The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 24 - March 4, 2009


Coastal Marine has you covered

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Linda and Gene Ames welcome customers to their showroom.

Although I’ve been a boater for many years, I never knew why vessels are referred to as "she." Well, here’s the answer. A ship safely carries, protects and delivers cargo and passengers not unlike a mother does, therefore, vessels have traditionally been compared to women and referred to as she. If you have a beloved she in your life, are you taking care of her the way she takes care of you? If not, Coastal Marine Canvas & Upholstery will get her ship shape so you can show how much you care.

Linda and Gene Ames started Coastal Marine in 2002, primarily focusing on marine canvas and upholstery. They have grown so quickly that their workshop keeps exanding with the addition of machinery, office space and fabric and canvas sample books piled high.

Both Ames come to the marine canvas and upholstery industry from backgrounds uniquely geared to their business. Linda Ames was a fashion designer in California, where she learned the pattern making skills she has been able to utilize for the challenges of marine canvas. In addition, she grew up in the business watching her mother run her own canvas company, as well as working for Donzi Boats. Gene Ames has a 100-ton captain’s license and was a commercial fisherman and boat builder after a career in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Together, they can offer a team approach to upgrading your vessel from both the stylish and practical point of view.

Coastal Marine can cover anything on your boat, inside or out – Canvas enclosures, dodgers, biminis, console covers, mooring covers, seat covers, new outside and inside cushions, curtains, blinds and even custom-fit, quilted bedspreads. The Ames have ideas galore and can customize anything for your vessel or home. Ask about their labra-door.

Their materials are top quality and if you haven’t seen the fabrics that are available for boats recently, you are in for a surprise. The days of plain vanilla marine fabric has been thrown overboard with beautiful colors and patterns made by Sunbrella and Outdura among others.

Exterior canvas products also have a new look with a variety of colors available to match the fiberglass finish of the boat. Seamark makes a product with canvas on one side and vinyl on the other, making it totally waterproof and allowing the flexibility of different colors on each side. Exterior coverings can be welded rather than sewn for a longer lasting and unique look.

Coastal also installs Strataglass, which is a semi ridged hard plastic and great for replacing traditional plastic roll ups where appropriate. And if you’re looking for a boat gift for the boater that has everything, have them create a boarding mat with the boat’s name embroidered.

The Ames are also branching out with the addition of patio enclosures and reupholstering of patio furniture using dry fast foam and their most recent venture, reupholstering the interior of an airplane. Coastal’s work has recently been on display with Calcutta Boats at the St. Petersburg boat show.

Their territory covers St. Petersburg to Sarasota, and they have put up an awesome Web site with pictures of their work and tips on maintaining your boat’s canvas. According to Coastal, the sun is your boat’s enemy, so keeping it covered is the best way to maintain its good looks and value.

Gene Ames says they can cover anything that has a stitch whether it’s watercraft, aircraft or house-craft. So take some good advice from Linda and Gene Ames – cover your investment. She will return the favor down the road, and of course, she’s worth it.

Coastal Marine
Canvas & Upholstery

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Income opportunity

Investment Corner

While the stock market has continued to struggle so far in 2009, there have been a few rays of sunshine from one of the darkest areas of the financial markets in 2008. As I have highlighted before, this crisis was not created by the bursting of an overvalued stock market bubble. Rather, it has been the bursting of a huge credit bubble, which fueled gains in many asset classes, most recently real estate and commodities, which are now in the process of being corrected.

The credit-driven nature of this collapse caused some normally pretty reliable investments like high quality corporate bonds to suffer declines almost as bad as stocks in 2008. But, while we argue over whether the large stimulus package just passed is a good idea and the stock market continues its bottom hugging ways, we have quietly observed some significant improvement in the condition of the corporate bond market.

All corporate bonds are considered to be riskier than U.S. government bonds, but they fall all along the quality scale ranging from almost as safe as a government bond to very risky bonds issued by corporations that may have a risky future.

Higher quality bonds provide lower yields to the investor because of the safety factor. Lower quality bonds must pay higher yields to entice an investor to buy the bond and take the risk of perhaps losing some principal value if the company issuing the bond defaults. The bonds at the lower end of the quality scale are also known as high yield or junk bonds.

As I’ve reviewed in past articles, higher quality corporate bonds normally pay yields higher than government bonds by a moderate percentage to compensate for the slightly higher risk. Typically, this yield premium is about 1 to 2 percent above the prevailing government rate. Today, due to the present economic fears, quality corporate bonds are yielding 3 to 5 percent above the U.S. government bond yield. Since there is not a large risk of default on these types of bonds, I see this as an interesting opportunity to earn a relatively high yield in today’s very low interest rate environment, without taking excessive risk.

There are many good mutual funds specializing in these quality corporate bonds. The chart below is an exchange traded fund called the iShares Investment Grade Bond Fund (Symbol – LQD). About 75 percent of the fund is invested in bonds with A ratings or higher, and just over 20 percent in Triple-B rated bonds.

This fund currently bears a yield of about 6 percent, well above the 2.75 percent level of a 10-year treasury bond. Here’s a link to a description of bond ratings to give some perspective as to the types of bonds in the fund:

The fund above was used for illustrative purposes only and is not a recommendation to purchase this fund. All investment decisions should be made considering your investment objectives and risk tolerance. From the chart, you can see that these bonds fluctuate in value, and you should expect fluctuations in bond fund prices in the future.

The opportunity, which we believe will be realized over the next few years as the economy recovers, is the relatively high current yield on higher-quality corporate bonds and the potential for price appreciation as the bonds within the fund mature at face value, which is higher than the present value.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

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