also floats in case you drop it in the water!
No Exposed Prop
The Switch uses a jet pump to power the boat, this means there is no exposed prop.
Props are sharp and dangerous, and if you’re not careful, you can hurt yourself.
The Switch has its impeller inside the center pontoon, eliminating the risk of propeller injuries or lower unit damage.
However, like any boat, turn off the engine and exercise caution when boarding.
If there is no exposed prop, does this mean you can go in shallow water? What about boarding with the engine on? No, you still need to have the engine off when someone is boarding, and you can’t go in less than 3 feet of water.
Loading The Switch On The Trailer
I’ve loaded a few pontoon boats on trailers, and they’re not fun.
The bunks are skinny, and you need to get it just right.
The Switch was a lot easier, the bunks are large and very forgiving. The center pontoon is just a GTI bottom hull, so just load it up like a jet ski, and you’re good.
How Hard Is It To Put Up The Bimini Top?
A Bimini top is a must for any boat if you ask me.
The problem is that many Bimini tops suck and are a pain to put up or down.
The good news is the Sea-Doo Switch Bimini can be put up by one person, and to take it down only requires pressing two buttons on each side of the tower.
The Bimini top provides good coverage for the captain and passengers behind.
There’s an option for a front Bimini that offers complete coverage when attached to the rear Bimini.
I’m slightly over 6 feet tall and had no trouble standing and moving under it, and someone up to 6 feet 5 inches should have plenty of headroom.
Sound Dampening Is Very Good!
Older Sea-Doo Jet Boats were loud, but the Switch is impressively quieter, thanks to the engine’s central placement.
Unlike rear outboard motors on other pontoons that generate heat and noise, the Switch’s center engine and iBR system offer a premium, smooth, and enjoyable experience without clunky gear shifts or shaking.
Sea-Doo went in a different approach for the siding.
Other pontoons use aluminum siding and have so, well, since the start of pontoons.
But will the vinyl yellow over time? They claim it won’t yellow.
Using vinyl cuts down on weight, but more importantly, it improves visibility for the driver. You can see through the walls of your Switch, which is very handy when docking.
Easier To Replace
Another benefit is that it’s easier to replace the siding, as it unzips and uses Velcro.
Everything Is Modular!
As talked in the last section, you can remove the vinyl siding if it gets damaged or dirty, or you want to get new ones to freshen up your boat.
That is not the only thing that can be replaced.
While everyone is talking about being able to move the seats anywhere in the boat, which is a nice feature, what makes me the most happy is the siding on the pontoons can be popped off and replaced.
Accidents happen, but with replaceable panels on the Switch, you can quickly fix damage without waiting for a repair shop or costly repairs.
Moving The Seats Around
The biggest selling feature of the Switch has to be the ability to easily remove your seats and build a custom layout of your choosing.
Anywhere you see the circle cut-out you can place a seat, no tools required.
While picking your own layout is cool, most will pick one and stick with it.
Easier To Clean
What makes this feature shine to me is how easy it makes it to clean the boat. Just pop off the seats, set them to the side, and power wash the deck.
The seats have storage underneath, but the ability to remove them for cleaning is a significant advantage.
It’s more important than custom layouts in my opinion, as spills and leaks can easily be addressed.
The idea that you can make the Switch into a “fishing pontoon boat” for the weekend and a “family boat” for the holidays by swapping the seats around is a huge deal!
LinQ is the system to attach accessories to your craft.
The Switch has many LinQ points that will attach things like coolers, gas tanks and more accessories without the need of tools.
It’s a clever idea that really expands the capabilities of the boat. You could even get fishing rod holders and make this into a nice fishing boat if you wanted to.
How Do You Get To The Engine Compartment?
The engine placement and ease of access is something that the Switch has really done well, and I feel doesn’t get much attention.
Sea-Doo Makes Their Own engines
Sea-Doo uses its own purpose-built engine, not repurposed truck engines like many other boat manufacturers.
The Rotax engine is designed for watercraft, evident from the dipstick and easy oil filter access.
Other brands use SUV engines, which can have oil filters in inconvenient places for boats.
Closed Loop Cooling
Sea-Doo watercraft feature closed-loop cooling, using antifreeze and a ride plate, similar to car engines, to cool.
They don’t take in lake or ocean water for engine cooling, but do for exhaust and intercooler.
Despite closed-loop cooling, winterizing the Switch is still necessary!
Want more info on the Sea-Doo Switch?
Here are images of the Switch that show off more features and items.