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Palm Beach International Boat Show runs through Sunday

Sunny skies and the sounds of Irish bagpipes greeted boating enthusiasts Thursday as gates opened for the 31st Palm Beach International Boat Show.

The boating showcase runs through Sunday along the Intracoastal Waterway on Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach. It features more than $1 billion worth of yachts, boats and accessories, organizers say.

Among the hundreds of new and pre-owned boats on display are inflatables, power boats, fishing boats, personal watercraft and super-yachts more than 150 feet in length.

To mark St. Patrick’s Day, show-goers were treated to performances by the Palm Beach County Firefighters Pipes Drums troupe, which marched along the yacht-filled waterfront.

Boat sales bounce back in February

Posted on March 18th, 2016
Written by Jack Atzinger


Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

After a disappointing start to the year, recreational boat sales rebounded in February with strong single-digit gains that suggest the big Miami boat shows and smaller regional events attracted a significant number of buyers.

Sales rose 9.3 percent to 5,038 boats in the main powerboat segments and 8.5 percent industrywide to 6,886 from the same month last year in 26 states that represent about 62 percent of the U.S. market, Statistical Surveys reported today.

The industry started 2016 sluggishly in January — typically a slow month — as sales fell 6.1 percent in the main segments and 6.5 percent industrywide, but the bounceback enabled builders and dealers to make up the lost ground. Through February, sales are about even with last year.

Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said continuing momentum from pent-up demand last year, the variety of new boats and accessories that consumers are seeing at boat shows and a mild winter in most parts of the country “are contributing to what you’re seeing today. I think you’re going to see these kinds of numbers continue into the spring season.”

Small-to-midsize fiberglass boats were the industry’s top February seller at 2,126, up 8 percent for the month, and on a percentage basis aluminum pontoon boats were among the biggest gainers in the high-volume categories — up 18 percent, or 129 boats, to 840 from the previous February.

Aluminum fishing boats were the second-best category for total sales, posting a gain of 70 boats, or 4.9 percent, to 1,491. Percentagewise, ski and wakeboard boats led all categories with a gain of 24.1 percent, or 39 boats, to 201.

Every category in the main segments, including the long-struggling sterndrive group, reported sales figures that were the same or higher than the previous year. Sterndrive sales rose 5.8 percent, or 15 boats, to 275.

Sales were higher in eight of the top 10 states and in 22 of the 26 early-reporting states, but curiously Florida, the sales leader, was not among them. Sales in the Sunshine State fell by 49 to 1,608. Texas was the No. 2 sales state with 1,338, 144 more than last year.

The other states in the top 10 were Alabama, 467 (up 21); North Carolina, 430 (up 73); California, 348 (up 115); Arkansas, 313 (up 54); Tennessee, 300 (up 36); South Carolina, 295 (up five); Washington, 248 (down 47); and Michigan, 228 (up 41).

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose by nine to 51. Sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts rose by eight to 44 and sales of 66-foot and larger semicustom and custom yachts were flat at 10.

Sales of personal watercraft rose 14.4 percent, or 114, to 903, but jetboat sales fell 8.1 percent, or 10 units, to 114.

Sailboat sales fell by three to 98.


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Waukegan City Council approves plan for marine retail area

A bid to transform a mostly unused parking lot south of the Waukegan Yacht Club into a “major marine retail hub for the entire Midwest” moved forward this month when the Waukegan City Council approved a Wisconsin-based company’s plans for a $5 million sales and service complex.

Bay Marine of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., is set to break ground next month on a 40,000-square-foot showroom for “high-end marine retail and boats” and a 7,000-square-foot administrative center on a five-acre plot southeast of Madison Street and Pershing Road, which sits on the northern boundary of the Waukegan Port District headquarters.

Waukegan senior planner Steve Sabourin described the concept as an example of private-sector projects encouraged by the city’s 2003 comprehensive plan for lakefront redevelopment.

“This (complex) would be located in what is identified as the ‘Harborfront’ in the Downtown / Lakefront Master Plan,” Sabourin wrote in a report earlier this year to the council. “The Harborfront would contain a central park, active marina and retail district, public lakefront and clear connection to the downtown.

Citing 'negative image,' Waukegan bans some storefront security shutters

Citing ‘negative image,’ Waukegan bans some storefront security shutters

When the cellular store Stay Connected opened a little more than a year ago in West Humboldt Park, the owner installed a security shutter outside to deter would-be criminals.

Manager Juan Garcia says the rolldown metal screen gives him peace of mind, especially since vandals have twice broken windows…

When the cellular store Stay Connected opened a little more than a year ago in West Humboldt Park, the owner installed a security shutter outside to deter would-be criminals.

Manager Juan Garcia says the rolldown metal screen gives him peace of mind, especially since vandals have twice broken windows…

(Tony Briscoe and Marwa Eltagouri)

According to plans reviewed and approved on March 7 by the council, Bay Marine would also install a 100-ton lift arm for launching and retrieving watercraft between 50 and 100 feet in length. The construction timeline calls for that equipment and the two buildings to be in place by October.

Long-range concepts call for the company to build an additional 7,500-square-foot service building and a 30,000-square-foot pavilion-style structure in a parcel north of Madison that adjoins the harbor’s Siver Park. Details submitted to the city by Bay Marine describe the pavilion as having removable sides, allowing it to be used for indoor boat storage during the winter and then for covered but not enclosed community events during the warm-weather months, like concerts and art festivals.

The main showroom would be 36 feet tall at its eaves, fitting under a height limit imposed by the city to avoid shoreline buildings that obstruct views of the lake from the bluff. Recommendations from the city’s planning and zoning department also call on the developer to landscape the surrounding area, replace current chain-link fences with ornamental fencing and use more windows on public-facing walls.

All told, Bay Marine president Matthew Felhofer said in a letter of application to the city that “if our business vision is realized, Waukegan could develop into a major marine retail hub for the entire Midwest.”

“Bay Marine sells and services high-end power boat and motor yacht clients around the country,” Felhofer wrote. “We anticipate that the Waukegan operation will generate in excess of $10 million in gross revenue within three years and employ a minimum of 15 full-time employees within that same time frame.

“We anticipate that our development will draw other relevant marine brokers and dealers to establish a presence in the area. With the current building blocks in place in the form of a large marina that is half renovated and only 64 percent full, and our plans to build out the infrastructure to handle large private motor lots, the stage will be set for broader community development.”

During a March appearance before the council’s Judiciary Committee, 7th Ward Ald. Lisa May asked Felhofer if he had any concerns about dredging issues in Waukegan Harbor, which has seen deep-draft shipping affected by buildup of sand in recent years, particularly following storms. Felhofer indicated that Waukegan isn’t alone in dealing with that issue.

“We are somewhat concerned about the water depth at the north end of the marina, but we’re working with the port authority to address that,” he said. “If dredging is necessary, we have a plan to do that. (So), yes, that is a continuous concern for us regardless of where we’re located, whether it’s Sturgeon Bay or Chicago or wherever.”

The land slated for development is owned by the Waukegan Port District, which announced in February that it had contracted the Siegel-Gallagher Management Company out of Milwaukee to manage operations and marketing at both the harbor and Waukegan National Airport.

In announcing the move, Port District officials said the company will be charged with exploring “additional uses for the harbor and adjacent land that will serve to expand and maximize the activity and revenue potential and the port,” including improvements to restaurants in the area.

danmoran@tribpub.com

Twitter @NewsSunDanMoran


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Palm Beach boat show ships

Sunny skies and the sounds of Irish bagpipes greeted boating enthusiasts Thursday as gates opened for the 31st Palm Beach International Boat Show.

The boating showcase runs through Sunday along the Intracoastal Waterway on Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach. It features more than $1 billion worth of yachts, boats and accessories, organizers say.

Among the hundreds of new and pre-owned boats on display are inflatables, power boats, fishing boats, personal watercraft and super-yachts more than 150 feet in length.

To mark St. Patrick’s Day, show-goers were treated to performances by the Palm Beach County Firefighters Pipes Drums troupe, which marched along the yacht-filled waterfront.