John Linder spent two years searching for the perfect boat for him and his family before buying a Hurricane GS 202 late last year.
"I have two girls, and we were looking for a fish-and-ski combination," says Linder, 40, of Gladewater, Texas. "If you're going to spend $30,000 on a boat, you want to get the right one."
Linder, along with his wife and two teenage daughters, loves the water, but two years ago, he realized his 18-foot bass boat was too small for the family. That's when he began looking for a new boat.
Linder has been in the oil business for 20 years and felt financially secure to move up to something bigger. He and his wife, Blane, began touring the boat-show circuit in the area, originally thinking about a bigger bass boat.
"Bass boats are pretty basic, so we began looking for something with a little more comfort," says Linder. "We began looking at Hurricanes, and the big [settee], nice captain's chair and two fishing chairs [on the GS 202] really appealed to us."
After careful consideration and a test drive on Gladewater Lake, Linder bought the 20-footer - with electronics and a Yamaha F200 - last November from Shipp's Marine Service in Gladewater.
"They have been in the area a long time and have a lot of repeat customers," says Linder. "And they have great service. They're the type of people that I just have to pick up the phone, and they'll come out to my home and winterize my boat for me. Any repair work - they come out, take it away, and bring it back."
Linder made a 50 percent down payment and financed the rest. He says financing was easy to obtain through a local bank.
"The dealer also threw in some freebees," he says. "I got the boat with a full tank of gas and some free life jackets."
"I remember shortly after I got the boat a little wire on the radio came off, and they fixed it right away. They are really on top of things."
Linder says the Hurricane can accommodate up to 10 people, which allows his daughters - Brittany, 16, and Paige, 14 - to bring their friends along for a day on the lake.
"Once the kids are out of school, we're out on the lake every weekend," he says. "We have Sea-Doos and a swimming pool - we're definitely water people."
"It's a great thing to have, especially on a hot day," he adds. "It's got enough room to accommodate a whole group, but is comfortable enough if I want to go fishing by myself."
Being in the oil industry, Linder says he has felt the slump in the economy. But he believes there are good deals out there if people take the time to look for them.
"A lot of people are just scared to spend any money when they see their 401(k) and retirement funds taking a hit," he says.
He says fuel prices were way too high, and now they're a bit too low to remain at these levels. "Hopefully it'll all balance out by the end of the year."
- Elizabeth Ellis