It’s easy to chase the dream of the perfect lake cabin, complete with the covered slip at the end of the dock. But for those without lakefront property there is actually a lot to offer if you’re willing to boat on the lakes less traveled. Sometimes the adventure we crave can be discovered if we’re willing to trailer our boat.
When the Locke family purchased their Sweetwater 2286 RE, it wasn’t so they could see all that one lake had to offer, but rather so they could see every lake within driving distance of Jackson, Mich. Joe, Lisa and their 7-year-old daughter, Annie, have experienced more lakes in one summer than some do in a lifetime.
Finding The Boat
When Joe and Lisa decided to buy a pontoon, they hit the boat show circuit to see what they could find. Lisa had grown up in a pontoon-loving family and while the couple had owned different deck boats and runabouts, they wanted to raise their daughter on a boat that could safely meet all of their needs. As those of you who know boat shows will understand, the family had a lot of options to consider.
“I actually already had money down on a different pontoon when we came across the Sweetwater,” says Joe. “This boat has everything that we were looking for on a pontoon, like the plush seating and a roomy bow and stern. With the other pontoons we saw, there was a lot of give and take on amenities, but not with Sweetwater. This boat has everything.”
The couple ended up buying a brand-new pontoon from Krupa’s Boat Mart in Jackson, Mich. This dealership has been serving customers for the last 57 years and secured both a CSI Award and Nautic Global Group’s "Worldwide Dealer of the Year" award in 2013.
“If you’re going to spend a sizeable amount of money on a new boat, you want to do it with a dealership that is good at what they do,” says Joe. “They were great to work with.”
The Adventures Begin
Joe had to think for a moment when asked which lakes he and his family had boated on last year, as the list was impressive. Coldwater Chain of Lakes, Randall Chain, Morris Lake, Farwell Lake, Devil’s Lake, Lake Charlevoix, Round Lake, Orion Lake, Lake Monterey and Lake Michigan were all on the list.
“We really enjoy the Chain of Lakes,” says Joe “We go from lake to lake and see all the fun stuff that each have to offer.”
The Locke family has made a lot of interesting discoveries on their adventures. For example, being out on Lake Michigan was much calmer than the channel leading into it from Lake Charlevoix. Plus, experiencing new beaches and scenery has helped keep boating fresh and new each time they hop onboard.
When asked what lake they preferred out of their long list of travel destinations, Joe quickly answered.
“Lake Charlevoix. It’s so big and there are great beaches, plus the fishing is really good,” says Joe. “You can spend the day looking at mansions and other beautiful homes and then head through the channel to Lake Michigan.”
At just 7 years old, Annie has already taken to their boating lifestyle. She enjoys the time on the boat.
“Annie’s favorite thing is to stop and play at different beaches,” says Joe. “She likes to tube with other people, but she’s still little so she doesn’t weigh enough to balance out the tube.”
The family actually keeps their boat at Clarklake Beach and Boat Club. This facility has two ways for members to store boats at the club. People can buy a boat slip in the marina or they can buy an onshore storage spot on land.
“We were actually hoping for slip space,” says Joe. “But we ended up having to dry dock it. It turned out to be a good thing because now it’s that much easier to tow it around.”
The family decides on a location, and then heads to the club to pick the boat up. This way of looking at boating not only allows for new adventures, but provides a really great time to relax. They have stayed at Cedar Rest Resort on Lake Charlevoix and Northwind Resort on Torch Lake. This means boating during the day and relaxing at night, which most would consider to be the perfect weekend.
“Some people really don’t like to tow their pontoons, but it’s not bad at all,” says Joe. “It hauls easy because it’s so light and they are easy to get on and off the trailer. Launch ramps are always available, so that’s not a big deal either.”
Not Just For the Humans
The Lockes have a four-legged beast that also enjoys spending time on the Sweetwater. Gus, the Newfoundland, doesn’t like to be left behind. Bred for water rescue, Newfoundlands are notorious water dogs. So, needless to say, Gus took to boating with extreme ease, especially when he hops up on the seat so he can see everything that’s going on.
“If Gus had a companion, the two of them could easily tow the boat around the lake so we wouldn’t have to turn on the motor,” says Joe with a smile. “When we take Gus, it has to be a lake with an accessible sandbar so he can swim but still get back into the boat. We can’t lift 165 wet pounds back into the boat or we would take him with us all the time.”
When asked what Joe likes most about owning a pontoon, he covered the typical stuff. The seating is a notch above anything else you’ll find; they’re perfect for fishing and they create a feeling of leisure that goes unmatched. But then Joe mentioned another reason he and Lisa enjoy their boat so much. The ample floor space allows them to bring all of their scuba diving equipment. Joe has a degree in fishery from Michigan State and learned to scuba dive as another career tool for his resume. Lisa has been a swimmer and water-lover her entire life, so Joe taught her how scuba dive while they were dating and the couple spent their honeymoon scuba diving in the Virgin Islands. Admittedly, since settling down and having a child, they haven’t been able to pursue the hobby as much as they would like.
“Now that we have this boat, we are going to start up again,” says Joe. “I have been all over but the Great Lakes have the best scuba diving in the world because the visibility is so clear and there is no salt water to corrode wreckage underneath.”
Keep an eye out this summer for the Locke family and their traveling Sweetwater pontoon that could be heading to a lake near you.
For More Information
Krupa’s Boat Mart