Archive for » October 10th, 2014«

Boat Sales Rebound as Economy Improves

Boat dealers around the nation are beginning to smile again as pent-up demand and an improving economy are reflected in improving boat sales, according to area dealers and industry groups.

Local boat ownership is showing a steady increase according to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission registration numbers.

Atlantic Marine opened a new showroom near Wrightsville Beach recently, and earlier this year, Angler’s Marine moved into its new facility on U.S. Highway 17 near Supply.

“Our business is good,” said David Floyd, president of Atlantic Marine. “That’s the reason I proceeded with starting with that building. Last year was the best year we ever had in the past 38 years.”

The second generation to operate the family business, Floyd has worked there since he was 13. His 18-year-old son, Will, also works in the business.

Nationally, powerboat sales were up 8.7 percent from 2013 and were continuing to increase, said Ellen Hopkins, spokeswoman for the Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Recreational boating expenditures in the U.S. increased from $30.4 billion in 2010 to $36.9 billion in 2013, Hopkins said.

Leading the reasons for stronger powerboat sales were pent-up demand and manufacturing innovation, she said.

“Manufacturers are producing more innovative boats that offer an all-encompassing entry to the boating lifestyle at a variety of price points. A trend in boat manufacturing is the versatile boat – one that can pull tubers or wakeboarders, can be used for fishing outings, relaxing with the family or entertaining,” Hopkins said.

Floyd agrees and sees those trends in his own customers. The majority of his customers five or six years ago were fishermen and sports types, he said. Today, most sales are family-oriented purchases, he said.

“In years past, it was more center consoles. Now 80 percent of what we sell is dual console with bathrooms, sunshades, family-oriented stuff,” Floyd said.

In addition to changing family dynamics, the cost of fuel has caused a decrease in the frequency of offshore fishing trips, he said.

Despite poor weather conditions in the first quarter of 2014, Floyd says he expects to sell about 125 new and used boats this year, about the same as last year. He’s seeing a trend toward the purchases of larger size boats, but he said the majority of what the company sells is 28-foot vessels and smaller.

Bennett Brothers Yachts Inc. president Tricia Bennett said she is “cautiously optimistic” of the improving market.

Her marina in Wilmington is fully occupied and receiving more inquiries, Bennett said.
“We’re halfway between Newport [Rhode Island] and Fort Lauderdale. Folks make this a destination to stay for a couple of months,” she said, adding that some end up purchasing homes in the area.

During the recession Bennett Brothers Yachts “experienced some slowdown – not as dramatic as some – we’re still standing. We adjusted,” Bennett said.

She’s hopeful that increasing activity on the river will result in more boating businesses locating downtown.

“The potential is phenomenal,” she said.

Last year, nearly 37 percent of adults in the U.S. participated in recreational boating at least once last year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

That figure of 88.5 million people was the second-highest percentage on record, Hopkins said.

“The highest was in 2012 with 37.8 percent of the U.S. population,” she said.

Locally, Joel Romig, owner of Salt Water Marine on Carolina Beach Road, is enjoying a good year and also seeing a change in his customer base and the purchases they’re making.
“It’s definitely recovering. There’s a different customer that’s buying now,” he said. “The 50-plus crowd is back strong and buying bigger boats.”

Rather than 17- and 18-footers, he’s selling more in the 23-foot-plus range, which bumps the price from the $20,000 range to the $50,000 range, he said.

“People are adding the option and goodies, stuff like hardtops, underwater lights and fancier GPSs. They’re adding power poles for fishing and trolling motors,” Romig said.

While buyers are still fishing, Romig said he’s seeing more people who want a boat to pull the grandkids or to socialize at waterside restaurants.

In the past five or so years, several local boat dealerships closed operations. Floyd said the age and diversity of his business helped him to stay afloat.

“We have 34 employees and four locations. We do service and sales. About five years ago, we had our slowdown,” he said. “We were debt free because of the age of our
business, so we were able to adjust and keep our employees.”

He also described Wilmington as a good market. In addition to old-line boating families, the area has a steady increase of people moving in who want to experience boating.

Many of his sales, Floyd said, are to people who have second homes in the market. Those boats, and others, may be registered elsewhere and are not reflected in the N.C. Wildlife
registration figures.

Buyers are also looking more for convenience, Romig said.

“Again, it’s an older buyer, so they’re getting a wet slip or dry dock rather than having to trailer it. They’re more interested in service,” he said. “I’m on the board at Inlet Watch Marina, and we are at an unbelievable occupancy this year.”

He said pricing on the slips fell earlier, but they’re also recovering.

The service side of the business is also critical to those who survived the downturn.

“The service business never slowed down because when people use their boat less it costs more,” Romig said.

The industry, both locally and nationally, predicts continued uptick in sales this year.

“In 2010, the height of the impact of the recession, there were approximately 143,000 new powerboats sold,” Hopkins wrote in an email.

“In 2011, this number remained flat. In 2012 they increased to 157,000, and in 2013 they increased to 161,200. This year … we expect sales of new powerboats to increase 5-7 percent.”­­­


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Old, New and More Affordable, Too

The newest thing about this year’s United States Sailboat Show is innovative, but not exactly new.
    For the first time in its 45-year history, the annual Annapolis sailing extravaganza will debut Brokerage Cove, a section of previously owned yachts for sale. Offering a used-boat option was such a success in its debut at last year’s U.S. Powerboat Show that organizers expanded it to the sailboat show as well.
    “Brokerage Cove is the biggest new thing this year,” said Paul Jacobs, general manager of Annapolis Boat Shows.
    In past shows, visitors could take shoes-off tours of the big cruising boats like Hinckley’s 52-foot yachts that few could do more than dream of owning. But adding the used yachts and several smaller models makes this year’s show a bit more democratic than aristocratic.
    “That’s a really good development for the show and for sailing in general,” Jacobs said. “It opens up more options for the middle-class sailor.”
    Jim Osborn, of Osborn Yachts at Pier 4 in Eastport, is showing a well-equipped 1980 Sabre 28 pocket cruiser whose original owner is asking $28,000.
    “I think it’s a huge advantage to open up the show to used boats,” Osborn said. “It’s nice to have a used model available the same time as the new one. These often come with more equipment, and the prices are more negotiable.”
    Many of the new sailboat models making their debut this weekend also have a different look — and lower price point — than in previous shows. Several upscale yacht-makers are bringing out smaller, more nimble sailboats designed more for speed than luxury. Premiering at the show will be the infusion-molded Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 and Beneteau’s lowest priced First 22.
    “A lot of the higher-priced makers are all debuting performance-type boats,” Jacobs said. “There’s a whole section this year of race-oriented boats.”
    Another trend that is broadening the horizon for would-be sailors is the growth of chartering, fractional ownership and sailing-club fleets like J-World in Annapolis. J-World members pay an annual fee to use the club’s boats from small to large, for both day sailing or racing.
    “That’s a trend that’s really growing,” Jacobs said. “For a few thousands of dollars a year, you can have access to a sailboat any time you want.”
    It’s cheaper than buying and maintaining a sailboat of your own, plus paying mooring and storage fees, which alone can cost thousands of dollars a year in the greater Annapolis area.
    That’s also why the show’s Vacation Basin section has been expanding. Every East Caribbean nation is represented at the show with booths selling sailing and destination-based vacations.
    The sailboat market has not cooled off, judging from the show’s popular Take the Wheel on-the-water seminar, which for $175 per person ($290 for couples) allows prospective buyers to test-sail models before purchasing.
    “Those seminars sold out weeks ago,” Jacobs reports. “They sell out every year, all six sessions.”
    There are also seven free sailing seminars on both Saturday and Sunday, including iNavigation, or how to use smartphone and tablet apps to supplement traditional navigation. Other topics include Start Sailing Now and a fall Cruising the Chesapeake Bay guide. (Register at www.annapolis
schoolofseamanship.com.)
    This year’s show will have plenty of big boats to see, with the two biggest a Humphrey’s 90 (yes, 90 feet long) sailboat and a Catana 90 twin-hulled catamaran.
    Multihull sailboats feature more cabin space and stability than traditional single-hull sailboats. “The multihulls are huge,” Jacobs said.
    The small and starter-boat end of the spectrum is well represented at this year’s show as well, including the Flying Scot, a nationally popular 19-foot sloop that is made in Maryland. It retails for $18,200 including a custom trailer.
    “We’re one of the very few vendors who have been to every one of the Annapolis sailboat shows,” said David Neff, who operates Selby Bay Sailing Center in Edgewater. “And we always bring a newly built boat to this show.”
    It’s usually gone before the weekend is over.
    “Last year’s boat sold on Saturday of the show. It is absolutely good exposure for us, and for the Scot,” Neff said.
    Neff, the sales representative for the Flying Scot factory in Deep Creek Lake, has more than 50 private and club-owned Flying Scots at the marina near the mouth of the South River.


Thurs. Oct. 9 thru Mon. Oct. 13 at Annapolis City Dock: $18 w/discounts. Park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and take the free shuttle: www.annapolisboatshows.com.


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Identical boats bring women back to Volvo Ocean Race

ALICANTE Spain (Reuters) — – Offshore sailing’s toughest professional crewed test, the Volvo Ocean Race, sets sail on Saturday for nearly 39,000 miles and nine months of competition with women in the fleet for the first time in more than a decade.

There have been no female entries in the race since the 2001-02 event but the advent of a new one-design boat that puts less emphasis on physical prowess and more on pure seamanship has led to a well-prepared all-women team getting on board.

Team SCA is Swedish-backed but boasts an international crew after a search to find the best 11 offshore female sailors in the world. Many, like British skipper Sam Davies, have round-the-world sailing races behind them but the gap in experience on their male rivals in the special challenges of the Volvo race has been tough to bridge.

They have, however, had several more months’ preparation time on the rest of the seven-strong fleet after declaring their entry in 2012, two months after the finish of the 11th edition, won by French boat Groupama.

“It’s been a long hard road and a year ago I would say that we weren’t ready – now I think we are,” Davies told a news conference this week. The new Volvo Ocean 65 boat has not only been designed to help welcome back women to the race.

Each one of the seven challengers’ boats has come off a production line in the UK with every detail identical, down to the sail grinders and tiny wash basin.

It promises to be a game-changer for the event since all teams can now share the same shore crew and spare parts, cutting costs by around a half. It has also ensured that the focus has been returned firmly to the seamanship of the sailors on board rather than boat designers.

“There’s no excuses any more,” said Race CEO Knut Frostad. “Each team has exactly the same boat to work with, it’s all down to the skills of the crews on board. We expect a very close race on this level playing field.”

The race is one of the longest professional sports events in the world, lasting nine months with short stopovers in 11 ports across four continents. The boats will cover 38,739 nautical miles before arriving in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015. The first leg to Cape Town sets sail at 1200 GMT on Saturday from the Race’s HQ in Alicante, Southern Spain. It is expected to take around three weeks to complete. Boats from China (Dongfeng Race Team), Denmark (Team Vestas Wind), Spain (Mapfre), Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing), The Netherlands (Team Brunel), Sweden (Team SCA) and Turkey (Team Alvimedica) are competing.

(Editing by Mitch Phillips)


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The Boat House wins national sales leader award

Nautic Global Group recognized top dealers from across the country at its Annual Dealer Meeting. With a theme of “Back to the Future,” the event held at the Century Center, South Bend, Ind., featured a business meeting, sales seminars, 2015 product review and awards banquet.

The Boat House was presented an outstanding dealer award as a national sales leader for the Nautic Global Group Godfrey Pontoon and Hurricane Deck Boat product lines for the 2014 model year.

In making the presentation, Nautic Global Group CEO, Brad Gates commented, “Successful dealers learn from the past and incorporate that knowledge into their plans for the future, The Boat House continues to build for the future by marketing NGG products with a superior level of sales and service. We are proud that they are a part of our national dealer family.”

With corporate headquarters located in Elkhart, Ind., Nautic Global Group is the national leader in the production and sales of family boats. Nautic Global product lines include Godfrey Marine pontoon boats, Hurricane deck boats, Polar Kraft fishing boats and Rinker cuddies, bowriders and cruisers.

The Boat House is located at 1516 S.E. 46th St., Cape Coral (239-549-2628) and 4259 Laura Street, Port Charlotte Fla. (941-698-0001). For more information, visit www.boathousecc.com


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Regatta ­Racing in Miniature

Some Bay-area sailors own their own yachts and race in spirited regattas, all without spending thousands of dollars — or even getting wet.
    Model yacht clubs offer the drama of big-boat sailing on a much smaller, more affordable scale. Enthusiasts take small-scale sailing quite seriously and hold competitive regattas.
    “This is not just pond-boat sailing; it’s pond-boat racing,” says Frank Steffens, commodore of the Heritage Harbour Model Yacht Club in Annapolis. “That’s all we do: race. We’re not just out here to have fun.”
    The club’s 23 members hold weekly regattas in two classes of model yachts, with strict one-design specifications, so the only difference in the boats is the skipper’s skill. The boats are steered by toggle switches on handheld remote-control radios.
    Heritage Harbour’s two-acre lake is the setting for Tuesday-afternoon races for Victoria-class boats, about 30 inches long, while the slightly larger one-meter Seawind boats race on Thursdays. It’s an affordable hobby: Kits for Victoria models are only $169. Seawind models kits list for $499 retail but can be found online for $369.
    Most club members compete in both classes, and many have vast experience sailing and racing full-size sailboats.
    “This takes more judgment than big-boat racing,” Steffens says.
    “You have to be able to read the wind changes and react much faster,” says Dave Littlejohn, whose Seawind finished second in the club’s spring regatta series.
    The small circular lake’s swirling winds pose a stiff challenge for the model yacht skippers. They follow the same rules as big-boat racers, tacking around buoys but also dodging duck decoys on the course.
    Jamie Brickell is a former national champion in Jet 14 class sailboats, but he could only manage fourth in a recent Seawind class model-yacht regatta.
    “It can be challenging,” Brickell says.

Small Boats, Big Fun
    Heritage Harbour’s club is one of 11 registered model-yacht clubs in Maryland, with several in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties.
    Chesapeake Bay Model Racing Association holds summer regattas the first and third Tuesday evenings from Ferry Point Marina, off the Magothy River. The club races 36-inch-long CR-914 sloops, which are 1:25 scale models of the Americas Cup class yachts.
    Other models range from the tiny radio-controlled toy boats that compete on Spa Creek across from Annapolis Yacht Club to the elegant 48-inch model skipjacks sailed by the Solomons Island Model Boat Club at the Calvert Marine Museum.
    Bruce Gay of St. Leonard built a scale-model skipjack using the museum’s plans. He was relieved both his skipjack and another survived a collision — one that was his fault — during one spirited race.
    “The other skipper just laughed and said, “That’s what they make paint and putty for,” Gay says. “They have a great club down there, and everyone’s nice.”
    At the museum, model boat builders can also construct replicas of working watermen’s fishing boats for competition or display.


Learn more at the website of the American Model Yacht Association: www.theamya.org.


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Business briefs: Area Larson boat dealers earn awards

Boomerang Marine Sports, with locations in Melrose and Alexandria, recently received the Top Retailer Award and the President’s Award at the Larson Boats Dealer Meeting Awards in San Diego.

The top retailer award was for achieving the No. 3 ranking in Larson sales worldwide.

The president’s award was given to the Larson dealer demonstrating the utmost in customer service and loyalty to the brand, among other criteria.

The awards were presented to Dick Peifer and Roger O’Hotto, co-owners of Boomerang Marine Sports by Rob Parmentier, president and CEO of Larson Boat Group.

Jason Iverson, chief compliance officer for Falcon National Bank, recently was awarded a diploma from the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Robert Trisko, St. Cloud, recently won the second-place jewelry award at the Port Clinton Art Fair in Highland Park, Illinois.

GeoComm announced the addition of Cara Shaw, geographic information specialist; Dustin Marlow, GIS Specialist; Matt O’Neil, GIS Specialist; Justin Palmer, GIS intern; Brian Ortloff, software developer; and Jackie Vaquerano, software testing analyst.

Assumption Home, Cold Spring, has received a five-star rating from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The rating system looks at past inspections results, quality measures, registered nurse staffing and overall staffing.

Ten percent of facilities in a state are awarded the five-star rating.

Assumption is one of 37 nursing facilities to achieve the rating in Minnesota.

Century 21 First Realty Inc. announced that Jon Dold has joined the firm as a Realtor.

Dold graduated from St. John’s University and has worked for the past 15 years in medical and pharmaceutical sales.

Sister Christelle Watercott, Franciscan Sisters, was named the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Month for September.

Sister Christelle has been the hospitality manager for 10 years prior to becoming a hostess this year.

Board-certified family medicine physician Chris Thompson has joined CentraCare Clinic – Health Plaza. Thompson has special interest in skin conditions, sports medicine and children.

From 2012-14 he worked for Essentia Health, Baxter.

Submit items for In Business by mail to St. Cloud Times, P.O. Box 768, St. Cloud, MN 56302. Or, you may email them to newsroom@stcloudtimes.com.


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PREVIEW-Sailing-Identical boats bring women back to Volvo Ocean Race

ALICANTE, Spain Oct 9 (Reuters) — – Offshore sailing’s toughest professional crewed test, the Volvo Ocean Race, sets sail on Saturday for nearly 39,000 miles and nine months of competition with women in the fleet for the first time in more than a decade.

There have been no female entries in the race since the 2001-02 event but the advent of a new one-design boat that puts less emphasis on physical prowess and more on pure seamanship has led to a well-prepared all-women team getting on board.

Team SCA is Swedish-backed but boasts an international crew after a search to find the best 11 offshore female sailors in the world.

Many, like British skipper Sam Davies, have round-the-world sailing races behind them but the gap in experience on their male rivals in the special challenges of the Volvo race has been tough to bridge.

They have, however, had several more months’ preparation time on the rest of the seven-strong fleet after declaring their entry in 2012, two months after the finish of the 11th edition, won by French boat Groupama.

“It’s been a long hard road and a year ago I would say that we weren’t ready – now I think we are,” Davies told a news conference this week.

The new Volvo Ocean 65 boat has not only been designed to help welcome back women to the race.

Each one of the seven challengers’ boats has come off a production line in the UK with every detail identical, down to the sail grinders and tiny wash basin.

It promises to be a game-changer for the event since all teams can now share the same shore crew and spare parts, cutting costs by around a half.

It has also ensured that the focus has been returned firmly to the seamanship of the sailors on board rather than boat designers.

“There’s no excuses any more,” said Race CEO Knut Frostad. “Each team has exactly the same boat to work with, it’s all down to the skills of the crews on board. We expect a very close race on this level playing field.”

The race is one of the longest professional sports events in the world, lasting nine months with short stopovers in 11 ports across four continents. The boats will cover 38,739 nautical miles before arriving in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015.

The first leg to Cape Town sets sail at 1200 GMT on Saturday from the Race’s HQ in Alicante, Southern Spain. It is expected to take around three weeks to complete.

Boats from China (Dongfeng Race Team), Denmark (Team Vestas Wind), Spain (Mapfre), Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing), The Netherlands (Team Brunel), Sweden (Team SCA) and Turkey (Team Alvimedica) are competing. (Editing by Mitch Phillips)


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