On the docks at the Miami shows - Trade Only Today

On the docks at the Miami shows

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Major boat companies continue to push out fish-and-cruise center consoles, fueling an already hot market.

Boston Whaler, Mako, Cobia, EdgeWater and Pursuit have hit the water with center consoles from about 22 to 40 feet. And Sportsman Boat Mfg., a 4-year-old company created by the former heads of Key Largo and Sea Pro, has unleashed its biggest boat yet, the 312 Open. I had a chance to test the Sportsman — a formidable 30-footer that rides a deep-vee hull and is built with great attention to detail and a nice mix of fishing and seating features.

I also tried out the Mako 334 CC — a battlewagon of a 34-footer that comes with either a sportfishing or family day package. (It ranks as the largest center console ever for Mako.) I attended press conferences held by Boston Whaler, Cobia and Pursuit. Later I caught up with Wellcraft and EdgeWater to learn about their new boats.

These new center consoles are a far cry from the simple open fishing boats of 25 years ago, but companies are finding ways to hide the accouterments — barbecue grills, dinette tables, bow and stern seating — to make room for anglers.

Forward-entry consoles are replacing side-door designs, clearing the side decks and making the owner’s use of the head a contortion-free affair. Builders have outfitted their boats with the latest generation of outboards, such as Mercury’s 400R and 350 Verado. Joysticks can now be used in many twin-engine applications. Consoles are filled with frameless touch-screen displays in “glass” helms.

There are other improvements, but let’s get to the boats. We’ve talked about the Mako and Sportsman; here’s a rundown of the other five center consoles.

Wellcraft 222 Fisherman: a new do-everything 22-foot center console with ample freeboard forward and a deep cockpit. From 25 to 37 mph, you can run 3 miles to the gallon with a single Yamaha F250.

Cobia 261CC: It replaces the first Cobia ever built under Maverick Boat Co. ownership — the 256 CC. Good access to the bilge, a forward-opening console and well-proportioned deck space are a few of its strengths.

Boston Whaler 250 Outrage: The previous 250 Outrage had been in service since 2009. Boston Whaler naval architect Bobby Garza calls this a “bigger, better 250 Outrage” with running surface design traits from the successful 350 Outrage.

EdgeWater 262CC: This boat boasts a clutter-free console-hardtop design with a frameless windshield, ample deck space and some yacht-like touches, such as a Corian-topped head vanity.

Pursuit S 408 Sport: Responding to customer demand for a larger center console, Pursuit has answered with the S 408 Sport, the largest boat the Fort Pierce, Fla., builder has ever offered. Powered with triple Yamaha F350s, the boat’s estimated top end will be in the 50-plus-mph range.

Trawlers

At Yachts Miami Beach I looked at the new Swift Trawler 30, Beneteau’s fifth yacht in its fleet of semiplaning trawlers. The boat becomes the smallest vessel in the European builder’s lineup, which includes two 34-footers (a flybridge and a sedan model), a 44 and a 50. The builder has outfitted the 30 with the conveniences and accommodations of a larger cruiser in a clean, clutter-free layout. You can drive from the flybridge or starboard helm in the pilothouse. With Volvo Penta diesel power, the boat tops out at 23 knots and cruises at 15.

Larry Polster, Kadey-Krogen Yachts vice president and partner, says the company soon will introduce a new 50 Open. He calls it a “true departure from any other Kadey-Krogen design.”

Like other Kadey-Krogens, the 50 Open is an ocean crosser with a full-displacement hull, Polster says. What’s different? The 50’s wide-open and continuous saloon/ galley/pilothouse layout is a first for the company.

Scheduled for completion in late 2017 or early 2018, the 50 Open is a perfect match for customers “seeking an oceangoing yacht that is as social and open for a large group of people as an express-style cruiser or traditional sedan-style boat,” Polster says.

Electronics

The big names in marine electronics all came to the boat show with new products — Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno and Navico. The first three introduced radar systems that use more advanced solid-state technology. (Navico debuted its latest radar, Simrad Halo, last year.)

“Don’t let the darkness end your boating day — that’s the message we want to get across,” Jim McGowan, marketing manager for FLIR Maritime (which includes Raymarine), tells me during a sea trial on a 37-foot Boston Whaler decked out with Raymarine equipment.

Raymarine’s Quantum radar is the industry’s first recreational marine radome with CHIRP pulse compression technology, according to McGowan. Quantum CHIRP solid-state radar produces imaging from as close as 9 feet to as far as 24 miles, says McGowan. The radar is designed for smaller boats below about 35 feet, he says.

Garmin introduced several new products, led by its solid-state GMR Fantom radar with MotionScope Doppler technology, which is available with 4- and 6-foot open arrays. With its pulse-compression technology, Fantom delivers “high resolution while maximizing energy on targets to enhance detection and identification of targets,” says David Dunn, Garmin’s senior manager of marine sales and marketing.

Furuno’s new solid-state radar has pulse compression and Doppler frequency “shift-sensing” technology. The DRS4D-NXT utilizes Furuno’s Target Analyzer function.

Targets approaching a boat are colored green or red. Green echoes are targets that are stationary or approaching at a speed of less than 3 knots. Echoes turn red when targets approach at 3 knots or faster.

— Chris Landry

French boatbuilder Groupe Beneteau descended on Miami in strength with three sail lines — Beneteau, Jeanneau and Lagoon — and seven powerboat lines — Beneteau, Jeanneau, Prestige and four American powerboat brands (Four Winns, Glastron, Scarab and Wellcraft) that it acquired from Rec Boat Holdings.

Among its U.S. debuts at Miami: the 60-foot Monte Carlo 6, Gran Turismo 46 and Gran Turismo 40 motor-yachts; the Ocean 41.1, Jeanneau 54, First 35 and First 22 sailboats; the Lagoon 52S and Lagoon 42 sailing catamarans; the Prestige 680 and Leader 46 motoryachts; a Jeanneau Merry-Fisher 855 powerboat; and a Swift Trawler 30. It also showed a Four Winns HB 240 and 190 Freedom, a Scarab 165 G and a Wellcraft 222.

* * *

An NMMA 2016 Innovation Award winner, Weems & Plath, of Annapolis, Md., a maker of nautical charting and weather instruments, debuted the first and as yet only LED visual distress signal device that meets Coast Guard requirements for night visual distress signals.

It can completely replace the traditional pyrotechnic flare, says company president Peter Trogdon. A floating electronic flare, it can be hand-held, tethered or hoisted aloft, and it operates for as long as 60 hours.

“We’ve been at this for 88 years,” Trogdon says. “This is our first product in the safety category. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty big deal for us.”

Other Innovation Award winners were:

Boat Care and Maintenance: Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Contour; Center Console/ Walkaround Fishing Boats: Scout Boats, ForwardFive Performing Seating Station; Consumer Electronics, Mobile Applications and Software: Dual winners — Simrad-Navico, StructureScan 3D, and FLIR Systems, AX8 Thermal Monitoring Camera; Cuddy Cabin and Bowrider Boats: Bayliner Marine, VR5 runabout; Deck Equipment: Premier Marine, Ricochet Ladder, with an honorable mention to Anchor & Docking for its Anchor Turner Kit; Docking and Fendering Equipment: Bellingham Marine Industries, Portable Floating Timber Dock System.

Electric Motor/ Battery-Powered Propulsion: Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Minn Kota Riptide Ulterra electric trolling motor; Fishing Equipment, Gear & Tackle: Taco Metals, carbon fiber outrigger poles; Furnishings and Interior Parts: Westhead Group, Flexima Nautic; Jet Boats: BRP U.S., Intelligent Shift and Throttle; Mechanical and Electrical Systems: Indmar Products Co., Strainer Pro; Outboard Engines: Seven Marine, 627 SpectraBlade; Personal Gear, Soft Goods: Grundens USA, breakwater pants, with an honorable mention to Gill North America for its FG2 tournament jacket; Personal Watercraft: Yamaha WaterCraft Group, TR-1 marine high-output engine; Pontoon Boats: Premier Marine, Dodici.

* * *

“The digital revolution has profoundly changed the media landscape. What do we have to do to succeed?” moderator Michael Sciulla asked a panel of editors Feb. 12 at a joint meeting of Boating Writers International and the Marine Marketers of America.

Editors are overwhelmed with a glut of information and tasked with managing a welter of media platforms — print, digital, video — and social media — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. How does this change the way writers, editors and publicists do their jobs?

Speaking to email press releases and story pitches, David Pilvelait, COO of Home Port Marketing, says writers and publicists must “cut through the clutter” to reach editors.

The panelists — Pilvelait; Kevin Falvey, editor-in-chief of Boating; Marilyn Mower, editorial director-USA at Boating International Media; Jim Rhodes, president and CEO of Rhodes Communications; and Bill Sisson, editor-in-chief of Soundings Trade Only and Anglers Journal — say they receive 70 to 120 emails a day. Many go unread.

Rhodes says writers must carefully target the subject line on an email, use an effective content format to deliver a convincing story pitch to an editor and judicially use embedded video so as not to waste an editor’s time.

Consumers of information are inundated 24/7, says Sisson. Editors are working not just on a 30-day magazine cycle, but also on daily news cycles on the Internet. Writers have to be fast, prolific and flexible and produce consistently compelling content, he says.

“We still fall short,” says Sisson, partly because editorial staffs are smaller than ever but have to generate it all — print, digital and video content.

Editorial content “has to be compelling, it has to resonate, strike a chord with people,” Sisson says.

Mower offered tips to freelance writers pitching stories to editors: Sharpen your subject line to catch an editor’s eye; know your market and only pitch the stories appropriate to a publication; personalize the pitch — “this is what I can offer you and your publication;” and use the right media platform to achieve your purpose.

Falvey says most people only spend maybe 10 to 15 seconds watching product videos. “So why are most of our videos three to five minutes?” he asks.

Depending on the media platform, short — very short — often is preferable, he says, although several editors pointed out that there still is an appetite for good long-form journalism if the topic is something the reader truly cares about.

— Jim Flannery

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue.

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