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TODAY'S BOAT BUYER: Tidewater Adventure 216

Craig Miller spent a number of years fishing on friends' boats but never had one of his own. Last September he decided enough was enough and purchased a 2008 Tidewater 216 Adventure center console with a 150-hp Yamaha 4-stroke.

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"I never had a boat, but I've lived in Florida my whole life," says Miller, 40, an engineer from St. Augustine, Fla. "I finally thought, How could I live with water all around and not have a boat?"

Miller and his wife, Leslie, began talking about and saving for their purchase about a year before they decided on the Tidewater. They bought the Tidewater at Lockwood Marine in Jacksonville, Fla.

Miller says his parents had a 17-foot inshore fishing boat, as well as a 17-foot dual console bowrider. He wanted something that would be large enough for his family, including children Meagan, 16, and Ethan, 4, to enjoy, as well as a good fishing boat.

"We were looking at used boats about 3 to 4 years old, but not knowing a lot about boats, we didn't want to get something real old," says Miller. "We were looking for an entry-level boat with a good reputation."

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Miller says as the economy slowed, the difference in price between preowned and new boats got smaller and smaller. "We decided if it's in our price range, why not buy new?" says Miller.

Miller paid cash for the boat, around $35,000 after gear and electronics were added.

They also got a three-year extended warranty on the engine, in addition to the standard three-year warranty.

"What I liked about Lockwood is they were willing to let us go out and drive the boat," says Miller. "Not knowing much about boats, that was extremely important for me when deciding what boat to get.

"It's important to take your time to buy and get exactly what you want," says Miller. "We saw some amazing deals. Boats that were $40,000 three years ago are $30,000 now."

Miller says his business has been hit by the economic downturn, but this past April and May he has seen things pick up. And he couldn't be happier with his Tidewater.

"We're really happy with it; we wish we would've done this a few years ago," says Miller. "We really enjoy being out on the water."

- Elizabeth Ellis

l.ellis@soundingspub.com

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