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Starting a Legacy

See how the O’Neils embrace the first-generation boating lifestyle.

By Sue Rodman

The O’Neils didn’t grow up on the water. Shane and his wife, Aimee, are first-generation boaters. They purchased their first vessel, a Sea Ray SDX 270 Outboard, in 2020, slipping in just before the COVID-19 lockdown, and quickly fell in love with the boating lifestyle.

As soon as they got comfortable operating and navigating the SDX, they began to think about an upgrade. They wanted features that would help make captaining the boat easier and make it more comfortable for entertaining.

  • Sea Ray owner Aimee with her kids on their Sea Ray SLX 310
    With the help of MarineMax sales consultant Patrick Roark, they identified the Sea Ray SLX 310 Outboard for their next purchase. The O’Neils christened the boat Athena Parks, the middle names of their daughter, Teagan, and son, Tristan

“We told Patrick we were looking to upgrade. He did some digging and found us the biggest boat we could fit on our lift,” said Shane O’Neil as he laughed. “And we’ve been blown away by all the great features.”

Two of Shane’s favorites are the standard Axius Propulsion System with Mercury Joystick Piloting and the Mercury Skyhook digital anchor. The joystick makes docking a breeze, and the Skyhook feature locks in with GPS so he can enjoy the sunset without worrying about the boat drifting. Skyhook is also a huge help in keeping the boat still while waiting for a slip at the dock. One of the features Shane was surprised he really enjoys using is the autopilot. He sets the coordinates, hits a button, and off they go.

With small children aboard, the VacuFlush head is a must, but it’s the cockpit entertainment area that gets Aimee O’Neil excited. She likes the ease of having a wet bar, refrigerator, and on-board electric grill. Pop up the table in front of the L-shaped seating, and it’s a perfect floating picnic.

Amiee’s favorite feature, however, is the windlass anchor. She has officially retired her mad anchor-throwing skills in favor of pushing a button. It’s now effortless to moor out in Tampa Bay. And when they are done swimming at one of their favorite spots, Beer Can Island, it’s a breeze to pull up and head out.

  • Sea Ray owners Shane and his daughter on their Sea Ray SLX 310
    The Sea Ray’s swim platform with an under mount swim ladder and grab handle is always a kid-pleaser. But the lighting package on the Sea Ray impressed the O’Neil children the most. Six-year-old Teagan loves the RGB lighting package that allows her to change the lights to her favorite colors: pink and purple. Three-year-old Tristan was blown away by the bow spotlight that he can control from the cockpit via a 12-inch touchscreen display.

Shane admits the lights are a fun way to customize any outing. His family participates in many of the Tampa Bay boat parades, so whether they celebrate the Lightning with blue or the Buccaneers with red lights, Athena Parks is always appropriately festooned.

The O’Neils like to entertain on their boat too. The Sea Ray SLX 310 has an impressive entertainment system that can be controlled from the helm or a mobile device using the Sea Ray Connect app. A state-of-the-art Fusion sound system provides a high-quality soundtrack for any excursion.

The couple recently hosted Amiee’s staff of 15 for a day out on the water. Even with a large group, Sea Ray’s luxurious seating options ensure maximum comfort for everyone on board. The boat has ample lounge space in the bow and a comfortable and roomy seating area in the stern.

The helm has twin bucket seats with flip-up bolsters, allowing the captain and co-captain to navigate the boat while enjoying the view comfortably. And if the co-captain would rather join the conversation in the stern, the seat swivels front or back. The cockpit also features an aft-facing lounger that converts to a sunpad.

Underneath all that seating is an incredible storage area big enough for beach chairs, floats, and all kinds of water toys. When it’s time to get out of the sun, a SureShade covers the boat from the cockpit to the sunpad.

Beyond boat features, the O’Neils appreciate having a boating expert on speed text whenever they need him.

“Patrick has been my guy at MarineMax since day one,” said Shane. “I reach out to him with general boating questions as well as any issues. It’s great to have an experienced boater available with just a text—especially when you are out on the water. I’ve never had a salesman who is available like that after a purchase.”

When you didn’t grow up in a boating family, having a mentor means a lot. And now Shane can pass that knowledge on to the next generation of boaters.

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