Recently, I attended a fun reunion that Hell’s Bay Boatworks puts on for its pro staff each year at their Titusville headquarters. Hell’s Bay is internationally renowned for building custom, high-end skiffs designed for very technical fishing in shallow water. They are constantly soliciting feedback from their team of professional captains, who spend an average of 200 days per year on the water, in an endless effort to perfect their boats.
With the Miami Boat Show dead ahead, I asked Hell’s Bay co-owner Wendy Peterson how many boats—rough estimate—that they expect to sell this year at that show?
“Well, we will sell a few, maybe quite a few." Peterson said. "But the boat show is a great place for us to connect with our clients and with new clients. A lot of Hell’s Bay owners first check out the boats at a show, then they pay a visit to the factory, and we work with them to build the boat they want.”
I spent much of the afternoon talking to their staff, and was most impressed not just by the boats, but by how much those people love their jobs. They are experts, and if you’re in the market for a custom boat I’d strongly encourage you to pay a visit to where they are made. The boat builders I respect in the industry all welcome such visits.
Many of the world’s best boat builders are based in Florida. Our diverse waterways offer them the best research & development facilities they could dream of. Some of the world’s largest boat shows also take place here, as well as dozens and dozens of smaller displays of marine manufacturing prowess. Shows are great places to narrow your search for your dreamboat, or even pull the proverbial trigger right there. But don’t be in a rush.
First, pick a genre of boat for the type of activities you enjoy on the water, whether it’s sailing or otherwise cruising, racing, or fishing. These different genres of vessels enjoy their own areas at the shows. Then, narrow your decision further by thinking about the modes of cruising, racing or fishing that you enjoy most. The old saying that every boat is a compromise shouldn’t curb your enthusiasm. It should encourage you to really do your research. Take a trip to the factory, and run a sea trial, for sure.