TODAY’S BOAT BUYER: Grady-White Seafarer 228

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Mitch Shepherd loves to fish, but he wanted his family to be able to enjoy it with him. So he upgraded from an 18-foot flats boat to a 2008 Grady-White Seafarer 228 with a 250-hp Yamaha 4-stroke, which he purchased from Lockwood Marine in Jacksonville, Fla.

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"I got it in October of last year. It was a four-month process because I wanted to find the right fit," says Shepherd, 52, who is from Jacksonville.

Shepherd has been fishing from his 1998 Hewes Bayfisher flats boat with a 115-hp Yamaha, but he wanted to be able to venture farther offshore and bring friends and family along.

"[Lockwood] was the first dealership I walked into. I went in with no predetermination of what I wanted," says Shepherd, who owns a business selling specialty building materials. "They were excellent to work with and very knowledgeable about the features of a Grady-White."

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"What I liked about the Grady-White 228 was that there was plenty of room for a couple of people to be fishing," he added. "It also has a hardtop and a cuddy cabin in case you want to get out of the sun for a while."

Shepherd wasn't sure if he wanted a center console or a walkaround, so he started doing his homework online last summer and visited dealers in his area.

Shepherd was in negotiations with another dealer for a similar Grady-White that was six years older, but when prices started dropping last fall, the cost of the new boat at Lockwood became comparable to the used model.

"Overall, with adding electronics and outriggers, the price came to about $80,000," says Shepherd. "We decided to finance, and we had no problem at all."

He put 35 percent down and was able to negotiate 10-year financing at 4.5 percent.

Now that he has a boat he can use with the family, he is considering selling the flats boat.

"I don't really need two boats," says Shepherd. "I think if anyone has money, now is the time to buy anything, including boats."

As a business owner, Shepherd says he has seen an increase in demand for his products since March, so he is hopeful the economy is beginning to pick up.

"We're just really pleased with this boat," he says. "We all went out for Mother's Day, took everyone along, and had a blast."

— Elizabeth Ellis

l.ellis@soundingspub.com

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