All Aboard

A Sea Ray 270 Sundeck encourages family togetherness in Grand Junction, Colorado

From an observer’s point of view, a Sea Ray is loaded with impressive details, from breakthroughs in navigation and propulsion technology, to design considerations that push the envelope for comfort and style. Turns out an owner’s perspective takes these observations and doubles down. Because beyond the built-in wow-factor, there’s something even more magical about the experiences a Sea Ray makes possible. Corralling the family for a day of fun on the lake, playing hard until sundown, and heading home with a vibrant new set of shared memories—there’s nothing else like it.

Colorado fosters peace of mind.

Cristin Groves and her sister Jodie Squirrell wanted to tap into that feeling when, along with their respective husbands, Brian and Sid, they decided to co-buy a 270 Sundeck last summer. “We grew up near a lake in Oklahoma,” Cristin says. “Some of my most cherished memories are of learning to water-ski and of being on the water with my cousins. It was such great family time.” Cristin counts out the family members in her head. “I’m pretty sure that with all the cousins, Dad had about 10 of us kids he had to pull around that lake.”

So far, the sisters’ goal to engage their own families in sun-drenched memory-making seems to be working. “They love it,” Cristin says of the kids. “They get onboard and it’s like they leave all of their other life behind—their friends, their electronics. And we get to spend some real quality time together.”

Rio (left) and Lauren share a laugh.

That’s the thing about a boat. It’s a time capsule, one that takes a family back to easier days when entertainment didn’t involve a tablet or a smartphone. Maybe it’s the way the sunlight glints off the sand or shimmers off the lake, or the way the horizon knits together two perfect shades of blue. Whatever it is, getting out on the water really does a little magic trick on the mind, forcing it to be in the moment—rather than worrying about an overload of schoolwork, friends who’ve been unfriendly, or any other thing that plagues the teen or preteen mind.

Cristin and Jodie know this peace from their childhood firsthand, and they want to provide a similar place of serenity and solidarity for their kids. After all, those early days of boating together helped them bond as sisters and forge a closeness that remains today. They remember howling in laughter together at their first attempts to get up on skis and the subsequent biffs when they each got a little braver and attempted to jump the wake. They also remember being so delightfully exhausted at the end of a hard day of playing on the water that their minds had no energy left to fret about boys or other woes. “We’re really trying to create that experience that we had,” Cristin says. “And especially with the kids getting older, we want to keep that connection with them.”

The Groveses, who live in Grand Junction, Colorado, have three daughters: Landri (14), Rio (12) and Lauren (12); the Squirrells, who live in Boulder, have three boys: Rylan (17), Kyler (14) and Carder (7). “It fits all of us comfortably with all our gear,” Cristin says of the 270 Sundeck. “We wanted a boat that could hold both of our families, still be a comfortable ride, and allow us to do all the fun stuff we like—tubing, wakeboarding, water-skiing. It just fit our needs.”

Using the swim platform for its intended purpose.

They were drawn to the Sea Ray brand for their first family boat because Brian had owned a Sea Ray when he was in his 20s and couldn’t say enough good things about it. “Sea Ray has a great reputation,” Cristin adds.

When they bought the boat in July from Sundance Marine in Grand Junction, they were eager to enjoy the rest of the summer on the water. The Groveses say Sundance accelerated the process to accommodate them, and also helped with their unique experience of co-ownership. “They’ve been just great and have really taken care of us,” Cristin says.

Colorado’s many reservoirs give the Groveses and the Squirrells plenty of options for quick launching, but they love trailing the three hours to Lake Powell. They stay at Defiance House Lodge in Bullfrog, Utah, and launch at Bullfrog Marina. “It’s just gorgeous down there,” Cristin says. “We’ll go out and cruise through the different coves and then find a good spot to wakeboard. The kids like to jump off the back of the boat and swim. And sometimes we’ll cruise down the main channel and hang out.”

Brian and Cristin own and run their own business, ASCO Masonry. This affords their family the flexibility to take off for occasional long weekends at Powell, where they’ll meet up with Jodie, Sid and the boys. The cousins help one another work on their wakeboarding skills, a sport they learned together over the summer. Meanwhile, the parents can relax, catch up with one another and simply enjoy the sun and scenery. Of course, Cristin’s not above schooling the kids on how to waterski.

Back home in Grand Junction, the Groveses lead busy lives. Landri plays volleyball and basketball, Rio lacrosse and Lauren soccer. Getting away to Powell isn’t always feasible once school starts, so the family relies on the local reservoirs for quick, early-evening launches. Highline Lake State Park, right in Grand Junction, is great for watersports, but visitors can also hike the surrounding trails.

Family fun as fueled by Sundeck.

Another local favorite is Sweitzer Lake State Park in nearby Delta, Colorado. The small lake is a wakeboard and water-ski haven, but the Groveses also enjoy the designated swimming area and the picnic sites for barbecuing. When they head to Boulder to visit the Squirrells, they can drop in at any number of reservoirs in the foothills. “We haven’t had any problems trailering the Sundeck,” Cristin says. “It’s so easy.”

The region typically serves up about five months of boating weather a year and of course the families stretch the season as long as they can. But when it’s time to put the boat away for the cooler months, they simply turn their attention to the rest of state’s great offerings. “Colorado has so many outdoor experiences and opportunities,” Cristin says. “In the winter, we go snow skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing. We love it.”

And while summertime lures them outdoors with plenty of other activities including hiking, mountain biking and trail running, being out on the Sea Ray remains their clear favorite. After all, the boat has that unique power to hold everybody together. Cristin says it’s no contest; boating is, and always will be, her favorite.

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