Every November the population of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, swells with the coming of the "world's largest boat show." If you've been here, sweating through the crowds clamoring to get a look at the latest, greatest on display, you'd probably have difficulty disputing the claim. But when you get past the glitz of superyacht row, you'll find several areas of interest for the PassageMaker crowd. And despite the 100- and 200-footers for which "FLIBS" is known best, there is plenty of interest for regular cruising folk. Here are a few of the highlights that I've seen so far.
A boat we've been excited about testing for a while, Sirena Yachts has imported their first 58 to the United States by way of Turkey. This is the three-stateroom version, with a respectably sized aft galley and light and airy interiors. A small detail, but one I love is that the Sirena's berths are low to the cabin sole and don't require a mountaineer's training to scale your way into bed.
For more, visit: sirenayachts.com
Grand Banks Updates
GB's new designs are well underway in the marketplace, with CEO and design chief Mark Richards putting his trademark style on all-new products, from the wild metallic-blue GT50 (badged Palm Beach, the sister brand to GB), to the new rev on the Grand Banks 60, which adds a fully enclosed bridge/pilothouse to the already well-reviewed model (reviewed here by Bill Pike). The lounge comes in handy whether your cruising requires air conditioning, heat, or you just prefer the look to wrapping your flybridge in visqueen. It also offers a number of great amenities for the cruising captain, not the least of which is a day head so that time away from the helm is minimized during single-handing or night runs. The 60SL is definitely worth a close look, and already made a splash at September's Baltimore TrawlerFest.
Richards also introduced two new projects that we are particularly excited about seeing - the upcoming GB52, as shown here, and a larger boat, a GB85.
For more, visit: grandbanks.com
Aspen 10,000-Mile Tour
Larry Graf's Aspen C120, Knot Wafflen', has finished the 10,000-mile tour in style, with a completion party during the Annapolis Powerboat Show. We weren't able to celebrate with them, but we were invited to join in during the Alaska leg as well as cruising around the islands in the Sea of Cortez (I wrote about that trip here). Quite an accomplishment, we say, and the boat is down in Fort Lauderdale looking like it's barely cruised a nautical mile. Swing by and speak with Larry and son, Nick, about the trip, both of whom were on board for multiple segments. Trust me: If you love boats and boating, then sitting down and chatting with Larry Graf should be on your bucket list. Revised: Knot Wafflen' was sold during the Annapolis show, but her C120 sistership is available for boarding during Fort Lauderdale.
For more, visit: aspenpowercatamarans.com.
We'd be lying through our teeth if we didn't confess to a love of Dutch-built boats, and the Elling E6 is in the same league as all the others. This boat was shipped over from Holland, but her predecessor, the E4, came over on her own bottom a few years ago. If you recall, the E4 is the one the company decided to capsize on purpose in order to prove the boat's ability to right itself. Elling has already introduced the 6 in Europe to wide acclaim, but this is the stateside debut for the model. A few cool things: the detail and precision that went into everything, right down to hammered steel door handles and leather trimmed accents on handrails. Also, each of the boat's three distinct staterooms are apart, one from the other, making each cabin uniquely private, yet tied into a common lounge on the accommodations level.
For more, visit: elling-yachting.com.
Nordhavn/Vripack Announce Global Partnership
On Wednesday during the first day of the show, Nordhavn Yachts (also known as Pacific Asian Enterprises) held a joint press conference with world-renowned builder/designer Vripack Yacht Design. The Dutch company were represented here by creative directors and company partners, Bart Bouwhuis and Marnix Hoekstra. The pairing of Nordhavn and Vripack is a marriage that will begin with the interior design and fit-out of Nordhavn's new 80-footer, which, according to Nordhavn's owner and co-founder Jim Leishman has just recently released from her moulds.
Vripack will bring a wealth of knowledge and interior design experience into the partnership, as well as the ability to build yachts of all sizes. In the event that Nordhavn wants to build 100+ footers, the implication is that the build would happen at Vripack and would also likely be the first steel Nordhavn model(s). Hoekstra and Bouwhuis were also eager to allow journalists a view of their VR interior tours. A few of us donned Oculus Rift VR goggles and "toured" fully immersive rendered three dimensional spaces. It definitely felt like the future of yacht design.
Bluewater builder Outer Reef is set to christen two new boats during FLIBS, a 610 and a 700 motoryacht for two new customers. The company's third boat on display is Argo, the yacht that successfully voyaged around Cape Horn last year (read that story here, in Power & Poweryacht).
Outer Reef has also announced a new, entry-level series addition to their already formidable lineup. The "Atlas Series" will offer customers a yacht that will follow the same principles of Outer Reef's high-end workmanship and design, but for a lower price point. The first is the 550, a raised pilothouse motoryacht that is in the design stage now.
To find out more, visit: outerreefyachts.com
On the mechanical side, I got a full tour from the team at Humphree, a leading supplier of electric trim and stabilization products. Of particular note were recently released stabilizer fins that run off 24v DC power and require no hydraulics or generator use in order to operate throughout the entire speed range.
Another cool feature with the fins is complete, 360-degree rotation which allows a boat to reduce or minimize anchor walk and will keep the bow into the wind while on the hook. If you add to the package a set of integrated interceptors, or, Humphree's electrically controlled and automated trim system, the combination vastly improves both pitch and roll. Humphree has a hands-on display set up in the Superyacht Pavilion, and is worth a live demonstration/explanation.
For more, visit: humphree.com