March is a wonderful time of year for the boating industry in South Florida. Not only is the weather superb, but also one of the largest boat shows in the country—the Palm Beach International Boat Show—sets up port-o-call off the downtown West Palm Beach seawall. From March 20-23, more than $1.2 billion in boats will be moored along floating docks for the twenty-ninth annual show, which draws everything from inflatable dinghies to 150-foot super yachts and everything in between.
Hosted by Show Management—the same group behind the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which is considered the best boat show in the world—PBIBS ranks as one of the top five international boat shows. Attracting the biggest names in the industry, from boat builders to boating accessories, the show acts as a stage to show off the latest designs, technological developments breakthroughs and products dedicated to the boating life.
More than 200 boat manufactures will be on hand this year, while hundreds of exhibitors—boater services, fabrication, accessories, construction material, publications, fashion and more—will dot the stretch of Flagler Avenue and the floating docks bobbing in the Intracoastal. This will amount to nearly 600 boats for perspective buyers and boater enthusiasts to drool over, and with the west coast of Florida experiencing one of the best-ever years in boat sales, this will certainly be hotly attended event.
Knowing such a large contingent of vessels will be on hand, we’ve selected a few must-sees to take in.
Morris Yachts M-Series M36—Darling: Ramp 5 | Slips 537A and 537B
For those who yearn for an experience on the sea that doesn’t include the noise of an engine, sail power is the way to go. Merging tradition with modern technological advancement like no other is Morris Yachts, builders of fine sailing tenders. No vessel imbues the daysailer mantra more than the M36, part of the M-Series. Designed by Sparkman & Stephens, this 36-foot sailboat boasts a Hall Spars carbon-fiber mast that supports 558 square feet of sail (full-batten Dacron mainsail and furling jib), making for a speedy and sleek ship that’s a breeze to captain. As for power, the M36 is equipped with a Yanmar 3YM20C x SD Saildrive marine diesel, which produces a max 21 hp at 3,600 rpm. The overall dimensions weigh in at 36-feet, 1-inch long with a 10-foot, 1-inch beam, allowing for a spacious interior that includes a galley (with refrigerator), enclosed head and a sleeping lounge that easily turns this daysailer into a weekender.
Photo provided by Morris Yachts
Moonen Yachts 124-foot Northlander: Palm Harbor E Dock | Slips E104 and E105
For the boater with a big dock, fill the berthing space with the commanding 124-foot Northlander from Moonen Yachts. This behemouth of a ship has a quad-deck design that easily accommodates as many as 10 guests. The spacious interior on the upper and main decks give passengers the feeling of cruising in a floating home more than a mega yacht, while the open sun deck is the spot to lounge, equipped with jacuzzi and plenty of lounge area to soak up the rays. And though the Northlander is equipped to cruise in style, the power under the hood is impressive: Twin MTU16V2 diesels cranking 1,055 hp produce a 12.5-knot cruising speed (with a 50 percent load at 85 percent rpm).
Photo provided by Moonen Yachts
Hacker-Craft Runabout 26-foot: Land 765
One of the sexiest boats on display at PBIBS is the 26-foot Hacker-Craft roundabout. Hand-built in New York, this sleek cruiser is made with deep, rich and vibrant mahogany, making it one of the most striking, eye-catching boats at the makeshift marina. The boat maintains the same aesthetic from its 1920s and 1930s ancestors built by John Hacker, who founded his company in 1908 and is widely considered “The Father of the Modern American Runabout.” The powertrain and “below the water line” aspect has evolved with the technological breakthroughs and boatbuilding techniques seen throughout the company’s life, as exemplified with the Indmar 5.7L, 350-hp inboard powering the runabout. Cruising in one of these is like driving a classic Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder with today’s turbo V8—quite frankly, there is nothing else like it. If 26 feet is too small, Hacker-Craft will also be displaying the 32-foot Sport, also a mahogany-built beauty.
Photo provided by Hacker-Craft
Horizon Yachts PC60: Ramp 1 | Slips 101-104
For those still working on their sea legs, multi-hulls are the way to go. The new power catamaran by Horizon Yachts, the PC60, is a marvel to behold. The raised pilothouse design of this beauty addsa dose of luxury, allowing for three spacious staterooms as well as wide variety of entertaining areas inside and out. Coming in at 60 feet, 9 inches long with a 24-foot, 6-inch beam, this multihull is a worthy investment. The boat is controlled steered using a ZF Joystick Maneuvering system, and the twin CAT C12A diesels top out at 715 hp, making this a great vessel for cruising the Caribbean as well as our own shoreline.
Photo provided by Horizon Yachts
Hydrasports 4200 Siesta: Ramp 10 | Slips 1015-1026
For the fisherman looking for a powerful center console, the Hydrasports 4200 Siesta provides a dose of luxury. The boat houses a spacious helm station, powerful livewell pumps, large tanks for bait (two at 45 gallons each) and a tackle center complete with tackle drawers, a slide-out cooler, a bait-prep station with a cutting board and a stainless steel sink. There’s also a tuna door on the transom for when you land the big catch, while seating is accommodating and ample. For a touch of luxury, the cabin is air conditioned with 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom and contains a shower. Equipped with either triple or quad Yamaha 350s, the 4200 Siesta can push a top speed of 67 mph (with the quad 350s) and cruising speed of 46 mph.
Photo provided by Hydrasports
Rybovich 36’ Sportfish Express—Miss Chevy V (1957): Ramp 5 | Slip 560-566
For a blast from the past, Merritt’s Boat & Engine Works will have a classic on hand for sale: a 36-foot Rybovich Sportfish Express. The boat was introduced in 1957 and completely retrofitted between 2001 and 2013 with new wiring, pumps, lighting, paint and varnish (both interior and exterior), electronics, twin CAT 3116 inboards and more. It was owned by Charlie Johnson, an automobile dealer who had commissioned custom fishing boats from Rybovich as early as 1947—the very first boat built solely for sportfishing. The 1957 version, Miss Chevy V, is the fifth of this storied line and a Palm Beach original.
Photo courtesy of Merritt’s Boat & Engine Works