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The Miami International Boat Show

As planned, we spent Saturday and Sunday this past weekend at the Miami International Boat Show and the co-located sailing focused Strictly Sail Miami.

Though these events have traditionally been very distinct, the no-longer-appropriately-named “Strictly Sail” has unfortunately now been devoured by the vastly larger powerboat focused Miami International Boat Show. To our disappointment, there were only two docks featuring sailboats at the show. And to make matters worse, the two docks were 1.5 miles apart – requiring a trip on a water taxi (that ran just once an hour?!!?) or a shuttle bus trip to get between them.

Nevertheless, we had a great time checking out boats and the expo on Saturday, and on Sunday spending a day attending the Strictly Sailing seminars.

Here are some of the highlights:

Boat Show Overview Boat Show Overview
The Miami International Boat Show was huge – filling up every nook and cranny of the Miami Beach Convention Center and a vast area outdoors as well. We couldn’t have seen it all if we had spent all five days at the show. And since we were eager to get to the sailboats, we ended up not staying long at the main expo area at all.

We did check out practical things for our current RV life as well as our future boating aspirations, such as folding bikes and inflatable kayaks:
Folding Bikes Inflatable Kayaks
And some rather odd items, like a floating dog (why not for cats?) bed and an “instant” wine chiller:
Floating Dog Bed?!? Instant Wine Chiller
There was also lots of cool gadgetry to be found, such as dive masks with integrated cameras, and solar powered refrigerators:
Liquid Image - Explorer Series Camera Mask Solar Powered Fridge / Freezer
I was really pleased to see so much “green” technology on display at the show, particularly in the separate expo area targeting sailors. In sharp contrast to the RV Show that we went to last month, here we found lots of solar panels, LED lighting, wind generators, and more.

The expo areas was fun, but the real reason we were at the show was to check out some sailboats, so after lunch we hopped the shuttle bus over to the marina to check out the action on the docks.
Catamaran Row

The boat we most wanted to see was the Gemini 105Mc catamaran, and it mostly lived up to our expectations:
Gemini 105Mc - Angle View Gemini 105Mc - Stern
Gemini 105Mc - Foredeck Gemini 105Mc - Rear Seat & Solar
Gemini 105Mc - Salon Gemini 105Mc - Master Cabin
The 34′ long Gemini has an incredibly well laid out interior, and it is perfectly sized for a single traveling couple with space for occasional guests. We really loved the hanging couch on the back that also serves as a solar panel mount.

The other catamaran that really impressed us was the innovative little TomCat 9.7:
TomCat 9.7 TomCat 9.7 - Galley
TomCat 9.7 - Master "Cabin" TomCat 9.7 - Looking back into Salon
The 32′ TomCat packs a lot into an even smaller space than the Gemini. The layout feels extra spacious because there is so little dividing up the interior space – the kitchen, main salon, and master stateroom are all open to each other with only curtains for separation. It reminds me of the interior layout of our Oliver in that regard.

All of the other catamarans on display were overly large, and packed with cabins for the charter market. And while a large salon area is nice, and we like the idea of a raised upstairs galley – a boat featuring up to FOUR bathrooms is not anything that we would want even if we could somehow afford such a monster.
Lagoon 400 - Galley Up Four Bathrooms!?!!

After running out of catamarans to look at, we then turned our focus towards the monohulls.

Most of the models on display were either tiny day sailers, or cruisers vastly too large to interest us. When we asked why so few 30′ – 40′ boats were on display we were told that it was because the “middle class has stopped buying sailboats” and that only the most extravagant yachts were worthwhile to bring out to the boat shows. Interesting.

One of the monohulls that did catch our eye was the incredibly innovative Seaward 32RK:
Seaward 32RK Seaward 32RK - Cockpit
Seaward 32RK - Galley Seaward 32RK - Navigation Station
Thanks to its retractable keel design, the Seaward 32RK can operate in less than two feet of water. It has a large, comfortable, well designed interior. And it is actually even trailerable!

The other boat that really impressed us was the beautifully designed Catalina 375:
Catalina 375 - Rear Catalina 375 - Helm
Catalina 375 - Galley Catalina 375 - Rear Cabin & Navigation
More than any other boat that we toured, the interior layout of the Catalina 375 felt like it would make for a comfortable long-term home. We started the weekend biased towards catamarans, but thanks to the Catalina we left it completely open to a monohull as well.

Despite fewer sailboats on display than we had hoped to see, our trip to the boat show served its purpose well. We now have a much better idea around the sizes, layouts, brands, and features that felt best to us. Armed with this research, we’ve already started to begin distilling down what we want in our ideal boat.

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To see many more photos from our trip to the boat show, check out our full photo set or slideshow on Flickr.

7 COMMENTS

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  1. Why am I not surprised that you guys would love the Gemini? :-) That has been my dream boat for a while now and seems to be a smart design with an eye on quality and a tighter budget. It looks great in your photos.

  2. I will keep my ear to the ground and eye on the docks. Boats come up all the time that don’t make it into brokerage and Yachtworld… which, by the way, can be a little dangerous. When you respond to a listing, you become “owned” by the listing agent, losing your opportunity to bring in a buyer’s broker unless the former is feeling charitable. A dual-agency deal can work (and I’ve been there), but you lose even the pretense of someone in your corner and that can be messy and/or expensive. If you get into serious shopping mode, find a broker with a good reputation who understands and resonates with your needs, and then have have that person make contact with listings of interest to pre-filter and arrange showings.

    As to the Corsair, the compromises made to allow folding were just too great, and that was compounded by the separation of the little aft cabin. Also, interior finish was too barren and plastic for my taste – the real emphasis of that design was on sailing performance, with a very powerful rig. That was exciting, but not really what I’m all about. I got caught up in the “Microship on Steroids” vision and forgot my real needs. A very expensive error, though my single-handed trip to Desolation Sound was valuable experience.

    Photos of that boat here: http://nomadness.com/pix/c36pix.html

    Steve
    .-= Steven Roberts´s last blog ..BEHEMOTH Memories =-.

  3. Interesting report – thanks! Coupla comments…

    In the catamaran world, a key distinction is owner- versus charter-version. You’d want owner, which isn’t broken up into separate living spaces.

    The only two boat sizes that make sense (in the economy that makes sense to you and me, of course) are those small enough to trailer or large enough to live aboard. I’m intrigued by the rarefied overlap zone between these two worlds – that Seaward is interesting. My Corsair 36 of a few years ago was an attempt to do this, but I was not happy with it at all.

    Great to see you two exploring this – come to the Salish Sea and we’ll take you sailing for a few days!

    -Steve
    .-= Steven Roberts´s last blog ..BEHEMOTH Memories =-.

    • Yeah – that overlap zone is interesting indeed. I was really impressed with how much livable space the Seaward had on board. The biggest negative was that the rear guest cabin was extremely tight, and not very private with just a curtain to close it off.

      What were the things you didn’t like about the Corsair? On paper it looked awesome, but I imagine the narrow living space would have been tight – particularly once you added on all the necessary geekery and women for comfortable cruising.

      I hope we can make it your way over the summer sometime. In the meantime, keep a close eye out for boats for us in your area. If the perfect boat comes along….

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