A celebratory Miami weekend - Trade Only Today

A celebratory Miami weekend

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The Yacht & Brokerage Show drew healthy crowds.

The Yacht & Brokerage Show drew healthy crowds.

While much of the Northeast was digging out after repeated snowstorms, visitors at the Feb. 12-16 Miami International Boat Show and the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach enjoyed a glorious winter weekend in South Florida and the warm vibes and trendy ambience of South Beach.

But that was just the froth on a heady libation for the two shows and a marine industry riding a wave of optimism that Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, expressed at the industry breakfast Feb. 12. “We’re back,” he proclaimed. “The recreational marine industry is back.”

That rallying cry is firmly grounded in the statistics he shared: 5 to 6 percent growth in unit sales and 8 to 9 percent growth in dollar sales of new boats in 2014. Similar results are expected this year.

The good news was reflected at the two shows in aisles and docks crowded with people and in a tsunami of introductions of new technology, boats and engines, large and small. The unveilings included a $1.2 million HydraSports 53-footer powered by quad Seven Marine 557-hp outboards — the world’s largest production center console — and a $52,000 Regal 21-foot Surf Edition, the builder’s first dedicated wakesurfing boat, powered by Volvo’s new Forward Drive system, which features forward-facing, counter-rotating props. On the propulsion side, introductions ran from Seven Marine’s 627-hp outboard — the first outboard to break the 600-hp barrier — to Lehr’s 25-hp outboard, the company’s largest propane outboard to date and its first powered by liquid propane instead of propane gas.

“Great inventions have their greatest impact when they are brought to the consumer,” Lehr founder and CEO Bernardo Herzer says.

The Miami shows had lots of new products and technology, and they drew people who were eager to see the innovations. Here are some of the boats, engines, electronics, accessories and other news that our crew found.

Sea Isle Marina was the place for boat tests and boat gawking.

Sea Isle Marina was the place for boat tests and boat gawking.

On the docks with Chris Landry

The first day of the Miami International Boat Show has historically been the day for new-boat introductions. The number, quality and level of innovation of the boats debuting this year was arguably the highest it has been since the years leading up to the Great Recession.

Boatbuilders bombarded the media at the Miami Beach Convention Center with exciting new outboard-powered boats, from a $20,000 17-foot runabout to a $1.2 million 52-foot, 11-inch center console. Yes, the center console has eclipsed the 50-foot mark.

The HydraSports Custom 5300 Sueños is the largest production center console in the world, said the builder, HydraSports Custom of Islamorada, Fla. “We’ve sold 140 of the 42-foot center consoles, and our boat owners have asked us, with great enthusiasm, for a larger boat to move into,” Alex Leva, company president, told the crowd moments before the black cover was removed from the vessel.

A well-equipped 5300 Sueños (which means “dream” in Spanish) costs about $1.2 million with four Seven Marine 557 outboards. It will go for about $950,000 with quad Yamaha F350s. The boat also can be powered with five of Mercury’s new 350 Verados.

With the four 557s, the boat should reach an estimated top speed of 70 mph, says Kurt Bergstrom, director of engineering. HydraSports went to Applied Concepts Unleashed to aid in the hull design. The company went to Structural Composites for the advanced construction that is used to build Navy combatant craft. The boat weighs 28,600 pounds and holds 1,000 gallons of fuel.

“Our customers wanted a boat with a little more range and reach to cross the large swells offshore,” Bergstrom says.

The smallest and least expensive boat in the debuts I saw was the Nautic Global Group’s Rinker 170 Bowrider OB with a Yamaha F70, which was on display for $19,900. That price also includes a trailer.

“The boat is a fine entry-level boat aimed at pulling people into boating,” says Chip Gerlach, vice president of engineering for Nautic, the owner of the Rinker, PolarKraft, Godfrey and Hurricane brands. The Rinker with a 70 will top out in the low 30-mph range and do the job as a water sports tow vessel, Gerlach says.

The company also debuted the Hurricane Sundeck 2486 OB. Gerlach showed me its nifty hidden centerline transom seat, which folds into the deck, freeing up a wide path from the swim platform to the bow.

* * *

Boatbuilders have been coming up with some pretty innovative seating and storage designs. The Scout 420 LXF center console houses digital switching, batteries, a gyro-stabilization system and other electrical components in a well-lit space under the cockpit’s secondary seating.

Scout president Steve Potts described the boat’s strengths during the press introduction, including Scout’s signature profile. “We wanted this boat to be the most stunning boat on the water,” says Potts, who gives much of the design credit to his son Stevie, vice president of research and development. “These boats turn heads, and in 20 to 30 years it will still look good on the water.”

Speaking of head-turners, Sea Vee has introduced another boat. The 270-Z Bay Boat becomes the latest center console in the builder’s Z series of double-stepped hulls. “This boat is all about details,” said Rob Kaidy, vice president of engineering and chief naval architect, as he pointed out the integrated toe rail that surrounds the perimeter of the deck.

The boat will reach a top speed of 60 mph with a Mercury Verado 300. Anglers can do their thing from huge stern and foredeck platforms that hold the storage capacity of a much larger boat below each of these deck spaces, Kaidy says.

* * *

Boston Whaler followed up the introduction of its 420 Outrage with a new boat in its Vantage series of dual-consoles. The 320 Vantage becomes the largest boat in this fleet. “The utility of this boat is incredible, but it never sacrifices comfort,” says Jeff Vaughn, vice president of sales, marketing and customer service worldwide.

Customer demand for outboard power prompted Chris-Craft to design an outboard version of its Launch 36. Three Yamaha F300s were installed on the model at the show.

Who says only freshwater anglers like to go fast? The first Yellowfin 24 Carbon Elite Bay Boat went out the door with a single Mercury Racing Verado 400R. Top estimated speed is 70-plus mph.

This lightweight high-performance boat is built with a laminate consisting of carbon fiber, Kevlar and e-glass fabric and a second laminate layer of just carbon fiber, says Yellowfin vice president Heath Daughtry. “We wanted to redefine the bay boat,” he says.

The construction allowed the Bradenton, Fla., builder to decrease the hull and stringer weight by 25 percent, he says. The boat draws only 10 inches dry, and its estimated overall displacement is 2,400 pounds. “To me, if a boat has a draft of 15 inches, it’s not a bay boat,” Daughtry says. The original 24 Bay, which debuted seven years ago, is still available. The carbon fiber construction is a $10,000 upgrade from the base price of $85,536.

* * *

Electronics companies are constantly upgrading the software used for their navigation systems. Case in point is the Furuno NavNet TZtouch2. Furuno vice president of sales and marketing and product development Dean Kurutz and senior product manager Eric Kunz gave me a firsthand look at the latest hardware and software technology.

“This next step takes the features of the TZtouch and refines it to improve the user interface,” says Kurutz. Furuno’s fishfinder technology is now built into the MFD. With TZtouch2 the company is introducing a new fishfinder technology called RezBoost, which produces fish targets and images four to eight times as sharp as a conventional fishfinder — and without the need to change out your narrowband transducer or buy a broadband transducer.

The TZtouch2 also now has a built-in GPS receiver (56 channels). The user can also connect an external antenna for redundancy. Between both built-in systems, the user saves the equivalent of $1,350. Furuno, throughout its menus, uses big icons and bright colors to allow the user to identify and choose options quickly.

I got a chance to see Garmin’s new Panoptix All-Seeing sonar on the water. The system was installed on a 26-foot SeaHunter center console with a Garmin 7612xsv. It gives users the ability to see all around their boat in real time — forward, backward, sideways and down — even while stationary.

Garmin Panoptix is a multibeam transducer that uses a phased-array scanning sonar technology. The system is a “game-changer for the near-shore or freshwater fisherman,” says Garmin director of marine sales David Dunn. It was previously only available in the offshore commercial market. When it comes to sonar, manufacturers such as Garmin are producing underwater images with high target definition. For example, the Panoptix showed on the 7612xsv screen a lure being reeled back to the boat in real time.

* * *

Tiara Yachts announced that it will build a “luxury sport utility” version of its 44 Coupe, the Q44. This new Tiara will use the same hull as the 44 Coupe but will be geared more toward outdoor activities and boating. “The boat will have places to store kayaks and paddle boards, and we’ll have quick and easy places to access fenders, lines and other essentials for an active boating lifestyle,” S2 CEO Tom Slikkers told me after the press introduction. “The boat is less cruising-oriented and more geared to outdoor living activity. We want this boat to be capable of being handled by the older generation or any couple, regardless of age. This boat has gutsy appeal but is still luxurious and sleek.” The boat should launch this summer.

* * *

Absolute Yachts, making its fourth appearance at the Yacht & Brokerage Show, continues to make inroads in the U.S. market. The Italian builder unveiled in North America for the first time two models: the 60 Fly and 64 Fly with hardtop.

“The flybridge has become a very important part of the boat for North American buyers,” says Cesare Mastroianni, Absolute sales manager. “We are responding to this demand with these boats and others.”

In 2014 the company sold 55 boats and expects to sell about 60 in 2015, according to Mastroianni. Last year, nine boats were sold in the North American market, he says. “We see steady growth in the Americas,” he says. “Our strategy is based on … where the market takes us.”

The company also announced it will introduce the Navetta 58 at the Cannes Boat Show in September. It’s a trawler yacht that is still a uniquely Italian boat.

* * *

I have written about the Southport 33FE (Family Edition) in several articles for our sister publication Soundings. But I had not driven it. Skip Robinson, Southport managing director, invited me to the show’s Sea Isle Marine in-water portion for a demo ride. (The boat’s owner, Murney Lewis of Ireland Yacht Sales in Sanibel, Fla., was on board, as well.) This boat rides a tried-and-true deep-vee hull designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates. Twin Yamaha F350s powered the boat, which is built with using high-end materials and methods (resin infusion) for weight savings and strength.

I can only say good things about my experience. With six people on board and 220 gallons of fuel, the boat climbed on plane with little bow rise, allowing me to see the horizon while seated. She held a straight course and leaned into turns predictably. I felt right at home aboard the 33FE. The Yamahas pushed her with ease. I worked the throttles from 3,500 to 5,000 rpm. The boat accelerated forcefully. She also can maintain a planing speed of 12.5 mph with the throttles set at 2,500 rpm.

“This is hull No. 17, and we have three or four on the order books,” says Robinson. “This is twice as many as we expected to sell. This boat has dominated our orders.”

As shown, the boat was priced at $308,000. With twin F300s, the price is $271,000.

The Bahamas Billfish Championship has found a new home with AIM.

The Bahamas Billfish Championship has found a new home with AIM.

On the docks with Rich Armstrong

Maybe it was the winter-weary Northeasterner in me, but I certainly wasn’t alone in feeling good to be in the South Florida sunshine — and feeling that this was another solid industry performance in Miami, one that continued to build on the progress of the past few years. From the three sites at the Miami International Boat Show to the ramps along Collins Avenue for the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach, the venues felt vibrant, and buyers appeared to be serious at every level of the market.

Among the multitude of events was an informal gathering hosted by Show Management, the producer and co-owner of the Yacht & Brokerage Show, on nearby Watson Island, where a superyacht marina is taking shape that will increase the footprint of that show next year. The marina portion of Island Gardens Deep Harbour is expected to be completed this fall, with hotels and condominiums to follow, leading to an October 2017 grand opening of the luxury yachting resort.

The result will be Super-Yacht Miami, a new deep-water facility that will enable the exhibition of superyachts even larger than those at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which Show Management also produces. “We’ll be able to accommodate practically any size yacht — the largest in the world — at the venue,” Show Management vice president and chief operating officer Andrew Doole says.

The development project on the 10.7-acre island (with 13.4 acres of submerged land) will feature the only marina in North America exclusively designed for superyachts, with 5,000 linear feet of dockage accommodating vessels as large as 550 feet in an average depth of 18 feet, but as deep as 25 feet at the outer slips.

Two luxury residential towers containing 170 residences and 360-degree views of Biscayne Bay, the Atlantic and the Miami skyline will be the centerpiece of the development. “This is something we started working on with the developer [Flagstone Development] several years ago, and it’s finally coming to fruition,” Doole says. “We’re looking forward to it becoming a part of the show for years to come.”

Three yachts, from 120 to 180 feet, were exhibited this year. Doole says show producers expect at least 20 yachts to be on display for the 2016 show.

Active Interest Media formally announced the acquisition of the Bahamas Billfish Championship. The acquisition includes the Dania Marine Flea Market. “We are very excited to expand AIM and the Marine Group’s event portfolio to include the BBC,” says Andrew Clurman, president and COO of AIM, which owns Soundings Trade Only. “We are constantly looking for great ways to engage our audience and motivate them to participate in our sport.”

The Bahamas Billfish Championship, founded in 1973, is a series comprising four tournaments held April through June. Al Behrendt took over production of the BBC in 1981. Last year, Behrendt retired, and his daughter Jennifer Dudas assumed the reins. Dudas will remain on as producer of the BBC and the Dania Marine Flea Market.

Viking brought 17 yachts to South Florida this year — 14 to its exhibit at the Yacht & Brokerage Show and three for sea trials at Miami Beach Marina. Among the fleet were the new 75 Motor Yacht and 52 Open.

Peter Frederiksen, director of communications, says the company signed contracts for two 62-footers, one 55 and a 52 at the show. He says the company appears to be on track to sell and build 70 boats in fiscal 2014-15, which ends July 31.

Viking sold nine boats at its 19th annual VIP events, which were held at the end of January at its Riviera Beach facility. The exclusive venue saw potential customers go on 70 sea trials.

Palm Beach Motor Yachts introduced its new Palm Beach 52 in advance of its soon-to-be-released 42. Both sport large cockpits and “flush-deck walk-ups” — several gentle steps that progress up from the level of the cockpit to amidships, designed for making tying fenders or lines a breeze, even in adverse conditions.

Grand Banks acquired Palm Beach last year, and the builder is progressively incorporating Palm Beach’s high-tech manufacturing processes into the Grand Banks line. “There has been a lot of life and a lot of excitement kicked into both Grand Banks and Palm Beach,” says Dave Northrop, the brands’ director of sales and operations for the Americas.

“I think the two companies are coming together nicely and will deliver a lot of exciting products over the next 12 months,” says CEO Mark Richards.

Among the smaller boats launched at the convention center was Four Winns’ entry into the wakeboat market: the TS222. The 22-footer is powered by Volvo Penta’s new Forward Drive system, a sterndrive with forward-facing dual counter-rotating props. “We kept it under wraps until Volvo was ready with its engine,” says Julie Johnson, director of marketing at Rec Boat Holdings.

Available tow sports features include a quick-fill ballast system, wake enhancement surf tabs, zero-off control and a custom color-matched wakeboard tower. “The TS222 will capture a niche market of tow-sports enthusiasts looking for an affordable yet fully equipped boat for wakesurfing and boarding,” Rec Boat Holdings president Roch Lambert says.

Chris-Craft debuted the Launch 36 with a triple-outboard configuration featuring Yamaha 300-hp 4-strokes. The Launch 36 is primarily a large dayboat, with overnighting capabiliities.

Chris-Craft also introduced a sterndrive sportboat to its lineup. The Capri 21 is designed with a retro feel inspired by the Chris-Craft models of the 1930s. The builder also showcased its new flagship of the Catalina range, the Catalina 34, which was introduced at the Fort Lauderdale show last fall.

The Ferretti Group displayed 18 new boats across its brands and 13 brokerage boats. Among the new boats was the North American debut of the Ferretti 650, the first in a series of smaller yachts, with 55- and 45-footers in the works. “We will be building both smaller and bigger boats in the years ahead,” chief commercial officer Stefano DeVivo says.

“We want to catch the customer at the start so they can then grow with us,” CEO Alberto Galassi says of a new strategy that will change the structure of the Ferretti Group to emphasize each of its seven brands as a separate company.

The Moorings continues to grow its fleet with the introduction of the Moorings 433PC, building on its larger power cat, the 514PC. “We’re building one per week,” says Josie Tucci, general manager of The Moorings. The model is branded for private purchase as the Leopard 51PC, says Tucci, former vice president of marketing at MarineMax.

Seven Marine became the first outboard company to break the 600-hp barrier with its 627s (the 557-hp models are shown here).

Seven Marine became the first outboard company to break the 600-hp barrier with its 627s (the 557-hp models are shown here).

Like her big sister, the 433PC boasts a forward cockpit accessed from the saloon, a spacious and well-appointed flybridge, and comfortable interior fittings.

FLIR Systems introduced new thermal imaging and sonar technology. “We’ve engineered our new sonars and thermal cameras with FLIR’s latest technological innovations to enhance boaters’ awareness both on the water and under the surface,” FLIR Marine vice president and general manager Gregoire Outer says.

In thermal cameras, FLIR showcased its new M400, the latest in its M-Series. The multisensor unit features a 640-by-480 thermal imager paired with a 3x continuous optical zoom lens, an integrated high-density LED spotlight, active gyro-stabilization, radar tracking and optional video tracking, and an intuitive joystick controller.

The Ocean Scout is essentially the third generation of FLIR’s handheld First Mate thermal imager. The night-vision camera lets users see other boats, landmarks, buoys and even people in the water in total darkness. The units enable the detection of human-size targets as far away as 600 yards.

The Raymarine CP470 sonar is geared toward saltwater anglers and features filtering for clear, low-noise images, Raymarine’s wide-spectrum CHIRP technology and high-resolution depiction of fish targets.

Hatteras Yachts announced a partnership with VesselVanguard in which buyers of new Hatteras boats will receive five years of complimentary protection service from the systems-monitoring service. This is the 29th partnership VesselVanguard has forged; the most recent was with Chris-Craft. “We expect at least two more partnership announcements by the end of March,” founder and CEO Donald Hyde says.

On the docks with Jim Flannery

“Is the Miami International Boat Show moving to Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin?” NMMA president Thom Dammrich asked at the industry breakfast on the first day of the show. “My answer is, absolutely.”

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is striving to quickly prepare exhibitors to move to the stadium site, at least in 2016 and 2017 — and possibly longer — while Miami Beach renovates and expands its convention center, the show’s home for more than 20 years.

The historic Marine Stadium, which is in disrepair and has not been used for decades, lies on 16 acres on Virginia Key next to a “deep-water basin the size of the Washington Mall,” Dammrich says. The city of Miami has committed $16 million to upgrade the property, and a 700-boat marina that can be customized to exhibitors’ needs is planned for the basin, Dammrich says. About 600,000 square feet of air-conditioned outdoor tents will accommodate land-side exhibitors.

Dammrich says the site has “unlimited space” in the basin for boats, including deep-draft vessels, and offers direct access to Biscayne Bay for sea trials. He says there will be room on the water and on shore for at least 1,500 boat displays, and tent and dock space for boating and sailing workshops. The NMMA has identified 17,000 parking spaces within a 15-minute water taxi or shuttle bus ride of the stadium. Dammrich has said the show will continue to have multiple sites, including Bayside Marketplace. The Miami boat show typically draws 3,000 boats and 2,000 exhibitors.

Dammrich invited exhibitors to visit a booth showing the layout of the stadium site and to take a look at exhibits behind the convention center this year, which were under tents identical to those planned for the stadium site. He says exhibitors will have to think differently about how they set up their booths at the stadium, which will offer new options. “You need to begin planning for next year now because it’s going to be a different show,” he says.

The city of Miami Beach plans to begin the half-billion-dollar renovation and expansion of its convention center in December but is still trying to find a developer that can keep the project within the city’s budget. Miami Beach is expecting that a larger, more modern facility will attract more conventions; the center has been underused in recent years. Plans call for an 800-room hotel with restaurants and retail shops next to the convention center, along with two public parks.

One remaining obstacle to the move is the town of Key Biscayne, which filed suit in early February to halt the plan until the town’s concerns are addressed through mediation. Key Biscayne fears that Miami’s $16 million investment means the city wants to revive the site as a venue for more events, causing traffic tie-ups on the Rickenbacker Causeway, the town’s only vehicular link to the mainland. The town asserts that staging the boat show on the stadium property violates Miami’s zoning code, which designates the stadium as civic space, not a commercial venue.

Seven Marine aims to deliver more horsepower for the big, muscular center consoles elbowing their way into today’s market. The Germantown, Wis., engine maker introduced a 627-hp outboard, becoming the first company to break the 600-hp barrier.

The rationale for an outboard that big: “Enhanced overall torque and horsepower for the growing category of super center consoles” — HydraSports, Intrepid, Midnight Express and other center consoles 42 feet and larger, says Seven Marine vice president of operations Brian Davis. “These boats should be able to ride 70 mph with quad 627s and cruise efficiently at 50 mph.”

The 627 is a production outboard built for the recreational market, not for racing, he says. It’s built on a GM LSA 6.2L supercharged, fuel-injected V-8. The engine delivers 600 pound-feet of torque from 3,000 rpm to its rated speed of 5,500 rpm. Family-owned-and-operated Seven Marine also touts the 627’s SpectraBlade cowl, which has 615 LED lights that can be color-coordinated to match the boat. “The illumination creates a unique experience,” says Eric Davis, vice president of marketing and engineering.

Monterey Boats, of Williston, Fla., is betting that its future lies in simple, elegant dayboats designed for ease of use and entertaining. The Monterey 36SC (Sport Coupe) is the first of what co-chairman Charles Marshall foresees as a series of coupes from 30 to 41 feet. He says the patented hardtop and integrated windshield allows owners to enjoy the spacious cockpit open or closed off with air conditioning.

“We believe this is the future of the marine cruiser,” he says. The cockpit is designed to change configurations with the push of a button: The electrically controlled twin helm chairs flip back from to face twin wet bars aft in entertainment mode. The cockpit’s L-shaped settee, also electrically controlled, becomes a sun pad. An electric sliding center window at the helm provides access via a retractable staircase to the sun pads on the bow.

Below, full windows provide a panoramic view outside, and forward of the galley a V-berth converts electrically to a dinette and seating. “We’re finding that people are overnighting on their boats less and are looking to a boat they can take out to entertain family and friends,” Monterey engineering vice president Mark Owens says.

Named for a fine Swiss timepiece, the muscular 43-foot Midnight Express Ulysse Nardin was custom-built to partner with the 169-year-old Swiss watchmaker of the same name to promote its titanium-and-ceramic dive watches, which are water-resistant to 1,000 feet and sell for about $10,500 apiece. A limited edition of the watch carries an engraving of the Midnight Express on the back; the boatbuilder’s logo is almost invisibly etched on the face.

The $1.2 million Midnight Express rides a double-stepped, cored, fully infused hull and carries quad Seven Marine 557-hp outboards. With a quad GT gearcase and surface drives, she can run 100 mph, says Harris Glaser, vice president of the Hollywood, Fla., builder. “It’s not all show and no go,” he says. “It goes.” It’s not on the market yet, however — for now, it’s for marketing both brands.

Regal Boats, of Orlando, Fla., has tapped some new Volvo Penta technology — forward-facing, counter-rotating props tucked under the boat for safety — for its new 21 Surf Edition. The wakesurfing boat has 1,000 pounds of water ballast that the skipper can shift to port or starboard to pitch the boat, which along with surf tabs at the stern throws up a wave for wakesurfers to ride.

The forward-facing drives are not only safer than standard drives for wakesurfers, but they’re also quiet, and the exhaust is released underwater and comes out with the prop wash far enough behind the boat that it does not make passengers or surfers sick, says Barry Slade, Regal’s vice president of international sales.

Slade says it’s also laid out so it can be used for fishing, cruising and wakeboarding. “The whole concept is versatility and, at $52,000, less costly than a lot of the surfing and wakeboarding boats.”

Propane-powered outboard maker Lehr introduced its largest engine yet, a 25-hp model that is the company’s first to operate on liquid propane instead of propane gas. The liquid feed increases the amount of fuel going into the engine to power its higher horsepower requirements, says Bernardo Herzer, founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based company.

Even more eye-opening: Herzer launched a program to give away a one-year supply of fuel to anyone who buys one of his outboards by June 30. Lehr markets 2.5-, 5-, 9.9- 15- and 25-hp outboards. Herzer says buyers register for the free fuel at freecleanfuel.com and get a debit card for an amount based on the average annual fuel consumption of the size motor purchased and the average annual cost of a gallon of propane.

Speaking to about 35 NMMA members, Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, commodore of the Club Nautico Internacional Hemingway de Cuba, says he continues to work toward his dream of developing pleasure boating in Cuba. And in light of the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba and the turnaround in the American boating industry, it’s still possible to realize that dream, he says.

Cuba has 3,100 miles of coastline, 289 beaches, 4,195 keys and islands, and 3,966 coral reefs, all of which are potential destinations for boaters, he says. Cuba is a crossroads for cruisers, just 90 miles from Florida, 110 miles from the Yucatan, 60 miles from Jamaica and 45 miles from the Dominican Republic.

Cuba has 23 marinas with 1,040 berths, but only eight are international ports of entry. By 2018, Cuba plans to build three more marinas with 2,977 berths. Fuel services and repair yards are few and far between. “We don’t have enough repair yards,” he says. “We need to develop the capacity to repair boats.”

Nicole Vasilaros, the NMMA’s director of federal and legal affairs, says the industry organization is not actively seeking a change in U.S. travel policy to Cuba, but it believes that travel restrictions should be applied even-handedly. If people can fly to Cuba, they ought to be able to travel there by boat, she says.

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue.

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