Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Billy Joel's Newest Boat

Maybe the Piano Man should be renamed the Boat Man.

Billy Joel’s newest boat, a Patriot 36 he christened Argos, features many customized details, such as a center-mounted console with an electric lift for easy access to the engine, wrap-around seating, a raised deck for visibility, and a 670-hp Cummins diesel.

Joel was integral to the design of this yacht, envisioning an art deco-inspired vessel, a reminder of the streamlined beauty of 1950’s sportfishing boats. He worked closely with the president of Ellis Boat Company, Don Ellis, and Brian Walls, a design engineer to make his concept a reality.

This new Patriot 36 is the first of its kind to be delivered. Joel claimed Argos was “the quietest boat in my fleet” due to its standard sound-reduction floor and exhaust systems, and Evolution Quiet Drive shaft system.

Now that Joel’s tour has ended with a historic finish at Shea Stadium, perhaps he has time to revisit his River of Dreams on this sleek, new yacht.

Cutting the Cost of Fishing

The Yamaha engine company is currently offering fuel-efficient fishing tips on its Web site. The tips are all pretty intuitive, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful, and for some weekenders feeling the gas crunch, pretty essential.

Yamaha advocates things like fishing with buddies, finding the "sweetspot" on your engine, and researching your fishing grounds well ahead of time so you know exactly where to go. Another good idea is trolling, or drift fishing for certain types of fish.

One that is not on this particular list is reducing weight, and aligning weight properly onboard your boat to ensure that your running angles are optimal. Following as many of these tips as possible is a good way to get out there and enjoy the summertime.

Clean Boating Act Now Official

You're looking at President George W. Bush signing the Clean Boating Act of 2008 yesterday. Joining him aboard Air Force One was Rep. Steven LaTourette (left) and Rep. Patrick Tiberi, both from Ohio. The bill, which was approved by Congress last week, protects more than 17 million American recreational boaters from confusing and in some cases unnecessary regulations that are more applicable to commercial vessels. (Visit BoatBlue as well as this post to get the full background details.)

White House photo: Chris Greenberg

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Azimut's Getaway, Atlantic City

Azimut Yachts recently held a getaway for its owners at Trump Marina. In total, about 30 boats and their owners and families showed up for a fun weekend of boat hopping, cocktail parties, dinners and dancing, and a little fun at the tables.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the introduction of the new Azimut 50, equipped with the Seakeeper Gyro, which is a device that reduces roll. I had a chance to take the 50 out and test the device. It works quite well, and it's a nice option for Azimut enthusiasts. Another highlight of the weekend was the 116-foot Vivere owned by Phil Rinaldi. Phil was nice enough to give PMY a tour of this outstanding vessel.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Room Service

Lazzara Yachts has found a solution to one obstacle in buying a boat: geography. On the heels of announcing its new LSX 92, the Tampa, Florida-headquartered company launched a Web site allowing prospective buyers to experience the LSX 92 from the comfort of their living matter how many miles stretch from those rooms to the Sunshine State.

By entering a security code, 0092, you gain access to the inside workings of the LSX 92—from video presentations to animations and brochures to comprehensive layouts and sketches. You can also download material for review later. Talk about room service!

To experience the new LSX 92 log on to its special Web site. Then sit back, relax and enjoy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Clean Boating Act Approved

Good news: Earlier this week both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the Clean Boating Act, to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from instituting regulations that would result in hefty fines for recreational boaters of all kinds, even kayakers.

For 35 years recreational and commercial boats alike have been exempt from permits covering normal overboard water discharge—things like washdown and runoff water. But a few years ago, a few states sued to overturn the exemption because of ballast-water discharges releasing harmful species into local waters. They won in federal court, and as a result the EPA will be required to start enforcing permit regulations come September 30. (If you're interested in reading the permit proposals, click here.) Vessels less than 79 feet will be required to have one type of permit, while vessels 80 feet and larger will need a different permit. Unfortunately, those regulations don't distinguish recreational boats from commercial ones, even though ballast-tank-equipped vessels aren't the same as runabouts, sportfishermen, and yachts. (And yes, kayaks were included in the regulations—canoes and PWCs as well.)

Thankfully, several Congressmen and Congresswomen recognized this just didn't make sense and sponsored the Clean Boating Act bill. As Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York who cosponsored the bill, said to a group of boaters in the Finger Lakes, "It's time to toss this ill-advised regulation overboard."

Next step: getting President George Bush's signature. Considering he's an active boater, as is his father, here's hoping he picks up his pen soon.

To follow further developments and read more about how the bill and regulations came about, visit BoatBlue.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Pat Ford is one of those action-sports photographers that not only catches great in-motion, in-the-moment images, but can really put you there through the lense. Here are some recent shots he sent PMY's way, while covering the tarpon season with Capt. Rick Murphy.

Bloom Over

A massive algal bloom in Qingdao, China, that threatened the sailing events in the upcoming Beijing Olympics has been successfully cleaned up, reports The New York Times. According to a Chinese official, barriers were installed in order to keep additional algae from infiltrating the waters that are slated for competition. The algae first appeared in late June and quickly spread, at its peak covering one third of the waters in the area. But by Monday, volunteers and workers had cleared over 700,000 tons of algae from the water and surrounding seashore.

Harmful algal blooms (often referred to as red tides) can occur due to an excess of nutrients in an aquatic system, which often results in a significant reduction of oxygen. Other blooms are natural, seasonal occurrences. Still others can be attributed to factors such as influxes in iron-rich dust and climate changes. The cause of the Qingdao bloom has yet to be determined.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Electric Insurance

Electric boats are gaining popularity, since they provide a reasonable solution to soaring fuel costs and an alternative for those who are environmentally conscious. Travelers, a leading insurance company, is now offering an insurance discount of up to ten percent for owners of electric boats—a first for the industry.

Travelers defines an electric boat as “a vessel 100 percent powered by a propeller-driven, electric inboard source where utility is stored onboard.” Besides fuel and environmental advantages, electric boats require less maintenance than a diesel- or gasoline-powered boat due to the simplicity of the motors. They are quieter, too, another reason some people are turning to them for a tranquil cruise.

However, the economic benefit is worth noting, too: Travelers says that an 18-hp diesel engines cost approximately $50 to run for ten hours, while an electric boat would require a mere $1 or $2.

To encourage further use, several states are following a European trend by stipulating that specific waterways are exclusively for electric vessels.

Fountain Powerboats Expanding

With boat sales slowing down and some boatbuilders laying off staff, the news in the marine world has been pretty bleak as of late. So the announcement yesterday that Fountain Powerboats is about to undergo a multimillion-dollar expansion is welcome indeed.

Fountain received a Job Development Investment Grant from the state of North Carolina, which is intended to create 250 jobs over the next few years and invest $12 million in its operations over the same time period. Reggie Fountain, founder and CEO of Fountain, says the goal is to bring Baja Marine, which he recently acquired from Brunswick, into the same factory where the rest of his boats are built.

"In effect, we will be the largest sportboat builder in the world when we get things going with Baja," Fountain told the Washington Daily News. "Between Fountain and Baja, we will be producing more than $100 million per year when we get going. That is conservative. I expect we will do more."

Maybe he'll get former President George Bush to take a look at the new line—although considering Bush Sr. just took delivery of his third Fountain, a 38 Center Console named Fidelity IV, an extra spin around the harbor might be called for.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Final Fin

Between restrictions on tuna fishing and now shark finning, Japanese cuisine must really be suffering.

The House of Representatives refined a prior bill which prohibits shark finning, when fishermen sever a shark’s fin and return the remainder of the shark to the sea. This improved bill bans "vessels from having custody, control, or possession of shark fins without the carcass." The bill clarifies that aboard fishing and other vessels at a U.S. port, shark fins must be naturally connected to the body.

Shark finning is driven by the profitability of shark fin soup, a delicacy in many Asian countries, yet it contributes to the massive decline in the shark population, a steep drop of approximately 80 percent since the 1970’s.

This bill will now go to the Senate.

What You Want, What You Get

Oftentimes when shopping for a boat, the initial plan of what we want can morph into something a little larger and more intricate than we originally intended. And when building a boat, modifications made from the original plans are called change orders. Well, this boater seems to have taken the idea of stepping up from the plan to heart. As you can see by the names of his "big" boat (Change Order) and the "tender" (Original Contract). We at PMY like the way this boater is thinking.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not Niagra, But Close

Last December in our annual Destinations section, I wrote about how nothing compares to New York City. Well, if you need further proof, there are four manmade waterfalls around town that you really can't appreciate unless you get up close to them by boat.

That's what I did Sunday; I took the photo here of the waterfall beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The other three are west of the Brooklyn Heights promenade in Brooklyn, just north of the Manhattan Bridge in Manhattan, and at Governor's Island (near the Statue of Liberty). They're actually an art exhibit, and the water is pumped straight from the East River, cascading 90 to 120 feet back down into the river.

To learn about the art project, which runs through October, click here. You can visit them day or night; I definitely plan to go back at night to take more pictures, since they're lit up. If you live and boat in this area, make The Waterfalls a must-see. If you'll be visiting The Big Apple but without your boat, never fear; you can charter a boat from Surfside 3 marina in the Chelsea neighborhood.

Monday, July 14, 2008

He Made It!

After a three-month voyage, Kenichi Horie reached the shores of his native Japan aboard his wave-powered boat. He left Hawaii back in March aboard the Suntory Mermaid II and completed the 4,800 mile voyage at an average speed of 1.5-knots. "I've been thinking about riding a wave-powered boat for 30 years, and finally my dream came true. The journey was so fun, and it was easy," said Horie, according to the Associated Press.

The AP states that the boat was equipped with diesel and sails should the adventurer have run into any storms. But as fortune has it, he never had to use any alternative form of propulsion.

No news yet as to how many books he managed to read en route. For the full story, click here.

The Future of Engines

When I was in Italy a few months ago, Norberto Ferretti—the head and co-founder of the Ferretti Group—let it "slip" that they had just launched the hull of a brand new hybrid vessel and that the engine tests had exceeded expectations. He didn't let on much more. When I asked anybody else at the Ferretti Group for further clarification they were equally tight lipped; I couldn’t even figure out if it was an electric or hydrogen based system.

Well the answer is out.

This past Friday, the Ferretti Group debuted its Mochi Craft 23. The builder claims that this is the first vessel over 75 feet to have a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system. Twin 70-kW electric motors, powered by Lithium ion batteries, are attached to the reduction gears to provide diesel-free cruising for several hours. The hull for the vessel has been designed from scratch to accommodate both the weight of the batteries and to improve cruising at mid-range speeds.

Ferretti has not yet released information on the actual speed or fuel savings of these engines, but when it does, we’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Big Blue

Eugene Shvidler’s mammoth yacht, Le Grand Bleu, can be seen in the above video in the waters of Antigua. Roman Abramovich either sold or gave this yacht to Shvidler in 2006. This clip was not shot by just any megayacht admirer, but rather a 'superyacht chef," Niall Harbison.

Harbison no longer considers himself a part of the “yachting business,” and instead works full time on his online cooking show. Curious foodies should check out his site for video recipes. His blog shares some of his megayacht musings, such as his all-time favorite yacht.

Mad About Mariner's Docking Game

Today is one of those days where I really need to walk away from my Mac and do something else. Because if I sit here any longer, I will become completely consumed by Mad Mariner's docking game.

Using your keyboard's arrow keys, you maneuver the boat of your choice to the docking area. Simple, right? Not if you novices forget to keep your eyes out for shallow water (marked by light-blue areas), buoys, and other boats. Thankfully the first times you play, winds and current are light, so you don't have too many curveballs thrown your way.

How'd I do? Let's just say my first try was a "close but no cigar" situation: I clipped a boat at the dock. But I chalk that up to not having had enough coffee, since it's still morning.

Behemoth Battlewagon!

This massive 86-foot fish chaser, which was designed by Applied Concepts Unleashed and built in Stuart, Florida, has been three years in the making.

PMY has done a little investigating, and here's some of the juicy info about this vessel, which is called Double Down:

More than a dozen companies were used to construct sections of this jig-built boat.

She has triple 2,400-hp MTU diesels. There are two outside engines, which are V-drive fixed shaft with wheels. The center motor is linked to a massive water jet.

Double Down is reported to top out at 47 knots (54 mph)with full load and cruise at 37 knots (42.5 mph). Her displacement is 185,000 pounds.

Futuristic dash (Company Called Voyager Systems did the technology for the
boat). The pilot’s Italian leather helm chair has a lot of the electronics integrated in the arms.

There are five flat screens make up the dash across the bridge.

The radar array swings inside the mono tower wings you see here. The antennas are in 20-foot-long tubes that follow the contours of the tower, with little lightning caps on top. You can actually pop off the caps and pull antennas. Everything was laid inside the composite of the boat

Monolithic tower (mast-like structure) with buggy top. The owner has kids and he wanted kids to go up tower safely, so he had the team build a retracting ladder into the tower. Press a button, ladder lowers out of headliner and you can climb up.

There are six staterooms (talk about room for the family).

Stay tuned as we try and get you a full feature on this very-different boat in an upcoming issue of PMY.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


According to a report from the Associated Press, a 63-meter (approximately 205-foot) cruise ship ran aground in Tarr Inlet near Glacier Bay, Alaska on Monday. Fortunately, no injuries were reported nor did the ship's hull suffer any serious damage. The vessel, which is owned by Cruise West, was carrying 51 passengers when she ran aground. She was stuck for nearly nine hours before being successfully towed to safety. The Coast Guard has yet to determine whether the accident was caused by human error or because of an electronic/mechanical malfunction.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Fees on the Horizon

If you don't think recreational boaters should be required to buy a pricey water-discharge permit from the federal government, now is a good time to let Washington know.

The Clean Water Act of 2008—a bill aimed to reverse a recent ruling that would force pleasure boaters to buy the same costly permits required of commercial freighters and tankers—is now stalled in Congress by one vote. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) refused to pass the bill before the holiday weekend unless commerical fishing boats were also exempt.

If legislators fail to enact the measure before the summer recess in a few weeks, then starting on Oct. 1, you will have to buy a permit to discharge any kind of water—engine cooling water, even deck run-off—from your boat.

To let your voice be heard, send a message to Congress.

Mercury Rising

Boaters may be crying over surging fuel prices, but if fish could smile, they certainly would.

In Tokyo, Japan, the tuna fishing cooperative union may decide to stop approximately eighty fishing boats from pursuing big eye and yellow fin tuna, two staples of sushi bars. The high fuel prices combined with the already-depleted population of tuna virtually eliminate any possibility of garnering a profit. The fishermen would be advised to cease their journey to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Shark Week Is Coming

Ok all you fans of these sleek-swimming and sometimes snaggletoothed fishes, Shark Week is back at Discovery Channel this month. Everything you ever wanted to know (or didn't), about these phenoms of evolution will be covered during this annual homage.

Here are a few of the week's highlights:

Premieres Sunday, July 27, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Get a reminder.
Using their signature sci-tech style of explosive experimentation, the MythBusters hit the deep blue from California to the Bahamas to investigate myths about sharks. They are honing in on some doozies this year: Are sharks repelled by magnets? Do dogs attract sharks? Do the vibrations caused by a flapping injured fish attract sharks? Does chili powder repel sharks? And hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman create the ultimate SHARK WEEK build—a 16-foot-long robo-shark!

Premieres Monday, July 28, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Survivorman's Les Stroud hosts this look at how best to play it safe in the water, while testing popular theories of how to survive shark encounters. Les travels to the Bahamas and South Africa to test whether the behavior of Caribbean reef sharks and great whites changes depending upon the time of day. While in South Africa, Les and marine biologist Jeremiah Sullivan conduct an analysis of the great white's bite, and test whether kicking and splashing attracts sharks, and if it's safer to stay in a group or tread water alone if stranded in the ocean.

Premieres Monday, July 28, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Do shark encounters happen more frequently in the morning or night? This special chronicles six recent shark attacks that took place at different times of day. Top shark experts weigh in on what time of day is better or worse for avoiding sharks.

Premieres Tuesday, July 29, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
With over 400 species of sharks, they don't all live in the warm waters of the tropics —some inhabit the freezing cold waters of the Arctic. And who better to introduce viewers to one our planet's most unsung sharks than DIRTY JOBS' Mike Rowe, who travels north to the edge of the Arctic Circle in search of the mysterious Greenland shark. These large sharks are slow-moving behemoths, and learning more about them will help scientists understand the rapid ecological changes affecting that part of the world, and how the Greenland shark impacts the food chain there.

Mike assists shark scientists with their research as they tag and release a large male Greenland shark. By the end of the trip, Mike gains a deep appreciation for the men and women who are studying this elusive shark in one of the most extreme climates known to humankind.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Make a List, Check It Twice

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but if something is yours, people shouldn't take it. Nevertheless, a boater in my area was recently fishing 100 miles plus offshore before he discovered his easily accessible five-man life raft was gone. Someone had broken into the boat and stole it earlier in the week. Putting aside the $5,000-plus replacement cost for a minute, this boater and his crew could have been at serious risk as a result of not having that life raft onboard, especially 100 miles from nowhere.

While this raft is likely gone forever (except for the million-to-one shot by checking for-sale items on Craigslist and Ebay), it's worth noting that before you leave the dock making a routine checklist of must-have onboard items, is a just a good idea.