Archive for » September, 2017 «

Everyone’s waiting on this huge Port Royal real estate deal. Here’s where it stands.

Port Royal residents and visitors could eventually take a water taxi to Beaufort or Hilton Head, retire to a waterfront condo, sample a beer flight from a local microbrewery and plop their boat in the water without lifting a finger.

That’s the vision of those working to close the transformational deal this week, in which the state would finally hand over its decommissioned marine terminal for private development along Battery Creek. The parties will wait a little longer to see it through.

The scheduled closing date came and went Tuesday. The buyers had told the state their ability to close was affected by Hurricane Irma thrashing Florida last week.

The prospective buyers now hope to close Wednesday, said Chris Butler, owner of Butler Marine and part of the group Grey Ghost Properties with a contract on the property.

The developers were awarded the contract over two other bidders earlier this year. The property was valued last year at $6.95 million, a fraction of what it had been listed during the past 13 years the port has been closed.

The property includes 51 acres of high ground that can be built upon, 317 acres total.

Initial plans are to dust off and use a drystack boat storage building and create picnic seating and possible street food vendors to draw people. Butler is already accepting reservations for the storage slips, which he expects could be ready by January. He also will offer boat sales at the site.

Next up could be the renovation and reopening of Dockside restaurant, once one of Port Royal’s biggest businesses before smoke and water damage drove away owner Tom Oliva to focus on his Lady’s Island location. The building has since suffered more damage from Hurricane Irma and will need repair, said real estate broker Whit Suber, who is working with the buyers.

Along with Dockside should quickly come another new restaurant, Suber said. And in the same area the town plans to reopen its seafood market destroyed by a fire.

“You’re going to have something people can go and see and touch and enjoy at a really fast pace,” Suber said. “… That section of the development is I think the section the public can be most excited, that’s where they’ll be able to enjoy early.”

A 225-slip marina is planned to accommodate boaters on day trips and for longer stays. The deep waters near the mouth of Port Royal Sound will be able to welcome boats up to 150 feet, Suber said.

Roads, sewer and drainage will be needed. The path for the Spanish Moss Trail to extend into Port Royal’s Old Village will be plotted.

Other plans aren’t as concrete and are likely years away. Longstanding development guidelines call for a mix of uses and open space and will dictate in part how the property eventually looks.

A hotel is planned, though not immediately. Developers are wooing a Columbia microbrewery. Suber sees a market for waterfront apartments and condominiums.

There is enough interest for numerous restaurants if that’s the direction the developers choose, Suber said. He is working to bring Technical College of the Lowcountry’s culinary school to the site near the town’s picturesque shrimp docks.

“At the end of the day, we know we have a destination site,” Suber said. “When people go to a destination, what do they want? They want food and drink and entertainment.”


Similar news:

The tow boat category continues to post year-over-year sales growth …

“Same old, same old” can be a fine state of affairs, especially if you sell tow boats. For the past six years the tow boat category has been a consistent winner in an industry that is, in many ways, still finding its stride in this era of economic recovery. 

According to new data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the tow boat category continues to demonstrate steady, consistent year-over-year growth. From a base of 4,850 boats reported sold in calendar year /2011, the segment has marked consistent increases in unit sales every year since, with 5,500 boats sold in 2012, 6,100 boats sold in 2013, 7,100 units sold in 2014, 7,800 units in 2015 and 8,700 boats sold last year. 

“Sales of tow boats have been a growth leader during the recovery,” said NMMA’s Director of Industry Statistics and Research Vicky Yu. “The category has marked double-digit growth in unit sales over the past five years.”  

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Statistical Surveys Inc. pegs unit sales for the ski/wake category as growing by 12.06 percent in 2016. This represents a pleasing increase over the 10.16 percent year-over-year growth for the category shown in 2015, but still lags behind the 15.96 percent bump seen the year before. At least some of that fluctuation can be explained by low water levels throughout the Southwest, a key market for tow boats. Some of the strongest sales gains reported by SSI in 2016 were achieved in areas that were seriously impacted by prolonged droughts that dropped water levels on local lakes below accessible levels. Basic Trading Area markets measured by SSI in Texas, Arizona, California and Utah, for example, posted year-over-year unit sales gains as high as 33.33 percent once the water came back.

Correct Craft President and CEO Bill Yeargin expects dollar growth to stabilize in the tow boat segment.

All the toys

Although unit sales of tow boats continue to grow steadily, the cash value of these boats has also risen each year. NMMA pegs the collective retail value of all tow boats sold in 2016 at a whopping $818.3 million – an average of roughly $94,000 per boat. 

“The market is less than 70 percent of pre-downturn units, but the average sale price per boat has gone up a fair bit, which probably brings the segment to near or above pre-downturn dollars,” said Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin. “The average price increase is a result of new technology – particularly related to wakesurfing – and a move to larger size tow boats.”

While Yeargin said he expects to see continued growth in the segment, unit growth could slow in the year ahead as more boat manufacturers try to tap into the surfing phenomenon. 

“I would also expect the dollar growth to stabilize, now that most of the boats are already sold with surf technology,” he said. “The one wildcard is whether customers keep demanding larger boats; if that happens, the dollar sales will continue to grow at a faster pace than units.”

While larger boats obviously drive prices up, it is the steady up-featuring of all tow boats that has allowed manufacturers and dealers to grow profit margins most significantly in the face of lower volumes. Just as no one buys a car these days without air conditioning and power windows, there is little consumer interest in boats that don’t offer even a basic level of luxury features. 

“Consumers want all the toys, like integrated Bluetooth connectivity, wave-shaping devices, integrated GoPro cameras, upgraded finishes, convenient board storage and incredible audio quality,” said Mastercraft Boats President and CEO Terry McNew. “So even though we’re still below the high water mark in terms of units, we’re much more profitable now. The average unit price has grown by about 50 percent since 2006, and that’s largely due to the technology we’re now including in the boats. As with automobiles, the technology increases the retail price but consumers demand it regardless.”

The upward migration in tow boat size and features has fuelled an equally lucrative uptick in the used tow boat market. NMMA pegs the number of pre-owned ski and wake boats sold in 2016 as growing by 6.8 percent over 2015, with used tow boats now representing 2.1 percent of all used boat sales. Used tow boat unit sales have increased every single season for the past five years.

The lower selling price of used tow boats makes them attractive to first-time buyers and customers with more limited financial means. But pre-owned boats may lack the more modern features that these buyers still want. 

The MasterCraft NXT line is targeted specifically at younger professionals and younger families.

Some manufacturers have begun to address this price-feature gap with lines of less expensive tow boats that provide a limited selection of the most popular features. 

“Our NXT product is targeted specifically at younger professionals and younger families,” said McNew. “The NXT has the same materials, engines, fiberglass and warranty as our other boats, it’s just thoughtfully contented so the consumer gets what they need without stretching the budget. Our research has shown that about 40 percent of NXT buyers are new to boating. These people might have bought a used boat as their first boat in the past, but because the price of used boats is almost as high as an entry-level NXT, they choose the new NXT with its full warranty and its higher resale value.”

Maryville, Tennessee-based Skier’s Choice, manufacturer of the Supra and Moomba tow boat brands, has also targeted more price-sensitive buyers with some of its models. 

“Some of the boats in our segment now sell for more than $150,000. So the questions is, how high can prices go before consumers cry Uncle?” said Skier’s Choice National Sales Manager Chris Crysdale. “As the boats get more and more expensive, there’s a risk of creating the impression that these boats simply aren’t affordable. High prices also have the effect of slowing the product life cycle as people become less likely to trade in their old boat for a newer one.”

Surfing still drives the market

While it may have its roots firmly in water skiing and wakeboarding, today’s tow boat market is riding a wave of popularity based in the wakesurfing phenomenon. It’s one activity, said Crysdale, that appeals to boaters of all ages. 

“We hear from a lot of aging Boomers who used to water ski, I mean 65, 70 year-old guys, but they haven’t been behind a boat in 25 years,” he said. “The whole surfing thing intrigues them because there’s a bigger surface area, you’re going 10 miles an hour so it doesn’t hurt when you fall, you’re not going to be all stiff and sore the next day, and they don’t have to hold onto the rope the whole time. It’s something the entire family can do, since the interest in wakesurfing goes right across generations. … Surfing is something that appeals to people of all ages, so it represents a major family activity.”

The near-universal appeal of wakesurfing – backed by a surging economy – has the potential to lift tow boat sales volumes beyond pre-downturn levels, said Malibu CEO Jack Springer. 

“The tow boat industry sold about 13,400 units in 2007, and it’s selling about 8,700 units per year today. But the positive economic factors we’re seeing are strong, and they could push us back to the kind of numbers we saw before the downturn,” he said. “What will drive it there is the whole surfing phenomenon, which is still early in its life. There are so many people who still don’t know what surfing is, and I’ll tell you, it’s a rare day when someone doesn’t stop us on the water and ask what we’re doing behind the boat. There’s an immense market there, and we’re only scratching the surface.”

Source: Info-Link Technologies

The flourishing interest in wakesurfing coincides well with the rise of the Millennials as a buying force in the market. Young families are attracted to the fact surfing has multi-generational appeal, making it a rare activity that brings parents, grandparents and kids together unlike any other.

Competing for the attention of these young buyers is a growing fleet of sterndrive-powered surf boats based on Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive system. For now at least, the upstarts have probably helped the tow boat market rather than cannibalized it, simply by attracting more attention to wakesurfing as an enjoyable family activity.

 “We have not heard of an impact from our tow boat dealers related to the Volvo Forward Drive,” said Yeargin. “We do know that the Volvo Forward Drive is helping those in the sterndrive market, and we have had dealers approach our Bryant brand specifically because we can offer it.”

If any tow boat manufacturer has an interest in the sterndrive market, it’s Malibu, with its acquisition of Cobalt earlier this year. The company believed sterndrive-powered surf boats would become a feeder system to tow boats and Springer said that seems to be the way it’s working out.

“I give full credit to the manufacturers building these products, because they’re getting a lot of people interested in surfing and raising the profile of this activity. But the experience is still quite different than what you have in a tow boat,” said Springer. “To my view, no kid ever grows up aspiring to play minor league baseball. They grow up dreaming about playing in the majors. Tow boat wakesurfing, because of what the boat can do, is major league. As the kids are introduced to surfing, they want the best possible experience.” 

With Malibu’s acquisition of Cobalt, Springer said the company has an opportunity for further expansion in that market and have something to offer in both market segments. 

“If you think about what we can do now with a Cobalt boat, we can tailor the running surfaces, tailor the swim platforms, potentially add some ballast, and also put Surf Gate on those boats, that’s going to be a very compelling dynamic,” he said. “Of course we have an excellent existing relationship with Chaparral, and I don’t expect that to change. But because we own Cobalt, we have an opportunity with that product.”

A rosy outlook

On the whole, the future for the tow boat category looks very bright indeed. By every indication, the steady, sustainable growth that has categorized the tow boat segment should sustain over the next few years at least. A stable economy, growing consumer confidence, improved access to water, low fuel prices, favorable dealer inventories and growing interest in water sports overall point to sustained year-over-year growth in the high single digit to low double-digit range, as the tow boat segment continues riding the wave.  

Malibu CEO Jack Springer said wakesurfing will push the tow boat segment back to pre-recession unit numbers.

Category SWOT analysis

To truly understand the tow boat category today, we asked boat manufacturers to analyze it with a SWOT, considering the category’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

If there’s one strength that seems universal, it’s the growing popularity of wakesurfing – “amazing family fun” as Yeargin puts it. “Surfing is huge, and we’re just seeing the beginning of it,” adds Crysdale. “Most of the boats we sell are to families, and that’s a growing demographic.”

Price perception – the suggestion that tow boats are too expensive for most families to afford – was identified as the category’s single greatest weakness, although lower-priced entries are beginning to address that concern. Further droughts and water level fluctuations, however, remain another area of concern. 

“Our country is so large there’s often a drought somewhere,” said McNew. “Access to water is always a concern.”

Opportunities to grow the tow boat category are many and diverse. Simple demographics provide an obvious opportunity for growth, as millions of Boomers begin winding down careers just as millions more Millennials begin to enter the boat market. So too is the opportunity to grow wakesurfing beyond its fresh water base and take it into coastal markets. 

Innovation – always a category strength – is widely seen as representing the key to future opportunities. As tow boats grow increasingly complex, making them easier to use becomes more important than ever. Whether it’s automated systems to help operators get just the right wake, or refined control systems that make tow boats easier to drive and dock, innovation will remain a key to earning market share.

Potential threats to the tow boat segment are said to be the same issues that threaten all of boating. An aging customer base and not attracting enough new boaters is a threat, as are regulatory concerns. 

“Bad decisions by people who don’t have a clue about boating are a big threat,” said Springer. “Financing is something we need to watch as well, since if it gets too expensive it will impact everyone.”



Similar news:

Century Boats adds Racetrack Marine to dealer network

Century Boats announced that it signed a new dealer agreement with Racetrack Marine of Berlin, Md. Racetrack is owned and operated by brothers George and Scott Smith.

“Century Boats is excited to welcome George and Scott and their entire team at Racetrack Marine as our newest dealer,” said Bryan Lucius, president of Century Boats. “Based in Berlin, Md., Racetrack Marine is ideally poised to provide new boat sales and service to boating enthusiasts throughout the entire Isle of Wight Bay area – including Ocean City.”

As an authorized dealer of Century Boats, Racetrack Marine now offers the entire lineup of Century models including center consoles, walkarounds, expresses and the dual console, 24 Resorter. In addition to new boat sales, Racetrack Marine employs a staff of boat technicians and provides onsite storage, boat trailer service, diagnostic services and more.

“Our goal is to serve as the one local shop that meets all of the sales and service needs for our customers,” said George Smith, president of Racetrack Marine. “Our customers here in Berlin and throughout Ocean City have strong passion for their vessels, and it’s our goal to keep them happy and out on the water as much as possible. Adding Century Boats to our sales offerings was an important decision for our dealership – and we know that our customers will appreciate the quality, performance and legacy that Century delivers.”



Similar news:

The tow boat category continues to post year-over-year sales growth

“Same old, same old” can be a fine state of affairs, especially if you sell tow boats. For the past six years the tow boat category has been a consistent winner in an industry that is, in many ways, still finding its stride in this era of economic recovery. 

According to new data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the tow boat category continues to demonstrate steady, consistent year-over-year growth. From a base of 4,850 boats reported sold in calendar year /2011, the segment has marked consistent increases in unit sales every year since, with 5,500 boats sold in 2012, 6,100 boats sold in 2013, 7,100 units sold in 2014, 7,800 units in 2015 and 8,700 boats sold last year. 

“Sales of tow boats have been a growth leader during the recovery,” said NMMA’s Director of Industry Statistics and Research Vicky Yu. “The category has marked double-digit growth in unit sales over the past five years.”  

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Statistical Surveys Inc. pegs unit sales for the ski/wake category as growing by 12.06 percent in 2016. This represents a pleasing increase over the 10.16 percent year-over-year growth for the category shown in 2015, but still lags behind the 15.96 percent bump seen the year before. At least some of that fluctuation can be explained by low water levels throughout the Southwest, a key market for tow boats. Some of the strongest sales gains reported by SSI in 2016 were achieved in areas that were seriously impacted by prolonged droughts that dropped water levels on local lakes below accessible levels. Basic Trading Area markets measured by SSI in Texas, Arizona, California and Utah, for example, posted year-over-year unit sales gains as high as 33.33 percent once the water came back.

Correct Craft President and CEO Bill Yeargin expects dollar growth to stabilize in the tow boat segment.

All the toys

Although unit sales of tow boats continue to grow steadily, the cash value of these boats has also risen each year. NMMA pegs the collective retail value of all tow boats sold in 2016 at a whopping $818.3 million – an average of roughly $94,000 per boat. 

“The market is less than 70 percent of pre-downturn units, but the average sale price per boat has gone up a fair bit, which probably brings the segment to near or above pre-downturn dollars,” said Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin. “The average price increase is a result of new technology – particularly related to wakesurfing – and a move to larger size tow boats.”

While Yeargin said he expects to see continued growth in the segment, unit growth could slow in the year ahead as more boat manufacturers try to tap into the surfing phenomenon. 

“I would also expect the dollar growth to stabilize, now that most of the boats are already sold with surf technology,” he said. “The one wildcard is whether customers keep demanding larger boats; if that happens, the dollar sales will continue to grow at a faster pace than units.”

While larger boats obviously drive prices up, it is the steady up-featuring of all tow boats that has allowed manufacturers and dealers to grow profit margins most significantly in the face of lower volumes. Just as no one buys a car these days without air conditioning and power windows, there is little consumer interest in boats that don’t offer even a basic level of luxury features. 

“Consumers want all the toys, like integrated Bluetooth connectivity, wave-shaping devices, integrated GoPro cameras, upgraded finishes, convenient board storage and incredible audio quality,” said Mastercraft Boats President and CEO Terry McNew. “So even though we’re still below the high water mark in terms of units, we’re much more profitable now. The average unit price has grown by about 50 percent since 2006, and that’s largely due to the technology we’re now including in the boats. As with automobiles, the technology increases the retail price but consumers demand it regardless.”

The upward migration in tow boat size and features has fuelled an equally lucrative uptick in the used tow boat market. NMMA pegs the number of pre-owned ski and wake boats sold in 2016 as growing by 6.8 percent over 2015, with used tow boats now representing 2.1 percent of all used boat sales. Used tow boat unit sales have increased every single season for the past five years.

The lower selling price of used tow boats makes them attractive to first-time buyers and customers with more limited financial means. But pre-owned boats may lack the more modern features that these buyers still want. 

The MasterCraft NXT line is targeted specifically at younger professionals and younger families.

Some manufacturers have begun to address this price-feature gap with lines of less expensive tow boats that provide a limited selection of the most popular features. 

“Our NXT product is targeted specifically at younger professionals and younger families,” said McNew. “The NXT has the same materials, engines, fiberglass and warranty as our other boats, it’s just thoughtfully contented so the consumer gets what they need without stretching the budget. Our research has shown that about 40 percent of NXT buyers are new to boating. These people might have bought a used boat as their first boat in the past, but because the price of used boats is almost as high as an entry-level NXT, they choose the new NXT with its full warranty and its higher resale value.”

Maryville, Tennessee-based Skier’s Choice, manufacturer of the Supra and Moomba tow boat brands, has also targeted more price-sensitive buyers with some of its models. 

“Some of the boats in our segment now sell for more than $150,000. So the questions is, how high can prices go before consumers cry Uncle?” said Skier’s Choice National Sales Manager Chris Crysdale. “As the boats get more and more expensive, there’s a risk of creating the impression that these boats simply aren’t affordable. High prices also have the effect of slowing the product life cycle as people become less likely to trade in their old boat for a newer one.”

Surfing still drives the market

While it may have its roots firmly in water skiing and wakeboarding, today’s tow boat market is riding a wave of popularity based in the wakesurfing phenomenon. It’s one activity, said Crysdale, that appeals to boaters of all ages. 

“We hear from a lot of aging Boomers who used to water ski, I mean 65, 70 year-old guys, but they haven’t been behind a boat in 25 years,” he said. “The whole surfing thing intrigues them because there’s a bigger surface area, you’re going 10 miles an hour so it doesn’t hurt when you fall, you’re not going to be all stiff and sore the next day, and they don’t have to hold onto the rope the whole time. It’s something the entire family can do, since the interest in wakesurfing goes right across generations. … Surfing is something that appeals to people of all ages, so it represents a major family activity.”

The near-universal appeal of wakesurfing – backed by a surging economy – has the potential to lift tow boat sales volumes beyond pre-downturn levels, said Malibu CEO Jack Springer. 

“The tow boat industry sold about 13,400 units in 2007, and it’s selling about 8,700 units per year today. But the positive economic factors we’re seeing are strong, and they could push us back to the kind of numbers we saw before the downturn,” he said. “What will drive it there is the whole surfing phenomenon, which is still early in its life. There are so many people who still don’t know what surfing is, and I’ll tell you, it’s a rare day when someone doesn’t stop us on the water and ask what we’re doing behind the boat. There’s an immense market there, and we’re only scratching the surface.”

Source: Info-Link Technologies

The flourishing interest in wakesurfing coincides well with the rise of the Millennials as a buying force in the market. Young families are attracted to the fact surfing has multi-generational appeal, making it a rare activity that brings parents, grandparents and kids together unlike any other.

Competing for the attention of these young buyers is a growing fleet of sterndrive-powered surf boats based on Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive system. For now at least, the upstarts have probably helped the tow boat market rather than cannibalized it, simply by attracting more attention to wakesurfing as an enjoyable family activity.

 “We have not heard of an impact from our tow boat dealers related to the Volvo Forward Drive,” said Yeargin. “We do know that the Volvo Forward Drive is helping those in the sterndrive market, and we have had dealers approach our Bryant brand specifically because we can offer it.”

If any tow boat manufacturer has an interest in the sterndrive market, it’s Malibu, with its acquisition of Cobalt earlier this year. The company believed sterndrive-powered surf boats would become a feeder system to tow boats and Springer said that seems to be the way it’s working out.

“I give full credit to the manufacturers building these products, because they’re getting a lot of people interested in surfing and raising the profile of this activity. But the experience is still quite different than what you have in a tow boat,” said Springer. “To my view, no kid ever grows up aspiring to play minor league baseball. They grow up dreaming about playing in the majors. Tow boat wakesurfing, because of what the boat can do, is major league. As the kids are introduced to surfing, they want the best possible experience.” 

With Malibu’s acquisition of Cobalt, Springer said the company has an opportunity for further expansion in that market and have something to offer in both market segments. 

“If you think about what we can do now with a Cobalt boat, we can tailor the running surfaces, tailor the swim platforms, potentially add some ballast, and also put Surf Gate on those boats, that’s going to be a very compelling dynamic,” he said. “Of course we have an excellent existing relationship with Chaparral, and I don’t expect that to change. But because we own Cobalt, we have an opportunity with that product.”

A rosy outlook

On the whole, the future for the tow boat category looks very bright indeed. By every indication, the steady, sustainable growth that has categorized the tow boat segment should sustain over the next few years at least. A stable economy, growing consumer confidence, improved access to water, low fuel prices, favorable dealer inventories and growing interest in water sports overall point to sustained year-over-year growth in the high single digit to low double-digit range, as the tow boat segment continues riding the wave.  

Malibu CEO Jack Springer said wakesurfing will push the tow boat segment back to pre-recession unit numbers.

Category SWOT analysis

To truly understand the tow boat category today, we asked boat manufacturers to analyze it with a SWOT, considering the category’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

If there’s one strength that seems universal, it’s the growing popularity of wakesurfing – “amazing family fun” as Yeargin puts it. “Surfing is huge, and we’re just seeing the beginning of it,” adds Crysdale. “Most of the boats we sell are to families, and that’s a growing demographic.”

Price perception – the suggestion that tow boats are too expensive for most families to afford – was identified as the category’s single greatest weakness, although lower-priced entries are beginning to address that concern. Further droughts and water level fluctuations, however, remain another area of concern. 

“Our country is so large there’s often a drought somewhere,” said McNew. “Access to water is always a concern.”

Opportunities to grow the tow boat category are many and diverse. Simple demographics provide an obvious opportunity for growth, as millions of Boomers begin winding down careers just as millions more Millennials begin to enter the boat market. So too is the opportunity to grow wakesurfing beyond its fresh water base and take it into coastal markets. 

Innovation – always a category strength – is widely seen as representing the key to future opportunities. As tow boats grow increasingly complex, making them easier to use becomes more important than ever. Whether it’s automated systems to help operators get just the right wake, or refined control systems that make tow boats easier to drive and dock, innovation will remain a key to earning market share.

Potential threats to the tow boat segment are said to be the same issues that threaten all of boating. An aging customer base and not attracting enough new boaters is a threat, as are regulatory concerns. 

“Bad decisions by people who don’t have a clue about boating are a big threat,” said Springer. “Financing is something we need to watch as well, since if it gets too expensive it will impact everyone.”



Similar news:

Camden band gifted $17K boat

CAMDEN — The Camden County High School band program is selling raffle tickets for a 23-foot May-Craft powerboat to fund needed uniforms and instruments.

The boat was donated by Ray and Kathy Brandi of Elizabeth City. The band is selling raffle tickets for $100 apiece and is limiting sales to 300 tickets. The boat has been appraised at $17,500.

Chris Whitehurst, who is in his eighth year as director of bands at Camden County High School after 10 years at Perquimans County High School, has seen remarkable growth in the band program in recent years. With that growth has come extensive needs for equipment to keep up with the program’s expansion.

“We have doubled in size in the past eight years,” Whitehurst said, noting there are now 74 students in the marching band and 94 in the school’s overall band program.

The local school district funds the band program to the best of its ability, Whitehurst said, and the band boosters organization does a good job of helping with the costs of traveling to band competitions and sending students to All-State Band tryouts.

But as the Camden Middle School band program continues to grow under the leadership of Rose Lee, the band director at CMS, the high school band is beginning to face a shortage of basic items such as uniforms and instruments.

Ray Brandi found out about the need for uniforms for the high school band from Joe Musico at Weeksville Secure Self Storage. Musico is an active volunteer with the Camden bands and Brandi said it was Musico’s commitment of time to the band program that first caught his attention.

Brandi last year donated a boat to the Wounded Warriors organization and was interested in donating another boat. Musico encouraged him to consider donating the boat to the high school band program and introduced Brandi to Whitehurst.

“I just felt that the kids were in need over there,” Brandi said.

Brandi said he met a lot of really great people with the Camden Band organization and that convinced him even more that he wanted to support the Camden bands.

Whitehurst, a Camden native and 1993 graduate of Camden High, eagerly accepted the position when asked to come home and revitalize the band program at his alma mater.

The revitalization has happened, too, with the band earning Best Band of the Day honors at last year’s Peanut Festival Battle of the Bands in Edenton. The band regularly competes in four other band competitions in eastern North Carolina and marches in the South Mills and Elizabeth City Christmas parades.

Whitehurst said it has been exciting to see the way the community has supported the band program.

He taught percussion classes on the side at Camden High, while pursuing a degree in musical engineering at Elizabeth City State University. Whitehurst enjoyed the classes so much he decided to become a school band director, eventually earning a music education degree at East Carolina University.

“I fell in love with the teaching process,” he said.

Whitehurst said the band has a great opportunity to raise funds for needed equipment and supplies because of the Brandis’ generosity and Musico’s enthusiasm.

“This is huge for us,” Whitehurst said.

More information on the raffle is available at the Camden County Bands Facebook page at facebook.com/camdencountybands/ and at the Camden Bands website, camdenbands.org.


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Dockside boat show returns to Norwalk Thursday – The Hour

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John Celentano opens the unique skylight of the newest Galeon 560 Skydeck luxury yacht at the 2016 installment of the Norwalk Boat Show.

John Celentano opens the unique skylight of the newest Galeon 560 Skydeck luxury yacht at the 2016 installment of the Norwalk Boat Show.


Photo: Alex Von Kleydorff / Hearst Connecticut Media


With Tropical Storm Jose appearing on a heading to stay east of New England, organizers of the Norwalk Boat Show say they expect as many as 15,000 people for this week’s show at Norwalk Cove Marina starting Thursday and running through Sunday, with the show open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

From a focus on boat sales a decade ago, the show has evolved into as much a festival celebrating all things boating, with activities including taking a ride on Norwalk Harbor; how-to workshops for experienced boaters; and a new career fair on Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. sponsored by the Connecticut Marine Trades Association.


Organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and sponsored by Progressive, the Norwalk Boat Show represents the last major showcase in the Northeast in 2017, coming on the heels of the Newport International Boat Show that concluded Sunday in Rhode Island. The Norwalk and Newport shows differ from annual boat shows in New York City and Hartford that display vessels on the floors of convention centers.

“I think what’s nice about the show is it gives people a true taste of the boating life,” said Jon Pritko, vice president of Northeast shows for NMMA. “You see boats in their natural environment.”

For kids — those age 12 and under get in free with adults paying the $15 regular admission — this year’s show will include dockside “touch a boat” exhibits and photo opportunities, with options including working boats for law enforcement, firefighting, oystering and marine towing. And plenty of other activities are on deck for youngsters, including paddleboats and toy boat building.

For serious boaters, the show will feature a steady lineup of forums under the “Boat Confident” banner starting daily at 10:30 with one covering “iNavigation” and others docking, anchoring and “Ask a Captain” question-and-answer sessions. And at “Fred’s Shed” the details of boat maintenance are explored throughout the show, including repairs, engine troubleshooting and one-on-one consultations. The complete schedule of activities is online at www.boatshownorwalk.com.

All Seasons Marine Works will have between 25 and 30 boats on display at the show, with the dealer having locations on the Rowayton waterfront in Norwalk and in Westport. Co-owner Nathan Gottlieb said sales are up this year, particularly in the luxury segment but with sales starting to come back for boats priced in the $40,000 to $60,000 range.

“In the past two weeks we sold seven boats, which is pretty good for September,” Gottlieb said. “Boat shows began changing more than 10 years ago, from a place where people would show up and buy a boat to a place where people are looking to have fun. … We definitely sell boats at the boat show, but I can’t say its our primary goal any more — hopefully we just make a good connection so that people keep us in mind if they ever decide to buy one.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman


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Dockside boat show returns to Norwalk Thursday

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With Tropical Storm Jose appearing on a heading to stay east of New England, organizers of the Norwalk Boat Show say they expect as many as 15,000 people for this week’s show at Norwalk Cove Marina starting Thursday and running through Sunday, with the show open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

From a focus on boat sales a decade ago, the show has evolved into as much a festival celebrating all things boating, with activities including taking a ride on Norwalk Harbor; how-to workshops for experienced boaters; and a new career fair on Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. sponsored by the Connecticut Marine Trades Association.


Organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and sponsored by Progressive, the Norwalk Boat Show represents the last major showcase in the Northeast in 2017, coming on the heels of the Newport International Boat Show that concluded Sunday in Rhode Island. The Norwalk and Newport shows differ from annual boat shows in New York City and Hartford that display vessels on the floors of convention centers.

“I think what’s nice about the show is it gives people a true taste of the boating life,” said Jon Pritko, vice president of Northeast shows for NMMA. “You see boats in their natural environment.”

For kids — those age 12 and under get in free with adults paying the $15 regular admission — this year’s show will include dockside “touch a boat” exhibits and photo opportunities, with options including working boats for law enforcement, firefighting, oystering and marine towing. And plenty of other activities are on deck for youngsters, including paddleboats and toy boat building.

For serious boaters, the show will feature a steady lineup of forums under the “Boat Confident” banner starting daily at 10:30 with one covering “iNavigation” and others docking, anchoring and “Ask a Captain” question-and-answer sessions. And at “Fred’s Shed” the details of boat maintenance are explored throughout the show, including repairs, engine troubleshooting and one-on-one consultations. The complete schedule of activities is online at www.boatshownorwalk.com.

All Seasons Marine Works will have between 25 and 30 boats on display at the show, with the dealer having locations on the Rowayton waterfront in Norwalk and in Westport. Co-owner Nathan Gottlieb said sales are up this year, particularly in the luxury segment but with sales starting to come back for boats priced in the $40,000 to $60,000 range.

“In the past two weeks we sold seven boats, which is pretty good for September,” Gottlieb said. “Boat shows began changing more than 10 years ago, from a place where people would show up and buy a boat to a place where people are looking to have fun. … We definitely sell boats at the boat show, but I can’t say its our primary goal any more — hopefully we just make a good connection so that people keep us in mind if they ever decide to buy one.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman


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Trading average for adventure: How one couple ditched it all to live aboard in Puget Sound

I always felt slightly out of place sitting at a desk from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. every day, returning home to a beige house in the suburbs, crammed into a tree-lined street elbow to elbow with all the other houses, all looking just about the same. I had a hard time finding a place I loved to eat, to shop, to spend my time and my hard-earned money because, for me, nothing in the town where we lived had any sense of originality, no character, nothing whatsoever to develop a connection with. That’s what I craved: connection. To my community, to the people with whom I shared this collective space.

I’ve found that nothing worthwhile ever comes as a result of a carefully laid plan. God (or the universe or whatever you believe in) laughs at plans. Plans are simply our way of attempting to gain control over our lives. So it came as no surprise to me that the end to this way of life came hurdling at me like a fastball to a newbie batter. To put it simply: I lost my job. My husband, Jim, had lost his almost a year earlier, and the time had come to make some big decisions. Fast.

Should we get new jobs we didn’t love simply to keep the house? Did we even need the house? Were we willing to continue putting our dreams of being full time wedding photographers on hold simply to maintain possession of the structure that housed our things? And if not, what else were we going to do?

A visit to friends in Seattle, less than a week later, provided all the answers we needed. We loved the area, the thought of being closer to our friends sounded like so much fun, and over lunch on the last day of our visit, Jim threw out a wild idea he only half meant at the time: “Maybe we should buy a boat and move up here and live in a marina.”

The idea was crazy, wasn’t it? Who just up and sells everything they own to move onto a boat in a new state? Well, apparently, we do. We had fifteen hours’ worth of driving  home to find a reason we shouldn’t make this crazy plan a reality. We never found one.

It was easier than we thought to part with the “things” we’d amassed over the course of our lives and our relationship. When the options were to hold onto wedding gifts we’d barely used and a library full of books (which, by the way, were my pride and joy) or to go off and live a life of adventure, a life that truly felt like “me,” the decision was simple. Suddenly, those things that once felt so important, so critical to survival became just “things,” items that stood between us and the life of our dreams.

Don’t get me wrong. It was an emotional time. We had spent almost five years building a home together. The house we sold was our first, and we had created a space that we loved, that was our sanctuary, and it was not something we parted with lightly. Fat tears rolled down my cheeks as I said goodbye for the last time, to our garden, to the shelves Jim had built into our library, to the kitchen I’d prepared so many meals in. It was a sacrifice for the life we live now. But it was worth it.

With Jim’s truck packed to the brim with all the items we would need for our first several weeks in Seattle, we pulled out of his parents’ driveway before the sun was up. We drove north fueled by Dutch Bros coffee and an adrenaline like none I had ever felt. This was a new kind of adventure for me. It was terrifying…and it was amazing.

We’d decided (after 12 hours of sailing lessons on a practically windless lake and one tour of a Pearson 30 on the Sacramento River) that we were going to live on a sailboat. Jim called on every listing he could find on Yacht World and within the first 48 hours we had a whole two boat tours lined up. The first was a Catalina 34 that was just a tad over our budget…and needed far too many tads’ worth of work for our beginning comfort level. The second was a custom Endurance 37 that ended up being the best boat we looked at by far. Not because she was our boat, but because she brought us to our broker.

Sue at Capital City Yacht Sales was a godsend in our boat-buying process. She did more than show us boats and help us find the right one for us, she took us under her wing and helped us figure out exactly what we wanted and what we didn’t, she drove all over the Puget Sound to show us boats and pulled me off the ledge when the trawler we fell in love with and made an offer on (yes, I said trawler) ended up not being the boat for us. She started this process as our broker, and I am so happy to report that to this day, we call her our friend.

Finding Sue was our first bit of luck in the boat-buying process, but it wasn’t our last. Seattle area marinas are notoriously hard to get into. Every single one we visited had a waiting list at least a year long just to get a permanent slip. And in order to join the waiting list for live aboard status, you had to have a permanent slip. It was starting to look hopeless.

While visiting the Port of Poulsbo, we fell in love with the quaint little town and decided it was time to actually put our names on one of these lists. It was the only list we joined, and we were number twelve. But here we had the option of winter moorage at their guest docks while we waited for a permanent spot. It was the best opportunity we’d come across.

Port of Poulsbo.

Meanwhile, the deal for the trawler had fallen through and we were madly running around looking at boats. We had to find one before we returned to California to photograph a wedding at the end of the month, and time was rapidly running out.

We knew Willow was the boat for us the second we stepped into her cabin. We even had a secret signal, and Jim and I stifled a laugh as we both signaled at the same time. Her owner, Peter, spent almost two hours showing us every inch of the well-maintained Islander Freeport 36, including all the little quirks and potential problems he was aware of. We called Sue the moment we left the boat and told her we were in love. Again. I hadn’t been sure it would happen a second time. That trawler had seemed perfect, but next to Willow, it was just another boat that wasn’t our boat.

We made an offer and hit the road for California, cutting our trip shorter than we’d planned in order to get back in time for our survey. As we were packing our bags the afternoon before our drive back north, the Port of Poulsbo called and offered us a permanent slip. Everything was falling into place.

Signing the papers for Willow.

At the end of October, we will celebrate our first year living aboard Willow. Only a month after being put on the live aboard list in Poulsbo, our names came up and we became official.

This past year has been like living a dream I never knew I had. Tiny living definitely suits us and we’ve found our tribe in our fellow liveaboards (and lots of non-liveaboards!) in our marina and in the community around us. Our friends and family ask us how long we plan to live on the boat, and our answer is always “as long as it still feels right.” At this point, I can’t imagine it not feeling right.

Sure, it is an inconvenience to walk up to the marina bathrooms to take a shower in the winter when the introduction of additional moisture into the boat can cause problems, but it is a small price to pay for the kind of life we live. Other small prices to pay: lugging groceries down the dock at low tide. Having to shop twice a week because our fridge is small. Pumping our waste tank. Walking the dog in the rain. Dealing with leaks. Refilling water tanks mid-shower (we do shower in the boat in the summer). Parking half a mile away from our front door. Lying awake in a wind storm as our lazy jacks slap against the mast. Losing a can of pumpkin at the bottom of the pantry that is about half as deep as I am tall.

But if those things are the price of waking up every morning on the water, of having the freedom to cast off our lines and be on an adventure at a moment’s notice, of watching the sun rise over Mount Rainier with a steaming cup of coffee and my best friend in the whole world, the lovely sounds of bells from the church up the hill ringing through the air, of living a simple life free of clutter and “things” that don’t bring me joy, in a community that I feel a deep connection to, then that is a price I am gladly willing to pay.  


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MarineMax, Inc. (FL) (NYSE:HZO) Experiences Heavier than Usual Trading Volume

MarineMax, Inc. (FL) shares had a trading volume of 475K in the last trading session. Volume was up 85.09% over the stocks average daily volume.

Short traders are feeling a little more bearish on shares of MarineMax, Inc. (FL) lately if you take note of the rise in short interest. The stock saw a rise in short interest of 17.43% between August 15, 2017 and August 31, 2017. Short interest increased 364,505 over that timeframe. The short-interest ratio increased to 8.0 and the percentage of shorted shares is 0.10% as of August 31.

A few notable investment firms have updated their holdings. Ubs Group Ag divested its holdings by selling 2,014 shares a decrease of 98.9% as of 06/30/2017. Ubs Group Ag now controls 23 shares with a value of $0. The total value of its holdings decreased 100.0%. Nbw Capital LLC cut its investment by shedding 2,102 shares a decrease of 1.3% from 03/31/2017 to 06/30/2017. Nbw Capital LLC owns 158,026 shares worth $3,089,000. The value of the position overall is down by 10.9%.

As of the end of the quarter Allianz Asset Management Gmbh had disposed of a total of 2,705 shares trimming its holdings by 4.1%. The value of the investment in HZO went from $1,428,000 to $1,236,000 a change of $192,000 for the reporting period. Coe Capital Management, LLC grew its position by buying 4,370 shares an increase of 13.4% in the quarter. Coe Capital Management, LLC now holds 36,965 shares valued at $723,000. The value of the position overall is up by 2.4%.

The company is down by 0.32%% since yesterday’s close of 15.75. It is trading at $15.70 which is marginally over $15.57, the stock’s 50 day moving average and significantly below the 200 day moving average of $18.78. The 50 day moving average moved up $0.13 and the 200 day average went down $-3.08 or -16.39%.

The most current P/E ratio is 15.70 and market capitalization is 381.13M. In the latest earnings report the EPS was $1.00 and is expected to be $0.98 for the current year with 24,276,000 shares currently outstanding. Analysts expect next quarter’s EPS to be $0.09 with next year’s EPS anticipated to be $1.23.

MarineMax, Inc., launched on January 20, 2015, is a recreational boat and yacht dealer in the United States. Through 56 retail locations in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas, the Company sold new and used recreational boats, including pleasure and fishing boats, as of September 30, 2016. The Company also sells related marine products, including engines, trailers, parts and accessories. In addition, it provides repair, maintenance, and slip and storage services; arranges related boat financing, insurance, and extended service contracts; offers boat and yacht brokerage sales, and operates a yacht charter business..


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Innerviews: Inveterate river rat celebrates half-century of boating – Charleston Gazette

There’s hardly anything Tom Pile enjoys more than his 6-mile commute to work. No stop lights. No stop signs. No traffic jams. And the lanes are as wide and open as a Montana sky.

He commutes from his home in Dunbar to Lou Wendell Marine Sales in St. Albans on his pontoon, the Wilma Rae. Rain or shine, even in the cold, warmed by a thermos of hot coffee, he enjoys the river trek that jump starts his day.

To anyone who knows him, this is not surprising. At 55, he can’t remember life without some kind of boat, from the jon boats of boyhood to the series of fancy sternwheelers all named the Pile Inn.

He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but a pacifier shaped like an anchor wouldn’t have surprised the obstetrician one whit.

After flirting with a religious career and paying his dues selling hardware and carpets, he found his perfect working world 20 years ago, selling boats for Lou Wendell.

He’s a 38-year veteran of the Great Kanawha River Navy and the organization’s only two-time commander. He’s celebrating his 50th year as a boat owner.

Boats and the river are his addiction, his vice, the passion of his life, second only to his wife, Wilma.

They were married on a sternwheeler with a full river theme wedding.

Ah, the lure of the river. A shared romance.

squf; squf; squf;

“I have never not had a boat. I grew up in Dunbar on the river in the house I still live in, the homeplace. We had a camp on the Greenbrier River. We would go there as soon as school was out and come back when school started again. We had a boat on the river there.

“We were swimming at 4 and turned loose on a boat at 5 and never looked back. We had jon boats with outboards on them. On my 15th birthday, I wanted a boat with a windshield and a steering wheel. And that’s what I got. My daddy bought it for me, my birthday wish.

“In my teenage years, unlike other boys who got into cars, I got into boats, I would bring them home and fix them up and trade them for something else.

“I graduated in December of ’75 from WVU but I had to go to summer school one year to graduate. I took a boat to Cheat Lake with me that year. Looking back, I wish I’d gone to summer school every year because it was so much fun.

“I started at Wesleyan as a Bible and religion major, then transferred to WVU as a business major. I was going to be a preacher.

“I had a religious upbringing and at 17, I didn’t know what I wanted to be as a true goal. I thought that would be a way to get started in school, being raised in the Methodist church and going to a Methodist school.

“You know Dr. Edwin Welch, the president at UC? He had just started teaching at Wesleyan and I took a New Testament history course from him. Thirty-some years later, I was a presenter at the dedication of the Dr. Edwin H. Welch [towboat] at UC.

“After three years, I dropped out and went to work. I felt I was wasting my time in college. My parents were understanding, but they said I wasn’t going to just quit. ‘You are going to work and then go back to get a degree.’ For 18 months, I worked in the hardware business, then went back and finished college in business. I figured if you had a degree in business you could go to work about anywhere.

“When I graduated in ’75, I bought a new car, a new boat and a used motorcycle. The following year, I got a houseboat, the first Pile Inn. There have been many of those over the years. They were named after the camp on the Greenbrier River, Camp Pile Inn. With three generations at the camp, I thought it would be appropriate name for my boat.

“I went to work for my dad as a hardware rep. I called on retail stores in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia.

“I spent 20 years in the floor covering business working for Sears in the carpet department. Then I ran the Carpet One store for Bill Smith in Big Chimney.

“I was always good about going to visit people in the hospital. Lou [Wendell] had had a heart attack. This was 1997. I went to see him and I teased him and said, ‘If you don’t die, can I have a job?’ And that’s how I got here, 20 years ago.

“He offered me a job in boat sales. We’ve had a very good year. People are buying boats.

“Once you get around the water and a boat, it becomes an addiction. You almost have to do it. So I’m doing what I love.

“It’s easier to sell something you love doing. It’s a whole lot easier to sell a boat than carpet and hardware. It’s easier to get that excitement or spark in someone’s life when you know how much fun it is to start with.

“The whole industry has gravitated to pontoon boats. The cruiser market started fading in ’08 when the economy started going haywire. Also, most people don’t allow themselves to travel overnight and the pontoon boat has taken that market. It’s a good day boat and play boat, and it’s the least maintenance of any boat. Now with the big engines, if you want to water ski and go fast, you can do that.

“I’ve been active in the Great Kanawha River Navy for 38 years. I’m the only two-time commander in chief and I’m a fleet admiral now. I joined in 1979.

“I’ve been married twice. The first one lasted six weeks. I was 27 and everyone else was getting married so I thought I was supposed to.

“I got married for good in 1999 and we had a river wedding. It was at the house. Nelson Jones brought a barge in and placed it for me. The Coast Guard notified mariners to close down the river. We had 40 or 50 boats there and a calliope playing and the wedding was on top of the Juanita. Navy members wore their white uniforms. After we departed the boat to come up to the yard for the reception, they lined up with crossed paddles and we walked through all those.

“As far as what I’ve done on the river, I was master of ceremonies for the only sternwheel boat race on Bluestone Lake at the lake’s 50th anniversary.

“And we once did a collision enactment. We got an old junk motor boat and put manikins in it and the Charleston [towboat] ran over top of it. And we had the DNR and Coast Guard as the first responders, all with the cooperation of Amherst. I ran the boat. The video is still out there in their training.

“During the regatta, we ran Anything That Floats contest for four or five years and actually participated in it once.

“Oh, and I built a pontoon, too. I named it Daddy Jack after my dad. I built it for his 70th birthday. There were baby sternwheeler races and we had heats with 12 or 14 of them. I never won first place, but I always placed. Boats came out of Texas and Marietta. It was a big deal.

“The farthest I’ve traveled on a boat is Pittsburgh north and Cincinnati west.

“The existing Pile Inn was built in 1963 and was sold in ’73 to Bob Lemley who lived on it for 30 years. Physically and mentally, he needed to get off the boat. It was for sale. I have a nephew in Frankfort, Kentucky, and we went there one Christmas and stopped to look at it, and I ended up purchasing it. I called Nelson and he said the Charleston will be there in 30 days to pick it up and bring it home to you.

“Pile Inn needs a little attention right now but I have the pontoon, the Wilma Lea. I bought it four years ago. I ride it to work every day. Our house is six miles away. In reference, I have a truck that I put 700 miles on in the last two years. The truck would be quicker, but the boat is so much more enjoyable, that 7 a.m. trip with a thermos of coffee and a little mist on the water. It’s a good start to your day.

“It takes a half hour compared to 15 minutes when I drive. But I have a 600-foot wide traffic lane and no stoplights.

“After 50 years of being a boat owner, I do have a dream. I want to leave here on the Pile Inn and go to Nashville and take a summer to do it in and walk up to the Ryman Auditorium and buy a postcard and mail it back to me and start home. But I want it to be a four or five month boat ride.

“My dad‘s oldest brother, Frank, was a charter member of the Charleston boat club. He built a boat. I found an article on it with a 1939 launching date. Had seats from a glider and engine from an ambulance. So it’s a family thing.”

Reach Sandy Wells at sandyw@wvgazette.com or 304-342-5027.



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