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News notes - Florida

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Fast boats, rock ‘n’ roll set for Offshore Grand Prix

Two days of high-speed boat races and three days of rock concerts are on tap for Florida Keys visitors and residents when the Marathon Offshore Grand Prix rolls into the Middle Keys May 18 to 21.

The Grand Prix weekend opens May 18, with a Bash at the Bridge festival and concert, beginning at 6 p.m., at the City of Marathon Amphitheater, mile marker (MM) 49.5 oceanside, the site of all scheduled concerts.

The Edgar Winter Band and Kansas have been signed as headliners for May 18; Rick Derringer and Alto Reed are top billing May 19; and on May 20, the main act is to feature Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Railroad and Kosmo, the band started by former members of Boston.

For race fans, free admission to the dry pits is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Florida Keys Marathon Airport, MM 51 bayside.

Racing will include more than a dozen classes racing in the Super Boat International/American Power Boat Association-sanctioned event.

The course starts on the bay side and runs to the southwest following the shoreline. The racers then make a 90-degree left turn to pass between the concrete footings of both the Old Seven Mile Bridge and the U.S. 1 Highway Seven Mile Bridge. Once on the ocean side of Marathon, the boats make two more 90-degree left turns, bringing them back through two sets of concrete footings at straightaway speeds.

There is no charge for general viewing of the races at Marathon’s Sunset Park, MM 47.

A special VIP tent, offering an extensive buffet and a shaded viewing area, costs $75 per person per day. Children under 12 are admitted without charge when accompanied by a paying adult.

Concert tickets are available for $20 per person per night and are to be available on site. www.keysoffshore.com

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New Orleans Boat Show deemed a success

Organizers and dealers were apprehensive going into the New Orleans Boat Show because of the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina, but most came away pleased with the results, says show manager Barbara Sclafani.

“I’m really happy with the success the dealers had at this show,” she said in a telephone interview. “Everyone was happy.”

The show took place March 8 to 12 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. It had been rescheduled from Feb. 8 to 12 because of the damage to the original venue, the New Orleans Superdome, following Hurricane Katrina.

Sclafani said many of the area dealers were worried going into the show. Besides the uncertainty of the buying mood people would be in after having their lives turned upside down, many of the dealers were still recovering from the hurricane. Even those who didn’t suffer much damage to their businesses are hurting because their employees have been displaced by the hurricane.

As expected, attendance was down this year by about 28 percent. But, while the crowds were smaller, Sclafani said those that came were in a buying mood.

Many of the attendees were people from around the region who, Sclafani believes, had homes and boats damaged by the hurricane. The homes will take longer to rebuild, but buying a boat gives them more immediate satisfaction.

“I feel that people are trying to get their lives back to normal,” she said.

Many dealers told Sclafani this was the best show they’d had in years, and they were “bending over backwards” to accommodate those sales. She said sales ran the gamut in terms of boat size. In fact, being relocated to the convention center proved advantageous because it allowed more room for bigger boats. This was the first time the show was able to accommodate boats in the 45-foot range.

No decision has been made yet on whether the show will remain at the convention center in future years or return to the Superdome. www.neworleansboatshow.com

— Melanie Winters

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Fla. charter firm seeks private yachts

Southwest Florida Yachts has issued a call to vessel owners to consider the advantages of putting their vessels into the company’s sail and power yacht fleets.

“Help: We need boats now,” reads the headline in the spring issue of the North Fort Myers firm’s newsletter, The Yardarm. The notice asks owners of sailboats from 35 to 40 feet and power yachts from 35 to 45 feet to phone to investigate what it calls a “Floating Retirement Plan.”

Beyond revenue from chartering, the company’s manager, Barb Hansen, says the regular maintenance program aspect of the agreement helps protect the owner’s investment.

Southwest Florida Yachts, founded in 1984, maintains its fleet of power yachts at Marinatown Marina on the Caloosahatchee River in North Fort Myers. Its fleet of sailing vessels is based at Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda. Fleet vessels are also used as live-aboard classrooms for students attending Florida Sailing & Cruising School.

Contact Vic or Barb Hansen at (800) 262-7939 or e-mail: info@swfyachts.com.

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Marine rental firm goes international

BoatRenting.com, a New York-based company with a Web site featuring online bookings of discounted short-term boat rentals, has added 13 locations to its rental fleet, including two outside of the contiguous United States, in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Boat rental locations list their available boats free on the site and pay a small commission to the company on bookings. To increase potential turnover for rental operators (especially in peak season), the new service allows each location to self-update their boat listings online at any time.

Boat rental locations just added to the database are:

Xtreme Powerboat Charters, Miami; Aqua Mania, Alexandria Bay, N.Y.; Monmouth Cove Marina, Port Monmouth, N.J.; Marine One, Deerfield Beach, Fla.; Grand Bay Resort, Miami; El Conquistador Resort Marina, Puerto Rico; Sunset Harbor, Miami Beach; Tarpon Bay Explorers, Sanibel, Fla.; Electric Boat Company, Seattle; Electric Marina, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Hot Sports Marina, Cancun, Mexico; Floribbean Hospitality Cruises, Coconut Grove, Fla.; and State Dock, Jamestown, Ken.

For information, visit www.boatrenting.com or call (631) 286-7816.

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Kadey-Krogen shuffles management

Stuart, Fla.-based trawler manufacturer Kadey-Krogen Yachts announced in March management changes.

John Gear, who has been in charge of the builder’s brokerage operation for the past four years, is now a partner. Gear grew up in the Great Lakes area and is a longtime boater. Originally in the financial services industry, he has owned small businesses including a yacht brokerage that he purchased in order to pursue a boating career.

Former Kadey-Krogen Yachts partner Judd Straus has left the company for other pursuits.

Kurt Krogen remains president of the company. He said the company’s trademarked Pure Full Displacement hull will continue to be a mainstay on Krogen yachts, including the 53-footer now on the drawing board.

Kadey-Krogen Yachts currently builds four lengths of full-displacement trawler yachts: 39, 44, 48 and 58 feet. The company is headquartered in Stuart and has sales offices near Annapolis, Md., and in Seattle. www.kadeykrogen.com