We recently returned from the Miami Boat Show. And for once, we weren't exhibiting, just walking the docks to have a look at the latest and greatest offerings from the marine industry. While it was certainly impressive to see all that gleaming (and expensive) fiberglass and chrome, we were much more interested in investigating some new and noteworthy products that we may incorporate into our new boats. However, it also seemed like a number of builders had devoted their creative efforts to trying to deliver what I call the wow factor. As a builder, one way to stand out at a boat show—and to give your sales and marketing team some added ammunition—is to offer unique and unusual features. I'm not just talking molded-in drink holders here, but “glitzy” things like automatic retracting sun shades, over-water lounge seating that folds out from the gunwale, swim platforms that raise and lower with hydraulics, and stabilizing gyroscopes with six-figure price tags. These things may win show awards and impress shoppers, but they aren't necessarily the type of “wow” features that we incorporate into Great Harbour Trawlers.
I've spent a lifetime on the water and five decades building and repairing everything from wooden workboats to sailboats, sport fishermen and trawlers. Along the way, I've developed an appreciation for simple solutions and straightforward design. Which is not to say that I'm opposed to innovation. Anyone familiar with Mirage knows we've introduced our share of fresh ideas and ground-breaking designs. When you look at any Great Harbour, you are sure to say “wow” a number of times. But our wow factor is usually related to intelligent use of space, redundant safety features, and simple, cost-effective solutions to typical boating needs.
That’s why I can’t get behind gimmicks that won't stand up to the realities of the sea, or shortcuts in materials or construction that result in problems years down the road. And that includes many of the clever and shiny add-ons that wow the crowds at boat shows. Give a lot of that hardware a few years of regular marine use and these complicated new systems tend to fail – or worse.
That said, we are planning a number of innovations for the TT35. Things like a transom tailgate to dramatically increase cockpit space at anchor or dockside, an integrated solar/inverter/generator power supply, and a retracting roof-mounted dinghy arm. To make it into the final product, however, each of these ideas will have to live up to my expectations for reliability, simplicity and ease of service. Because in my mind, the real wow factor doesn't take place when the boat is at a show – or even when it is first delivered, but years down the road when the features and construction of that boat have helped fulfill the cruising dreams of the folks that purchased it.