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Boats for our times

There's enough complexity in most of our lives without making our boats overly complex, too. KISS is an acronym well-suited to the world of boats and salt water (corrosion never sleeps).

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I wrote a column in Soundings several months ago extolling the virtues of simplicity on boats. And having just spent a few days at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show did nothing to change my mind.

Technology is a great thing, but it has to be right for the boat and how the boat is used. Just look at the recent improvements in outboard and diesel engine technology; those innovations improved both the product and the on-water experience of the end-user - you and me. That's the way it should work.

But just loading up your boat with more gadgets and features isn't the answer. Don't fall for the lure of technology for technology's sake. It's the wise use of innovative products and systems that moves things forward.

Simple is a good thing when it comes to boats, but it's not achieved without some thought and planning. We are wired to make our world as complex as possible in our efforts to advance it. We see a better mousetrap in every passing cloud. But boats aren't like software; sometimes you're better off passing on the latest "upgrade." In our world, "proven" is the gold standard.

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Boaters are happiest when their boats are running well. The goal should be a safe, reliable boat, one that looks good, is relatively easy to service and maintain, and holds its value. That's not asking for the moon, but too often it's the exception rather than the rule. When you're shopping for a boat, know what you're getting into. Don't try and fit 10-pounds of gee-whiz, into a 5-pound bag. Cliché that it is, when it comes to boats, less is often more.