The Ft Lauderdale boat show is the beast of all boat shows swallowing 3 million square feet of space in six locations. A fleet of trolleys and buses transports thousands of visitors around the locations, and the roads are all jammed. What this boils down to is there are a zillion boats ranging from small, to the immense packed in like chili oil sardines in a tin. At times you can't even see the water they're floating in.
This year's show was set against the back drop of a hurricane Sandy roiled Atlantic ocean. Thursday was marked with high winds, and rain which caused a few evacuations of some of the less than sturdy structures, but the weather started to improve. Saturday was gorgeous albeit very blustery.
There are a bunch of entrances, but to be honest the show maps are a bit inscrutable. I wanted my first start to be the "Tent O' Marine Electronics." I could see it on the map, but like Centerville, I couldn't seem to get there from here.
That was okay, because everywhere there is something to see. Here is a diesel engines that looks like came out of a locomotive, and it was causing serious phallic envy among the other engine builders.
I was picking up my media credentials, as if those badges actually give me any real cred, and I stumbled into Ben Ellison. Ben had already gleaned the goodies from the marine electronics area, and gave me his take on it. There were some new things such as the ability for both Raymarine and Garmin's MDF's to now control the Fusion stereo system via N2K.
I was also impressed with the clever waterproof, floating, and unlocked cell phone from Yacht Controller. It will hold a charge for eight months, and you can get a hand crank charger to charge it if Mr. Electricity isn't available.
There were a few other items of interest, but Ben will fill you in, it's his milieu. I think that the METS show, and the Miami Boat show have the potential to produce some real game changers. I'm not going to Amsterdam due to a court order, but I will be at the Miami show.
The boat show is organized into lands. There is the sport fish boat land creating an arbor made of sharp pointed aluminum pointy spears. Not the place to be if there is a thunder storm around doing some arcy sparky
Rubber boat land is a somewhat scary and puffy place with an odd smell. It evokes nightmares where I've turned into the Michelin man, and I'm being chased around the show by men with pumps, glue, and large scissors.
Super yacht land has a rarefied air about it. Nicely dressed people were keeping a sharp eye on the velvet rope lines guarding the gang plank. Even though I had a new bottle of Grey Poupon, I just got dismissive sniffs.
Trawler land was more to my taste and speed. They ranged from boats that looked like icebreakers, to my favorite above. This is the Ranger Tugs R-31. It has a salty feel about it, along with the feature that it's trailerable.
The bridge folds down, along with the electronics mast, and it ends up at 13' 2" in height on a trailer. This also gets the vessel under fixed low bridges to locations others can't get to. This little vessel has lots of features, and I thought it was a great bang for the bucks.
Along with nice features like two helm stations, are cockpit seats that fold out of the gunwales making the aft cockpit feel huge. When not in use, the seats fold back in the cockpit while underway. Excellent idea methinks.
Staff at this booth were too busy to talk with me, but I was intrigued with this new style of marine head I have now named the "Twelve Mile Toilet." It appears to be both simple and ingenious. You just cut a hole into the hull side, and bolt this little baby on. To flush you use the spray head from the shower. No other plumbing is needed.
It's quite the upgrade from the bow mounted head Michael Palin used on the dhow. I didn't see any tags about when to use this novel head, but I would suggest that you be out past the twelve mile limit. In the Great Lakes I think it's best used only when it's dark out, no one is anchored near you, and then real quickly like you move on. Maybe a lock should be on the head door when not in use, just in case there are any questions by nosy local authorities. A loose tie wrap should do the trick.
There was something for everybody somewhere at the Ft Lauderdale boat show, and it really isn't possible to see all of it. So I thought this booth that was showing decorative items for super yachts exemplifies this. For the elephant it was either this, or piano keys. You choose. Next year I'm going to hire a sedan chair to get around, and save my dogs from the abuse.