by , 03-24-2008 at 05:00 PM (11562 Views)
Feb. 14: After waking up early, I headed to the Miami International Boat Show. I needed to get credentials for Andrew and myself. I swiped a large dolly from the Convention Center to begin distributing the 8,000 magazines shipped from L.A. Scott told me how bad the torrential rains had been the day before, which made the Hardin crew miserable unloading the booth. I ran into many faces I hadn’t seen since being terminated from Hot Boat. Eddie Borges from Eddie Marine was very supportive, along with two of his guys, Chris Flores and Eric McCarthy. They earned PB jackets by helping us circulate a lot of magazines. Dinner that night was at Sushi Rock, with Rick Wimp of Arneson Surface Drives and his girlfriend, Carmen Belanger-Martin of Aero Marine, along with Ryan Dvorak from Slide Anchor and his girlfriend. Ryan was hilarious, telling about his terrible accommodations at the Parisian hotel in downtown Miami. He described it as a “Hell hole” with dinosaur-sized cockroaches and a bed that was in shape of tea cup with a hole in the middle.
Feb. 15: Triple blondes at the show today. Maria, Jennifer and Emilee did interviews with Eddie Borges of Eddie Marine, Paul Fiore of Outerlimits (talking about his 50' all carbon fiber cat), Mike Schultz of Gaffrig Performance and Bob Teague, who was exceptionally talkative and friendly on this day. Rick Bourns of CP Performance got to show off his new driver shower, and Rick Wimp of Arneson Surface Drives got some airtime as well. The staff of the Convention Center kept trying to take back the dolly I had borrowed the day before, while NMMA representatives asked us to retreat back to our booth with the magazines. We had the girls give out mags at each booth while we interviewed the clients. Kevin and I went to the Baja debut, which in retrospect was a waste of time, as Fountain has since purchased them from Brunswick. Scott, Andrew, Earl and the girls joined me for dinner at Benihana.
Feb. 16: Scott tattooed the models with the performanceboats.com logo on the small of their backs early in the morning. The tattoos proved to be a popular eye-catcher. We interviewed Josh Stickles of Donzi Marine on the company's new performance center-console boat and then caught up with Trond Schou, president of Nor-Tech Powerboats, who announced a new sponsorship program with Class 1 International Offshore Racing. We also shot a segment with Gary Stray of Supercat Rigging out of St. Louis, who has created some of the most insane boats on the planet, including Batman, Speed Racer, Superman and the Mercedes boat. This show debuted his new MTI Ferrari F440 boat, which is based on a Ferrari F430. He craftily implemented the paddle shifters on the steering column as the shifter for the outdrive and created a gear shifter for the throttle. The interior of the boat precisely mirrors the look the sportscar. We enjoyed an excellent dinner at legendary Miami Dolphin coach Don Shula’s restaurant at the Alexander Hotel, which also used to be one of the film locations for the Miami Vice televisions series.
Feb. 17: We were finally able to get an interview with Terry Sobo of Nor-Tech Powerboats, whom I had missed in Key West last November. When rain began to fall outside, we retreated inside and spoke with Lenny Noble of Sonic Offshore (who incidentally is scouting for a good West Coast dealer) and Scott Shogren of Shogren Performance Marine, the largest Fountain dealer in Chicago. My kind of town. We also spoke with "Baltz Deep," promoter and entreprenuer Gary Baltz, on where Fountain is headed in the future. Scott "Tuna" Mitchell of Boatshowdirect.net turned out to be a great ol’ Italian guy who just opened the latest Fountain dealership on the Housatonic River in Connecticut. He gave us a lively and entertaining interview. By then, it was really pouring rain. The girls and the film crew caused a large commotion while doing the Cigarette Interview. JW and Earl filmed Mercury Racing's senior marketing manager Rick Mackie on some of their new products.
Feb 18: With still more magazines to distribute, the show was dead, and so was I. Painful agony was in store for me today as the blisters on my blisters had broken, and rain began to sprinkle by late afternoon. But I pushed forward, delivering as many magazines out as possible. I loaded the remaining cases into our van with Jay, JW and Earl. I had never felt happier at the conclusion of any boat show, ever. Jay, JW, Gary Baltz and I had dinner at Shula’s again. It was expensive, but worth every cent.
Feb 19: With the show behind us, we drove to Pompano Beach to visit Steve Lopez at Legacy Custom Marine. He's a great guy who we met in November at the Key West Poker Run. Steve had some killer boats there, including Jerry Brewis’s Team USA 36' Cigarette Gladiator with staggered 750 Chief engines. Steve had agreed to let us store Jay’s 43' Nor-Tech there for the Islamorada FPC run until Thursday, although it was still being serviced over at Nor-Tech. We actually ran into Jerry, who was there getting ready for the FPC run to Islamorada in the Keys on Thursday.
Scott from CP Performance caught a cab from Miami, which cost him $100. We then headed over to see Tom Hofstetter Jr. of Chief Engines, who is the reknowned service center for Apache Powerboats. His shop had a shitload of machines, including a full-blown dyno. Tom is one of the few engine builders who specializes in turbocharged motors on the East Coast. On this day, he was doing research work on making more hp out of his cylinder heads.
Feb. 20: We drove back out to Pompano and spent the morning with the beautiful Princess and Mark Berman of BAM Marine. He builds velvet drive transmissions for Mercury Racing's 1075SCi and 1200SCi engine packages. BAM does a vast amount of mail-order business with Mercury parts through his website, www.mercuryparts.com. Mark is restoring a stunning little 20' Cigarette there at his shop. Scott and I ran over to Fastboats.com and said hi to Randy and Kim Sweers, then dropped off a couple cases at the Aqua Toy Store, a Fountain dealer. After lunch, we drove down to Phil Lipshutz of Lip-Ship Performance. While waiting for Phil, I walked over to John Tomlinson’s TNT Custom Marine headquarters. It was massive, and must have had dry storage for several hundred powerboats. It was the largest such facility I have ever seen. John let me wander around in the shop, snapping a couple photos even though he had no idea who I was. I later introduced myself.
We spent the afternoon doing an incredible interview with Phil as he spoke about his racing days and many of the great Cigarette projects he has done over the last 20 years. JW and I then drove over to Haulover Marina in Ft. Lauderdale to inspect the facilities prior to launching Jay's 43' Nor-Tech the next morning. While we were there, two fishermen got arrested by more than a dozen border partrol agents in both cars and boats.
Feb. 21: JW, Jay, Earl and Andrew, along with the girls, took the Nor-Tech to participate in the poker run. Meanwhile, Scott and I drove from Miami to Islamorada, dropping off magazines at various West Marine stores and other locations. By the time we got to Key Largo, it was pouring rain again and we were glad to be in the van instead of the boat. We checked into the Holiday Land Resort, which was reportedly booked for demolition this year to make way for a new project. They should have blown it up. The rooms reminded me of the Nautical Inn in the 1970s, with ugly wall-mounted air-conditioners and nasty-looking carpeting. We checked out and got the last room at the Cheeca Lodge, which I highly recommend if you're staying down there.
Feb. 22: At the second day of the FPC poker run, boats started lining up at the docks from the second run. The marina was packed, and nobody wanted to lose their spot. We stood at the docks, choosing boats for our photo shoot. First up was John Wittenberger’s 38' Donzi with 525s, followed by Jimmy and Karen Watts' 42-foot Outerlimits called Watts Up. Karen was a very nice gal who had given me the heads up on going to the Cheeca during yesterday's check-in.
We then filmed Jeff Jennings from Speedwake.com with Escaped Lunatic, his 37' Outerlimits powered by twin Keith Eickert 675s. He and his wife put on a couple Poker Runs in Maryland called Thunder on the Bay and Rock the Bay, which we will be attending in person this year. Finally, we shot Sean Higgins' 388 Hustler Slingshot, called Hustlin'. He was very nice guy based in Ottsville, PA, working in the construction biz.
Tying up Jay's boat was tough. The docks were very tall and we were stuck on the outside of the marina. A guy next to us gave us some smoked fish, which JW loved. Dinner that night was at Ziggie and Mad Dog's in Islamorada, a fantastic steakhouse. FPC’s party rocked, and we ran into Mark Berman and Princess, who bought us several rounds of kamikazes.
Feb. 23: Got started early with photos and video. First out of the gate was Gino Gargiulo’s brand-new 44' MTI Mercedes boat, created by Supercat Rigging to look just like an MB SLR. Rigged with twin 1550 Sterlings and #6 drives, this was a boat with incredible power. Next up was another million-dollar 44' MTI, Dean Kretschmar’s Bud Light boat, armed with twin 1075SCi Mercs.
This boat was also created by Supercat and was really stunning. Rob Weber’s Canada Thrust, a 50' Nor-Tech, was next. We got to spend a lot of great time with him. We had originally shot his boat at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show during a video interview with Randy Sweers. The larger, more complex boats have so much more detail and interesting design that it took the film crew much longer than I had anticipated. That night we ate at The Brazilena Steakhouse, which every meat eater must try at least once. They brought large skewers 20 different types of cooked entrees. The models, who had already left for Miami, missed out on a hell of a meal.
Feb. 24: Our Budget rental van blew the radiator early in the morning, and the closest dropoff location was an hour south of Islamorada. So we filled up the radiator, got some stop leak and drove very slow to the Miami International Airport. JW and the boys took off by boat back to Miami. We drove to Haulover Marina and picked up the boys. Jay took off back to Ft. Myers, and we went to the airport. It was the end of a long but rewarding 3 weeks.