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How Times Change

Lead Line — January 2005
By Richard Thiel

How Times Change
Makes you wonder what the future holds for boating and who will survive.
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With this issue, PMY marks its 20th birthday, and we’ll be celebrating all year with a look back every month at where our sport was two decades past. Now, a fifth of a century isn’t much in the millennial scheme of things—or even among boating publications. But what a time we’ve chronicled! When we started there were fewer powerboats than sailboats and boating was mostly for the rich. Today the sport is so popular, it’s impossible to get a slip in some places.

A lot has changed in these two decades—perhaps more than you realize. So to help you see just how different things are, let’s take a quick tour of our February 1985 issue. Electronic navigation is hot, and one of the hottest products is something called the Global Navigation System. It looks to be the size of a radar, can provide distance and bearing to an “amazing” 15 waypoints, and promises “worldwide navigation for under $7,500.”

Our engines column recaps the 1985 gasoline inboard offerings from the major marinizers, including BMW, Chrysler, Commander, OMC, and Kaama. Shortly thereafter comes an ad from Gulfstar for its 49 Motor Yacht Mark II with a base price of (sitting down?) $299,500, and later, one for the Trojan F-36 Convertible for $104,900. Other boats advertised include Phoenix’s Blackhawk 909 Sports/Cruiser (no, it wasn’t a fishing boat), Storeboro’s 40 Biscay, and Chris-Craft’s “23 cruisers from 23 to 50 feet,” plus the French builder Ilver, which advertises a 35-foot sportboat incomprehensibly named Cymawa. There is no Ferretti, Azimut, Fairline, or Sunseeker, but Europe is represented by Gallart, with a 58-foot convertible built in Spain, and by Guy Couach, with an 85-foot motoryacht built in France, plus a feature on an aluminum 70-foot Striker convertible built in Holland and christened Bite the Dust.

We do a “Design Portfolio” on a nifty 29-foot Black Fin and Ocean Yachts’ 63 Super Sport, which has a base price in the mid-$700,000 range. (My search of used 63s on the market netted five at or around $700,000—not a bad investment.) Of course, we cover a megayacht: in this case a trio of Browards, including Cara Elena II, which we say “carries a price estimated at $3 million” and dubbed the “Queen of the 1984 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.” Photos show her “glistening” interior, which looks like Austin Powers’ pad.

Many electronics companies are represented—and many have disappeared—at least in their 1985 form. See if you remember these names and what they produced: Alden (if you said yachts, you flunk), Trimble (still a big name in GPS, but not for pleasureboats), Cetec Benmar, RDI, Sea-Tex, Cybernet, Regency Polaris, and King.

Yes, things really have changed during PMY’s relatively short lifetime. Kinda makes you wonder what the future holds for boating and who will survive. Lots of companies did fall by the wayside, but many quality names survived and prospered—Raytheon (now Raymarine), Viking Yachts, Grand Banks, Bluewater, Carver, Grady-White, and Formula to name a few. And so has PMY, thanks to you. Here’s to 2025.

This article originally appeared in the December 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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