Monday, February 17

FLIBS Opens with a Wave of New Cruising Boats

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It wasn’t even noon yet on the second day of the massive Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, but there were lots of new cruising boats and lots of smiling people everywhere. No one was happier than Mark Richards, the president and CEO of Grand Banks and Palm Beach Motor Yachts.

Richards had good reason to be pleased. He told me he had taken his gorgeous new Palm Beach 70 out for two sea trials in the past two days. “Two sea trials, two deposits,” he said. The price for a Palm Beach 70: about $4.5 million.

The show runs for three more days, and I haven’t even touched the surface of the new boats here. The dock space runs for six miles. So far I haven’t seen the queen of the show, the 311-foot Madsummer, because it’s a few miles away over at the superyacht venue, one of seven sites for the show. It has a helicopter pad on the foredeck and a swimming pool on the aft deck. I don’t want to miss that.

But at the Bahia Mar, the main show site, there were more than enough new boats for the rest of us. Fluid Motion, for example, the rapidly growing builder in Kent, Washington, is showing three new boats for the first time on the east coast: A Cutwater 24 walkaround, with a single 250-hp Yamaha, for $99,937; a Ranger Tugs 25 trailerable pocket cruiser, also with a 250-hp Yamaha but with a master cabin, full galley and head with shower, for $154,937, and a Cutwater 32 Command Bridge flagship, with twin 300-hp Yamahas and two cabins, for $329,937.

Nordhavn announced that it will make a new 148 steel boat, in collaboration with Vripack, the Dutch design firm. Nordhavn’s 120, the company’s largest boat so far, is on display here, but it’s a fiberglass hull. Jim Leishman, the VP of PAE, Nordhavn’s parent company, said the company could make a larger boat much faster out of steel, to meet customer demand. The new 148, a full-displacement boat, will be powered by twin C18 CAT diesels, and it’s designed as a worldwide expedition yacht, with a range of 4,500 nm at 10 knots. “Our owners want to go to the north latitudes, they want to do the Northwest Passage,” Leishman said.

At the show started, Volvo Penta unveiled its new D4 and D6 power packages in the U.S. for the first time, representing a total reengineering of the popular diesels (more than 100,000 have been sold). The D4 now goes up to 320 hp, while the D6 maxes out at 480. Volvo also unveiled an updated IPS pod drive and its new Electronic Vessel Control platform.

Fountaine Pajot, the prestigious French builder, introduced its new 40 MY power cat to the U.S. market. With all the room inherent in the cat design, the new 40 has three cabins and two heads, and a salon filled with natural light. Standard power is twin 260-hp Volvos with IPS pod drives. The new Fountaine Pajot is designed for cruising comfort, performance and seakeeping abilities.

Tiara introduced its new 38 LX, the latest in its Sport line, with three Mercury 400-hp Verado outboards. With a low profile, clean lines and Tiara’s long-reputation for quality, the new 38 drew a crowd at the show.

For its part, Boston Whaler unveiled its new 405 Conquest, which it called “the SUV of the sea.” It’s powered by four 300-hp Mercury Verados, and has a large cabin below with a private master and guest sleeping areas, a head with separate shower, and even an optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer.

Those were just some of the highlights of the first two days of the show. There are three more to go. Stay tuned.









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