Honda Marine

Honda had a surprise to open the Miami International Boat Show when it debuted a new drive-by-wire throttle/shift control on its demo boats at Sea Isle Marina. The control, which will be manufactured for Honda by Glendinning, features shift and throttle actuators that are located under the cowl, rather than in the boat. (An actuator is the device that converts the digital signal from the control into mechanical action on the motor.) With the cowl removed the system looks like it was installed at the factory. Honda had the control rigged with its new BF250 motors at Miami, but it will also be adaptable to BF200 and BF225 from previous model years, so owners can upgrade. The control offers adjustable trolling speed, synchronization of dual engines with single-lever throttle control, and plug-in multi-station capability. The control we saw at Miami is a prototype. In production it will have larger grips and individual trim buttons will be on the control base. This will be a Honda-branded control with a Honda part number. No word on price yet, and Honda expects the control to be available at the end of this summer.

Honda's new drive-by-wire digital shift control.

Honda's new drive-by-wire digital controls.

Mercury Racing

Mercury Racing used the Miami Boat Show to introduce its new 565 sterndrive engine. Based on the same CNC machined cylinder block as the popular 525 EFI engine, the 565 has a longer stroke to boost displacement by 31 cubic inches 533 C.I.D. (8.7 liters). The 565 is equipped with digital throttle and shift controls, which are not available on the 525 engine. The greater displacement, combined with redesigned cylinder heads, multiport fuel injection, and twin electronic throttle bodies produces 565 horsepower at the 5000-5400 rpm. The engine runs on 89 posted octane (R+M)/2 pump gas, and complies with EPA and CARB exhaust gas emissions limits. The 565 is closed-cooled for more uniform temperature distribution, optimal running quality, and longer life. It comes equipped with a 90-amp charging system, providing an ample supply of power for an array of marine electronics. The 565 is available with Bravo One XR and Bravo One XR Sport Master (standard and short) drive options with 1.35:1 or 1.50:1 gear ratios. The Mercury Racing Integrated Transom System (ITS) is also available. Eleven color options are available.

Mercury Racing introduced their new 565 EFI stern-drive engine.

Mercury Racing introduced their new 565 EFI stern-drive engine.

Premier Grand Entertainer 290

One boat that was really stopping traffic at the Sea Isle Marina on Thursday was the Premier Grand Entertainer 290 , a 10-foot-beam luxury pontoon boat rigged with twin Suzuki DF300 outboards. This boat has Flexsteel furniture, a bar with adjustable stools and overhead glass holders, really cool “Sea Grass” woven vinyl flooring, and a massive stereo. It looks fabulous. The price as shown? A cool $108,000. It was the most powerful, most expensive pontoon boat I’d ever seen. And of course I took it for a drive. Watch for a full report later on

Twin Suzuki DF300 outboards power this Premier Grand Entertainer 290 luxury pontoon boat.

Twin Suzuki DF300 outboards power this Premier Grand Entertainer 290 luxury pontoon boat.

- Charles Plueddeman