Archive for » March 9th, 2015«

NMMA says US boat sales will ride a rising tide into 2015

The National Marine Manufacturers Assn. (NMMA, Chicago, IL, US) is estimating that  the US recreational boating industry in 2014 will have seen a 78% increase in sales of new powerboats, when the figures are all in, and expects continued growth in sales during 2015 of an additional 5%. NMMA says this will be the industry’s third consecutive year of steady growth, after emerging from the 2008-2012 recession. In addition, total 2014 retail expenditures — which include retail spending on boats, engines, marine accessories and services — are expected to see increases of as much as 5%, which would eclipse 2007, one of the healthiest prerecession years for the industry. (Compare these figures to those gathered by NMMA and others in mid-recession September 2010, recorded by CompositesWorld editor-in-chief Jeff Sloan in “Marine composites: A new dawn?”and his followup 2013 commentary “Whither the marine market?” To read the articles, click on their titles under “Editor’s Picks” at top right).

In 2014, the strongest sales came from new ski/wakeboard boats, pontoon boats, aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass runabouts and personal watercraft. Sales of larger cruising boats also started to see an uptick.

“An improved economy with GDP projected to grow 3%, an improving housing market, a stronger job market, increasing consumer confidence and a multi-year low on fuel prices have bolstered people’s financial outlook, which bodes well for new boat sales,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Should these economic indicators remain positive, we anticipate sales growth of new boats to continue over the next three years.”

Another positive indicator for the industry is the record number of Americans getting on the water (89 million in 2013 — the most recent figure available). What’s more, the industry has placed additional focus on introducing boats for a variety of budgets, offering attractive entry points for the boating lifestyle.

NMMA’s contention is that early-2015 boat shows will help boost sales. Boat shows, the association contends, are a leading sales venue for the industry and a barometer for sales and buyer trends in the coming year. Marine manufacturers unveil their latest boats, engines and marine accessories at boat shows, offering them for sale for the first time, giving buyers an opportunity to buy the boat onsite and have it ready to launch in time for the spring boating season. At this year’s shows, buyers can expect a surge of new boats and marine accessories along with a focus on smaller boats that start at lower price points.

“We’re seeing boat dealers and manufacturers increase their space at boat shows around the US, signaling their anticipation of a strong boat show buying season,” notes Dammrich. “We expect all boat segments to see growth at boat shows — from personal watercraft to small family runabouts to fishing boats and large cruising boats — especially with the variety of exciting new boats being offered and as more people turn to boating in an improving economy.”

NMMA released the following US recreational boating facts and figures:

  • Recreational boating retail expenditures (new and pre-owned boats and engines, trailers, accessories and services, including fuel, repair, storage, insurance, taxes) increased 3.5% in 2013 to US$36.8 billion.
  • Sales of powerboats (outboard, stern-drive, inboard and jet boats) were up 2.4% in 2013, reaching a total of 161,130 units. Unit sales are expected to have increased 57% in 2014 once numbers are calculated.
  • In addition to new boats, there were an estimated 955,300 pre-owned boats (power, personal watercraft, and sail) sold in 2013.
  • Made in America: 95% of powerboats sold in the US are made in the US. 
  • Recreational boating in the US creates more than 338,500 marine industry jobs, supporting more than 34,800 businesses.
  • Americans are taking to the water in record numbers: Of the 242 million adults in the U.S. in 2013, 89 million participated in recreational boating at least once during the year — up 1% from 2012.
  • There were an estimated 12 million registered boats (power, sail, and some canoes/kayaks and other unpowered boats) in the US in 2013 (the most recent data available).
  • Of all boats on the water in the US, 95% are 26 ft or less in length.
  • Fully 72% of American boat owners have a household income less than US$100,000.

About NMMA: The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry in North America. Reportedly, NMMA member companies produce more than 80% of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy advocacy, market statistics and research, product quality assurance and promotion of the boating lifestyle. For more information, visit

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Sailing to Elba with a Nautilus Yachting sailing holiday to the island where Napoleon was imprisoned

  • The small Italian island of Elba is perfect for a sailing holiday, says writer
  • The family sail to coves and bays only accessible by boat
  • Nautilus Yachting offers charters in the Tuscan Archipelago and beyond   

Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail


His legacy is everywhere on this glorious island. From roads and agriculture to the design of the local flag, Napoleon Bonaparte transformed Elba when he was banished here in 1814.

Famously, he didn’t stay for long. It was 200 years ago that he escaped, bound for Waterloo and on to a more permanent exile in St Helena. 

But the locals still revere the celebrity prisoner who, for just under a year, was formally recognised as the King of Elba. 

The pretty harbor of Portoferraio in Elba, an island which lies just 12 miles off the coast of Tuscany

In this anniversary year, there are plenty of pageants and parades in his honour. Yet, as I sit bobbing on the waters below his villa, I can’t help thinking that Napoleon must have spent his later years wondering why he ever left. 

For there is something magical, something other about Elba.

Half the size of the Isle of Wight, this fish-shaped island has 3,000ft peaks, coral reefs, beaches of every complexion and Italy’s lowest crime rate.

Though just 12 miles off the coast of Tuscany, it bears little resemblance to the chi-chi tourist trap of Chiantishire. The vast majority of visitors who make the one-hour ferry crossing from Piombino are ordinary Italians (we don’t meet a Briton all week).

With a tiny airport, it has been spared major development, and half of its 85 square miles area is national park. Many beaches and bays can be reached only by hiking, biking or, better still, by boat.

That is why Elba is perfect for a sailing holiday, whether you are a sailor or not.

A comfortable six-bed, 40ft yacht can be a lot cheaper than a hotel or villa. You’d be hard-pushed to find a view to match the one from our deck as we sit back, beer in hand, and watch the sun set behind Monte Capanne.

Blissful bobbing: The view to Porto Azzurro, perfect for pizzas and people-watching

Robert's three children adored life on aboard

Robert’s three children adored life on aboard

Kent-based Nautilus Yachting has yachts all over the Med and has been organising charters around Elba and the Tuscan archipelago for years. 

We settle on a Bavaria 40, a popular cruising yacht with a flip-down bathing platform at the back.

The only question is: who will do the sailing? Nautilus can organise a skipper for £90 a day. 

But having been messing around in boats since childhood, I want to take charge. You might almost call it a Napoleon complex (my wife does). So I have to go back to school.

The basic requirement for renting anything larger than a day boat is the Royal Yachting Association’s Day Skipper certificate, within easy reach of the average dinghy sailor.

It involves a five-day practical sailing course plus a detailed theory course. 

You can do the latter online, but you must live aboard for the practical part.

Sunsail runs flotillas and courses all over the world, and I join the fleet on the Solent. 

It proves invaluable; after five days mixing with ferries, container ships and hovercraft in one of Europe’s busiest sealanes, I am more than ready to steer a course for Elba. And you don’t have to worry about tide in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

We pick up the boat at Puntone di Scarlino, a mainland marina 90 minutes by car from Pisa Airport. Cleverly designed, it has three double cabins, two separate shower/loo rooms – plus a shower on deck – and a solar panel for extra power.

Setting off in Napoleon’s wake, we are swimming off Elba’s eastern shores three hours later. I had feared that our three children would soon start moaning – or being sick. But they adore life aboard.

We keep the sailing to an hour or two each morning before dropping the anchor in a pretty bay, swimming and exploring in the rubber dinghy (every boat comes with one).

I had hoped to spend a night or two on the quayside in a pretty little fishing town such as Marciana Marina on Elba’s northern coast, but there’s no chance in mid-August (unless you know the harbour master).

So we anchor off towns like Porto Azzurro and go ashore for pizzas, ice cream and people-watching, then head back – by torchlight – to our haven, far from the nightlife.

Favoured spot: The Gulf of Biodola has a three mile long crescent of sad…and the island’s smartest hotel

Elba’s capital, Portoferraio, is well worth a visit. Walk through the old town to the ramparts at the top. 

Napoleon lived up here and his villa is now a popular museum. You don’t need to eat on the waterfront; the best local food is to be found in the back streets.

A few miles further along the coast, we find our favourite spot, the Gulf of Biodola. This three-mile crescent of sand, where the trees come right down to the water, is home to Elba’s smartest hotel, the Hermitage.

When Daddy’s attempt at spaghetti al pesto results in a thumbs-down followed by a mutiny, we jump in the dinghy and, five minutes later, are at the poolside buffet. 

More adventurous sailors would, no doubt, sail right around the island, taking in the wild western shores.

Some would trek up to the mountain town of Capoliveri or strike out for the other islands in the Tuscan archipelago – or even reach Napoleon’s native island of Corsica. 

Pottering along at our child-friendly pace, we only do half of Elba. And I never do find the place where Napoleon hatched his escape plan.

Never mind. It means that, unlike him, we will have to return.


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'Floating rubbish' program stopped at Olympic sailing venue

RIO DE JANEIRO — A program has been halted to retrieve floating rubbish from the sailing venue of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to Brazilian media.

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Environmental activists disrupt meeting by Olympic officials

A report Tuesday in the newspaper O Globo comes just three days after top International Olympic Committee officials ended week-long meetings in Rio, saying they had been “reassured” that severely polluted Guanabara Bay would be suitable for Olympic sailing when the games open.

O Globo said 10 rubbish collection boats were out of service because of a lack of funding from Rio’s state government. It said that some barricades to keep household waste from reaching the bay also lacked funding.

Water quality has become a hot-button issue for Rio. Several Olympic-medal winning sailors have said it’s the dirtiest place they have ever competed.

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune

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Duchess of Cambridge to visit Sir Ben Ainslie's Hampshire sailing headquarters

The Duchess of Cambridge tried out her artistic skills as she added her touch to a giant mural created at the construction site of the new sailing hub being built by Sir Ben Ainslie in Hampshire for his team’s bid to win the America’s Cup.

As Royal Patron of the 1851 Trust, a charity dedicated to inspiring a new generation to enter sailing and the marine industry, Kate was shown by the four-time Olympic gold medallist how work is progressing on the new centre in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

She met some of the 72 children from six local schools who along with street artists James Waterfield and My Dog Sighs have created the mural which depicts the skyline from Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, with the Solent waters filled with images from maritime history.

Kate added her own addition to the picture by painting a sailor on an image of Sir Ben’s yacht in the mural.

As she was given some art tips by Mr Waterfield, they joked that she was glad not to have got paint on her white Max Mara coat.

One of the schoolchildren who met the Duchess, Lily Giles, 14, of Ryde School, said: ”We spoke about sailing and the Isle of Wight and she asked if we were competitive. She was really lovely.”

The Duchess then met some of the construction crew and was presented with a bouquet by 10-year-old Cece Delaney-Melville, of St Jude’s School, before she visited the 170 metre high Spinnaker Tower where she learnt more about the project.

Sir Ben, from Lymington, said: ”It’s fabulous for us to have the Duchess’ support for the team and for the Trust and for her to see how far we have developed over the last 12 months.”

He added that he hoped that she would return when the centre is up and running after work is expected to be completed in May.

The headquarters of Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), which was granted £7.5 million of Government funding, will initially employ 90 people and act as a focal point for the design, construction and development of the team’s boats for the America’s Cup as well as provide a visitor centre showcasing the sport.

It is hoped that Sir Ben will develop a team and boat capable of winning the prestigious trophy, something Britain has so far never achieved.

Portsmouth is also to be the home for two preparation events for the 35th America’s Cup yacht race with the world series events taking place in the Solent in July this year and next which are expected to bring up to £60 million to the local economy with 500,000 spectators predicted for the races.

The base will also act as a visitor centre for the 1851 Trust, which works with young people under 25 years old, from diverse backgrounds. Its name derives from the year when the first America’s Cup race – known then as the One Hundred Pound Cup – took place around the Isle of Wight, witnessed by Queen Victoria.

While visiting the Spinnaker Tower, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Duchess, wearing a dress called Somerset by Alice Temperley, had a try on a power grinder trainer from a sailing yacht before she was presented with a Portsmouth Football Club shirt with the name George on it by pupils at Mayfield School in Portsmouth.

Head girl Lucy Burroughs, 16, said: ”Kate said William would be very annoyed because he’s a massive Villa fan.

”We decided to give her the shirt because Portsmouth Football Club is a big part of Portsmouth and as something for her to remember her visit by.”

Sir Ben also presented the Duchess with a BAR team shirt with Prince George on the back which was responded to by ”aaahs” from the crowd.

On the tower’s viewing level, the Duchess also met students and teachers from Southampton City College, who are building two specialist docking rib boats which will be used to help the America’s Cup boats to dock in Portsmouth.

She also saw a display of activities and exhibits destined for display in the 1851 Trust Visitor Centre. These include a demonstration of the advanced technology underpinning the BAR bid, including sailing simulators, power grinders used for training and 3D printing technology.

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Drivers rejoice: Frequent 520 bridge openings coming to an end

(WSDOT photo)

(WSDOT photo)

(WSDOT photo)

SEATTLE (AP) — Boats sailing in Lake Washington will have to take a different path for passing the 520 Bridge for a while.

Starting Tuesday, when more pontoons for the replacement bridge are moved into position, the old bridge will no longer lift its drawspan to let boats pass through.

The Seattle Times reports the new six-lane bridge won’t have a drawspan. It will have an east high-rise clearance of 70 feet. That matches the height of the I-90 East Channel Bridge.

Until the new bridge’s scheduled opening in spring 2016, tall boats will need to go under the old bridge’s 58-foot-tall high-rise near the Medina shoreline.

There are 60 pleasure and commercial boats that won’t be able to fit underneath.

Transportation officials say they’ve been working with the boating community to tell them they have to pick a side of Lake Washington, either north or south of 520.

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