The 2012 Richmond Boat Show opened Friday, February 17 to a small crowd, but picked up steam on Saturday. Sunday’s visitors contended with 4 inches of heavy, wet snow as they came to see what the boating industry had to offer for 2012. Show promoter Dave Brody of GS Events noted there were more exhibitors this year than in 2011, and that more than a few dealers were joined by manufacturer’s representatives at the show.
Clearly there was more innovation seen at this show than in 2011’s offerings, but some of the features were not so obvious to new or casual boat owners. To rectify that, let’s take a look at some noteworthy boats at the 2012 show.
First to be seen at the show entrance, Avalon pontoon boats from Chesdin Boat Sales clearly set a new standard in pontoon boat luxury with their Ambassador line. These boats feature Avalon’s deco styling, available wine glass racks, ultra-plush rear-facing seats with electric reclining and LED mood lighting. As incredible as these boats were, the real story was a mid-priced line. The Catalina 24 DRL impressed visitors with a rear-facing double lounge and a starboard side walkthrough. The double lounge lifts to reveal a changing room truly large enough to actually use! Put that on top of Avalon’s triple-tube Waveglider performance package, add a 250 horsepower outboard engine and now you have a less-than-formal family room that goes wakeboarding! JD Everhart of Chesdin Boat Sales told us, “This boat attracts people that already know what they want in a pontoon, mostly versatility.” A breakthrough seat design and top-drawer performance on a mid-level trim boat – now that is innovation!
Hoffmaster’s Marina in Woodbridge, VA hauled their boats to Richmond, and it was a good thing for us. Cobalt boats are among the industry’s leaders in quality and style. Show attenders were treated to see the Cobalt 243 Cuddy, a nearly 26-foot boat with two design innovations that set it apart from ordinary cuddy models. First is the swim step that swings out and down from the full-width swim platform. The step is like another swim platform that is just below the water and is wide and strong enough for two to sit upon. Swimmers and divers will find this step easier and more convenient than the traditional folding swim ladders. When not in use, the platform easily swings up and into a recess on the top of the swim platform.
Families like cuddy cabin boats because the boats provide privacy to change clothes, catch a nap and room a marine toilet (“head”). But what happens if someone needs to use the head while others are sleeping or changing, since the toilet is usually stored under the bunk cushions in these boats? Cobalt felt your pain and so the 243 has a separate head compartment that is accessible from the cockpit, right in front of the co-pilot seat. The compartment is fully fiberglass lined, preventing dampness from wet swim suits getting in the cabin next door, and easy cleanup. Both the cabin and the head have their own sliding opaque Lexan door for privacy. This single feature makes cuddy cabins a lot more practical for families; couple that with the two-level swim platform and Cobalt’s legendary quality and you have another example of real innovation.
Not everyone is in the market for a large boat. For folks looking for something a bit smaller, Brian Sylvester at Portside Boats in Goochland offers the Gheenoe, a hybrid canoe. Unlike traditional canoes and kayaks, the Gheenoe has hard chines to add stability and improve handling under power. This has got to be the most versatile paddle/row/power boat in the market today. Brian has examples of Gheenoes in solid colors, camouflage, different seating, even a center console version with outboard power! If you need a single boat that seems to do just about anything, you need to contact Brian to schedule a demonstration.
There were still more boats at the 2012 show that also deserved recognition, so watch for another article soon as we examine the best innovations in the 2012 Richmond Boat Show!