Hitting the docks in Lauderdale

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The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show opened today with more than $3 billion worth of boats, electronics and accessories on display, covering 3-million-plus square feet of exhibit space on land and in the water.

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The show runs through Nov. 2 at six locations: the Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Hall of Fame Marina, Las Olas Marina, Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Marina, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, and the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

After a year filled with layoffs, downsizings and bankruptcy announcements, the marine industry is hoping the show will mark the beginning of an economic turnaround.

"I don't think anyone expects a record-breaking year, but as we get closer and closer to the show the market seems to be stabilizing," says Jay Reynolds, chairman of the boat show committee for the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which owns the Lauderdale show. "As long as the market continues its slow creep up, I think [consumer] confidence is going to go up."

Boats on display range from simple skiffs to 200-foot-plus megayachts. Here's a sampling:

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  • Trident, a 214-foot Feadship and "Queen of the Show," has a master stateroom that spans its 38-foot beam, seven additional staterooms and an elevator. The three-deck megayacht will be berthed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina.
  • Sycara IV, a 151-foot Burger retro cruiser with a fantail design, will make her debut at the show.
  • Grady-White is showing its largest boat yet: a 36-foot, 7-inch center console powered with twin or triple 350-hp Yamaha 4-strokes.
  • Boston Whaler also is displaying its largest to date: the 370 Outrage, an offshore center console with aggressive deadrise. The 320 Outrage, another new model, will also be available for walkthroughs.
  • Sea Ray will introduce the 450 Sundancer, powered with 380-hp Cummins MerCruiser Diesel Zeus pod drives.
  • The Sabre 40 Sedan is another Zeus-powered boat that will on display. The two-stateroom, New England-style yacht cruises at 26 mph.
  • The Nordhavn 60 will make its debut. Like the Nordhavn 55, the 60 is available in single- or twin-engine configurations, and an optional additional fuel tank extends her range.
  • The new EdgeWater 335 Express will be shown in the Broward County Convention Center. Powered by twin Yamaha F350s, the boat has a well-appointed galley, stand-up head, and sleeps six, according to the builder.
  • Bertram will show its new 511 with a wraparound windshield that the company says is built to withstand the harshest conditions while delivering excellent visibility.
  • The Selene 60 trawler makes its first U.S. appearance at the Denison Yacht Sales exhibit.

In addition to boats, there are myriad products and accessories on display. Here's a sampling:

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  • FLIR will have the First Mate hand-held thermal night vision camera on display. Unlike image-intensified night vision binoculars and scopes, thermal cameras make pictures from heat, not light, so the First Mate allows the user to see in total darkness. The unit is fully submersible, runs for five hours on a single charge, and has more than 120 hours of standby battery life, according to the company.
  • Look for Simrad's NSE series multifunction displays, the most integrated Simrad-branded system ever developed, according to the company. The fully network-capable NSE consists of a GPS/chart plotter with embedded cartography for out-of-the-box functionality.
  • Stidd will feature its Admiral Low Back Luxury Slimline seat at the helm of the 151-foot Sycara IV. The black UltraLeather-upholstered seat features a polished chrome pedestal and folding footrest, polished stainless trim, and black powder-coated matching frame components.
  • Global Satellite USA is introducing its YachtSpot Marine Wi-Fi designed for quick, secure, easy-to-use wireless Internet access.
  • Another featured product is Marine Magellan Insight GPS DVR, a wireless security, monitoring and surveillance system with GPS satellite tracking from security systems supplier Paradox Marine.
  • Italian Marine Company, the American importer for Italian marine equipment manufacturers, will introduce to the U.S. market Sensor electronic water system pumps and Sphaera stainless-steel rub rails.