I went to the show on Friday (pouring rain) and Saturday. There was something new something old and a few of the big boys missing in action. The Strictly Sail show was well attended both days and there was a buzz about that I haven't seen years. The brokers were in a frenzy about the latest statistics showing 7,000 sailboats were harmed by Hurricane Sandy. It looked to me like serious buyers were seriously looking. The vendor area looked slow for a changed and there were long lines at the new boats. All the brokers looked busy talking to customers.
For me I concentrated for the first time on Catamarans. My learning curve was steep but I after spending two days on them and talking to one broker I can actually trust in telling me the truth the verdict is still out on whether or not I like them. It will take a charter to convince me one way or the other. More on this later.
The biggest surprise in the new boat category is the new Seaward 46. (Hake Yachts 46RK
) It is made right here in Stuart Florida. Paulo is going to be mad at me for I didn't take any pictures. Like the Gozzard boats, it is a total departure from any thing traditional inside a sailboat. The inside cockpit reminded me of a plush car or Capt Kirks helm station. But the boat was high end, 615 K's, for this luxury boat. It had a lifting centerboard straight up vs pivoting aft. I don't think it would be good in a hard grounding.
Something Old. Marlow/Hunter once again did not bring their A game to the show. A Hunter 33, Eco-drive Hunter 36, the new Gemini 35 and the old Gemini 105 catamarans were there. The new Hunter 40 was not at the show.
Totally absent was the Island Packet group which usually has an appearance. I was hoping to see the new Blue Jacket 40. Since they are made here in Florida that was a huge disappointment. Since Massey Yacht Broker has the Florida, Hunter, Catalina and Island Packet dealership, my guess is they are in trouble or hunkered down again for the 2 straight year.
The Catalina group was there in full force. They had a very spec out Catalina 445 (which was sold) brought down by the Dunbar Sales in GA.
Jeanneau and Benneteau groups were also there in full force.
Tartan had their very lovely 4000 and a gorgeous 4700 there. They are trying to overcome past difficulties when chatting to them.
For the lottery winners, Hylas yachts had their line-up: I felt like a groupie following my favorite rock band when stepping on one of these grand ships.
Now back to the Catamarans. I think it is the largest in water showing here in the USA.
The big 3 Leopard, Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot, had all there models here I think, along with the South African smaller builders, Gunboat, St Francis, Maverick 40 and others.
I really wanted to see the new Maverick 40. This design won my innovation and best overall design for a catamaran under 42'. I saw some QA issues with the boat , nothing serious, as the builder is working out the bugs. I believe he said he has made 9 of them so far. But I really like that boat.
What I liked most in the Catamarans is the space of course they offer over a monohull. Add 10' to the average monohull to come up with the same room as a Catamaran. The cabins in the hulls especially in the owners versions were real nice. Two things I was seriously disappointed in though, Synthetic woods and no galley per se'.
I can understand the use of synthetic woods to keep the weight down. Some were done very nicely but most looked IKEA. Not my cup of tea. When looking at the used Catamarans the wear and tear was striking.
Now for the galley, they are not workable. There is no room or little room, poor design to put dishes, cutlery, pots and pans and food. One can only pick one item from above and the rest has to go under the settee's or in one of the hulls. This was true for all Cats under 44' except the Maverick. I realize 90% of the catamaran market is for charter but they have to eat too I would think. This design feature alone will probably keep a few buyers like myself out of the catamaran market unless changes are made. My favorite catamaran if money was no object is the Antares 44I. It is so popular with sailors (non charter) that there is a 18 -24 month wait list right now for a new boat. A used one usually doesn't last 3 months on the market, if they come on the market. Not bad for a $950,000 boat.
Best new product. The propane power dinghy motor. Uses same size 1lb bottles that one gets in Home Depot. I can see this taking on a greater role in the sailboat market.
There is tons more to write about each model I saw but I will save those for a later time.