Passage Maker - - Contents - Jonathan Cooper

This was the scene in 2009: My col­leagues and I were stand­ing at the Mi­ami Boat Show three hours af­ter the show had opened at Sea Isle Ma­rina. Peer­ing down the docks, the only peo­ple milling about were the em­broi­dered polo–wear­ing fac­tory em­ploy­ees and the sales agents who rep­re­sented them. Cus­tomers were few and far be­tween. The ones who did show up were kick­ing tires; the ones who didn’t were at home watch­ing the ac­cu­mu­lat­ing snow­ball that was the global fi­nan­cial mar­ket. Times were bleak, and they would get a whole lot bleaker.

Nine years later, much has changed. The Mi­ami Yacht Show (held on Collins Av­enue this year, but likely to re­turn to Sea Isle next year) and the Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Boat Show at Vir­ginia Key both feel vi­brant and re­ju­ve­nated again. This isn’t a sud­den shift; pos­i­tive vibes have been build­ing for at least the past few years. The in­dus­try ap­pears healthy and nearly ev­ery­one ex­udes con­fi­dence on the docks and in the tents this year. The most com­mon re­frain from boat man­u­fac­tur­ers is, “Well, it’s a nice prob­lem to have.” Trans­la­tion: “We can’t pop boats out of molds fast enough. We can’t get en­gines soon enough.”

These are all healthy in­di­ca­tors, but what makes times like these re­ally ex­cit­ing is the com­pet­i­tive­ness of it all. Man­u­fac­tur­ers of en­gines, boats, elec­tron­ics, and ac­ces­sories are all hav­ing to in­no­vate to stay on top and com­pete. If not, they’ll be left in the wake. We’ll cover some of these in more de­tail as we get a chance to test them, but here’s a high­light of a few things on dis­play:

The ap­peal of the modern out­board en­gine is un­de­ni­able. Suzuki, Yamaha, Mer­cury, and oth­ers have all made sig­nif­i­cant re­cent ad­vance­ments. These out­board man­u­fac­tur­ers are also mak­ing quick work with builders to power le­git­i­mate cruis­ing boats such as Ranger/Cut­wa­ter, Aspen Pow­er­cats, MJM, and many more on the way. The ben­e­fits of these out­board-pow­ered craft are plenty, in­clud­ing quiet op­er­a­tion, in­creased on­board stowage, high per­for­mance, and easy main­te­nance. The new MJM 35z, de­signed for out­boards, gets a stag­ger­ing 1.2 mpg at 35 knots with her twin 300 horse­power Mer­cury Ver­a­dos. This out­board trend will con­tinue to rise.

On the elec­tron­ics side, a num­ber of com­pa­nies are get­ting pro­fi­cient at con­nect­ing boaters with data. Ray­ma­rine now of­fers in­te­gra­tion with mazu, an award-win­ning off­shore com­mu­ni­ca­tion app. And the slick­est thing go­ing? Ray­ma­rine also an­nounced a part­ner­ship with lead­ing drone man­u­fac­turer DJI to in­te­grate the drone’s live cam­era feed and menu set­tings with your MFD.

On the boat side, make sure to check out this is­sue’s “News & Notes” to see a few cool new de­signs un­der­way. One of the ones that made me do a dou­ble take in Mi­ami was the de­but of the 50 Open from Kadey-Krogen, built with a con­tem­po­rary light-and­bright styling pack­age and an en­gine room that would make a com­mer­cial ves­sel in­se­cure. That model will steam up the coast and visit TrawlerFest in Stu­art, Florida. Also on dis­play was a stun­ning Nordhavn 63 that had the feel of an 80-foot yacht (and is the first Nordhavn to fea­ture gyro sta­bi­liza­tion).

In my book at least, two other ves­sels were tied for the most in­ter­est­ing. The first was the cruis­ing-yacht ver­sion of the fa­mous So­lar­wave power cata­ma­ran that has made world­wide head­lines for run­ning ex­clu­sively on elec­tric propul­sion. Silent Yachts is the name of the new com­pany and I think we’ll soon hear much more about their 55- and 75-foot en­tries into the U.S. mar­ket. An­other in­trigu­ing en­try was the Ital­ian built and de­signed Ar­ca­dia “Sherpa.” This space-age 60-footer is tough to pin to any cat­e­gory. At first glance, it looks like a su­pery­acht’s com­pan­ion des­tined for the Med, with a huge, flat deck for loung­ing. But in­side, the ac­com­mo­da­tions, fea­tures, im­mense stowage ca­pac­ity, and range re­sem­ble a true, if non-tra­di­tional, cruis­ing yacht.

We’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing what else our friends are cook­ing up for 2018 and be­yond. n

The head-turn­ing 60-foot Ar­ca­dia Sherpa.

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