The Miami boat show

The Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail wrapped up last week with the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which produces the show, reporting an increase in attendees, 104,168 this year versus 91,415 in 2010.

Jonathan Cuff from Harbour House Marina, who attended the show, said his impression was that“the market has definitely now bottomed out, in other words it’s not going to get worse!”

However he also says that even though the industry as a whole and particularly in the US domestic market has suffered a massive decline in registered boats,there could be positive benefits come out of it.

“With many manufacturers out of business this will now enable the ones left to grow and prosper as the market begins to recover. Pipeline inventories are now under control, so the vast overstock of boats in 2009 and 2010 is finally coming to an end.”

In his opinion boating products seemed in a more healthy state.”The general marine accessory market seems healthy with many companies producing innovative products (such as the Spot locator) and as ever the electronics booth was full every day.”

Cuff says Harbour House Marina did very well at the show selling five new Boston Whalers and Sea Ray’s at the show.

For some other observers in the industry one of the lessons from the recession was that boat manufacturers have rediscovered the under-40 foot boat, after years of designing ever-larger boats.

Catalina’s 355 has been a success, Hunter has a new e36, and J/Boats debuted the new J/108 cruiser.

Boston Whaler’s 345 Conquest Open also falls into this category as an offshore fishing machine and cabin cruiser with an open cockpit design.

The cockpit maintains the same windshield frame system as Whaler’s Conquest, but the Open incorporates traditionally styled low-profile windshield wings on the sides and a rotating centre vent in the front.

As Boston Whaler dealer in Cayman, the 345 Conquest Open can be ordered from Cuff with an 8 week lead time.

The boat show is also the place for innovation in boating gadgets and as Cuff pointed out the Spot locator is one of them.

Cuff stocks the SPOT Connect which turns the smartphone into a satellite communicator and provides connectivity to global communication satellites for sending location-based messages from virtually anywhere around the world, even where cell phones don’t work.

By downloading the SPOT Connect app, SPOT Connect wirelessly synchs via Bluetooth with smartphone operating systems such as Android.

SPOT message features are then initiated using the SPOT Connect app on the smart device.

Smartphone users can send a variety of message types via satellite delivered as SMS text or email.

Cuff says that the Spot is a great tool for anyone that goes offshore and it is fun as friends and family can keep an eye on their progress on Google Earth.

For those looking for the latest in security systems the SPOT HUG is a new satellite-based security system that sets and monitors a virtual security perimeter around your vessel.

It can detect unauthorized movement and alert and notify parties even outside cellular coverage.

It also provides sensor alert monitoring for low battery, high water, engine/ignition problems or smoke.

Like most other industries, the boating industry is also beginning to embrace alternative energy solutions and the focus is on boat motors.

Hunter is rightfully proud of its venture with Elco to produce the electric motor that powers the Hunter 27.

A big selling point with this motor is that it is extremely quiet as well as having green credentials.

Torqueedo’s electric motors for dinghies and small boats are also compelling, though they are a hard sell for offshore cruisers who need to be able to self-maintain their equipment.

Other boat manufacturers are planning to introduce hybrid engine systems in the near future.

Other highlights:

Weta Trimaran: With a sleek design, trailer-ability and competitive price, the Weta trimaran is making traction in the marketplace. As a racer, it offers one-design competition in selected regions. As a family boat, it can be single-handed or you can go out with the kids. And as a youth team boat, it allows an instructor and student to go out at the same time. For the single-hander, it also allows a great deal of fun on your own. They call it a “Laser with training wheels,” yet capable of 15+ kts.

Smart Kat: A catamaran you can put in the trunk of your car, this inflatable hull cat is priced right, and gives you the ultimate in flexibility. They can hit 15+ knots, and offer the convenience of a 30 minute setup time at the beach. For cruisers, they also offer a outboard motor mount so that you can use it as a makeshift dinghy / RIB replacement.

Jeanneau: The new Jeanneau 409, which offers the rotating saildrive / “dock and go” system, along with a large comfortable interior. Not an offshore boat, but a good one for cruising along the coasts.

Corsair Dash 750: This is a great boat if you’re looking for something fast, with basic cruising-level accommodations for an overnight or even a week if you’re comfortable with camping. There is an option for a small head and sliding kitchen setup if desired. A single v-berth forward and two seats or benches on port and starboard round out the interior.