Quality of life is an ongoing theme for both lifelong and recent residents of the east metro. As summer winds down, it’s still prime boating season on the nearby St. Croix River, a seasonal bloom that is joyfully anticipated by so many outdoor enthusiasts.
For those who’ve looked out over the water and longed to be a part of that summertime fleet—or have wondered if boat ownership makes sense for you—we spent some time with two boating families to discover what drew them to the river.
Woodbury mayor Anne Burt and her husband Jeff have been boating on the St. Croix River ever since moving to Minnesota 15 years ago. “Jeff first started boating with his family when he was in high school. I first started boating and water skiing in college. I was hooked,” Anne Burt says. Each purchased their first boat at the beginning of their careers, Anne on the East Coast, Jeff on the West Coast. Once married and living in the Chicago area, the couple purchased their first boat together and enjoyed boating almost every summer weekend on the Illinois River, Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. “Upon being relocated to the Twin Cities, we specifically chose to live on the east side of the metro because of the St. Croix River,” Burt says. “Living in Woodbury is a perfect location to access the river. It’s only seven miles down a beautiful country road into Afton and we are at our marina.”
The Burts wanted a boat that would work for their family, roomy enough to hold the kids and their kids’ friends, powerful enough to pull tubers, water skiers and wake boarders. “This boat has an open bow and can hold a dozen people comfortably or just our family of five,” Burt says.
Aimee Topp has been boating her entire life. “In fact, I’m a third generation boater,” she says. “My grandfather had a boat and my father grew up on the St. Croix River with his family. My sister and I both now have boats and we hope our children will also carry on the tradition.”
Topp started off with a 28-foot Cobalt open bow boat. “Despite having spent a lot of time on my parents' boat, my husband was new to boating. So before we moved to a cabin style boat, we wanted to ensure we loved it and were ready to take on more,” Topp says. They would later step up to “what we think is a perfect boat for our family, one that can accommodate us to sleep over,” says Topp.
In order to get the most out of your investment in a boat, it seems appropriate to use it as much as possible. The Burts gave up golfing when they bought a boat because those competing seasonal activities each take a significant amount of time. Instead, the Burts boat on the St. Croix River every weekend, weather permitting, from April through October. Burt says, “We usually stay between Stillwater, Minn. and Prescott, Wis. with at least one annual getaway to Treasure Island Resort, Redwing, Lake City, Wabasha or Lake Pepin for a festival, concert or local event.”
Burt and Topp agree that although boat ownership requires some maintenance, it is relatively minimal compared to cabin ownership and is more convenient for their busy lifestyles. Burt says, “With the active lifestyle of our family, we love the fact that we’re only a few minutes away from boating. We knew that a cabin lifestyle would not fit our family due to the various activities and commitments the kids had, and that being close to home while being able to enjoy life on the water was the best combination for us. It’s easy to pack up food and drink for the day and be on the boat. It’s a lot more work to pack up … and get everyone on the same schedule for an hours-long car ride to a weekend getaway.”