Boating is an activity that can bring the whole family together, whether you spend the day tubing and skiing or just relaxing on the water.
Terry Taylor, co-owner of The Boat Dock at 4600A Rising Moon Road in Springfield, notes that boating also has the uncanny ability to make teenagers want to spend time with their parents.
"It's the only thing a 16-year-old kid will do with Mom and Dad ... They don't want to be seen with them in public otherwise, but they'll be glad to go on a boat with their friends and hang out on a boat all day," he says.
The Boat Dock sells fishing boats, runabouts (ski boats) and pontoon boats. Lately, Taylor says, pontoon boats are especially in demand. "The pontoon boat, I think in most people's eyes, is a big party barge. You can get a lot of people on with a lot of comfort," says Taylor. "They are great for kids, because it's like a giant playpen."
Scott Tucker, a sales associate at Lake Springfield Marina, 17 Waters Edge Blvd. in Springfield, says he also has seen tremendous demand for pontoon boats at his store.
"Pontoon boats have been huge over the past seven years ... They are unbelievable," Tucker says. "Everybody is looking for a pontoon now."
Some pontoon boats are furnished with such amenities as stereo systems with compact disc players, plug-ins for MP3 players and overstuffed couches that blur the line between boat deck and living room.
"In general, the pontoon lines are just becoming more and more luxurious. They are more and more like sitting in your living room, for crying out loud," Taylor says. "They really have all the creature comforts you would find in a luxury car or your home, shy of a big-screen TV."
Ski boats and personal watercraft
The Boat Dock offers pontoon boats that range from 18 to 22 feet long and can hold about eight people. They range in price from $15,000 to $25,000, says Taylor.
The Boat Dock also sells ski boats of comparable size. Taylor says boats in the 20-foot range hold about six people and are a good fit for the bodies of water in this area.
"We have fairly small bodies of water - (5,000) to 10,000 acres as opposed to going to the Ozarks, where you have hundreds of thousands of acres where you see 30-plus-foot boats. Here, our bread and butter ski boat is 18- to 22-foot, I would say," Taylor says.
Prices for ski boats vary from $15,000 to $65,000, according to Taylor. Some come equipped with accessories such as wakeboard towers with built-in speakers. Customers looking for smaller water vessels designed for fewer people can turn to the Lake Springfield Marina, which offers a variety of personal watercraft from Sea-Doo and Yamaha.
"The personal watercraft have really gotten to be basically like a boat, so they've gotten very popular because you can do anything you want to do on a personal watercraft that you can do on a boat," Tucker says.
The three-seated models are the most common personal watercraft sold at Lake Springfield Marina.
"It's more of a family ride," Tucker says. "Most of the people getting out on the water right now, it's a family activity."
Tucker says a three-seater could tow a person on a tube or even a water skier. Luxury features differ by model.
Some personal watercraft models, including the Sea-Doo GTX Limited, have a braking system; older models simply relied on the operator to release the throttle to stop. Other vessels offer a depth finder (for measuring water and air temperature) and global positioning systems. "There's all kinds of luxurious things you can put on these things," Tucker says. Some models now come with better back support, making for a smoother, more comfortable ride. "Which is perfect for cruising up, if you are doing a long haul to different marinas or just long cruises," Tucker says.
Personal watercraft range from $8,000 to $16,500, he says.
Though that is a hefty price tag for many, Tucker says boats of all kinds are an exciting way to unite the family, and you can't put a price on that.
"It's a great family activity, and no better place to have fun than on the water."
The Boat Dock
Lake Springfield Marina
Story published Friday, July 1, 2011 ( Volume 6, Number 4 )