After a one-year hiatus, the Miami International Boat Show returned with a cargo of new boats, engines, and everything boat-related.
One of the perks that comes with producing BoatUS Magazine for you is that we editors get exclusive access and a sneak peek at the latest and greatest boats, engines, and cool boat stuff months before it's for sale — and sometimes before it's even built! The pandemic knocked us all off course, and the last two years have been mostly without shows. But the biggest one in America returned with a splash in February, after sitting in dry dock for 2021. More than 100,000 people attended this year, which is pretty much back to typical attendance, and there were plenty of serious buyers everywhere we went.
The reason the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show can honestly boast of "thousands of boats on display" is because it's actually five distinct boat shows operating simultaneously around the city over five days. The refurbished Miami Beach Convention Center was filled with boats up to 49 feet, every type of engine, and a whole floor of marine accessories, electronics, and gear. At Sea Isle Marina, you could sign up to test drive a diverse fleet of boats (all powered by Yamaha) and many paddle/pedal watercraft. Next door at One Herald Plaza were more powerboats, motor yachts from 30 to 125 feet, yacht tenders, engines, and marine accessories. Sailors headed to Museum Park Marina to check out the latest sailboats, catamarans, and sailing gear, while Pride Park was reserved for boating lifestyle services, entertainment, cuisine, educational seminars, and more marine accessories. Pop stars, celebrities, and Bond villains headed over to see the gargantuan private ships at the SuperYacht show at IGY Yacht Haven Grande, but that's for another magazine.
As we missed a year, we have plenty of catching up to do. So let's check out what most impressed us at the show — coming soon to a dealer showroom or retailer near you.
Boats Of Every Stripe
Year after year now, the overall quality of boat fit and finish continues to improve. Cut-rate boats from decades past are gone. Boats are more expensive, absolutely, but they're also lighter, stronger, faster, more durable, and reliable.
The venerable Boston Whaler continues to produce high-end fishing machines, using Miami to launch its new Boston Whaler 360 Outrage, loaded with new technology in its propulsion, power, and connectivity. Added to the typical Whaler quality fit and finish is improved access to the hardtop with the ladder placed at the centerline (between two rear-facing cockpit seats) with a large translucent hatch opening at the top making for easier, safer climbing to the upper station.
A reconfigured bow provides easier access to the windlass/anchor, along with more usable storage and a more open feeling. Digital switching technology enables remote monitoring and control for key fob systems, allowing owners to power up batteries as they approach the boat, turn on and adjust light modes, and deploy and retract the sunshade, among other useful functions.
The 360 Outrage also features Mercury's new 1st Mate Marine Safety and Security System for falls overboard, which integrates with a boat's propulsion system through an intelligent hub. There's plenty of power with standard triple 300-hp Mercury Verado engines with Joystick Piloting (JPO). The helm station features a standard 16-inch Simrad display, which works with an optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer, ensuring comfort in rolling seas.
Another notable option is the Fathom e-Power System that uses lithium-ion batteries to supply 22,000 watts. That should be enough energy for a full day on the water, thus eliminating the need for a generator with its noisy hum and emissions. $612,370 | BostonWhaler.com
Formula has made performance powerboats since the 1960s. But it returned with a surprise — the Indiana builder announced it's left the go-fast Cigarette-type boat market by ending production of its FasTech line and has started building center-consoles. "While we actually built center-consoles back in the early '70s to early '80s, we're back in to stay, beginning with the Formula 387 Center Console Fish and the 387 Center Console Sport," says Scott Smith, Formula's marketing manager.
The center-consoles are expected to debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in October. Formula plans to keep building its popular line of crossover bowriders, super sport bowriders, and luxury performance cruising boats. $TBD | FormulaBoats.com
Four Winns' H1 and H1 OB are compact, efficiently laid-out bow riders with some nice features for a 20-foot boat. The layout of the sterndrive and outboard models are adapted to their power configurations with plenty of swim platform on each. The sterndrive is outfitted with more traditional L-shape seating and large sunpad. The outboard has U-shaped seating. Both have easy transom-to-cockpit access without stepping on cushions. The two-position port side seat (face forward or aft) is perfect for spotting surfers and skiers. Power options include MerCruiser, Mercury, Volvo Penta, and Yamaha. Starts at $54,365 for H1 OB | FourWinns.com
Somehow during this two-year ordeal, Scout Boats managed to introduce seven new models, including the Scout 400 LFX, a 40-foot center-console with 12-foot beam designed for both fishing and cruising. Features include a full galley, sleeping berth for two, standard Seakeeper gyrostabilizer, and a hydraulic fold-down port-side beach platform with synthetic teak. Constructed from cutting-edge carbon epoxy, which is lighter, stronger, and corrosion resistant, the 400 LFX is a relatively light 17,460 pounds (dry weight without outboard) for a fully loaded 40-foot battle wagon. $971,177 (with triple Mercury Verado 350XLs) | ScoutBoats.com
In 2018, Sea Ray moved away from its ubiquitous yacht and sport-yacht division to emphasize outboard models up to 40 feet. In Miami, it added to the fleet by premiering the new Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard with twin Mercury 600-hp outboards.
The standard boat is loaded with features, as is expected from a Sea Ray, but it's also about style. This is the first model to embody Sea Ray's new design look going forward. There's an emphasis on maximizing space and function, with a three-position transom seat and wide C-shaped bow seating.
Available in an open or enclosed coupe configuration, the 370 Outboard has a fiberglass hardtop that covers its 12-foot beam, and has an optional opening panoramic skylight. Below deck is a well-appointed cabin with accommodations for four and an enclosed shower and head. About $1.1 million (well-equipped, with twin Mercury Verado 600s) | SeaRay.com
Bayliner relaunched the well-loved Trophy fishing boat brand at the 2020 Miami show, and we all know what happened next. To make sure the well-thought-out compact boats (20- and 22-feet) with deep V-hulls didn't get lost in the mix, it brought a new flagship, the Bayliner T24CC, to this year's show.
The new Trophy boats are center-consoles that replace the old walkaround design with comfortable open-bow seating that converts to a wide casting deck. The company promotes its "blending of fishing utility and family comfort." Options include a bimini or a ski top (and removable ski pylon).
This next-gen Trophy comes with both trim tabs and fold-away rear seat as standard. Also new is an optional fiberglass hardtop with spreader lights. Highlights include dual 6-foot insulated fishboxes, a beam-forward hull design with deeper freeboard than previous models, increased fuel capacity to 100 gallons, along with a 21-gallon livewell, and 15-gallon baitwell. Starts at $64,900 (with standard 225-hp XXL Mercury outboard) | Bayliner.com
You may be unaware that consumers can buy those spacious, fuel-efficient, and fun catamarans offered for charter by The Moorings. The same respected yacht builders at Robertson & Caine build nearly identical boats under the Leopard brand. The new Leopard 46 PC (powercat) delivers the same style, outdoor living spaces, and home-away-from-home accommodations and comfort as The Moorings 464PC soon to be available for charter.
The Leopard 46 PC comes in a three- or four-cabin layout. The three-cabin owner's suite boasts a walk-in closet, desk, and a double vanity. Forward VIP guest cabins offer island berths and en suite heads. As it's designed for entertaining. The cat features a designated "galley serving area" at the aft end of saloon with storage lockers for cutlery/crockery/food, incorporated drinks locker, and mounting space for optional under-counter ice maker or wine cooler. Standard propulsion is twin 250-hp Yanmar diesel engines. $TBD | LeopardCatamarans.com
Semi-custom sportfishing builder Contender Boats brought nine models to the show, ranging from 25 to 44 feet, while hinting at some "exciting news in the coming months." We were drawn to the Contender 25 Bay, first introduced in 2011, which is packed to the gills with everything needed for both offshore and inshore angling. The list includes livewell plumbing, rod holders, electric reel outlets, trolling motors, forward casting platforms, forward seating in the bow, and pop-up jump seats in the aft. Custom options are available for tops, consoles, leaning posts, and electronics. Starts at $116,000 | Contender.com
Stingray Boats has been turning out well-built fishable center-consoles, deckboats, sportboats, and dual-consoles in South Carolina since 1979. Its modestly powered runabouts are a great entry-level option. The Stingray 173CC and 273CC were showcased in the convention center, with the floor models on display already sold. We were drawn to the 173CC, built on Stingray's proprietary Z-Plane hull. Of note is how Stingray engineered a sit-down enclosed head it showed off by having a 6-foot, 3-inch team member easily climb in and out of it. Options include a ski/tow package. An innovative feature is a completely removable windshield for ease of storage. Starts around $35,000 (without trailer, but with a standard Suzuki DF90 outboard) | StingrayBoats.com
Parker Boats was a 55-year-old small builder of quality offshore and inshore fishing boats in Beaufort, North Carolina, when Correct Craft (think Nautique, Centurion, Bass Cat, SeaArk, among others), acquired the company in 2019. The result of that infusion is the Parker Offshore 24CC. For an only-the-essentials 24-footer, the new Parker has bow seating with cushions and insulated storage, a forward-console lounge seat with 240-quart insulated storage/fishbox underneath, LED under-gunwale lights, port and starboard swim platforms with boarding ladder, and a head. Options include an adjustable bow table with cushion that converts into a sunpad or casting platform, a fiberglass leaning post with a 30-gallon insulated livewell with tackle storage, and a 64-quart cooler on a slider assembly for easy access. $113,078 | ParkerBoats.com
Viking Yachts has been building luxury performance sportfishing and cruising yachts since 1964, and its fleet just seems to keep getting bigger, better, and more diverse. The New Jersey builder had two new models at the show, the Viking 64 Convertible and 54 Sport Tower, and two new flagships are on their way. The latest and largest from Viking's V Series of center-consoles, the Valhalla 55, will debut this fall at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Given its size, speed, and power (quadruple or quintet Mercury 7.6-liter V12 600-hp Verado outboards), Viking is marketing the V55 as a high-performance sport yacht, offshore tournament contender, fish-and-cruise express, or tender to a larger yacht. The Viking 90, a six-stateroom world-traveling sportfisher, makes its world premiere at next year's Miami show. "We're going to keep pushing the envelope, and the V55 is the latest example of this," Viking president and CEO Pat Healey said. For the record, Viking sold 19 boats at the show, including eight Vikings and 11 Valhallas, which start at 33 feet. Price for the Valhalla 55 TBD | VikingYachts.com; ValhallaBoatworks.com
Hardware, Accessories, And Innovation
Outside of boats, the undisputed star of the show was the new benchmark in outboard engines — Mercury Marine's behemoth 7.6 liter V12 600-hp Verado (the world's first V12 outboard). If that sounds familiar, it's because we told you about it in our BoatUS March 2021 e-newsletter. Mercury made sure 600s were rigged on plenty of boats this year, stopping people in their tracks on the show docks.
The interconnectivity of boat systems continues with the new Raymarine YachtSense Ecosystem, an onboard and remote monitoring system that gives boaters control of their equipment and vessel systems via the Raymarine mobile app. Enabling Ecosystem is the new YachtSense Link multipurpose marine mobile router equipped with Raynet Ethernet ports, mobile broadband connectivity, and onboard Wi-Fi. A third tier of functionality comes via the optional addition of Raymarine's YachtSense digital switching system.
"We like to say, YachtSense Ecosystem is the equivalent of your smart home on the water," says Peter Ingram, marketing VP. With the Raymarine app and YachtSense Link, boaters can remotely monitor onboard systems, control electrical devices, geofence, and sync with Raymarine navigation systems while underway. $1,299.99 for the marine mobile router (monthly Raymarine Premium subscription is $200/year) | Raymarine.com
The delay in digital controls can get confusing when you're maneuvering a large inboard boat around the docks, but Dockmate has a solution: SoftDocking. Built into its latest wireless docking controls, the system customizes and preprograms engine response to deliver a quick power burst to the propeller when the user taps the keypad or nudges the joystick. Holding either in place still delivers full engagement of the transmissions, but the quick-tap solution delivers the bump into (then immediately out of) gear you need without having to account for a delayed response.
"Docking in tight quarters can oftentimes be challenging, particularly if there is wind or current. SoftDocking offers greater maneuvering control that will help ensure the safety of the boat and crew," explains Brian Sheehan, marketing director. $9,995 | Dockmate.us
Simrad's next-gen IPS touchscreen MFD (available in 7-, 9-, and 12-inch models), the NSX, runs on a new Android-based operating system offering app-based functionality and Wi-Fi software updating, so it can incorporate new features as they're introduced down the line. Its enclosure has the smallest display-to-glass ratio and not a single tactile button to be found. The built-in 1-kW sonar includes high, medium, and low CHIRP frequencies as well as side, down, and active imaging, and the built-in base map is upgradable via multiple C-Map and Navionics options. $1,049 to $2,749 | Simrad-Yachting.com
If you own a relatively small boat but you want big-time connectivity aboard, you should know the KVH TracPhone V30 provides the smallest dome to integrate a modem into the antenna. That means you don't need to find room for the modem belowdecks, but you still get to enjoy speeds of 6 Mbps down/2 Mbps up. Yet, the dome is quite svelte at 14.75 inches in diameter. Wi-Fi, data routing, and VoIP are all in the mix, and this is the lowest cost dome around to offer stabilization. $11,995 | KVH.com
The Raymarine Cyclone is the company's newest solid-state open radar, available in two high-power output options and 3-, 4-, and 6-foot arrays. CHIRP pulse compression, beam-sharpening, bird mode, Doppler color targeting, and professional-grade ARPA target tracking are all in the mix of capabilities, and this antenna can spin at up to 60 rpm to provide excellent performance even when the boat's moving at high speeds or in rough water. The Cyclone looks a bit different from old-school open array antennas thanks to a low profile (13.1 inches) and a design like an aircraft wing, which helps it attain an eye-opening, best-in-class 100-knot wind rating. Maximum range is 72 nautical miles (96 for the Pro version), weight is 51 to 62 pounds, and horizontal beam width is 2.83 to 1.32 degrees. $6.999–$9,749 | Raymarine.com
You say you bang your pontoon boat into the pier every time you dock it? Mercury's new JPO system will end that problem for good. This joystick-controlled system incorporates a pair of folding, deployable electric thrusters, one at the bow and another at the stern, which integrate with 175- to 600-hp Mercury outboards with digital throttle and shift. The system has already begun showing up on new pontoon boats as an optional feature and allows for spinning the boat 360-degrees within its own length. $12,000–$17,000 | mercurymarine.com
"We're known for our OEM onboard refrigerators, air conditioning, lighting, steering, and control systems, but 50% of our business is in the aftermarket," says Dometic Marine president Eric Fetchko. To that end, the Dometic Group is rebranding the 56-year-old Sierra brand of fuel, oil pressure, water pressure, speedometer, tachometer, water temperature, and trim gauges — all purpose-built for individual boat owners — with a new logo.
The well-known Moeller and Shields marine aftermarket brands are moving under the Sierra brand umbrella. Consumers can order the full range of Sierra products online (with free shipping) at the new website SierraParts.com. Even better, Dometic is supporting Sierra by building a certified dealer network to handle parts and service.
Yamaha introduced its new RecDeck for Waverunner FX-series PWC owners, which can be had on new PWCs and also fits older FX models with simple installation on the existing swim platform and reboarding ladder brackets. The RecDeck adapts to multiple accessory packages to turn your PWC into anything from a fishing machine to a tow-sports platform. Options to expand the system include a general multiuse rack; a JetFish package with a cooler, rod holders, cup holders, and tie-down straps; a Lounging package with a lounge chair and insulated saddlebags; and a Tow Sports package with a tube kit, 12V air pump, tow rope, and bungee hold-downs. $599 | YamahaWaverunners.com
By now just about everyone's heard about the stunningly detailed images of fish and structure beneath the water's surface provided by Garmin's "real time" LiveScope fishfinders. This year, however, the company has taken it up yet another notch with Garmin LiveScope Plus. With the new LVS34 transducer (upgradable for existing LiveScope systems with a free software update) anglers can enjoy sharper resolution, less noise, and 35% more target separation. That means that at 100 feet, the imagery can separate between targets as small as 14 inches. $1,699 ($1,199 for transducer only) | Garmin.com
If you want a brainy battery that packs a whopping 1,250 watt-hours in 12- or 24-volt versions, the Mastervolt MLI Ultra 1250 will grab your attention. This lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4) power package incorporates an onboard battery-management system, which ensures optimal performance from each cell, has a switch to disconnect cells showing abnormalities, and tracks battery performance.
What sets this battery apart from the crowd of new LiFePO4s is that it can communicate data regarding all of the above factors because it sports a pair of RJ45 connection ports and is NMEA2000, CZone, and MasterBus compliant. The MLI Ultra 1250 is rated IP65 waterproof, weighs a mere 33 pounds, fast-charges in 60 minutes, and is sized as a drop-in replacement for existing Group 31 and Group 49 batteries. This is an OEM product that is expected to begin showing up on new boats this year but could eventually be used for retrofits and foreshadows the batteries to come as lead-acid goes the way of the dinosaurs. (Editor's note: LiFePO4 batteries have different installation, charging, and use parameters than nonlithium batteries. Read all instructions.) $1,699 | Mastervolt.com
Piping the view of a night vision camera to your MFD is über-cool, but it's also über-expensive. Or at least it was. The Sionyx Nightwave brings affordability to the night vision market with a black silicon CMOS sensor that provides color views using no more illumination than moonless starlight. It can communicate wirelessly via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so you can mount it for portable use and take it aboard other boats and stream the views to your phone or tablet on the Sionyx app. Or, you can fixed-mount it on your boat and pipe the view to an MFD via hard-wire. The Nightwave is compact at 5 by 5 by 6 inches, weighs just 1.9 pounds, and boasts an IP67 ingress protection rating. $1,595 | Sionyx.com
Mercury Marine displayed a prototype concept electric outboard motor, the Avator, which isn't available to purchase yet, but it's a sure sign Mercury is among a rapidly growing number of electric marine propulsion options. Specs are thin at this point, but we do know the Avator eschews the standard clip-on, cowl-shaped batteries used with most small electrics in favor of a top hatch that opens up to receive a drop-in battery. Mercury says it's currently exploring different power options but plans to make sure Avator batteries are small, portable, and quick-charging. We'll bring you more intel as this interesting development becomes available. $TBA | MercuryMarine.com
Sailors will be interested to hear that Torqeedo has a new all-electric saildrive offering, in the form of the Deep Blue 50 SD. The unit is designed to be compatible with existing saildrive engine mounting points, and batteries can be recharged via hydrogeneration while under sail (up to 30 knots). The system includes a saildrive leg designed by ZF specifically for electric propulsion and a 2.49:1 gear ratio. Both fixed and folding propeller options are available for props with a diameter up to 21 inches. $60,000 | Torqeedo.com
Marine electronics manufacturer Furuno gives users more deep-water visibility (of fish, that is) with its DFF3-UHD. This 2kW/3kW TruEcho CHIRP fishfinder for NavNet TZtouch3 systems broadcasts through low, medium, and high frequency ranges (25 to 242 kHz), then applies digital signal processing to hit bottom in unprecedented depths of up to 15,000 feet. Now you can spot bait and even individual fish a rather spectacular 2.8 miles down. $2,700 | Furunousa.com
Did you ever wish that grill on your boat could not only be used for grilling but also to bake a pizza? Or as a griddle? That's the idea behind the Magma Crossover, a modular propane-fired cooking system designed for use on boats. The bottom grill section is complemented by units that clip in place over top of it, including a griddle and a pizza oven. The polished stainless-steel and aluminum unit can be rail-, pedestal-, or rodholder-mounted. $599 (base grill) to $1,900 (full package) | MagmaProducts.com
Locmarine NMEA2000 system
Remote boat monitoring and security systems have been around for a while, but they tend to be rather expensive and, in many cases, quite complex. What if you have a relatively small, inexpensive boat and want a simple and inexpensive way to keep tabs on its condition from afar? Locmarine has a new solution in its 4G security and monitoring system. It monitors just the basics, like vessel GPS position, bilge pump activity, shore power connection, battery level, and high-water alarms, and it doesn't have to tap into a NMEA2000 system. Installation is simple, and the IP67 hub plugs and plays with 16AWG wire. The unit comes with a full year's subscription, followed by the surprisingly low cost of $14 a month beyond that. $520 | LocMarine.com
Audiophiles will welcome the entrance of Harman Kardon, the speaker manufacturer for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and more than 60% of all automotive sound systems in the U.S., into the marine world (although it owns JBL Audio). The company is now "leveraging our technology honed in automobiles for boats," says Jeff Fay, who leads Harman Kardon's OEM markets. "Probably the number-one thing we're doing on a boat is listening to music, even if it's in the background," Fay adds. As of the show, only Cobalt Boats has a deal with the audio manufacturer, so they'll be on new Cobalts starting with this model year; expect that list to grow. All the speakers are dust- and water-protected, and wherever you were in the convention center, you heard the latest customer test out the volume. OEM | HarmanKardon.com
What Is OEM?
An industry acronym for "original equipment manufacturer," OEM products are built by manufacturers specifically to be used as components in its products or those made by another company. In short, it comes standard with your new boat and/or product.
"Aftermarket" typically refers to parts that are supposedly made to spec but are made by another company to repair or replace equipment, but are not the original parts."
It will take you longer to figure out how to pronounce Gtechniq than to appreciate the cool new ceramic coating product the Georgia-based company is introducing to recreational boating. Marine Ceramic Base and Top improves gelcoat shine and makes it more durable. "What we're doing is creating a new functional surface on the boat that wipes clean easier than gelcoat," explains business development manager Jay Bentley. "Our ceramic chemical actually bonds with your boat's gelcoat, which we estimate saves 30% to 50% cleaning time, translating to more time on the water." Price depends on boat type, size, and condition. Around $4,300 for a 26-foot open powerboat boat | Gtechniq.com
Killerdock says it has created "the best fish cleaning station known to mankind." We're not about to argue. The Slam 7-1/2 has a 7.5-foot cleaning table, a lighted 7.5-foot canopy, and two hose stations with accessory trays. Optional add-ons include a sink and up to two storage drawers. Construction includes marine-grade aluminum with Metal Jacket ceramic coating, SoloMesh in the canopy (in any of 19 color choices), and a King Starboard cutting surface. Not only will you be cleaning your fish in style, the Killerdock Slam is wind-rated for up to 150 mph. $5,995 | KillerDock.com