Cold and snowy outside? Sounds like a great time to gas up the boat, or at least these die-hard boaters think so.

Cold and snowy outside? Sounds like a great time to gas up the boat, or at least these die-hard boaters think so. 

Winter boating has its perks. It’s always quiet out and some waterfront restaurants are open year-round. 

No matter the weather, there’s nothing better than spending some time on the Lake. 

 

Life-long boaters

Cory Miller has been boating his entire life, so a little cold weather doesn’t stop him or his family from enjoying the Lake. 

Miller starting boating with his parents when he was just a few months old on Clinton Lake in Illinois, and he’s been coming Lake of the Ozarks for as long as he can remember while on vacation. 

During the summer his family enjoys taking their 1988 Sea Ray 300 Sundancer out between the 1-24 mile markers to any restaurant with a kid-friendly pool. Or they like to ride their 2008 Sea Doo GTI SE. During the winter, they still like to boat, but just have to dress in layers. 

“I enjoy everything about boating off season,” Miller says. “In the fall and spring there is still some amazing weather days. We tubed into mid-October last year. I mostly enjoy the calm — no traffic on the Lake. There are several establishments on the Lake that stay open year-round and there are no crowds there at all.”

Last winter the Millers found themselves in the middle of a snowstorm after leaving their home at the 2-mile marker to go to Ozark Yacht Club for fuel and a pump out. 

“We came for a weekend in February and it snowed several inches. We could not get out of our complex by road so we took the boat (and our neighbor) to Camden on the Lake for drinks and dinner.” They also took several trips to see Christmas lights on the water, went to a Christmas party at the Hillbilly Yacht Club, and celebrated New Year’s Eve at Lake House 13. 

“We didn’t want to to go home in the dark that late at night so we slept in our boat at their dock and went back New Year’s Day morning.” 

“There is so much to do at the Lake outside of the normal season. Fall leaf colors are a blast. We like taking the kids to the indoor waterpark at Margaritaville. There’s plenty of entertainment on the Strip. Several on-the-water establishments are open late in the season, early in the season or year-round.” 

 

The weekend-er

Tony Neal spends most weekends at the Lake throughout the year. He’s been coming to the Lake his entire life — since the early 70s when his parents had a home at the 28-mile marker. He even worked at Run-A-Bout Marina (now Miller’s Landing) as a teenager. 

With a home on Lake St. Louis, he spends a lot of time boating there and says he’s been on most of the lakes in Missouri and Arkansas along with making a few trips to Florida with a boat in tow. 

“I need the water,” Neal said. He spends as many weekends as possible at the Lake year-round on his 35’ Silverton Aft Cabin named Malibu Dreamin’. He also has a 1962 13’ Boston Whaler and a couple of jet skis including an old-school stand-up. On Lake St. Louis he keeps a small sailboat and a couple of kayaks. 

“I have not winterized my boat in over a decade. My marina does a good job keeping the docks de-iced and lets me know if there is ever an issue,” he said. 

The beauty of the Lake keeps him coming back for more. 

“It is a different place every season. Getting to put myself in the middle of that, and often being the only boat out there is humbling and therapeutic. 

 

Enjoying the off-season

Ted Pope has been living at the Lake for more than 60 years. Growing up, the family were part-timers, spending every weekend they could out on the water. In the 60s his parents moved to the Lake full-time and started a boat business at the 4-mile marker on the North Shore. 

As a teenager, Ted worked at Millstone Lodge and after graduating high school he moved around a bit and even attended ski school in Orlando, Fla. 

“I have boated here year-round since I was four years old,” Ted said. “I used to sit on a stack of boat cushions to drive the boat and see over the dash to pull my mom and sister on skis.”  

As an adult Ted sold insurance in Kansas City but hated city life, so when his Dad asked him to house-sit their property at the Lake, he didn’t think twice. 

“I just loved the Lake. Even though I tried three times, I just could not leave,” Ted said. 

Today he sells Playcraft pontoons so there is always a good excuse to get out in a boat. But when he’s off the clock, you’ll often find him in his 21’ tournament fishing boat rigged out to make fishing fun and easy. Along with his wife, Mary and their two children, the family spends most of their time boating from Bagnell Dam to about the 18-mile marker, and up and down the Gravois Arm. On occasion, Ted drops anchor in the Upper Osage near Warsaw where he says is a great spot to fish. 

He calls their 28’ Playcraft powertoon X-Treme a dream boat cleverly named Blue Bayou or “blew-by-you” as they like to say.

“I’m the only boater I know who ‘winterizes’ their boat during the summer, and just uses it September through April. I just love the winters down here,” Ted says. “I get to slow down and really enjoy nature, and the peace and quiet,” Ted said.