A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Pontoons in Palm Beach? You bet!

I was walking past a row of boats on the hard at the Palm Beach International Boat Show in March when I did a double take over something to my left. I stopped and circled back. Pretty boat? Pretty girl?

Welcome to the Unreasonable Persons Club

Phin Sprague Jr. is part contrarian, part libertarian, part Yankee. The veteran offshore sailor also is the founder of the Maine Boatbuilders Show, which finished up Sunday, and the owner of Portland Yacht Service, a full-service yard in Portland, Maine.

Advocacy is as easy as ABC

Tired of feeling as if your voice isn’t being heard? Want to get out ahead of issues for a change? Get in front of folks who can actually make a difference?

Building with features customers prefer

At every boat show I attend I keep my radar tuned for at least one piece of wisdom or advice or an observation that I didn’t have before the event. The big, sprawling Miami shows that ended Monday were no different, although I’ve come to realize that the bigger the show, the harder it is […]

From the snow to the Miami shows

After several days of shoveling, blowing and plowing snow we are winging south out of storm-blasted New England to the Miami shows, where the preshow mood was cautiously optimistic, to use an overused phrase. Things are feeling better.

ABYC: Building a better industry

The industry was about to catch fire in the 1950s — the war was over, the economy was growing, Americans were enjoying expanded leisure time and more discretionary income, wood was bowing to fiberglass. By the ’60s it was zoom-zoom for pleasure boats as the expanding middle class solidly embraced boating.

The math behind the new normal

Large numbers can be difficult to put into perspective. For example, we all know that the fleet of recreational boats is aging, but it might surprise you to see just how many older boats are out in the field, versus new ones.

The dog ate my homework and other hurdles to change

As with most clichés, the old saw about “the more things change, the more they stay the same” undoubtedly has a modicum of truth to it, but I wouldn’t want to build a business model around it. Not in this industry. Not in any, for that matter. And not these days.

An amazing run by a record-setting hydrofoil

It used to be true with autos that “you raced them on Sunday and sold them on Monday.” And it was also true that racing — cars, sailboats and powerboats —improved the breed. No better example than C. Raymond Hunt and the deep-vee.

Sandy’s record damage toll

In the end, Hurricane Sandy lived up to just about every bad scenario that was painted for her as she churned toward the Northeast just over two weeks ago.

In awe of Sandy’s rage

Just a little over a week after Superstorm Sandy barreled ashore and just hours before a nor’easter was to hit the Northeast, I was having an email conversation with New Jersey boater Bob Keck.

A Taylor Made gift to breast cancer research

I want to give a shout-out to Taylor Made Products for what it did during IBEX to raise awareness for breast cancer research. The Gloversville, N.Y., company produced a limited edition of its 40-year-old mermaid fender in bright pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to raise money to fight the disease.

A boat show magazine in real time

Continuing the trend of new boats and gear recently introduced at the fall shows, the AIM Marine Group editorial team, which includes Soundings and Trade Only, also will launch a new product at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which runs Oct. 25-29.

Sell sincerity along with the boat

On Thursday morning at IBEX, I’ll have the pleasure of moderating a seminar discussion that includes an industry veteran and one of the really good guys in our business. Bing Fishman, who was the longtime Northeast regional sales manager for Grady-White, will be talking about the finer points of delivering great customer service and being […]

Kids, crabbing and a white marlin necropsy

My son and I spent the last two evenings scurrying around a dock, carrying a long-handled net and wearing headlamps as we checked lines baited with chicken legs. We were crabbing in the waning days of summer. And, yes, these were school nights for my seventh-grader, too.

Distant thunder of aging boomers

The boys at my marina have been looking a tad older, as are the ones down in the anchorage. And so is the guy in the mirror, for that matter. The market of new boat buyers and current boaters is graying before our eyes.

Walmart’s beer boat sends the wrong message

The display in the Walmart store in Orange Park, Fla., turned more than a few heads, but is a pontoon boat made out of cases of beer with kegs for floats really the kind of message the retail discount giant wants to be promoting?

Met at the dock? Now that’s service

I was hanging out recently at my marina in Rhode Island, fooling with my little boat, when a friend returned to his slip fresh from a shark tournament off Montauk, N.Y. The fishing had been good, but what really impressed him had nothing to do with fins and teeth, but rather with service.

A skills gap and the next generation of techs

Gone — or at least dwindling quickly — are the days when a technician could get by solely by being able to “think with his hands,” although that ability remains a critical component of the job. More and more, success also hinges on the ability to “think with your head.”

Sperry Top-Sider and Olympic sailing: a perfect match

Whether you sell tin boats in Wisconsin, flats boats in Florida or express cruisers on Long Island, the celebration at the New York Yacht Club last week marking Sperry Top-Sider’s title sponsorship of the US Sailing Team is positive news for everybody in the business.

Baby boomers, boats and birth data

As an industry, we have been talking of late about the need to reach out to a more diverse audience in order to fill out the next generation of boaters and the subsequent ones after that. And just a cursory look at the changing demographic landscape in this country provides plenty of evidence that broadening […]

On deadline, under pressure, every day

Good deadline reporters write fast, they’re competitive, they don’t come unglued under pressure, and they come back the next day and do it all over again. Day after day. Trade Only associate editor Beth Rosenberg pretty much fits that description to a T.

An angler, writer and ‘gentle soul’

Sportfishing writer Tim Coleman was a quiet, modest man who preferred to let his actions and written words do the talking for him. An exceptional saltwater angler and a prolific writer, Coleman didn’t like to put himself at the center of his stories or shine a spotlight on himself.

The choppy waters of a slow recovery

At the American Boating Congress in Washington, D.C., last week, speaker Greg Ip of The Economist reminded the audience of one of the realities of this sluggish economy. We remain in the midst of a slow U- or L-shaped recovery, one that still feels like a recession to millions of people.

Smooth sailing or a ‘bumpy ride’?

It’s been a long time since anyone has suggested we’ve been too effusive in our reporting on the state of the industry. For much of the last four years, just the opposite has been true.