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Thursday, July 25, 2013

WE SEE A TREND

Brunswick the largest producer of US non custom production boats reported that it’s second quarter marine related results were mixed. The Mercury Marine Group saw net sales of $631 million up from 7% from the same period last year, and operating earnings of $119 million. In contrast their 15 boats brands (excluding Hatteras & Cabo yachts which are in the process of being sold off) generated $310 million ... a 1% increase over 2012 same period sales. The small increase reflects an increase in outboard boats while fiberglass inboard boats were on a steep decline.

There is a trend emerging over the last year or so that bigger boats are going outboard. Even Sea Ray has joined the parade on some of their bigger boats and some manufacturers are cowling the outboards so they look a lot like inboard boats. What’s going on? Why the move to big outboards?

There are a number of reasons:

- manufacturers are building cost efficiency into bigger 4 stroke engines all the time up into the 350 HP range

- these new outboard engines are ultra low emission and can achieve very good fuel efficiency

- the outboard engines can be built at a lower cost than comparable horsepower inboards and they attain a higher profit margin

- outboards are flexible and they can be coupled in single, duo, triple or quad configurations covering a large variety of boat types and sizes

- outboards don’t take up interior boat space and consumers want this

- outboards are easy to service and require less tearing the boat apart in the event of major engine work

- outboards are high performance and offer higher top speeds on comparable boat weights and they still deliver on range

- using less in boat space means some of that space on an outboard boat can be dedicated to extra tankage further enhancing range

- four stroke outboards run very quiet and some so much so, that the water pump jet of water is the loudest engine noise at idle on the boat

- outboards make for ease of docking

- there is better resale and generally speaking they are more sought after

So here are a lot of reasons why this is happening including three big ones – the manufacturers make more money and have more flexibility ... and the consumers want the product. Surprisingly manufacturers are putting quad 300 HP on boats approaching 50 feet and this is becoming common place. This is the segment of the market that is profitable and your going to see a lot more boats in the 25 - 40 foot range going outboard moving forward. Inboards aren’t going away any time soon but the outboard trend may be here to stay.

Posted by at 4:28 PM
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Monday, July 08, 2013

HEY BUDDY WATCH THE WAKE!

Well we just came back from Beckwith Island, and as expected on a hot still summer day it was teaming with boats. Yes there were boats that hooted and hollered all night that kept most of the anchorage up, but my beef isn’t with them. My beef is with the half dozen boats that plow their way into the anchorage at a speed putting out maximum wake in their quest to get to their preferred anchoring spot ... as if it was about to vanish before their eyes in mere seconds.

Those anchored out on the outer reaches of the cove are probably there because they enjoy some semblance of privacy. You can see them coming all beady eyed at half throttle not even bothering to look around at the anchored boats as they race to their spot. On guy did wave at me as he waked me. I waved and and gave him a wake down finger. He shrugged and plowed on. My wake down finger turned the other way.

I can only assume that these inconsiderate boaters who rock the crap out of anchored boats are:

A/ they had the misfortune of being born low in the gene pool OR

B/ they are self centred boors who have no respect for the safety or comfort of others because they never focus on anything other than their own immediate wants and needs.

Yes these are the same folks who walk through the department store door and let it slam shut on the little old lady coming behind them, tail gate your car at 100 clicks and cut in line at the grocery store check out and pretend they didn’t notice. They are disrespectful and discourteous people that haven’t earned the right to call themselves a human being.

For the most part these boaters are not trawlers, not sailors and not usually the bigger yachts. I’m generalizing, but in my observation they tend to be piloting sport style boats 25 - 40 feet overcrowded with under 40 guests. Why do they do it and why will they keep doing it ... because most other boaters are too polite to get worked up about the situation and they just go about there business picking up everything that landed on the floor from a good boat rocking. I would suggest the only way these inconsiderate boaters will change their behaviour is that a few boaters from the anchorage get together and visit the offenders and ask them what makes them think that they are so special that they can wake other boats in the anchorage.

Posted by at 11:13 AM
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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

VHF MISUNDERSTANDINGS

A young man wanting to earn some money, decided to hire himself out as a handyman-type and started canvassing a wealthy neighbourhood.

He went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for him to do. "Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?"

The young man said, "How about 50 dollars?" The man agreed and told him that the paint and ladders that he might need were in the garage.

The man's wife, inside the house, heard the conversation and said to her husband, "Does he realize that the porch goes all the way around the house?"

The man replied, "He should. He was standing on the porch."

A short time later, the man came to the door to collect his money.

"You're finished already?" he asked.

"Yes," the young man answered, "and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats."

Impressed, the man reached in his pocket for the $50.

"And by the way," the young man added, "That's not a Porch, it's a Ferrari."

Misunderstandings can happen. We humans are less than perfect communicators. It is not always what we say that is misinterpreted, but sometimes rather what we don’t say or how we say something that would have provided context. This is especially true with conversations over the phone or by email where no body language is there to support the conversation. Same holds true for conversations on the VHF radio.

Not helpful radio conversations go like this “ White boat to the right, watch out you are heading for a rock shoal just off the main channel across from the island”. This conversation gets the attention of 100 boats that think they are about to run aground. Helpful conversations go like this “White Sea Ray towing dingy on our starboard heading north towards Bear Island you are approaching a rock shoal to your starboard ahead about 300 feet adjacent to Bear Island.

I am always amazed, that more often than not on a busy Saturday large boats giving securities going through narrow channels routinely get no response ... and yet there, coming the other way around the bend will be another boat smack in the middle of the channel. How many times have I cursed under my breath as the happy skipper waves going by with music blaring and oblivious to the danger caused.

Last season I heard a conversation on the VHF in Russian that went on for five minutes on channel 16 as many boaters chastised them to get off the channel to no avail.The Coast Guard never stepped in. They were probably too busy communicating on real emergencies.

The point is, we can all be better communicators on the VHF. It makes for safer more courteous boating. Think about what you plan on transmitting on the radio before you start the conversation. And if you are one of the many that don’t have a radio operators license take the course and get on board. Otherwise you have no right to use the VHF that you bought from West or inherited with the boat. VHF marine radios are not toys and their intended use is to foster safe boating and access to important information.

Posted by at 1:37 PM
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