For the Record: Testing progresses on Nordhavn 120

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nordhavnThe Nordhavn 120 completed a crucial step when it was launched into the test tank at South Coast Marine in Xiamen, China, in late April — on track for delivery this summer to a customer in western Canada.

“She floats perfectly,” said Dan Streech, president of Nordhavn’s parent company, Pacific Asian Enterprises, in a statement about the builder’s largest yacht to date. “All 800,000 pounds of fiberglass, steel, wood, stone and glass have been brilliantly engineered and managed to float exactly as predicted.”

The passagemaker was to remain in the tank for about a month as its systems are fired up and tested. When it is completed, N120 Hull No. 1 will undergo final ocean trials and ABS certification assessment in preparation for delivery — on her own bottom — to Vancouver, British Columbia. The builder attributed the decision to deliver the yacht that way to logistics, the sheer mass of the boat and economic factors.

The current plan has the yacht leaving the factory July 1 with a delivery crew led by PAE vice president Jim Leishman. The nonstop passage from China to Vancouver is expected to take 24 to 28 days.

Survey shows more lenders, smaller loans, tighter credit

National Marine Bankers Association survey results for the first quarter show that although new lenders are offering boat loans, loan amounts are at an 18-month low and credit requirements are more stringent than in 2012.

Service companies reported that 64 percent of loan origination was signed with new banks or finance companies in the past six months, but that didn’t necessarily translate into more loans being granted, according to the NMBA study.

Although 81 percent of all lender respondents (both service companies and banks/finance companies) indicate that dollar volume was the same or up from the same period in 2012, this is the lowest level of year-over-year volume increase in the past six quarters. Similarly, 88 percent of lender respondents expect next-quarter dollar volume to be greater than or equal to the same period last year, but this is also an 18-month low.

Consumers seem unresponsive to the increased wealth they should be feeling with stock market indexes reaching new highs and housing values on the rise. Automobile sales continue to gain strength, and attractive financing and leasing offers are available, so buyers could be replacing their aging vehicles before making discretionary purchases.

NMBA member lender respondents reported a steady tightening of credit criteria throughout 2012 that has carried over into this year.

Twenty percent of the survey respondents indicate that credit criteria were more stringent in the first quarter than in the previous period.

Carolina Skiff tops 2012 fiberglass sales

Waycross, Ga.-based Carolina Skiff LLC says that based on state new-boat registration data compiled by Statistical Surveys Inc. the company was the nation’s top fiberglass-boat builder in 2012.

Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe confirmed Carolina Skiff’s statement and said the registration data Statistical Surveys compiled for 2012 shows the company sold 2,950 new boats last year.

The builder’s total was among 36,222 boats that Statistical Surveys said were sold nationwide in 2012 in the 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass category. Nonetheless, Carolina Skiff’s sales were enough to make the company the top U.S. builder when all fiberglass boat types — freshwater and saltwater — and inboard or outboard propulsion in lengths 14 feet and up are considered.

“It is an honor to become America’s No. 1 fiberglass boat builder,” president and CEO Joe Kirkland said in a statement. “Carolina Skiff owners recognize that our boats possess the best combination of quality, features and affordability in the industry.”

The builder said it has held the industry’s top spot in fiberglass boat sales in the saltwater fiberglass outboard-powered category since 1997.

N.C. builder marks 25th anniversary

Manns Harbor, N.C.-based Paul Mann Custom Boats is celebrating its 25th year of Carolina boat design and specialized running bottoms in its sportfishing yachts.

The company says it builds boats today in the traditional frame-and-plank cold-molded style or through the use of jigs, or a combination of the two methods, according to customer wants and needs. Paul Mann’s 81-foot private yacht Georgia Girl was named one of Yachting magazine’s Best of 2011.

In 1988, Paul Mann began building his own hulls under the company name Mann Boat Works. In 1992 he incorporated as Mann Custom Boats Inc. and has progressed to a 40,200-square-foot facility. Mann has built 38 yachts to date, from 52 to 80 feet, on average.

Sealine International is looking for a buyer

It re-entered the U.S. market after a 10-year hiatus, but Sealine International’s future was unclear after the British-based luxury yacht builder entered “administration,” a status akin to receivership in the United States.

Baker Tilly Restructuring and Recovery LLP is the court-appointed administrator for Sealine, which posted a pretax loss equivalent to $6.2 million in 2011 (the most recent available data) on sales of $51.4 million, which were down 9.5 percent from the previous year, according to the U.K.’s Financial Times.

“We are currently seeking a buyer for the company, either in its entirety or its individual assets,” Baker Tilly public relations manager Frank Shepherd said in early May.

Sealine, based in Kidderminster, near Birmingham, was put into administration April 30. Sealine South Coast, the company’s sales and service division, which is based in Southampton, entered administration May 1 under Baker Tilly.

On April 30, 234 of the company’s nearly 300 employees were immediately “made redundant,” or laid off. As of May 1, 50 staff members remained employed, Shepherd said.

“We will be working to maximize recoveries for the company’s creditors, which includes the sale of plant and recovery of monies owed to the business,” Graham Bushby, a restructuring and recovery partner at Baker Tilly, said in a statement posted on the company’s website.

Susan Hardwick, of Hardwick PR, which handles press relations for Sealine, said the implications for the manufacturer’s North American market, which had been a bright spot, is unclear at this time.

“As of yet, Sealine Yachts America is not in administration,” she said. “Obviously the fact that Sealine International is in administration will have an impact on Sealine Yachts America, but we don’t have a crystal ball. Sealine Yachts International could be bought and restructured.”

Grand Banks touts Asian sales growth

Grand Banks Yachts says it is on track to complete five luxury yachts for buyers from Singapore, Japan and Micronesia in the financial year that ends June 30.

It marks the highest number of sales to the region since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, and comes amid growing interest in boating among Asians, according to BMY News.

Singapore Exchange-listed Grand Banks told the publication three boats were delivered between July 2012 and March to buyers from Singapore and Japan. Two more should be finished by the end of June for Singaporean and Micronesian buyers. In its previous financial year Grand Banks sold three yachts in Asia.

Grand Banks says Asian sales for the past year underscore the success of its new designs and growing acceptance among buyers from the region for yachts built at its yard in Johor, Malaysia.

FLIR CEO retiring; successor named

FLIR Systems president and CEO Earl Lewis was expected to retire May 19 and be replaced by Andrew Teich, who has been president of the company’s commercial systems division.

FLIR said Lewis will assume a senior adviser role to assist the transition and will remain chairman of the board. FLIR is the parent company of Raymarine.

“This is the culmination of a process that began more than two years ago with three of my direct reports completing the Harvard Advanced Management Program,” Lewis said in a statement.

“Approximately a year ago we formed a special committee of the board of directors and hired outside consultants to begin the difficult process of selecting one person from among three excellent internal candidates in Bill Sundermeier, Tony Trunzo and Andy. The difficulty in making a final decision was a result of the board’s strong belief that all three were highly competent and capable leaders.”

“I look forward to leading this outstanding management team and our global group of dedicated employees to the next level of growth,” Teich said in a statement.

Maryland group gets BoatUS grant

With overwhelming support from the Annapolis area community, Annapolis Green was awarded a Grassroots Grant from the BoatU.S Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water.

Annapolis Green, whose mission is to promote sustainability in the Annapolis area, will use the $10,000 award specifically for its Red, Right Recycle program, which will accelerate recycling and the promotion of clean boating awareness at the October Annapolis Powerboat and Sailboat Shows.

Annapolis Green will develop these practices into a tool kit that can be used elsewhere to run a green waterside event.

Red, Right Recycle — a play on the boating term Red, Right Return — is part of Annapolis Green’s Festival Greening program, established to divert waste generated by the many outdoor events held in the Annapolis area every year from the landfill to recycling.

“Our partnership with the United States Yacht Shows is key,” Annapolis Green co-founder Lynne Forsman said in a statement. “Increasing recycling at the shows will demonstrate to local residents and visitors that we all share a common concern for the environment.”

The annual grant program is designed to help non-profit groups, associations, organizations and other waterway users help spread the message about safe and clean boating practices at the grassroots level.

Tartan builds fleet for Gay Games

Fairport Harbor, Ohio-based Tartan Yachts will be supporting the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland by building 20 boats for the sailing portion of the world’s largest LGBT multisport event.

With Cleveland’s location on the southern edge of Lake Erie, organizers told Sail magazine they are grateful for Tartan’s offer, the first time in the Games’ history that an entire fleet is being built by the same manufacturer specifically for this event.

“We couldn’t have offered sailing without such significant support from Tartan,” Gay Games executive director Tom Nobbe told Sail. Sail and Soundings Trade Only are owned by Active Interest Media.

Tartan Yachts is both the presenting sponsor for sailing at the Gay Games and the platinum sponsor for the entire weeklong sporting and cultural event.

The 20 new boats will be Tartan One Design Racers. Modeled after the award-winning Tartan Fantail 26, the boats feature 9-foot, sit-in cockpits and comfortably accommodate a 3- to 4-person crew.

The Gay Games, held every four years since 1982, will take place for the ninth time Aug. 9-16, 2014, at venues around Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. More than 11,000 people from all over the world will participate in more than 35 sports and cultural events. The games are open to anyone 18 or older.

Russo Marine adds Greenline hybrids

Russo Marine said it has added Greenline Yachts to its three sales and service locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

“Since the first of the year we’ve been searching for product alternatives that will not compete or conflict with our Brunswick brands and we had no idea this boat existed until we saw it on the cover of Soundings Trade Only,” Russo Marine president and CEO Larry Russo said.

The Slovenian company began to focus on selling its diesel-electric hybrids in the United States this year, appearing on the cover of the March issue of Trade Only.

Russo says the innovation drew him to the model the moment he saw it.

“It stands alone in the way it’s designed, the way it’s built, the way it’s powered,” says Russo. “The fit, finish and quality are really good and the price is reasonable. All the critical elements are very positive.”

Russo Marine was scheduled to receive its first Greenline in May.

Greenline Yachts are produced in Slovenia and Italy by The Seaway Group, which also builds Shipman Carbon Sailing Yachts and Skagen Motor Yachts.

Greenline’s 40 Hybrid received an Active Interest Media Editor’s Choice Award last fall at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. It has also received honors that include International Boat of the Year and environmental and design awards.

NMMA: Boating’s impact hits $5 billion in Canada

The National Marine Manufacturers Association released a study showing that Canada’s core recreational boating industry contributed an estimated economic impact of $5 billion (about $4.9 billion in U.S. dollars) and 67,000 jobs throughout Canada in 2012.

The release of the NMMA study coincided with the second annual Recreational Boating Day on the Hill in Ottawa May 1.

Members of NMMA Canada from all sectors gathered on Parliament Hill to advocate on behalf of the approximately 4,400 Canadian recreational marine companies. The Day on the Hill allows the industry to communicate with parliamentarians on issues affecting recreational boating and communicate the value of the industry.

Hickling, Arthurs, Low conducted the study on behalf of NMMA Canada and in cooperation with Discover Boating Canada and regional marine trade associations.

Accessibility group’s founder is mourned

The board of directors of Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, or CRAB, established a fund to honor the passing of founder Don Backe, who died April 12.

Backe founded CRAB in 1991 after a serious auto accident caused him to lose full use of his legs. He had been a lifelong educator and sailor, and after the accident he strove to find ways to help others experience the thrill of sailing, especially physically and/or developmentally challenged people.

“The sailing community and CRAB family will forever feel the tremendous void Don Backe leaves,” Lance Hinrichs, president of the board of directors of CRAB and a longtime CRAB sailor, said in a statement. “CRAB will strive every day to ensure his legacy continues to bring the joy of sailing on the Chesapeake to more people, people who would otherwise not have the opportunity.”

A memorial celebration is being planned for June 23 at 4 p.m., at the Port Annapolis Marina.

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

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