Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state, providing for a lot of boating opportunities. And whether you're looking to chill out on a pontoon or speed around on a cigarette boat, there's a type of watercraft for nearly every personality.


Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state, providing for a lot of boating opportunities. And whether you're looking to chill out on a pontoon or speed around on a cigarette boat, there's a type of watercraft for nearly every personality.

For the person who likes to take a hands-on approach, there's the sailboat.

"A boat with a motor, you steer and adjust the speed. With a sailboat, there's so much more you have to be watching, doing and directing," said Richard Dayringer, a longtime sailor and commander of the Grand Lake Sail and Power Squadron.

That's why people who gravitate to sailing are usually people who like being involved.

"Sailing on an inland lake like Grand, the wind changes almost momentarily. You come around a bend or point and the wind changes and you have to change your rudder and sails because of that," he said. "They say that sailors who sail on inland lakes become better sailors because there's so much more to do."

Dayringer, who has a MacGregor 26, started sailing 20 years ago after some friends introduced him and his wife to the water.

"It's the challenge. There's so much to learn and there's always more to learn to become a better sailor," he said.

Sailors must work the wind and trim the boat, battle speed and direction, and there's also the waves and current.

"From the banks watching a sailboat, it looks very peaceful and it is because it's quiet. But there's plenty to do on board," he said.

Sailboats come in many different designs with emphasis on either speed or comfort.

A day sailor might want a smaller, narrower, faster and lighter boat. If you like to spend the night and have a couple meals on the boat, you'll want something a little wider and more comfortable.

Bill Miller has been boating for more than 40 years, many of those on a cabin cruiser.

"It's a way of getting away from the stresses of life. You get out there on the lake and just bob in the water. It's a pleasant experience," he said.

When Miller started boating he lived in upstate New York and had a 1952 Whirlwind, a smaller, molded plywood boat.

"That was the beginning of a long love affair with boating," he said.

When he moved to Oklahoma in 1983 he realized they needed a bigger boat to handle the choppier waters.

He and his wife opted for a cruiser so they could live on the lake.

"We had two teenage daughters and a couple of pets. We lived in it one summer and realized it wasn't for us," he said.

They now live in a house on the lake and still enjoy their cruiser, a 1972 Carver Mariner.

"It gives us a chance to get out on the lake. It's not a speed boat; it's just for cruising around and seeing the sights."

Being able to live on a cruiser is one of the major appeals.

"A lot of people with a cruiser use it as a summer home. They stay at a marina, and many will never go out on the water. They just use the boat as a place to live," Miller said.

Cruisers may have all the benefits of home including air conditioning and color TV besides kitchens, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.

Gary Fincher and his family have been skiing for about 20 years. He had skied with his uncle when he was younger and decided to pass that tradition along to his kids.

"We were looking for an activity we could do with our kids. My boys are three years apart and we have a daughter nine years younger. We figured it was something all three of them could enjoy despite the age difference," he said.

"They absolutely loved it. My boys would ski until I ran out of gas," he said. "They'd follow the boat all day. I'd pull both of them and they'd cross over. When my daughter got older, they'd ski with her on their shoulders. They all loved that."

Fincher said he's found all-fiberglass fish and ski-type boats work well in Oklahoma.

"I like that type of boat because it will handle the choppier water we have in Oklahoma and still puts out a good wake for the skiers," he said.

The Finchers don't just ski. They've got several toys to pull behind the boat including wakeboards, knee boards, a wake skate and an air chair. But no inner tubes for this family.

These days, Fincher likes to get his thrills from teaching more than skiing.

"We've taught dozens of kids to ski and have gotten every one of them up on the skis. That's the most fun thing for me, seeing the looks on their faces when they realize they can do it," he said.

Oklahoma lakes provide ample fishing opportunities and there are many styles of bass boat to choose from.

Comfort, size and a lot of storage space are important when it comes to a bass boat.

"I've got 13 rods and reels and enough lures to start a small tackle shop. That's typical of bass anglers. Our saying is 'He with the most toys at the end wins,' "said Victor Leake, a local tournament fisher. "Safety is another big feature. With the grandkids, you have to make sure there's enough room to make sure they're safe on the water."

There's a lot of camaraderie among the bass fishing community, especially for those who travel the tournament circuit.

"For most of the guys and gals that fish, it's the friendship. It's like an extended family," Leake said. "The only time I meet with a lot of these people is at a tournament. It's a good time whether the fish are biting or not."

Even for sport anglers like Leake, it's the thrill of the catch that draws people to fishing.

"There's just something magical when you throw the line out there and a fish bites. There's something about that feeling that makes you feel alive," he said.

Wayne McManus and his wife Rhonda are moving to Oklahoma from Alabama via rivers on their 41-foot Roughwater trawler.

McManus, who is the new Harbor Master at Three Forks Harbor in Muscogee, has been an avid boater since high school and has owned a variety of boats.

Trawlers provide all the comforts of home, and are large and sturdy enough to handle rough waters and slower than other yachts, allowing for scenic traveling.

"At our stage in life, we are not in a hurry and we like the looks, space, accommodations, and fuel efficiency of a trawler," McManus said.

"Every day is different in the sense that river conditions, scenery, locks, marinas and anchorages are variables," he said. "Periodically, you may delay at a location for provisions, preventive maintenance like oil changes, or just to enjoy a particularly interesting location."

McManus also enjoys kayaking, for both exercise and relaxation.

"I view kayaks as more of a sport boat which can be used for lazy evening paddling on the lake or for running white water rapids," he said. "So it's a means of exercise for me or lazy evenings on the lake."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.