Fort Lauderdale Report: First Day at FLIBS
By Peter A. Janssen
Walking down the Beneteau dock at the opening day of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was like running into a new, improved version of an old friend. I could almost hear the new Beneteau 47 Swift Trawler, which was making its U.S. debut at the show, calling my name. After all, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Beneteau’s Swift Trawler line ever since I took one around part of the Great Loop a few years ago. But that was a two-cabin, single-diesel 34. The new version is a three-cabin, twin diesel 47. I climbed aboard and, if I’d had the chance, I would have fired up the 425-hp Cummins, put the boat in gear and driven it north on the ICW toward home.
Dreams. They’re the fuel for boat shows. You can look at any one of the more than 1,500 new boats here and you can dream. Sure, there’s a lot of eye-popping eye-candy on the outer docks. The megayachts ,with helicopters and swimming pools and names like Never Enough, Octopussy and One More Toy; the new Ferraris and Lambos; the personal submarines. But there also are hundreds of new cruising boats meant for the rest of us.
After dissuading myself from putting in an order for the Swift Trawler, I walked over to the Grand Banks and Palm Beach dock, where the gorgeous, sensuous, flowing Palm Beach GT50 was just across from the beautiful new long-range Grand Banks 60 Skylounge. The GT50 started this boat show season by being named Best New Boat at the Newport show in September. Mark Richards, who runs both companies, was busy shuttling prospective buyers through both boats. I had driven the Grand Banks 60 flybridge a while ago on Long Island Sound, and it was one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever had.
One dock over, I climbed up to the flying bridge of a new Sabre 66 Dirigo, the Maine builder’s flagship. I had cruised on hull number one of the 66 a year ago just north of here and loved it, but that was an express. Chris DiMillo, from DiMillo’s in Portland, Maine, showed me through the flybridge. It’s huge (the same size as a Back Cove 30) and on this one the owner had ordered stunning Corian accents around the helm and sides of the flybridge, as well as around the grill up there – an upscale custom touch.
Down the dock, Larry Graf showed us his new 32-foot open Aspen powercat, built on his proa design, with twin outboards. “It’s wicked fast,” he said, and I believe it. He’d just sold his 40-footer that had completed the 10,000-mile tour around America at the Annapolis show two weeks ago, but he had a new sistership here.
Inside the Bahia Mar hotel, my old friend and colleague Jerry Berton announced a new deal with Garmin, where all the information and controls from his remote Yacht Controller will be integrated on Garmin’s multifunction displays. Hold the Yacht Controller in your hand, like a TV remote, and you can see all the boat’s maneuvering data on Garmin’s color screen. Talk about making boating easy.
And those are just a few highlights of the show’s opening day. Stay tuned for more.
To see more about the show, and our reviews of 40 new cruising boats here, go to: