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Pier 33 to Host On-Water Boating Event, August 11 thru 13

Pier 33 Marina of St. Joseph, Michigan is again providing public boating demonstrations, recently announcing Ride Decide Demo Days II, to be held August 11 thru 13 at Pier 33 in St. Joseph.

St. Joseph, Michigan (PRWEB) August 04, 2017

Pier 33 Marina of St. Joseph, Michigan is again providing public boating demonstrations, recently announcing Ride Decide Demo Days II, to be held August 11 thru 13 at Pier 33 in St. Joseph.

Demonstrations will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday August 11 thru 13 from 11am to 4 pm each day at Pier 33: 250 Anchors Way; St. Joseph, Michigan; 49085. Free refreshments will be provided throughout the event on both days. No appointment is required, but RSVP’s are suggested and reservations can be made on-line.

“Each time we hold a demonstration event, we meet new boaters-to-be who appreciate the opportunity to get on the water and learn more about the boating lifestyle,” said Pier 33 General Manager Tighe Curran. “This is the perfect way to find out how much fun boating can be.”

The complimentary boat demonstrations will be aboard new boats from Chaparral and Robalo. The line-up will include Chaparral Vortex jet boats, SSX and h2O models, plus Robalo center consoles and dual consoles.

Pier 33 is a full-service marina located in St. Joseph, Michigan, providing new and used boat sales to boaters from a wide region including Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Pier 33’s facilities include 200 docks, complete boat repair and maintenance services, yacht brokerage service and more. Pier 33 is a dealer for new boats from Robalo and Chaparral.

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Florida Boat Companies Lose Millions as Polluted Waters, Fish Shortages Hammer Business

But as South Florida’s waterways have became increasingly polluted — and hammered for three years in a row now by massive toxic algae blooms — Peterson has seen local demand for his boats sink. “I’d never had a down year before, but over the last four years, I’ve lost 10 percent in sales in Florida,” he says.

In the last 18 months, Peterson estimates that Hell’s Bay has lost a million-and-a-half dollars in revenue, a heavy blow that has forced him to market his boats to consumers in Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana. Even so, the fourth-generation entrepreneur from Orlando insists his losses are on the lower end, since he’s managed to compensate with out-of-state sales. Other Florida-based boat manufacturers, however, haven’t been so lucky, reporting huge drops in business of up to 80 percent.

With boat sales on an accelerated decline, local sportsmen openly worry about a complete collapse of Florida’s fishing industry.

“It’s the tipping point. Fishing here’s gone to hell in a hand basket,” says Ed Tamson, Florida’s representative to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Tamson, an avid angler, says it wasn’t always this way. Considered the “Fishing Capital of the World,” Florida boasts the most saltwater anglers in the country: 2.4 million, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Last year, the recreational industry generated $38 million in licenses alone, while adding $7.6 billion and 110,000 jobs to the economy, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. As for the commercial fishing industry, Florida headlined as second in the nation in sales and income, and third in the nation for number of jobs supported, according to the Department of Commerce.

“But all of it depends on good, clean water,” says Tamson.

South Florida’s water crisis began as early as the 20th century in the midst of a wetlands removal campaign. After massive hurricanes and floods devastated the land surrounding Lake Okeechobee, government engineers created dikes and canals to redirect the water, thereby protecting nearby residents and the crops in agricultural land. Instead of heading south, discharges of freshwater, polluted by Big Sugar’s fertilizer and urban sewage runoff, were sent to the western and eastern estuaries Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie. There, nutrient overload created algal blooms, turning the normally brackish waters into a deadly ecosystem.

Meanwhile, further south, Florida Bay became hyper-saline without the influx of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee, killing off acres of seagrass, the nurseries in which many native fish species lived and spawned.

With little reform to water management regulations, water quality has continued to diminish, accompanied by a decline in many fish species. Recreational anglers have been forced to contract their fishing grounds and pole more closely to each other. With more concentrated fishing, many worry that the added pressure will only further decimate the fish population.

“Since the fish aren’t using the areas where the seagrass died, we can’t spread out like we used to,” says Sandy Moret, owner of a fly-fishing outfitter in Islamorada. He estimates that out of 150,000 acres in the Florida Bay, where fish live and feed in, 30 percent of the habitat has already been lost.

Kevin Fenn, co-owner of East Cape, an Orlando-based custom boat manufacturer, also laments the loss of South Florida’s most valuable resource.

“We’re known as the Mecca and Holy Grail of inshore fishing,” he says, “South Florida is a national and global destination for serious anglers who want to fish for tarpon, redfish, snook, permit and bonefish.” But with the poor water quality and dwindling fish populations, he says fishermen have begun to fish elsewhere: “Because of social media and the Internet, word travels fast.”

Without fish or fishermen, boat sales have naturally flatlined.

As a smaller, highly-custom boat manufacturer, East Cape only builds 68 to 72 boats a year, each pegged in the mid-to-high $40,000s. However, like Peterson Fenn has also lost at least 10 percent of his business in Florida. Though his overall sales are recently up, he says it’s simply a result of expanding his market overseas. Just yesterday, Fenn loaded up boats to be sent to the Seychelles.

He says, “If it were up to me, I’d absolutely stick with Florida, but we’re a small, boutique company, so it’s just not possible financially.”

But Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats, one of the biggest flats boat wholesaler in the country, claims his company’s been the hardest hit. Located in Fort Pierce, Maverick Boats specializes in four boat models, designed for Florida’s shallow waters: the original Maverick flats boat, the Hewes flats boat, the Pathfinder bay boat and the Cobia offshore boat. Though his boats are cheaper than other brands on average with each priced around $40,000, the Vero Beach native says he’s lost at least 80 percent of his business in Florida.

Deal says he doesn’t believe climate change is to blame for the problems. The culprits, he claims, are Florida’s water mismanagement officials who openly let Big Sugar heavily pollute the state’s waterways.

“There’s pretty good agreement that the sugar industry has control over the South Florida management district,” he says. But upon comparing the economic values of the sugar industry and the marine industry, he says it’s staggering how much more political clout Big Sugar carries, particularly after being confronted with such glaring evidence of ecological malpractice.

Moret says, “It’s not a science problem. Everyone knows the science. It’s a problem of how water is managed by the political weight of agriculture.”

However, Jack Ellis, a statistician at InfoLink, a market research company for the boating industry, says he’s not so sure that boat sales in the Florida market have gone down because of the water crisis. Though he does find a decrease in sales over the last year for both Maverick and Hell’s Bay, he says correlation doesn’t mean causation.

“It’s hard to draw a correlation between water quality and a reduction in boat sales,” he says. “It’s like saying aging causes cancer.”

Rather, he attributes the decline in boat sales to a shift in consumer preference. “Entry-level boaters tend to buy smaller flats boats, so it could be that more people are upgrading to larger, offshore boats. There just might be fewer entry-level boaters,” he says.

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However, with Hell’s Bay and East Cape successfully selling flats boats and bay boats out-of-state, it seems unlikely that people, Floridians included, have simply become disinterested in inshore boating.

Regardless, Fenn says the decline in boat sales will impact the entire fishing industry. Thus far, many fishing guides have reported massive drops in their clientele—up to 70 percent in one case, owing to complaints over repulsive algal blooms and sparse fish. In many cases, clients see the danger signs plastered to the piers, warning them not to touch the contaminated water. Oftentimes it’s enough of a deterrent to never venture in. As fewer clients book fishing trips, guides lose the will to maintain their boats—even less so, to buy new ones.

But Fenn says the issue extends far beyond the individual fisherman: “From the captain to the bait shop, the gas station, the corner convenience shop on the way to the boat ramp, the marina, even the hotels and the tourism industry. If all of South Florida stops having boats, our state is going to be hurting.”

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New yacht-cruiser from Floe Craft debuts at the Lake of the Ozarks

Half-yacht, half-cruiser and all-entertainment, the Floe Craft Afina 3950 is unlike any vessel currently found on the Lake of the Ozarks, but not for long.

Half-yacht, half-cruiser and all-entertainment, the Floe Craft Afina 3950 is unlike any vessel currently found on the Lake of the Ozarks, but not for long.

Sales representatives from Floe Craft traveled from Minnesota to the Lake this week to hand-pick local dealers who might be interested in selling the 39-and-a-half-foot vessel that includes a bathroom and shower, hideaway suite and two 8.2 big block Mercury engines.

What makes this vessel unique is the hybrid design that incorporates features from yachts, pontoons and cruiser-style boats and the high-tech features that make boating easier and more enjoyable for both captain and passengers. It is currently available in Florida, Texas and Canada and retails at approximately a half-million dollars.

Instead of using isinglass as a canvas to protect from the elements, the Afina has a retractable sunroof and dual automotive electric-powered windows that can open and close in less than a minute. One of the most impressive features is a joystick controller than can be used to move the boat sideways or rotate on its axis in tight situations instead of using the steering wheel and throttle. The vessel is also equipped with state-of-the-art marine navigation technology.

“The unique thing is this boat was designed to have no canvas. We’ve got 30,000 miles of testing time and have had 25 people on board at 45 miles per hour. It’s a 50-plus miles per hour boat on any day and very fuel-efficient with eight hours of running time,” Floe Craft National Sales Manager Brian Ploeger said.

The center of the vessel contains couches for seating, a captain seat, and the bow of the boat resembles pontoon-style seating while the back of the vessel can be opened to bring wheelchairs aboard. There are 13 speakers connected to three subwoofers and three amplifiers, two high-definition televisions and full heating and air-conditioning. Rated as a yacht, the vessel does not have an occupancy limit.

“It’s a hybrid design; it doesn’t really fit any category. People have never seen anything like it,” Ploeger said. “We consider Lake of the Ozarks to be one of the five best, if not the best, recreational lakes in the United States. We consider this to be a jewel of an opportunity.”

With a cabin that is temperature controlled, the cruiser is designed to be a day boat, but offers sleeping for up to four people and can be used in practically any environment, Ploeger said, noting that they’ve been out in northern Minnesota in the dead of winter inside the 75-degree cabin.

“We’re seeing very specific dealers. We’re hand-picking our dealers throughout the U.S. to plant our seeds. If you look around at a lot of the restaurants here it seems like everyone is trying to outdo each other. It’s that concept of something they haven’t seen before,” said Danny Briscoe, also of Floe Craft. “If you can extend your season by two months, front and back, that’s a pretty big attraction.”

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