By Capt. Ken Kreisler
One of the reasons I enjoy attending the Palm Beach Boat Show is that I get the chance to leisurely stroll the docks, stopping to chat and catch up with industry as well as boating friends without constantly looking over my shoulder at who is going to interrupt the conversation. It’s a ‘doable’ show and quite unlike Miami/Lauderdale, I never feel pressured to get it all in within a limited amount of time. Then there’s the usual great weather this time of year here, and given the kind of winter I had upon my island home of Manhattan, the sunshine and warm temps were greatly appreciated. Of course, with all this relaxed space in which to get things done, I can easily, and guiltless, knowing I can come back the next morning and pick up where I left off, get away in the afternoon and play nine holes of golf at a nearby club.
So, I arrived at this year’s show early on Thursday morning to attend the media meet hosted by Show Management’s Skip Zimbalist and the Pearson Grant PR group. The bagels were just okay–I’m a New Yorker folks, so don’t try to pass off a South Florida bagel with pre-packaged cream cheese on this boychik–and the pecan danish rated a respectable 6.8 out of 10 on Capt. Ken’s Breakfast Treat-O-Meter. The thought was there and greatly appreciated. The green tea was quite tasty, though.
I ran into some familiar faces during that first morning breakfast on the beat; freelance journalist Liz Pasch, who with her husband Juan are two of the nicest folks you would ever want to meet; long-time photographer friend Billy Black, with whom I’ve spent many a good time on both business assignments as well as just hanging out with no particular place to go; videographer Suki Finnerty, who shot many of my videos during my years at Power & Motoryacht, and former colleague Dean Travis Clarke. Familiar industry guy Mike Dickman was also there with an announcement that one of his entrepreneurial endeavors, that being his Boatquest.com, an online classified site, is now part of the growing concern headed up by the same man who runs Show Management and AIM Media; our very host, Skip Zimbalist. For those of you who slept through the Enlightenment and the Renaissance, AIM is a powerhouse in enthusiast magazines and related consumer shows, including the much-lauded and prestigious Ft. Lauderdale event, the Yacht & Brokerage Show at Miami, this Palm Beach show, and the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat show, among others. AIM is also into books and internet sites. Ergo, Dickman’s online project. I wish them well and hope this one plays out in the positive for both.
Anyway, with so many bagels and plenty of cream cheese packets left over (and no lox, by the way,) although I have to admit, the hazelnut spread was kind of tasty for packaged stuff, and the entire morning before me, it was time for this logo-free journalist to get out on the docks, to stroll the boards at a friendly pace, unhurried, and with no particular agenda to focus on. Just taking it all in and looking for some good copy and conversation with a few friends.
First stop was with Anchor Yachts’ Sandy and Forest Roberts at the Hampton display. I’ve known this amiable boating couple for many years now–Forest had a recent knee replacement and dropped enough weight to be quite svelte for an old salt–ever since I covered one of the first Hampton Yachts that started to appear Stateside. Capt. Forest, by the way, is one of the most accomplished skippers I’ve ever met and knows his boats better than anyone. In fact, he’s so good at it that Jeff Chen, Hampton’s dynamic founder and owner, listens carefully to Roberts’ input whenever a new model is being planned. Sandy does all the interior designing for the Anchor boats and has a loyal and admiring following among her boat owners.
With it still early in the morning, and the docks relatively easy to traverse–unlike Saturdays and Sundays, what with all the trophy wives and tire kickers crowding things up a bit enough for me to be forced to hanging ten and partaking in some nifty dock surfing–Sandy and I gave the interior of the new 620 a look-see. Hampton, always known for its excellent use of living and entertaining space, did not disappoint and afterwards, I met Forest in the engine room and lazarette space.
I’ve always contended that a boat should be looked at from the inside out, meaning engine room, and while I remarked to Sandy, when she pointed out a simple, and quite stylish locking device on the big refrigerator unit in the galley, that if Hampton took care of this little gadget, think of what they figured out for the big things. Case in point here folks, is the engine room on this boat. It’s everything the hands-on owner or skipper could want. Plenty of working room, redundant systems, and absolutely no cluttered spaces. Everything where it should be, within easy reach and all critical maintenance areas so well-placed that you couldn’t bang an elbow or skin a knuckle if you tried. I’ll be going into more detail about the Hampton 620 as soon as I get back on the boat and put her through her paces. www.anchoryt.com. (888) 221-1320.
Now, just before I said goodbye to Sandy and Forest, he pointed out a gizmo he found out there in the marketplace and liked it so much, he mounted one on the bulkhead in the 620’s lazarette and like most important pieces of equipment aboard, the Pipe Defender is now standard.
Basically, and as described by both Forest and Tom Bean, the company’s manager who just happened to have a display set up between the Hampton dock and the Maestro/Apreamare slips and gave me a pretty convincing demonstration, Pipe Defender seems to be a nifty, and green, way to combat the growth of clams and biological organisms in the raw water system. What Bean and his team have devised is that by installing a chlorine production cell in the sea chest or as an inline option, the controlling unit is able to create a salt chlorine generator using the available sea water and introducing DC current passed through Titanium fins. This is turn separates the naturally occurring sodium chloride–NaCl for you chemistry buffs–in the salt water and voila! Environmentally friendly chlorine, the nemesis of clams and biological growth, will keep the cooling raw water flowing and the system’s pipes free of restriction. Bean claims all safeguards have been taken with isolating the DC output from any other circuit and stands behind the system’s operational capabilities as long as it’s used in water temps above 60 F and not in fresh water. I’ll be doing a far more comprehensive evaluation of the unit in the near future as well as following up with Forest to see how it fares aboard the Hampton 620. In the meantime, if you have any questions for Bean, you can visit the company Website at www.pipedefender.com or give him a call at (772) 370-0866. Tell him Capt. Ken sent you.
As long as I was there, I stopped in to see old friends Michael Landsberg and Marc-Udo Broich of the Maestro/Apreamare group. Michael, late of Vicem Yachts, where as president of the U.S. division, was very influential in establishing the brand here and recruited by Marc, the former president of Aicon and now Maestro’s CEO and guiding Stateside force, to join his sales team. On display, the Maestro 65 American Series.
The philosophy behind the American Series is to enable the Italian builder to offer vessels that are more in tune with U.S. buyers who want something different, as in Euro styling to set them apart from cookie-cutter designs, but with features more common to the American markets. These include hydraulic swim platforms, larger fly bridges, new interior layouts, and more choices in woods including mahogany, cherry, and teak offered in high gloss, semi or matte finishes. Look for a more detailed review and hopefully, a comprehensive video presentation as well. www.apreamareyachts.com
While I drifted down the docks, I say a quick hello to Jarrett Bay’s Randy Ramsey as he sat aboard his latest pride and joy, the 46-foot Persistence built for NASCAR race driver Jeff Burton. As anyone in the custom and semi-custom circle knows, Randy and his crew build beautiful Carolina boats and this one is the builder’s first pod drive-powered sportfish boat and features Caterpillar C9 ACERT diesels with Zeus Pods rated at 575-hp each. According to Jarrett Bay, the boat cruises at 30.5 and hit a top speed of 35.5 knots. “Hey Ken,” Ramsey says in that pleasant, delightful, and butter-smooth North Carolina drawl of his. “Good t’see ya. Everything okay? ” he calls over with a smile, a nod of his head, and a wave of one hand. “Looking good, boss,” I say, noting he is busy speaking with someone seated next to him. “Catch you on the way back,” I wave back and continue on. www.jarrettbay.com
And that’s when the Axcell 650 banner catches my eye. Now, I’m a self-admitted eclectic type of person and I find myself often drawn to anything that is more interesting and different from what is the usual and accepted. As my Website logo says: “Anyone can row with the current.”
From the outside, the Axcell 650 Catamaran Sport Yacht offers a sleek, eye-catching low profile design with distinctive ‘gill-slit’ intakes on each side, which, by the way, and as I would soon find out, have been specifically designed for an additional and important performance function. But what really began to interest me was something written on the banner that stretched across the transom: “With Patented HybridAir™ Technology.” Now that was something that pinged my radar and waiting my turn to get aboard, listened carefully from dockside as I started to pick up some buzz words from someone wearing an Axcell shirt.
Brian Barsumian, who along with his dad Bruce, are the principals in the company responsible for this daring design and technology. They call it MACS Research Inc., the capital letters standing for Multi Air Cavity Ships™ and have been at it for some 13 years now with the result of their research and work sitting right there in the dock.
The 650, designed by J.C. Espinosa of Stuart, Florida-based Espinosa Inc., is a beautiful looking boat both inside and out. My opinion. Some simply do not like the catamaran styling nor the lines. However, I found her to be a head turner and mine was going back and forth, looking here and there as I got the cook’s tour with Brian. I hope to get back on with both Bruce and Brian at a later date for a comprehensive sea trial and walk through, and perhaps a sit-down with Mr. Espinosa as well, but for now, I noted how well this prototype is finished off in yacht quality fashion with copious amounts of room available enabling her owners and guests to be away from the dock for long periods of time. And there’s a 16-foot, 90-hp RIB tender tucked into a garage in the stern.
With lots of folks queuing up for a look-see, and realizing of course that they had to show the boat, I slipped into the starboard sponson’s engine room with Brian for a quick tour. I got the layout and technology very quickly. The boat has been designed to pump low pressure air, much like a hovercraft does, via a pair of automated lift fans working off the twin C-18 Caterpillar 1,150-hp turbo diesels. And yes, those ‘gill slit’ intakes are all part of the technology that gets this 59,000 pound vessel cruising, according to the Axcell literature, along at a 38-knot cruise speed. This is a very cool boat and one that I am definitely coming back for. Stand by. I’ll let you know when it’s happening. www.axcellyachts.com
Well that’s it for today folks. I’m going to keep reviewing my notes and I’ll be posting some more reflections real soon.