These are some of the boats and products that drew the attention of our writers and editors
One way for boatbuilders to drum up business in tough times is to roll out new models. There was plenty of that in South Florida over Halloween weekend.
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world's largest in-water boat show, ran Oct. 28-Nov. 1, attracting crowds that organizers say were 5 to 6 percent above last year's.
"I was pleasantly surprised on all fronts," says show producer Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III. "[Exhibitors] all were saying [it was the] best show in three years; a couple said [it was the] best in five years."
For those of our readers who couldn't make the trip to Fort Lauderdale, Soundings managing editor Rich Armstrong, senior writer Jim Flannery and senior reporter Chris Landry walked the docks to determine what was new and noteworthy. Here are some of the boats and accessories that attracted their attention.
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The Hinckley Co. of Southwest Harbor, Maine, introduced drawings for its new Talaria 48, the latest in its family of yachts crafted in the style of the Down East lobster boat. President James McManus says Hinckley's team drew up the boat twice before finally getting the distinctive Hinckley look right.
The 48 has a master suite with private head, a guest stateroom that sleeps two, and a roomy cockpit and saloon. Powered by twin 715-hp Cummins diesels, the boat measures 44 feet, 8 inches at the waterline and is designed to cruise at about 30 knots and top out in the mid-30s. (www.hinckleyyachts.com)
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Aegis Unsinkable Boats debuted its first boats, 20- and 24-foot center consoles. Aegis is the successor to McKee Craft Boats, which auctioned its molds to Aegis owner - and McKee investor - Huntington James in July 2009.
Built in Bladenboro, N.C., the Aegis line ultimately will run from 17 to 28 feet, says James, the president and CEO. "We're ready to go," he says.
For now, Aegis is selling its line factory-direct (www.aegisboats.com).
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Bertram Yacht of Miami introduced an 80-footer - its largest sportfish ever - but president Alton Herndon was just as excited about the 54-footer, which was outfitted as a lean, mean fighting machine.
Herndon says his mission as company president (since last February) is to restore Bertram's reputation for building a "hardcore, kick-ass sportfishing machine."
Entering its 50th anniversary year in 2011, Bertram (www.bertram.com) plans to introduce two more models in February at the Miami International Boat Show. They'll be "longer, lower, sleeker, faster, but you'll still recognize them as Bertrams," Herndon says.
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The folks at Viking Yachts (www.vikingyachts.com), of New Gretna, N.J., were celebrating after selling 12 boats from 42 to 82 feet. "It was a broad mix," company president Patrick Healy says. "We sold at least one of every unit we build."
Viking introduced a 42-foot convertible with Zeus pod drives - a first for the company - and a 70-foot convertible. It sold three of the 42s and two of the 70s. With those numbers, Healy expects he'll be able to bring some furloughed workers back to the plant. "The show has been tremendous," he says.
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David Slikkers, chief executive of S2 Yachts, the parent company of Tiara Yachts and Pursuit Boats, recruited two young female employees to christen two new Tiaras, the 3100 Open and 4500 Sovran. Though it took several strikes against the gunwale-mounted bracket, both champagne bottles broke.
The 3100 is a reintroduction of the boat Tiara (www.tiarayachts.com) debuted more than a dozen years ago. It remains the "base boat" for Tiara owners the company hopes will migrate to larger boats in the line. "The 31 really was the boat that kept expanding our family," Slikkers told a media and VIP contingent at the dockside ceremony. "We're going back in time to reintroduce the yacht that helped make us so successful."
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Don Smith, vice president of sales at Cabo Yachts (www.caboyachts.com), raised a shot of tequila with visitors at the dockside unveiling of the new 44 Hardtop Express sportfisherman.
The boat replaces the builder's popular 45 Express, which was introduced a dozen years ago. He describes it as "designed 100 percent for fishing, but with the comforts of an express cruiser."
"We felt the need to come to the market with a real game-changer," says Smith, "and this is it."
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Yanmar (www.yanmarmarine.com), had a Parker 2530 Extended Cabin in the water. The boat had a 6-cylinder Yanmar diesel coupled to Yanmar's ZT350 sterndrive (with a hydraulic clutch) bolted to an Armstrong bracket. Yanmar regional sales manager Greg Eck says the rigging was done at the request of Parker (www.parkerboats.net), which thinks a diesel option would open a number of new markets - one of them the offshore angler seeking greater range. The specially designed boat, completed just before the show, will undergo more tweaking and tuning for maximum performance and be more prominently displayed at the Miami International Boat Show in February.
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Ranger Tugs (www.rangertugs.com) was talking about a growing contingent of people who are downsizing, making the company's 27 and 29 models hot items.
Ranger is accommodating the trend by putting luxury items previously found mostly in larger boats into the smaller models, according to Mark Mansfield, the West Coast builder's sales manager for the East Coast.
The 27, introduced in May, is the company's current hot ticket, outselling the 29 by 5-to-1, says Mansfield.
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EdgeWater Power Boats (www.ewboats.com) introduced the first vessel in a line of shallow-water bay boats - the 220 Inshore.
"We look at this as a general-purpose shallow-water boat," says president Peter Truslow. "It's a great boat for fishing, but a lot of different things can be done with it."
This 22-footer will be followed by 19-, 21- and 24-foot models in the next three months, Truslow says. EdgeWater, based in Edgewater, Fla., acquired the tooling for these boats from Century Boats, which was owned and operated by Yamaha.
The company also had a new 15-foot center console on hand - the 158CC. This deep-vee was powered with a Yamaha F70, also a second-generation engine.
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Regulator Marine's new 28 FS (forward seater), the seventh center-console fishing boat in its fleet, bridges the gap between the 26 FS and 29 FS. "We've built almost 1,500 26s, so we've got lots of 26 customers out there," says company president Joan Maxwell.
Designed by naval architect Lou Codega and powered by a pair of Yamaha F300 4-strokes, the 28 FS has a full-height transom with an engine bracket. The transom bracket takes full advantage of the sharp bow entry and deep-vee hull design, says Codega, who has designed all of the Regulator (www.regulatormarine.com) models, which range from 23 to 34 feet.
The 28 FS has an LOA of 27 feet, 7.5 inches, and a beam of 9 feet, 5 inches. With its flush deck, fold-up transom seat and built-in toekick space, anglers can fish safely from bow to stern, says Maxwell.
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In the electronics tent, Mikele D'Arcangelo, the ad and creative manager at ACR Electronics (www.acrelectronics.com), was showcasing two new offerings. 406 Link is a feature that allows a self-test of a 406 MHz EPIRB or PLB, which also triggers a text message to any cell phone number. "So if you're running late and you want to let someone back home know you're safe, it won't cost an expensive satellite phone call," D'Arcangelo says.
ACR also was touting its new Nauticast AIS receiver, which is being marketed to recreational boaters. The receive-only unit interfaces with any chart plotter to allow smaller-boat skippers to keep an eye on commercial vessels.
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Our team also took a look at a handful of power catamarans from 19 to 38 feet.
Tideline Boats (www.tidelineboats.com) of Washington, N.C., is a new company that builds a 19-foot single-outboard cat (175 hp maximum). "We wanted to keep the cat ride but make it look more like a traditional Carolina boat," company co-owner Michael Collins says. "So we rounded the bow off and gave it a broken sheer line and gave it a lot of flare."
A few slips away sat a 30-foot all-weather cruising cat from 4-year-old ArrowCat Marine (www.arrowcatmarine.com) of Seattle. A hardtop and front and side windshields provide weather protection. The center-helm boat has an enclosed head and a full galley. With a commendable list of standard options (windlass, refrigerator, stove, battery charger and hydraulic steering), the ArrowCat with twin 175-hp Suzuki 4-strokes retails for $188,500. "It's a bluewater boat," global brand manager Rob Harty says. "It has a 300-mile range. Most cats built in the U.S. are 70 percent fish and 30 percent cruise. But there are people, namely wives, who would rather have 70 percent cruise and 30 percent fishing. This is not a blood-and-guts machine. It has AC. It has a shower and a head. It sleeps four people. It's comfortable."
The Havana 38 power cat is built by Cruiser Cats (www.cruisercats.com) of Cape Town, South Africa. The boat was built for cruising, with three staterooms, a galley, four vanities, two heads and two showers. Powered with twin 150-hp Yanmar diesels, the boat cruises at about 15 knots (1.3 nmpg). "It was designed for the Bahamas, the Intracoastal, the Caribbean, the Keys - that type of use," says company founder Clark E. Boeken.
This article originally appeared in the Home Waters sections of the January 2011 issue.