The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 22 - February 18, 2009

reel time

Miami boat show offers innovative products

Reel time

David Miller and Benny Parish at the Grady White booth at the
Miami Boat Show. Grady White consistently wins the JD Powers
Customer Service awards. Cannons Marina is one of
Grady White's top service dealers.

This past week I attended the Miami International Boat Show in Miami Beach with my friends David Miller and Benny Parrish from Cannons Marina. I try to attend the show every year because it’s a great place to network with the writers, anglers and boat manufacturers that I have developed a relationship with over the years. I also get to preview many of the newest innovations in marine technology and sometimes get a glimpse of the future of boating and fishing.

This year, I was also interested in seeing how the economy was affecting the boating and fishing industry. It’s no secret that the economy is presenting challenges for almost every business, and the marine business is no exception. Boats and fishing in general are more of a discretionary spending decision than many of life’s necessities, but are important to people who enjoy the outdoors. My experience at the show revealed what I had expected. The companies that are innovative and have a track record of providing sound customer service may be struggling but will survive the downturn and come out better businesses. There was a lot of talk this year of networking and creating alliances that help companies prevent duplication of effort. Dealer networks and shared resources were on the top of the agenda for the industry leaders.

On Thursday, the show opened for the public in what was traditionally a time reserved for dealers. I was encouraged to see the halls filled with the usual boat builders and outboard dealers, but the general consensus was that the crowd was much smaller than in years past. On Friday, the last day we attended (the show ran through Sunday) that had changed and the halls were filled with an enthusiastic public.

One of the benefits of having so much specialized product in one general area is finding solutions to problems that you encounter while boating. When I visited the Hell’s Bay Boat booth I discovered an innovation that solved two problems at once. Owner Chris Peterson had designed a combination back rest and step that would allow the angler ease of access to the elevated platform and provide comfort while cruising. For me such a solution also would offer a quick retreat to the boat from the platform should a rogue wave be encountered while poling. Best of all, the step/backrest was designed to fold up and out of the way against the platform.

The show is also an excellent place to find small gems that may lay hidden and out of sight to many anglers and boaters. A couple of companies caught my attention with products that I found interesting and useful.

Poksak, makes a nylon carry bag with an elongated handle that can be used for over-the-shoulder carrying. It also attached an iPod-sized stuff pouch to the bag that makes it easy to carry in a small space. The other innovation that set this product apart from other competitors was a wide gusset that allowed poksak to accommodate as much as two to three average-sized shopping bags. Rescue Tape was another product I found that made its way into my shopping bag. Made from silicone and non sticky, the tape when stretched will bond to itself and create a water tight, oil and gas proof and voltage resistant barrier. It just seemed like a good idea in the duct tape repair sense. My final purchase was a present for a friend with a small boat. I have always liked using pouches on the side of my console that hold pliers, de-hooker, leader and other items the angler needs quick access to while fishing. The problem with some boats is the fact that a textured gunwale or console just will not accept a suction cup. StowMate to the rescue, has created a line of mesh storage porches that adhere to textured surfaces with marine grade Velcro. This allows the angler to have convenient storage that can be removed and stored when cleaning the boat and between fishing trips.

I only touched the surface of the boat show in the limited amount of time I had, but I came away with some valuable knowledge. It is the companies that have been around through past economic fluctuations that will survive the current one. When deciding to purchase a boat, motor or marine accessory, you’ll find many deals in the current economy. Make you decisions based on the quality of the product, the dealer’s history and its service record and you’ll find the silver lining. There’s never been a better time to buy into the boating world.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper