Family bonds forged on the water can last a lifetime. Fishing and cruising with kids and grandkids can be something special, sending them off on a lifetime of boating, the enjoyment of which can span generations.
Dan Lowrey can hardly remember a time in his life without boats. “Both my father and grandfather grew up in Clearwater [Fla.] and were huge boaters,” says the 29-year-old Air Force pilot, who is also a Clearwater native. “They started me out as an infant and had me at the helm by 3 years old. I haven’t looked back, and boating has always been and continues to be a huge part of my life.”
Lowrey learned to scuba dive at age 8, and he and his father have enjoyed the sport together over the years. “It has always been a huge part of our lives as father and son,” he says.
All that seemed to come to an end when Lowrey’s father got into a motorcycle accident and was told he might never walk again, let alone scuba dive. That was more than a decade ago. As fate would have it, he recovered well beyond what the doctors thought possible. By 2004, it was time to get back on the water and go diving again.
What Lowrey needed was the right boat, and he found it in a 2001 Mako 232, a center console with a pair of 150-hp Mercury outboards that he purchased in 2004 for $27,000. The size, configuration and price were just what he was looking for. “I wanted to find a boat that had easy access at the transom for a diver to get in and out but still be good for offshore fishing and cruising,” Lowrey says. “My grandfather and father had both been fans of the older Makos and swore by them, so I took a chance on it.”
The transom design features a low, integral swim ladder/platform and an “alleyway” into the cockpit between the starboard side and the bait well/transom. “I thought this boat [provided] the best way to ensure my father could keep diving,” Lowrey says. “It has lived up to that expectation in every way possible.”
After he owned the boat for several years, the demands of Air Force service took Lowrey away for a time, and the Mako suffered. “I had to either sell it or do a major restoration, and I decided to stick with the boat that had given us so many good years,” he says. “I have looked at a lot of boats and have considered upgrading but have found very few boats with a layout and transom like ours. That is one of the main reasons I decided to restore her.”
Lowrey started with a vision. “I wanted her to look as sharp and modern as the new Yellowfins, SeaVees and Invincibles — without the price tag — and still maintain the ruggedness and functionality that we fell in love with in the first place,” he says. “It has most certainly fulfilled this vision in every way.”
He started with the mechanicals, replacing fuel lines, rebuilding the carburetors and giving the 2-strokes what he termed an “extensive tune-up.” On the cosmetic side, he added a powder-coated T-top, leaning post and rod holders. The gelcoat was professionally repaired, and the boat was given an extensive detailing “that got everything shining like new.”
Arranging an electronics sponsorship from Navico got him a slate of new Simrad gear. In exchange, the newly restored center console is used to demonstrate electronics for prospective buyers and can be seen at local boat shows.
Mostly, though, Lowrey likes to fish and dive; cruise with his wife, Brittany, and their young son, Greyson; and make an annual trailering trip to the Keys for lobster season. The Mako 232 cruises easily at 25 to 30 mph. “The engines are super-reliable, easy to work on and cheap to fix,” Lowrey says. “She handles extremely well and is super-dry for a 23-footer.”
Lowrey is deployed to the Middle East, flying in support of operations in Afghanistan. Someday, he says, he might step up to something bigger or more glamorous, but right now he and his family are having too much fun with the Mako. “Doing simple things has transformed this older-looking boat into a modern one that gets compliments every time I am out on the water,” the reconnaissance pilot says. “It always feels good to see a guy in a 36 Yellowfin do a double-take as we pass by.”
The Mako 232 rides a hand-laid, all-fiberglass deep-vee hull (20 degrees of transom deadrise) with hard chines. The lines are simple, with an even sheer that drops off sharply to the transom. The tall bow has ample flare to shed waves while making room for a wide casting area forward, along with seating.
The console has a center-mounted wheel and bench seat/leaning post behind a tall windscreen. Instruments can be mounted in or on the fiberglass console, which opens for storage. A T-top provides four rocket launchers and more room for electronics in a lockable box overhead.
There are four rod holders in the cockpit, along with a transom bait well and prep center, and a transom door accesses the swim platform. Single or twin outboards are mounted in a well, and fuel capacity is 150 gallons. An optional 9-gallon water tank was also offered.
The Mako name has been around since 1966, with a successful lineup of small and medium-size outboard-powered center consoles and walkarounds designed primarily for fishing. The current Mako fleet is divided into Inshore (16 to 21 feet) and Offshore (18 to 28 feet) categories. The latest Mako is the 284 CC, the builder’s largest offering ever. Mako is now part of the Tracker Marine Group, which builds Tracker, Nitro and Mako fishing boats and Sun Tracker pontoons.
LOA: 22 feet, 9 inches
BEAM: 8 feet, 6 inches
HULL DRAFT: 1 foot, 2 inches
WEIGHT: 3,150 pounds
HULL TYPE: deep-vee
POWER: single or twin outboards
TANKAGE: 150 gallons fuel
BUILDER: Mako Boats, Springfield, Mo.
PHONE: (417) 873-4555
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May 2014 issue