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.