Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sunset on the Louisiana marsh...

After a successful sea-trial on a 1998 Hunter 340 today, my buddy asked me to go with him by mud boat to his duck hunting lease in the marshes of South Louisiana. He wanted to go down there and check out where the ducks were feeding, and what the grass seed (duck food) situation was where he hunts. I can only say that the beauty of that area at sunset is nothing short of breathtaking. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera. However, this is a picture I took about a year ago not too far from there:

Believe me when I say that as beautiful as that picture is, it didn't hold a candle to tonight's sunset. There is just something magical about being in a place so intimate with nature, a place man rarely goes. The wildlife was more curious about us than afraid of us, and I'm sure at least mildly amused the handful of times we grounded the boat.

As an avid boater, I think its important to take time every once in a while and appreciate the gift we've been given as marine mammals to enjoy the water. It covers 80% of our planet, and yet 100% of the Earth's population is jammed into the 20% that's dry. What a waste of space! Yes, I'm probably biased, but I think nature's magnificence is most readily revealed away from the land and the lights and the pollution. If you haven't lost sight of the shore in a while, you owe it to yourself to do so!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congratulations Chris Chivers!

Chris Chivers, a freelance fishing writer, won this year's West Marine Writer's Award, along with the $5,000 grand prize and a trophy, for his article Behemoth which appeared in the February 2006 issue of Salt Water Sportsman magazine. The article detailed what happened to three fishermen who encountered a shark that was nearly as big as their 23-foot boat.

The award was presented by Boating Writers International this past Friday at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Keeping the lights on at West Marine

West Marine reported a tidy profit for the quarter today, thanks in no small part to my continued patronage. I swear, when I walk into my local West Marine the guys behind the counter yell, "Norm"!

Anyway, even though sales dropped for the quarter, profit was up 81% to $5.3 million. This is mostly due to the cost cutting measures West Marine has implemented over the past year or so.

“Despite continuing challenges arising from lower boat usage and boating market softness, the company has reported earnings progress year over year,” CEO Peter Harris said in a statement. “This growth reflects the results of continuing improvements in store merchandise assortments, store teams focused on customer service and steps to reduce costs.”

Nice job, West Marine! You're still my favorite store!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'Tis the season

Boat show season, that is!

Tomorrow marks the unofficial kick-off of boat show season with the opening of the 48th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show ( for info). Dubbed "The World's Greatest Boat Show", this year will feature over $2,000,000,000 (yup, that's NINE zeros) worth of boats, yachts, superyachts, and all things nautical. Not advertised but also prominently featured will be hundreds of middle-aged guys with spray-on tans, gold chains, and enough hair gel to rival the Exxon Valdez. Gotta love Miami.

But seriously, folks, I think this might be one of the best years yet for getting a great deal at a boat show. It is no secret that a lot of manufacturers and dealers are against the ropes financially, a they'll be looking to give away the house to shrink their inventories. Show up to the show with an open mind and a sharp pencil.

Here's another bit of advice from a former dealer going into boat show season. Dealers will do almost anything to make a sale at the show. A week later back at home, not so much. But if you're willing to cut a check at the show, you can get them to bend over backwards for you.

Now that boat show season is here we can look forward to St. Pete, New Orleans, Palm Beach, Miami, and St. Aug.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Clove Hitch

Here is a great explanation of how to tie a Clove Hitch - the knot you use to tie your boat to a piling.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Brunswick closes Triton plant in Mississippi

In another round of cuts announced by Brunswick, the Triton fishing boat plant in Aberdeen, Mississippi is closing. About 170 Triton employees are to be downsized. Triton production is to be consolidated into the Little Falls, Minnesota plant.

“This action is not a reflection on the Aberdeen work force or the Triton brand,” CEO Dustan E. McCoy said in a statement. “While the closure of our Aberdeen facility is regrettable, this action is being taken only after careful consideration, and is necessary as the resulting production shift will help Brunswick accomplish several important objectives.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

What's Next Video Tour

This is a video tour for What's Next, a 1995 Wellcraft 3600 Martinique that we listed last week. As you can see from the videos, she's a pretty spectacular boat. She is also a ton of boat for the money. To see the actual listing and for more information on the boat, click HERE. This video tour has audio commentary as well, so make sure your speakers are on!

What's Next Exterior Tour:

What's Next
Interior Tour:

What's Next Ship's Service Tour:

What's Next Engine Room Tour:

What's Next Owner's Comments:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sorry for the delay, guys...

Sorry for the sparse posts over the past week. Between the Wooden Boat Festival last weekend and getting 3 new listings put together and online, I've been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger!

The new listings are pretty exciting. The first one is a 2000 Baja 252 Islander for $39,000. Its a really cool bowrider with a ton of power. You can check it out HERE. The next day I listed a 2004 Aquasport 225 Explorer with the Tournament Package on it. That is a very hot fishing boat. We're asking $47,500. You can see that one HERE. Finally, I picked up another Wellcraft 3600 Martinique, this one a 1995 and in beautiful shape. She's listed for $73,900. Click HERE to see this cool cruiser.

I'm in the process of getting some video tours of my listings put together as well. Stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Yacht Brokerage sponsors Golf Tournament

Its not every day that you'd see a boat company sponsor a golf tournament. It has been my experience that there isn't a great deal of crossover between the two hobbies. However, when its for a good cause, exceptions can be made.

True South Yacht Services, my company, has signed on as a Gold-level sponsor of the 2nd Annual St. Anselm Golf Classic being held at the Tchefuncte Country Club on October 29, 2007. Last year's event was a huge hit and this year things look even bigger.

If you are a local golfer and are interested in playing in this exciting tournament, call 985-845-7342 and ask for the details.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pacific Seacraft sold for $85,000; moving to N.C.

Stephen Brodie, a North Carolina businessman, bought Pacific Seacraft Corporation for about $85,000 in a bankruptcy auction. The company filed for Chapter 11 protection in May, racking up over $3 million in debt to creditors with less than $250,000 in assets to cover them. In September, the bankruptcy court changed the Chapter 11 reorganization to a Chapter 7 liquidation.

Brodie's acquisition includes the trade name, which he is going to keep, several molds, tooling and equipment, and five hulls in various states of completion. He has transported everything to Washington, North Carolina, where his is converting an old textile mill into a ship-building operation.

Among the molds he purchased is the Pacific Seacraft 37, designed by the legendary W.I.B. "Bill" Crealock. A scaled-down version, the Pacific Seacraft 34, was also included.

Pacific Seacraft is the second high-end sailboat manufacturer to be sold this year. The Samuel L. Morse Company, manufacturer of the timeless Lyle Hess-designed Bristol Channel Cutter, was sold in July to Cape George Marine Works, Inc. of Port Townsend, Washington.

BOOK REVIEW: The Outlaw Sea

It is hard for me to imagine a scene more chaotic than a full-scale ship breaking operation. Most people never even think about what happens to old ships that have outlasted their utility. In our part of the world, the various environmental agencies would never allow a ship full of fuel, oil, and various other chemicals to be intentionally run aground and drained while a myriad of workers take blowtorches to the hull. But that's exactly what happens every day in places like India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

The nightmare of third world ship breaking is just one aspect of William Langewiesche's excellent book, The Outlaw Sea. He makes the point that the oceans are so vast that it is impossible to police them. He points out that the majority of the world's cargo is transported by shipping companies that only own one or two ships and who, in the interest of capitalism, are willing color outside the lines when necessary.

The book discusses modern day piracy in detail. Most people don't realize just how prevalent it is. But every week the International Chamber of Commerce publishes the Weekly Piracy Report. You can find it HERE. These are not guys in busted old ships wearing eye patches. They are technologically sophisticated, well armed and equipped, and highly aggressive.

He also illustrates the duplicity involved in certifying a commercial ship safe for service. He goes into gut-wrenching detail on the tragic sinking of the ferry Estonia in 1994, costing 852 passengers their lives. He also shows how international shipping is quickly becoming the preferred method of transportation for terrorist groups.

The book is a real page-turner that is guaranteed to open your eyes to a lot we take for granted. I couldn't put it down. I was absolutely fascinated with how easily a ship can change it's registry to a flag of convenience and circumvent a bevy of international laws.
The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime reads more like a spy novel than an expose on maritime lawlessness. I consider it required reading for anyone interested in long-distance cruising!

Gelcoat Repair Part 2

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Brunswick announces more layoffs...

On the heels of last week's announcement of a 5% layoff in their Sea Ray division, Brunswick today announced a 13% downsizing in their US Marine division. This amounts to a layoff of 40 of the 309 employees in the division. The US Marine division manufactures the Bayliner and Maxum brands of power cruisers. The company also announced temporary closings of the Bayliner plant in Roseburg, Oregon effective October 26.

“These actions are in response to continued weakness in the marine market,”
Brunswick said in a statement. “The U.S. marine industry has seen weak demand as numerous economic pressures continued to reduce consumers’ spending power and new-boat purchases are being adversely impacted. US Marine has concluded it must take measures to size its production levels in line with retail demand.”

The plant closings will be during the week of October 22, Thanksgiving week, and for two weeks during the Christmas holidays to help further reduce production.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wanna build a boat???

I think most of us boaters at one time or another have dreamed about building a boat. The reasons for it are probably as varied as all of us are. Some of us consider the economy of building a boat from scratch versus buying one new off the showroom floor. Others think of the romance involved in designing and building your own boat and then sailing it around the world. I think boat building in general appeals to the rebel that seems to be inside every boater.

That's all well and fine, but the reality of boat building is seldom anything like the fantasy of boat building. To build a seaworthy vessel from scratch can be a truly daunting venture; one of years of work, frustration, disappointment and, most of the time, non-completion. It is a sad fact that those who actually complete a boat and go cruising on it often measure the task in the number of years it took and the number of marriages it cost.

However, boat building isn't all despair and heartache. If the amateur boat builder approaches the project with realistic expectations and an honest appraisal of his or her skill level, it can be fun and very rewarding! That is why I recommend starting small to everyone that comes to me interested in building a boat. That's where your good old Uncle John comes in.

I'm referring of course to Uncle John's Pirogues, a company here in Louisiana that sells kits for the first-time boat builder. For those of you out of state, a pirogue is essentially a flat-bottomed canoe. Uncle John's pirogue kit comes with all the instructions to build a pirogue any size from 12 feet to 16 feet. More important, the kit comes with the necessary frames, eliminating what is probably the most difficult aspect of building a boat. The kit sells for $57.50 and that includes shipping.

They call this boat the 6-hour canoe, because that's how quickly it can be built. In all honesty, it took me about 3 weeks of working a few hours at a time to build mine. But I built a big one (16 feet) and I fiberglassed it, stained the inside, and painted the hull. Start to finish, including the cost of the kit, I had a really nice boat for about $200. Here are some pictures of the one I built:

As you can see, it can be done! This was a very easy project, but it taught me a LOT of the basics of boat building. I now know that I really enjoy building boats and I'm ready to tackle a much larger project. If you think you might like to build boats, or just want a great boat for about $200, get in touch with Uncle John's and get to work!

Feel free to leave any questions or comments and I'll be sure to get back to you soon.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival this weekend

The annual Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival is coming up this weekend, October 13th and 14th! This is a festival that gets bigger and more exciting each year. It takes place along the banks of the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville, Louisiana.

This festival is definitely worth the trip. The boats are gorgeous, there are tons of activities for the kids, the food is phenomenal, and the entertainment is top notch. Local favorites Four Unplugged will be on stage at the end of the festival.

One of the best parts of the festival every year is the Quick & Dirty Boat Building Contest. This is where all the entrants are given the same boat building materials and have to design and build a boat to win a race on the river the next day! Some of the boats built are just glorified rafts, but some of them are actually well-thought out designs that make the crowd wonder how they were built so quickly. The best part is the race itself, because it is hilarious! Trust me - someone always ends up in the river!

For more info and for ticket information, go to and they'll have everything you need. See you out there!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sea Ray lays off 5% of workforce.

Sea Ray Boats, a division of Brunswick Corporation, announced the immediate downsizing of 180 employees, or roughly five percent of their workforce, citing continued weakness in the marine market. Their plants in East Tennessee and Florida will be affected, as well as the Baja boats division in Ohio.

“These decisions are very difficult, but nonetheless must be made to protect the overall health of the business,” the company said in a statement. “Affected employees will receive assistance in transitioning to other employment.”

The past year has shown the marine industry overall a double-digit decline in demand for new boats. The downturn in the housing market and the tightening of consumer credit has played a large role in the decline.

“Sea Ray has concluded it must take measures to size its costs in line with the declining market,” the statement continued.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Transmitting a MAYDAY call

While recreational boating is a great way to enjoy life, everyone who enjoys boating must be aware that there is an element of physical risk involved. From time to time, emergencies do occur. Skippers must be prepared and must keep a level head.

With that in mind, I wanted to publish the correct procedure for sending a MAYDAY call over the radio. This procedure keeps the transmission short but contains all the pertinent information necessary to facilitate emergency assistance afloat. Pay attention; this could save your life.

First of all, a MAYDAY call is only used when grave and imminent danger threatens life or property and immediate help is required. Any non-life threatening situation is handled with a PAN-PAN call. I'll cover that procedure in a later post. In the meantime, here is the procedure for a correct MAYDAY call. Speaking slowly, clearly, and calmly, use your marine radio tuned to Channel 16 to communicate the following information:
  2. "THIS IS (boat name)....(boat name)....(boat name)."
  3. "MAYDAY (boat name) POSITION IS (vessel position in degrees and minutes of latitude NORTH or SOUTH and longitude EAST or WEST, or as a distance and magnetic or true bearing from a well-known navigation landmark)."
  4. "WE (nature of your emergency)."
  5. "WE REQUIRE (type of assistance required)."
  6. "ON BOARD ARE (number of adults and children on board) AND (safety equipment aboard). (State conditions of any injured)."
  7. "(Boat name) IS A (boat length in feet) FOOT (type: sloop, sportfisherman, etc.) WITH A (hull color) HULL AND (trim color) TRIM."
  8. "I WILL BE LISTENING ON CHANNEL (16 or 2182)."
  9. "THIS IS (boat name). OVER"
Nearby vessels will hear your call and acknowledge. Rescue will be coordinated by any nearby vessels and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hopefully, you'll never have to use this procedure, but now at least you'll know what to do if the situation arises. Remember: its always better to be in a boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks!

Be safe out there.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A great resource for knot-tying

I came across this website a while back and I was blown away at how informative it was. I have friends and customers ask me all the time to teach them how to tie a variety of boating knots. In most cases, I've been tying the knot for so long that it has become second nature and is actually more difficult to explain how! That is where this website comes in.

The website is and it offers free instructions on tying over 100 knots. They have everything from the basic bowline to knots you would use to climb mountains, all in an easy-to-learn animated format. So grab a couple pieces of rope and check it out!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Beneteau USA reports record year.

Beneteau USA of Marion, South Carolina announced today that they broke their record for boats shipments this year. In a year when new boat sales have been pretty miserable across the board, Beneteau managed to ship more than 400 boats in sizes ranging from 32 to 49 feet.

Making this feat even more extraordinary, 5 of the models produced were new to the assembly line this year. In recognition of their workers' achievement, Beneteau paid out a special $200,000 bonus to the plant workers, averaging about $700 per worker.

Wayne Burdick, president of Beneteau USA, said in a statement,
“In spite of a very challenging North American boat market and with many unforeseen supply issues, the team at Beneteau USA pulled together to win more market share for our future and our dealers,”

Way to go, Beneteau!