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Get into Boating with a SPARK

The SPARK's size and affordable price make it an ideal personal watercraft.

Courtesy Sea-Doo

For the active family looking to spend quality time together, there's no denying the appeal of the boating lifestyle. Sun, fresh air, water and a common interest … all the ingredients are there to bond a family together and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Boating, however, has an image problem. Too many potential buyers still have the perception that joining in on the fun is an expensive, even unrealistic, proposition. They envision high payments far outside their comfort zones, storage woes over where to keep the craft safe from the elements (and would-be thieves), and even rule out a watercraft simply because they don't think they have a suitable car to get it to the water. These are valid concerns, certainly, but ones that can be positively addressed by one of the most versatile boat types currently on the water — the personal watercraft.

Long removed from the noisy, potentially dirty two-strokes of old, the modern personal watercraft is clean, quiet and more fun than ever before with efficient four-stroke engines and exceptional versatility. PWCs also continue to be affordable. Though top-end models can range as high as $17,000 (still a bargain, considering the ride and performance), introductory models can be found for as little as $5,000.

Yes, you read those last digits correctly. Sea-Doo's best-selling SPARK retails for only $5,199 in base form. Translated into a monthly payment on a five-year loan, that's as little as a cable bill, one or two dinners out, or even a monthly Starbucks tab. And once you own one, a SPARK will continue to be cost effective. Its Rotax 900 ACE engine is one of the most fuel-efficient power plants on the water, burning as little as 2 gph during a typical day of use.

And the SPARK's accessibility isn't just limited to cost. Its small size means it will even fit in a condo's garage with ease. The SPARK's light weight also means you don't need a pricey behemoth of an SUV to haul it to and from the water. At just over 400 pounds, a broad selection of cars is capable of towing one.

As to just how much fun you can have on a SPARK, this is a small craft with big potential. Models are available in both two- and three-passenger configurations, letting numerous combinations of family members share the ride. Three-passenger models also qualify for tow duties, letting parents experience the thrill of teaching their kids to ski and wakeboard, or enjoy the endless laughs and grins produced by that first tube ride.

Even if you're confined to a smaller lake, the SPARK pays dividends. Its size, agile nature and fun ride can make smaller bodies of water actually seem big as you carve a corner, execute a slide, or pull into an old-school spinout.

The bottom line: Personal watercrafts, like the Sea-Doo SPARK, make the dream of boating a reality for a broader audience than ever before. And they make that dream a reality not in some distant future … but right now.