Exhibitors at the mega-show reported eager buyers ready to sit down and talk turkey about their next boat purchase
A rebounding economy, consumers eager to buy and perfect weather teamed up to make the 2012 Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail a success, organizers and exhibitors say.
“People really seemed to have had a really great show. A lot of people [were] reporting the best show in four or five years, even back to the best show since 2002,” says show manager Cathy Rick-Joule. “We’re getting some really solid sales results and really solid, positive comments.”
The shows, produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, saw a slight drop in attendance this year — 3 percent from 2011. Still, 100,917 people attended the five-day event, which took place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center and Miamarina at Bayside. “It was down 3 percent … but we are ahead of our three-year average, so we are ahead 4 percent over three years,” Rick-Joule says. “We’re continuing to rebound, to some degree, over the past four or five years. We’re not in the numbers game, as far as attendance goes. Certainly people and numbers of people are important, but the quality and the seriousness of the buyer is what’s of greatest concern from our perspective.
“Attendance is a piece of the puzzle, but it’s certainly not our barometer. Our barometer is product sales,” she adds.
There were about 1,900 exhibitors at this year’s show, down from a high of about 2,200, but with consolidation in the industry that’s to be expected, Rick-Joule says. “We’ve been holding pretty steady. We’ve had an uptick in Asian exhibitors, whether they’re Korean or Chinese,” she says.
On the Strictly Sail side, show manager Kevin Murphy reports similar success. “I think the overriding comment from the majority of exhibitors was that the quality of attendance was very good, the buying had started again and people were talking more optimistically than they have been in the past,” he says. “In addition to boats being sold on site … there were a lot of deals that were taken away [from the show] and exhibitors felt they would become sales shortly after the show.”
This year’s Strictly Sail featured more than 100 boats, which is up from last year. “We’re starting to build again,” Murphy says. “It will be a few years before we get up to 150 boats, but I think that as long as we keep adding boats every year, rather than losing boats, the show will continue to grow.”
One encouraging number, according to Murphy, is that 21,140 people came to Strictly Sail from one of the other two venues in addition to those who bought tickets at the sailboat show. That’s a substantial increase from last year, he says.
If sales and leads are the barometer of a good show, many who spoke with Soundings Trade Only were happy with their results. “Regulator dealers sold more boats and came away with more strong leads in 2012 than 2011,” company president Joan Maxwell notes. “Our Italian and Puerto Rican dealers both had customers in the booth. We visited with dealers from the Caribbean and Australia. It truly was an international show.” Maxwell says she was surprised not only by the strength of the traffic on opening day, but also that many attendees were not wearing trade badges.
Statement Marine sold seven 368 SUV Crossovers, one 34 SUV and one 42 Ultimate, and signed three new dealers at the show. The company also was awarded Best Display and described the show as its “best Miami ever.” “There are so many great companies displaying boats in Miami. To be chosen as the best of them all is a huge honor, and to go home with a stack of retail-sold orders to build is icing on the cake,” co-owner Nick Buis says. “The whole Statement family pulled together to make this year’s show a total success in every way.”
Hell’s Bay Boatworks also called the show its best in years. “The attendance was steady and strong, the buyers were upbeat, and we at Hell’s Bay were very optimistic that the show has kicked off a great season for boat sales and the momentum from the show should continue for months ahead,” the company said in a statement.
Tim Gallagher, general manager of Deep Impact Boats, agrees. “We were very pleased with the show results, which yielded on-site sales as well as a long list of leads requiring follow-up,” he says.
Zodiac Recreational of North America reported an increase in sales and traffic at the show. “Our sales volume alone was up over 30 percent from last year’s show and we’re tracking numerous leads post-show,” says Gary Durnan, vice president of recreational sales. “We take this as not only a positive sign of a rebounding economy, but also the continued strength of our Zodiac brand in the marketplace today.”
In the days after the show, Rick-Joule says she was still collecting positive reports from exhibitors. “Regal told me that they had a great show — the best in four years — and most of what they sold was in the 32-foot range or bigger,” she says. “Monterey told me they sold 18 boats, which was $2.2 million. Tracker told me they sold no boats on opening day last year and they sold four on opening day this year. Skip Braver from Cigarette told me it was the best show they’ve had since 2002.” Rick-Joule adds that Sea Ray sold about 100 boats, and Everglades and Carolina Skiff also reported positive results.
It wasn’t only boatbuilders that came away happy. Accessories exhibitors and others also reported an upbeat, buying crowd. “The Miami boat show was very solid this year, with good traffic and many interested buyers,” says Ken Taranto, vice president of aftermarket sales for Dometic Marine. “Dometic, as usual, had excellent dealer participation at the booth and feedback from the dealers was universally positive. Virtually all dealers reported taking orders at the booth, as well as generating a significant number of follow-up leads. Feedback from the boat dealers indicated solid activity and sales and new boats.”
Douglas Mason, general manager at Sunset Harbour Yacht Club in South Beach, says the club had four or five offers on equity memberships and adds that it had not seen this type of activity since 2008. “I haven’t heard anybody from a sales side that said, ‘Oh, it stunk,’ ” Rick-Joule says. “Everybody’s just said they were really busy, crowds were great, quality was great, energy was back and we feel like we’re going to survive.”
Next year’s show
In addition to the boats, engines and accessories on display, Rick-Joule and Murphy say attendees enjoyed Discover Boating and Discover Sailing activities, most of which were filled up before the weekend. Also, Rick-Joule says, the Fred’s Shed DIY seminars were well-attended and the audience was engaged.
A Welcome to the Water pavilion, featuring 15 boats available for $250 a month or less, was a popular attraction. Rick-Joule says there are plans to add a Spanish-speaking attendant next year to help would-be buyers. The show’s website, she notes, is in six languages, and there has been a great response to that addition. “We’re going to really have to continue to ramp up our diversity efforts and make sure that we’re really speaking to everyone we can in a language they understand,” she says. “That’s on the must-improve-for-next-year list.”
Another program that will continue in 2013 is Dealer Connections, which encourages dealers to come to the show and meet with manufacturers. This year, 200 brands of boats, engines and accessories were represented and 147 dealers signed up for the program.
Murphy says that this year more manufacturers and dealers at Strictly Sail wanted closing rooms and floating platforms, and organizers will need to better prepare for that in 2013. He calls it a positive sign of growth. Also, based on discussions with exhibitors, many plan to bring more boats next year, he says, which could lead to a larger in-water display and taking back Pier A for use.
Strictly Sail will consider growing its brokerage area next year. The show allows brokerage boats only if they are larger than the largest new boat at the show. This year, there were eight brokerage boats.
Next year’s Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail is set for Feb. 14-18.
On the docks with Chris Landry
My first stop was the Miami Beach Marina on the day before the show opened Feb. 15. A 32-foot Jupiter center console with the latest equipment from Raymarine and FLIR awaited me. Raymarine’s e-Series multifunction displays, with the new CP450C ClearPulse CHIRP Sonar, were installed on the boat. The package also included a new thermal-imaging system from FLIR, Raymarine’s parent company. The sonar and thermal imaging were tied into the new e-Series 12.1-inch multifunction displays with HybridTouch touch-screen capability.
The sonar technology uses two independent sonar transceivers to deliver 10 times the resolution of traditional fishfinders, Raymarine marketing director Jim Hands told me as we got under way. On the starboard-side display, a school of pinfish and herring was clearly pictured as we motored at trolling speeds at the mouth of Government Cut. “That is just stunning, but of course that is a product manager’s opinion,” says Brian Vlad, Raymarine global product manager, who was on board along with director of product management Chris Jones and global product manager Mark Garland.
Raymarine last year came out with its e7 multifunction display with the same touch-screen technology. The new line of e12 products includes a wider selection of screen sizes and control options. Raymarine also has introduced a less expensive version of its multifunction displays — the c-Series, which has no touch-screen capability. Both series offer connectivity with mobile devices. “We can stream anything on the screen to your iPhone or iPad,” Hands says.
“We’re taking orders now for the 9-inch and 12-inch displays and the new sonar product is going to hit the market at the end of March,” Jones says.
A second 12.1-inch display on the starboard side of the console showed a split screen of the FLIR thermal imaging, in addition to a chart plotter. Vlad also switched over to the radar display, which showed a defined image of a small tug and center console off the starboard bow.
The MSRP of the CP450C system is $1,999. The c-Series ranges from $1,799 to $2,599, depending on screen size and the sonar option. The e-Series ranges from $2,799 to $3,599. www.raymarine.com; www.flir.com
At the Yacht & Brokerage Show on Collins Avenue, the new Cabo Hardtop Express, the 40HTX, powered with Cummins MerCruiser Diesel’s Zeus pod system, was on display — all lit up with blue LEDs. The boat follows the 44HTX, which was introduced last year. The 40’s new bridge deck has a centerline helm seat, a companion seat to starboard, and L-shaped seating to port. The boat, fully equipped with the Zeus package, is about $1 million. www.caboyachts.com
Also in the water was the new Hatteras GT63 Enclosed Flybridge. The flybridge offers a climate-controlled upper helm. Powered with twin 1,900-hp Caterpillars, it can hit 40 knots. The price is $3.5 million to $4 million, depending on options and power.
James Meyer, president and CEO of Hatteras Collection and Hatteras Yachts, announced plans to unveil a 95 Raised Pilothouse in the summer of 2013. It’ll be the builder’s new flagship. “When we sell this yacht we really want it to be a full turnkey purchase,” Meyer told the roughly 50 guests on hand, which included members of the media. “For instance, the hardtop over the flybridge is part of the base boat. The zero-speed stabilizer is part of the base boat. The ‘big stuff’ is standard, and the ‘little stuff,’ is standard. … All you have to do is add water.”
The yacht will be priced at slightly less than $9 million, Meyer says. www.hatterasyachts.com
When the show officially opened Feb. 16, new-boat introductions were up sharply, with about a dozen builders holding press conferences. They pulled off black covers, smashed champagne bottles in christening ceremonies and showed slick videos on high-definition screens. It was quite a change from the last few years, when new-boat announcements were scarce or were current hulls with deck, cabin or helm changes.
I noticed a sizable increase in members of the media — and a surge of enthusiasm — at the announcements, which were held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. First up was Grady-White (www.gradywhite.com), with its Freedom 335 dual console powered with twin Yamaha F350s. “Look at this cockpit — huge and uncluttered — it rivals any center console,” Grady-White vice president of engineering David Neese said in his introduction. “But what really sets this boat apart is the amount of amenities we’ve put in that allow you to have fun in the sun — or the shade.”
At this point, another Grady representative pushed a button that dispatched an aft shade to cover the entire cockpit. “I don’t know if anyone is timing this, but in about 15 or 20 seconds we’ve turned a great fishing boat into a phenomenal cruising boat,” says Neese. I did time it. It was 35 seconds.
Next up was Tiara CEO David Slikkers, who unveiled the Tiara 3600 Coronet (www.tiarayachts.com). The boat has “all the hallmarks of a Tiara — true diamond non-skid; wide, safe walkways; full composite windshield; easy tilt-away helm for standing and sitting [driving]; and composite fuel tanks,” says Slikkers.
Galati Yachts representative Jennifer Galati christened the boat, smashing a bottle of champagne on the rubrail while standing with Slikkers on the foredeck.
It wasn’t just the large production builders making noise. For example, representatives of 6-year-old Statement Marine (www.statementmarine.com), which was at the show for the fourth time, told us about the 368 SUV — a high-performance boat with family-boating attributes. “It is a crossover boat, so it can be a ridiculous hardcore fishing boat to a luxurious family boat,” company founder Todd Werner said as I stood on board with him. “We’re not the only ones doing this, but we are taking [the luxury] to the next level.”
The boat ranges from $325,000 to $350,000 with triple 300-hp Verados. And Werner told me about his air-cushion technology, which softens the ride of two of his 42-foot models using air bags under the deck. “Suspension itself is an evolution in the motorsports world,” says Werner, who raced performance boats for 15 years before establishing Statement Marine. “The last motorsport in the world to have suspension is marine. And I’m not talking about seat suspension. With my suspension system the steering wheel, the throttles and all the electronics are suspended. Why take all your electronics and hit them in the head with waves?”
Sea Ray (www.searay.com) vice president of marketing Rob Noyes had plenty to talk about during his announcement, including the introduction of the Sea Ray 230 SLX. The bowrider was equipped with Sea Ray’s new Active Trim Control, which manipulates running attitude and wake wave height for water skiing and wakeboarding. Power options range from 260- to 300-hp MerCruiser sterndrives.
The 230 follows the 210 SLX, which debuted in Fort Lauderdale. But Noyes spent the most time talking about Sea Ray’s Quiet Ride technology. The “proprietary combination of acoustical forensic, engineering and sound-attenuation materials” is an innovation the manufacturer has worked on for four years. He used a hammer and then two golf balls to illustrate the sound and vibration improvements that Quiet Rides bring to a boat.
Chris-Craft (www.chriscraft.com) pulled the cover off its new Launch 32 and Corsair 36. “Our customers have been asking for the 32 launch for several years, but with the downturn the time was not right,” Chris-Craft president Steve Heese says. “The 36 is probably our most successful boat ever and we’ve redone it.”
The Launch 32 is powered with twin Volvo Penta sterndrives and joystick control. The Corsair 36, powered by twin Volvo Penta 8.1-liter sterndrives, tops out at 48 mph with a cruise of 28 mph. This Corsair uses the same hull design as the previous Corsair 36, but it has a completely new deck layout, Heese says. The Launch 32 is new from the keel up. It has an LOA of 34 feet, 3 inches, with a beam of 10 feet and a deadrise at the transom of 20 degrees. Both boats have open bows.
Not only is the 25 Bay a new boat for Contender, it’s also the builder’s first bay boat. The company is known for rugged offshore center console fishing platforms. “I would say we will have other bay boat models in the future,” says Les Stewart Jr., Contender’s marketing director. “We’re excited. It’s a new market for us.”
Boston Whaler (www.bostonwhaler.com) has recently stepped up its product development. Ron Berman, vice president of product development and engineering, had five boats to talk about with another healthy crowd of media members in the builder’s display area. He introduced the 210 Montauk, 285 Conquest, 285 Conquest Pilothouse, 315 Conquest and 170 Dauntless. The latter two boats were being shown for the first time. Charlie Foss, an industrial designer with Whaler, showed me a neat innovation aboard the Conquests — a pullout barbecue or fishing station that can be recessed inside the helm deck’s companion area.
Another hot topic at the show was joystick control without pod drives. The marine industry has been busy developing systems to marry joystick steering with outboards and sterndrives.
Yanmar America Corp. debuted a joystick for its sterndrive propulsion system and Teleflex Marine introduced a joystick for twin-outboard installations. I had a chance to demo each setup at the show’s in-water component at Sea Isle Marina on Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
The Optimus 360 control system consists of different subsystems: Teleflex’s Optimus power steering system, electronic shift and control system, and joystick, says Aldo Mastropieri, Teleflex Marine’s product manager of custom marine and steering. “Wait till you try this. It’s the first on the market,” Mastropieri told me as we sat down for a dockside interview. “We’re the first to bring joystick control to the outboard steering market, and without the use of bow thrusters.”
The Optimus 360 retails for $17,995 and is expected to be available in July. The steering system, sold separately, is about $7,000 and is expected to be available in April. “You could install the steering system first and then add the joystick and controls later to come away with your full joystick control system,” he says.
The Optimus 360 was installed in a 34-foot SeaCraft center console with twin 2005 225-hp Mercury OptiMax 2-strokes. I was impressed at how smoothly and quickly the joystick transitioned the outboards into and out of gear. That alone gives the skipper better command of the boat. The setup does an excellent job of getting quick response from older outboards, and you’ll get a kick out of watching the outboards “toe in” so their props are as far apart as possible. www.teleflexmarine.com
Yanmar’s Easy Operation System consists of a joystick helm control, new V-8 diesels and twin sterndrives with counter-rotating propellers. It was set up on a 40-foot Nor-Tech center console. The engines, linked to Yanmar ZT370 drives, packed head-snapping acceleration. The joystick was impressive, too.
After getting a quick tutorial from Tom Watson, division manager of the Yanmar Marine Engine Division, and Capt. Ron List, I circle a nav marker and practice walking the boat sideways and diagonally. Like the Optimus, this system requires no bow thruster. “Another advantage of the electric steering system is the helm has a variable feel,” List says. “At low speed you have three turns lock to lock and, at high speed, it’s five. So as you increase speed you gain response sensitivity.”
The Easy Operation System is expected to be available later this year. Pricing was unavailable. www.yanmar.com
Also at the Sea Isle Marina was the Ranger Tugs R-31 — a single-diesel, semidisplacement trailerable trawler with a retractable flybridge. “A lot of our customers may have had designs for a larger yacht but for whatever reason decided against it,” says Jeff Messmer, Ranger Tugs vice president of sales and marketing. “We can offer so much in a small package — kind of a less-is-more idea. So we have all the systems you would find in a 40- to 50-foot yacht in a package that is very workable.”
Messmer and I took the 31 for a short sea trial, piloting the 10,500-pound (dry) boat from the flybridge. You also can drive from helm stations in the wheelhouse and cockpit. Standard bow and stern thrusters work with the 300-hp Volvo Penta D4 diesel, which pushed the boat up on plane with virtually no bow rise.
Fuel prices were surging at the time of the show, with diesel and gasoline at the Sea Isle fuel dock at $4.67 a gallon and $4.99 a gallon, respectively. So I was anxious to learn the fuel economy of the Ranger. At a 7-knot displacement speed, the D4 burned 1.5 gph for a 4.7-nmpg mileage rating. At the other end of the speed curve (24 knots), the engine gauge showed a fuel burn of 15 gph and a 1.6-nmpg rating.
Accommodations include a forward stateroom with an island berth and head and shower, and a midships stateroom with a berth and day head. The cockpit has a transom bench seat and two seats that are hidden in the port and starboard gunwales. They actually open and slide outboard, so you will be sitting over the water — kind of cool. (Ranger has a patent pending on this seat design.) Access to the centerline-mounted engine is excellent, with adequate space all around.
Standard equipment includes the thrusters, a windlass, trim tabs, a 2,500-watt inverter, a cockpit refrigerator, and a fully equipped galley to starboard in the pilothouse with a refrigerator, electric oven and two-burner cooktop. A saloon entertainment center includes a TV/DVD player.
The R-31 with the Volvo Penta D4 carries a $279,937 introductory price. Upgrade with air conditioning and heat ($7,650), a 5-kW genset ($13,300), and a navigation package ($13,997) that includes the Garmin GPSMap 5215 and 5212, a 4-kW radar and GPS antennae. www.rangertugs.com
The Hinckley Company occupied its usual nook at Sea Isle. I sat down with sales director Eric Champlin in the saloon of the new Talaria 48 Motor Yacht, which was being displayed at a boat show for the first time. “It’s our two-cabin, two-head, under-50-foot Talaria jetboat,” Champlin says. “It’s actually hull No. 3. At this show we’ve gotten a number of people out [for demo rides] and they’ve been very impressed, so that’s exciting.”
The Maine builder introduced the Talaria 48 Flybridge at the Fort Lauderdale boat show two years ago, Champlin says. “We’ve already sold 11 of those boats,” he says.
The 37-foot Hinckley Picnic Boat Mark III neighbored the Talaria 48 MY. “For 2012, we have switched to Yanmar V-8 engines, the 370s,” Champlin says. “These engines are very quiet, smooth and fast. It’s a game-changer for that boat.”
He says the Miami show had been “better than last year.” Deciding whether to attend the Miami show or the Yacht & Brokerage Show, which run simultaneously, has been a challenge because both venues have their advantages, Champlin says. “There’s really no clear-cut answer as to which show we should attend,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to go to boat shows, and when there’s not a clear answer it’s tough.”
Hinckley likes the ability to conduct sea trials at the Miami show. “People are going so fast as they navigate the show that if we can catch their attention and get them out for a ride, rather than try and schedule it for another time, it makes a big difference,” he says. “Getting them out for a ride is a big step.” www.hinckleyyachts.com
On the docks with Jim Flannery
ACR Electronics delivered on its better mousetrap, an inherently buoyant version of its ResQLink, which it says is the smallest and lightest personal locator beacon on the market. The original ResQLink was not inherently buoyant, but it could be tucked away in a floating pouch, ACR’s Chris Wahler says. The new ResQLink, called ResQLink+, is a tad wider than the original, so it will float on its own, but at 1.6 by 1.9 by 4.5 inches it still qualifies as smaller than anything else out there except the original ResQLink, he says. Wahler says the Coast Guard has issued the unit as standard safety gear for every crewmember on some of its cutters. Wahler says the ResQLink+ comes with a Velcro strap for securing it to a life jacket up around the collarbone, which is how the Coast Guard carries its PLBs. The list price is $325, and the retail price is about $280, Wahler says. www.acrelectronics.com
Digital Yacht America, of Newburyport, Mass., debuted AIS Life Guard, an AIS-based man-overboard alarm system. For it to work, crewmembers must carry a personal Automatic Identification System device, such as the ones that Weatherdock, Kannad and McMurdo make. Connected to an on-board AIS transponder or receiver, AIS Life Guard becomes a fully operational search-and-rescue transponder/man-overboard system. As soon as a person goes overboard and the AIS Life Guard detects an AIS search-and-rescue transmission, AIS Life Guard sounds a 95-db alarm and displays a red warning light while a symbol — usually a red cross — showing the crew overboard’s location registers on the chart plotter. The cost is about $300. www.digitalyacht.co.uk
Dr. Michael Hall, a Miami Beach physician who has served in the New Zealand bush, the jungles of Sri Lanka and earthquake-ravaged Haiti, introduced his Hall Medpac. The Medpac is a well-equipped, highly portable “hospital in a suitcase” equipped with an Iridium satellite phone and GPS so you always know where you are and can phone a doctor from anywhere in the world, Hall says. An Air Force Reserve medical officer and a CDC physician, Hall offers two kits — the junior size for $2,500 and a senior size for $9,500. They can include pain-control narcotics, antibiotics, antihistamines and anti-venom medication, IV fluids, electrolytes and medications, an oxygen tank, heart attack kits with an AED/defibrillator, splints, an infant delivery kit, a laceration tray with sutures, and military-grade gunshot wound treatment supplies. Hall says he can train people to use the kits and serve as an on-call medical adviser when they travel. “The idea is to try to intervene in an emergency before it becomes life-threatening or limb-threatening,” he says. www.hallmedpac.com
Elco Motor Yachts, the Athens, N.Y., electric motor manufacturer, showcased its EP4000 AC on the Hunter e36 Hybrid sailboat. “There’s no smoke, no noise, no vibration,” Elco senior vice president Kevin Kearns says. The AC motor is 93 percent efficient, compared with 45 percent for most diesel engines and 25 percent for 2-stroke gasoline engines, he says. Kearns says that at $8,500, the cost is comparable to a diesel system. The lithium batteries last six to eight years, and the motor, which is sealed and has just one moving part, requires servicing once every 50,000 hours to repack the thrust bearing, he says. Range is 800 nautical miles at 5 knots on one charge. Operating cost is about 8 cents a nautical mile. The 12-volt batteries are rechargeable from shore power, solar panels, a wind turbine or a 14-kW generator. “You can get to hull speed instantly with a generator running and dead batteries,” he says. www.elcomotoryachts.com
Global Satellite USA debuted the GSatMicro, the world’s smallest self-contained Iridium tracker. The GPS-based GSatMicro is about the size of a matchbox and uses Iridium Communications’ 66 satellites to track the movement and location of boats, aircraft, containers, ships, trucks, even a soldier or intelligence operative — whatever or whoever is carrying the tracker. And because it relays the information via Iridium satellites, GSatMicro’s coverage is worldwide — “pole-to-pole global,” says Global Satellite marketing manager Sharon Phillips. GSatMicro can track a boat in the Arctic, the Antarctic, the Pacific, Lake Tanganyika, “anywhere in the world,” she says. Measuring 1.65 inches by 2 inches by 1.3 inches, including battery, modem and antenna, GSatMicro can be secured anywhere on a boat where the device’s high-gain ceramic antenna has a clear line of sight to a satellite. The unit is powered by dual rechargeable lithium-ion polymer batteries that operate for months on a charge, Phillips says. It is self-contained, with no outside cables. Web-based software, GSatTrack, manages the data that GSatMicro sends from the boat. GSatTrack e-mails or text-messages the information to a computer or cell phone. GSatTrack also can be used to program the tracker to send an alert and start tracking the boat as soon as it moves out of a defined perimeter or to send other types of information that on-board sensors gather — speed, direction, fuel consumption and alerts of unauthorized entry. www.globalsatellite.us
Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts is partnering with the 211-unit TradeWinds Sandpiper Suites in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., to turn the resort into a Guy Harvey Outpost, the first in the United States. During the next year, the resort will undergo a $3 million renovation and add a surf school, eco tours, a wakeboarding center, a floating water park with a three-story inflatable slide and a Guy Harvey-themed bar and restaurant. The resort will work closely with nearby Loggerhead Marina to accommodate boaters and anglers and focus on fly, inshore and offshore fishing, says TradeWinds president Keith Overton. “Tampa Bay is the most popular boating destination in Florida for boating sports,” he says. The Outpost will highlight the fisheries of Tampa Bay. The resort has been designated a “green lodge” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. All of the lighting on the property has been retrofitted with muted lights so it doesn’t interfere with nesting turtles. Harvey, who has close ties to research at the University of South Florida in Tampa, says TradeWinds will have a Guy Harvey Adventure Center, as well as a water sports and activities center. Other outposts are on Rum Cay and at the Big Game Club on Bimini in the Bahamas. www.guyharveyoutpost.com
Pursuit introduced its C260, a midrange center console with lots of seating in the bow for family cruising and room for anglers to work fish. The boat has a 30-gallon live well, a 31-gallon fishbox and sit-down or stand-up seating at the helm. “It brings yacht-like quality to our product,” Pursuit president Tom Slikkers says. The builder also introduced its pink-hulled “Pursuit of the Cure,” a 315 Offshore it is displaying to raise money for and awareness of breast cancer research. Slikkers says the company committed to making a donation to breast cancer research for every Pursuit it sold at the show. Dr. Ben Parks, who heads the breast cancer research laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, says one in eight women get breast cancer. “It’s a huge epidemic,” he says. His research is looking to improve cure rates by developing methods to determine whether all of the microscopic cancer cells have been eradicated after treatment. “Now it’s largely educated guesswork.” www.pursuitboats.com
Sea Fox Boat Co., of Moncks Corner, S.C., presented its new 180 XT — an 18-foot, 42-mph bay boat with a 90-hp 4-stroke Yamaha that sells for $22,700. “It’s a home run — it really is,” senior vice president Jeff DeBar says. “The early sales tell us we’ve got a winner on our hands.” The smallest of Sea Fox’s bay boats — it also builds a 20-, a 22- and a 24-footer — the 18 was introduced at the Houston show in January. “The ride is amazing,” he says. DeBar says dealers welcomed the 18 for its price point. “We didn’t cheapen it up,” he says. DeBar says the bay series, introduced about a year and a half ago, was targeted at the Gulf of Mexico market — Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas — where big oil companies continue to employ locals who like Sea Fox’s shallow-draft bay boats. www.seafoxboats.com
On the docks with Rich Armstrong
Four Winns used the show to launch its new Horizon 260 bowrider, which continues the freshened design that Roch Lambert, president of Rec Boat Holdings, describes as “common looks and DNA design traits you’ll start to recognize” as the new Four Winns. “It’s important that people recognize our boats from a distance.” Since Platinum Equity Affiliates purchased Four Winns, Glastron and Wellcraft in 2010, the company has invested heavily in a redesign of the Four Winns and Glastron lines and will next focus on Wellcraft. Lambert says the company is ramping up for whatever economic recovery arises from the Great Recession. “We believe that the market has stabilized and it’s a good time to invest in our products and build up our dealer networks.” www.fourwinns.com
Furuno entered the touch-screen market with the global unveiling of its NavNet TZtouch multifunction display, which marries its proprietary TimeZero charting software with an Intel Sandy Bridge Dual-Core processor found in high-end Macs and PCs. “We wanted simple and effortless operation using a common-sense interface,” marketing manager Dean Kurutz said at a press conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center. “Our ultimate goal was to provide total control at your fingertips and I think we accomplished that goal.” The unit’s user interface features pinch-to-zoom capability, two-finger course rotation and other multi- and single-touch gestures. The displays have integrated Wi-Fi network capability that interfaces with the entire NavNet line, as well as Apple tablets and iPhones. Plans to expand to Android and other smart phones and tablets are in the works, Kurutz says, and a black box version of the TZtouch is expected to debut by the end of this year. Nine-inch and 14-inch displays will be available to consumers this spring. www.furunousa.com
Kannad Marine, the consumer line of McMurdo marine safety products, unveiled the SafeLink R10 SRS, a personal AIS device designed to be fitted to a life jacket and aid in man-overboard recovery. The R10 SRS (Survivor Recovery System) is activated by sliding off the safety tab and lifting an arming cap to deploy the antenna. The compact, lightweight unit sends alerts, GPS position and a special identity code directly to AIS receivers within about a 4-mile radius for a minimum of 24 hours. A built-in, high-precision GPS receiver updates every 60 seconds and an LED flashes to aid nighttime recovery. With precise location, distance and bearing data, fellow crewmembers (and nearby AIS-enabled receivers) get the information they need to locate the person and enable a speedy recovery. Kannad was awaiting FCC approval so it can begin to sell the unit. West Marine is marketing the unit at $449. www.kannadmarine.com
Navionics announced that its Freshest Data and User Generated Content programs are now available for chart plotters as daily updates and are still available as apps for mobile devices. Through its Freshest Data program, Navionics made 40,000 updates to its U.S. charts in the last year, founder and CEO Giuseppe Carnevali says. “More corrections are made in one week by the users than are done in one year by the Admiralty,” he says. In January, when the Delta Mariner cargo ship struck the Eggner Ferry Bridge in Kentucky, temporarily restricting traffic on the Tennessee River, users had the new navigational hazard on Navionics charts the next day. “In the last year, Navionics Freshest Data and User Generated Content has revolutionized cartography by providing on-the-fly updates and ensuring the most accurate data possible — all at a rate that greatly exceeds the world’s leading hydrographic offices,” says Don Black, Navionics’ global vice president of sales and marketing. Compatible chart plotters include the Lowrance HDS Gen2 and legacy HDS units with the new 4.1 software update, and the Raymarine e7 and e7D plotters. Additional models are expected this year. www.navionics.com
Airmar takes sonar a step forward with its CHIRP technology, which promises far greater resolution and depth capability than current fishfinders have. The military and oceanographers have used the technology since the 1950s, but Airmar says this is its debut in the recreational industry. CHIRP sounders use a sweep pattern of many frequencies (28kHz to 210kHz) within a long-duration transmit pulse. The sound energy transmitted into the water is 10 to 1,000 times greater than that of a conventional fishfinder, with five times greater resolution and depth capability. Only sounders using Airmar CHIRP transducers are compatible; currently those are the Garmin GSD 26, Simrad BSM-2 and Raymarine ClearPulse 450C. www.airmartechnology.com
This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue.