Georgia On My Mind

A couple discovers their region’s greatest lake retreat, new friends and each other

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Lake Lanier is such a perfect fit for Terry Nix and his wife, Tina. Dug by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1956, the Georgia lake is a man-made marvel of epic proportions, and Terry’s life has been rooted in the construction and excavation business. While he’s yet to dig a lake, Terry’s projects have been no less impressive than those of the corps, counting the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the Georgia Aquarium as part of a grand portfolio over his thirty-year career. Today, Terry’s booming construction business takes him cross-country for work, but as Tina avows, there’s nowhere quite like home for the Georgia boaters. Their lake is no small secret: the gorgeous, tree-lined Southern oasis attracts nearly 8 million visitors a year and growing.

Terry and Tina hadn’t always been as serious about boating or even the Sea Ray brand as they are now. As Tina tells it, they’d always been casual boaters, hanging in friends’ bow riders and deck boats, but she says everything changed when they got their first Sea Ray cruiser in 2006. “That changed everything for us. It opened up a whole new world. We’ve gained a close group of boating friends who we hang out with most every weekend now.”

She continues, “Lunches, dinners, boat rides, jet ski rides, boat shows, ballgames, girls’ weekend trips… Our friend base expands every weekend and with every new boating event we attend.” After that first Sea Ray opened up their ability to entertain on the water, they just couldn’t get enough. They upgraded, then upgraded a few more times until they happily settled on their current arrangement: a 540 Sundancer and 300 SLX. A boat for every day of the weekend.

We realized that we wanted to be on the lake with our new friends every weekend.

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While Terry and Tina have shared a love of the water since they were first married twenty-eight years ago, Tina credits their discovery of Sea Rays as more than just a passing interest. Their boats have changed them as a couple in the best way. She volunteers, “It’s really brought us together. We get to spend so much time as a couple on the water now. We love it.” They love to get away if even for a few hours because an hour on the boat is worth so much more than a day on land. “Our boat is an hour and a half from where we live,” Tina explains, “and sometimes we’ll drive three hours round-trip just
to spend a few precious hours on the water together on a weekend. It’s really become special time for us.”

Since attending their first Sea Ray event, Tina says that the Nixes have become increasingly serious about the brand because they feel the quality of the workmanship is unparalleled. After that first year, Tina says, “We realized that we wanted to be on the lake with our new friends every weekend. We met so many new people. It was great to be a part of the Sea Ray family.” The fact that there’s a Sea Ray event for every season always keeps them interested, and they always enjoy learning about the next year’s models.

Since falling in love with Sea Ray, the Nixes have built a full social calendar of boating events and could not be more pleased about the change their boats have inspired in their lifestyle. Terry raved, “We so look forward to Fort Lauderdale [International Boat Show], Miami [International Boat Show] and
Yacht Expo. There is always an awesome event going on where we get to meet other Sea Ray owners. People who love to spend their weekends the way we do.”

Indeed, the Nixes enjoy their boats at Lake Lanier and beyond. Just a few years ago, they took possession of their 540 Sundancer, Right A Way, in Florida from the Pompano Beach MarineMax. (Terry jokes that whether in the car or on water, he always has the right of way.) “The service at MarineMax is second to none,” Tina says. “Just great service. We will always stand behind them.”

Terry and Tina were so inspired by Florida, they kept the boat there for six months, cruising the intercoastal waterways of Fort Lauderdale, stopping for lunch in Miami and retreating to lighthouse point at sunset. But the Nixes had even greater adventures in mind than the Peach State’s southern neighbor. The couple used their proximity to the Caribbean as an opportunity to take the 54-footer on a MarineMax getaway to the Exumas in the Bahamas. “It was a tremendous adventure,” Tina says of cruising the bonefish-flat paradise.

Since then, their love of turquoise waters has only grown. The couple has visited Atlantis, Nassau and Staniel Cay among other far-flung locales. “The Exumas were magical, and we’d love to boat there again,” Tina says of future trips. The 700 islands that make up the Bahamas should provide them with a lifetime’s worth of explorations, which is fully what the Nixes intend. “We want to do this forever,” Tina sighs. “Some people prefer to have a condo on the beach, but for us this is paradise.”

The Nixes won’t have to go all the way to the Bahamas for great island-hopping in years to come, though. Not long after Lake Lanier was created, so was the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority. The authority’s goal is to develop Lake Lanier as a recreational hideaway for the citizens of Georgia, and recent plans envision the creation of even more islands than already exist in the grand lake for public enjoyment. That means more sandy beaches and long days on the water for these two avid boaters. The Nixes could not be more thrilled, and perhaps it’s no wonder that in recent years the lake has become the crown jewel of Georgia’s boating scene. The International Olympic Committee even chose the shining lake as the rowing, canoeing and kayaking venue for the 1996 Olympics, despite the fact that it was farther afield than the competition. The smooth, sleek lake is just that impressive.

When asked if they have any favorite hideaways on the 58-square-mile reservoir, Tina says they can’t pick just one. Terry likes to cruise and is always zipping from point to point in pursuit of the day’s adventure. “On a typical day,” she shares, “we’re always on the boat. Always in motion.” They’ll enjoy
lunch on the water or stop at a local lakeside restaurant before a full day of cruising and relaxation, returning sometime around sunset. After all, hard to stay still when there are constantly new friends to meet. “We used to only have a working life and now we have a social life,” Tina says happily.

Indeed, Lake Lanier is a destination that can be enjoyed through all the months of the year. She confides, “We feel like we are on a year-round vacation.” And thanks to their Sea Rays, that vacation can be enjoyed for years to come.

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