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Sea trials provide boost at Miami show

One popular topic on the docks at this year’s Miami International Boat Show at its new venue on Virginia Key was the addition of convenient sea trials, which offered a huge variety of product tests for serious potential buyers.

Extremes on both ends of the spectrum were Qwest Pontoon Boats, powered by Torqeedo, and Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats, powered by five Mercury Verado 400R engines.

Mark Dupuie, president of Qwest Pontoon Boats and Apex Marine, was an early adopter of Torqeedo’s electric propulsion, said Torqeedo president Steve Trkla. Torqeedo has since risen in popularity among some pontoon builders.

It was easy to see why during a sea trial of the Apex Marine Qwest LS 820 RLS with the Torqeedo Cruise 4.0RL and two Torqeedo lithium power batteries. The propulsion is so quiet, one can imagine a boater could explore relatively unnoticed by nature. (It almost feels unfair for fish.)

The connection to the water is apparent; passengers can hear the gentle lapping of waves against the boat, even the sound of a nearly silent drone passing overhead. The experience is so quiet it’s almost akin to a kayak, except a really plush one that allows occupants to stretch out and move around.

“This pontoon is a little smaller. We call it a compact pontoon,” Dupuie said. The narrower beam helps make the electric propulsion effective, he said.