The year 2017 started out with something that many Americans thought they’d never see: the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. During the next 12 months, we saw and experienced all kinds of things that left an indelible impression on boaters everywhere.
Here’s a look at 11 of the most noteworthy events of 2017.
January: Amels Launches Here Comes the Sun
The Amels Limited Editions 272 Here Comes the Sun was the largest-ever launch from the storied Dutch shipyard and showed just how big a series boat can be. Since the Limited Editions concept began—using standard hulls that owners can customize in shorter timeframes than fully custom projects—Amels has sold 30 of the yachts. And while Here Comes the Sun was the biggest in the series, Amels marked a second milestone during 2017 as well: the sale of the first Amels 188 Limited Editions, also the first Limited Editions to have hybrid power. She’s due for delivery in summer 2018.
February: Furuno Adds Side-Scanning Sonar to NavNet MFDs
Furuno’s DFF3D multibeam sonar took the ability to scan port to starboard under the boat and added side-scanning capabilities, creating what the company calls a sidebar detection range of an unprecedented 650-plus feet while being able to see down to more 1,000 feet. The DFF3D works with NavNet TZtouch and TZtouch2 multifunction displays and has a 14-inch transducer and fairing block, making it usable on most boats. Fishermen get features including target waypoints that include depth data, showing anglers exactly where to drop their lines to put the bait right in front of the fish.
February: Oceanco Splashes Jubilee
The 361-foot Jubilee not only was the largest yacht that revered Dutch builder Oceanco ever produced, but also was the largest yacht ever built in all of the Netherlands. And as if that weren’t enough, Jubilee was also built to the Passenger Yacht Code, allowing her to take far more than the standard complement of 12 guests on charter. She has accommodations for as many as 31 guests in 16 staterooms, plus additional quarters for 39 crew. Features include a helideck, a pool deck with an aquarium, and an entirely private owner’s deck.
March: Raymarine Debuts Axiom MFDs
With prices ranging from $649 to $3,349, Raymarine’s Axiom series of multifunction displays brought mass-market availability to combined features including RealVision 3D sonar, the Lighthouse 3 operating system and quad-core performance. Screens are available in 7, 9 and 12.1 inches for helms of all sizes, and transducers combine Chirp DownVision, Chirp SideVision, high-frequency Chirp and RealVision 3D into a single transducer housing. Gyro-stabilized sonar technology compensates for boat movement, and the units can scan up to 300 feet port and starboard and up to 300 feet deep around the boat.
June: Suzuki Unveils the DF350A
Suzuki called its DF350A the “ultimate 4-stroke outboard,” developing 80 horsepower per liter in a V6, 350-horsepower engine by increasing the compression ratio to 12.0:1—the highest compression ratio ever for a production outboard engine. The outboard was so noteworthy that it took home an Innovation Award in the outboard engine category at the 2017 International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition and Conference. And even with the extra horses in the DF350A, the outboard’s fuel economy, Suzuki says, is comparable to that of the DF300AP.
June: Project Cosmos is Unveiled
Dutch yachtbuilder Oceanco and Florida-based DeBasto Designs unveiled Project Cosmos, a 295-foot concept motoryacht that would be built with structural glass in ways that the world of yachts has never seen. Instead of having a typical superstructure, Project Cosmos would have a glass dome covering her sky lounge, giving owners and guests unprecedented views of the outdoors from inside a yacht. The dome would be built of panels that could be tinted or dimmed one-by-one, in sections or in whole, to set the mood.
June: The Seakeeper 6 becomes Available
Seakeeper continued its dominance in everyday-boat stabilization with the introduction of Seakeeper 6 for boats from 40 to 49 feet length overall. The unit is designed to eliminate as much as 95 percent of boat roll—comparable to Seakeeper’s original model, the M7000, but in a package that’s 40 percent smaller, draws 25 percent less power and costs roughly half as much as the original. Also new with the unit was Seakeeper’s touchscreen display with NMEA and Ethernet capabilities, which would later appear on additional new Seakeeper models.
September: Game Changer Joins the Ocean Independence Charter Fleet
Damen has been touting the popularity of its luxury-finished support vessels among superyacht owners for several years, but it wasn’t until this past autumn that the first one joined a charter fleet as a standalone unit. The 226-foot Game Changer became part of the Ocean Independence charter fleet at a weekly base rate of $220,000. The idea is that clients can book Game Changer and fill her with their favorite toys, from submarines to helicopters and seaplanes (along with their staff), and then charter another, traditional motoryacht for luxury guest amenities and creature comforts. The two yachts then charter in tandem, taking the best of both worlds anywhere the client wants to cruise around the globe.
September: Hinckley’s All-Electric Dasher Premieres
The Hinckley Company in Maine is trying to recapture the magic of its industry-shaping Picnic Boat from the 1990s with the new 28-foot-6-inch Dasher, its first all-electric offering built in part with 3-D printing. The Dasher can cruise at 10 mph with a fast cruise of 18 to 27 mph, giving her a range of 20 to 40 miles, depending on how fast skippers want to burn through a battery charge. The intended audience is not just local day-boaters, but also superyacht owners who want a sexy and eco-friendly tender for going ashore.
September/October: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria Strike
This past autumn was one of the most intense on record, with Hurricane Harvey turning southeast Texas into a lake and Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria destroying Caribbean islands, wrecking swaths of the Virgin Islands, leaving Puerto Rico in shambles and sending mammoth storm surge into ports on both coasts of Florida. In addition to the tragic human toll and life-threatening challenges that come with loss of access to power, water and shelter, there was also the destruction of hulls large and small. BoatUS estimated in November that Harvey and Irma alone destroyed more than 63,000 recreational boats with a combined dollar damage estimate of $655 million—similar to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which wrecked more than 65,000 boats and cost more than $650 million.
November: FLIBS Reports Big Gains
The year ended much as it started, with the stock market flying high and the Trump Administration promising major tax cuts to business owners as well as individuals. The resulting consumer confidence led to some 105,000 people attending the 2017 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, an attendance spike of 7 percent compared with the previous year. Exhibitors invested more in the event, too, with an overall increase of 4 percent in the number of boats on display in the water; a 9 percent jump in new boats under 100 feet; and 10 percent growth in the number of brokerage boats over 100 feet. Several builders reported high sales figures immediately after the show.