Finding Their Perfect Pontoon

The Bushey family’s perfect setup

Published in the May 2020 Issue May 2023 Feature Heather M. Serrano

Once Jim Bushey and his wife Karen laid eyes on the Sylvan S3 LZ, they knew they’d found something special. Pro Wake Watersports in Leesburg, Ind., had the boat beautifully displayed with the lights and stereo going, and the Busheys were immediately taken in with all the comforts the boat has to offer.

Jim remembers his wife turning to him and declaring, “This is the one.” And indeed it was. With three grown kids and two grandkids, the Busheys often have family over to their cabin on Clear Lake where they enjoy summers full of family fun. They make a habit of going every weekend and sometimes even enjoy a full week or two there at a time.

All that was missing was an upgraded pontoon until they found their Sylvan S3 LZ last year. Now the Busheys not only have the perfect cabin setup on the lake, but the perfect vessel for boating fun as well.

Procuring The Cabin
The upcoming summer will be the Busheys’ third one with their cabin in Fremont, Ind., on Clear Lake. Previously, Jim’s parents had a place on the lake for about 30 years, but they passed away 13 years ago, making it so the Busheys didn’t frequent the lake as often as they would have liked. Then they started renting around 8 years ago.

As they approached retirement age, Jim and Karen decided a cabin on Clear Lake was something they’d want to invest in for their family. They found an 80-year-old cabin that needed some updates and they got to work. Jim was right in his element since he’s in the remodeling, window, and door business. They gutted the cabin and remodeled it into the perfect getaway for playing with their kids and grandkids.

Boat Included
What’s more, the cabin also came with a 10-year-old Manitou pontoon with a 65 horsepower engine on it. As Jim was looking at the cabin, he came across the pontoon boat in the garage. When he made the offer, he told the sellers he wanted the pontoon along with any other boating gear as well.

At first he was met with a strong negative and they went back-and-forth for about three or four months. Finally, the sellers told the Busheys’ agent that if they brought the price up $5,000 then they’d have an agreement. With the pontoon worth around $15,000 and its pier worth around $5,000, the Busheys jumped on the deal and haven’t looked back since.

Revving It Up
Jim and his family used the Manitou pontoon for the first two years and it worked out well for pulling their grandkids Lauren and Logan on the tube, but the Busheys decided they’d like to be able to do some skiing as well.

“Our grandkids Lauren and Logan like to go knee boarding, which is why we had to get a 250 horsepowered boat,” laughed Jim.

The S3 LZ usually comes with a 150 engine, but Jim opted for the 250hp Yamaha. With this kind of power, the boat does everything he’d want it to do, from cruising to skiing. “This thing could do about 43 miles per hour,” said Jim proudly. “I like to open it up once in awhile, but most of the time we’re either just cruising along or the kids are tubing.”

Bells & Whistles
When shopping for a new pontoon, the Busheys knew they wanted something family-friendly. They also knew it had to have a tow bar and an open layout for entertaining.

“I really like the seating on our Sylvan,” added Karen. “I love openness which makes it so everybody can sit in the back together. I also have a captain’s chair, where I didn’t have one in the other model.”

Other favorite features on the S3 LZ include the power Bimini, the Kicker sound system, and the mood lighting on the boat. Features like this make the boat really stand out on the lake. Jim also bought a ShoreStation lift for the boat. The lift has a hydraulic remote to take it up and down, and it also features guides that go down into the water which make putting the boat on the lift incredibly easy and convenient.

Incredible Service
When looking at the S3 LZ last year, the Busheys worked closely with the dealership owner Mark Richards and their salesman Jared Lencke at Pro Wake Watersports.

“People buy if they like you,” observed Jim. “I’ve noticed that in my own business. I’ve been in business for 42 years and over anything else, people buy from a personality.”

This is one of the big reasons Jim and Karen decided to work with Mark and Jared at Pro Wake Watersports when looking into buying a boat. They loved working with them because they were helpful and knowledgeable without ever being pushy. Jim’s own sales philosophy in his business is to present the facts without hounding people, so he respected Pro Wake Watersports’ approach.

In the end, they decided to buy their S3 LZ from them because they trusted the people they were working with and the dealership. One great example of Pro Wake’s dedication is the Busheys’ first day of owning the boat.

Jared helped them with all of the paperwork and personally delivered the boat to them at Clear Lake. Pro Wake is about an hour and a half from them, and the drive took a little longer than Jared anticipated. Despite running late, Jared wasn’t pushy at all and never acted like he was in a hurry as he took the Busheys out on the water to show them all the features of their new boat.

Later on, the Busheys found out that Jared had a big family dinner that night that he ended up being really late for. They never would have known with Jared’s friendly and easy manner as he showed them the S3 LZ.

Jim was so impressed with Jared’s work ethic that he ended up recruiting him as a salesman for his own business.

The Perfect Setup
The Busheys have found their own personal boating paradise. Between their cabin and their new S3 LZ, they have the perfect setup for summers full of family fun. So far, Jim and Karen have been very impressed with the versatility of their pontoon and they couldn’t be happier with their choice.

“Growing up we had boats for different things: one for skiing and one for putting around,” explained Jim. “This works well for everything; I can do just about anything I want.”

The Busheys’ son also has a Moomba boat on the lake in case the kids want to go surfing. It works out perfectly for everybody since they have all their boating bases covered. They’ve also go plenty of other water toys at the cabin such as floating chairs, a mat, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and a jet ski.

“It’s a good place to be with our peaceful setup,” smiled Jim. There’s little doubt that the Busheys will enjoy the lake life with their cabin and new Sylvan S3 LZ for years to come.



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