WINTER COLUMN: Building a wish list at the Charleston Boat Show
Slip off your shoes and step onto a brand new $250,000 center console boat. Enjoy the intoxicating smell of freshly manufactured fiberglass, the soothing blue light from state-of-the-art cockpit LED displays, the glint off stainless steel propellers at the bottom of triple 350-horsepower outboards.
One can dream, right?
The Charleston Boat Show continues today at the North Charleston Convention Center, and there are vessels and tackle and gadgets galore, even for those lacking deep pockets.
Wandering around yesterday turned up a familiar and colorful cast of maritime characters — charter captains, anglers of all ages and a host of vendors — as well as all the latest must-haves for those of us with an eye for new gear.
Here are a few nifty pieces of fishing and boating tech that caught my eye this year.
Is it a kayak, a stand-up paddleboard or a high-tech little boat?
I don’t know, but I want one.
Dragonfly Boatworks brought a variety of sleek custom craft up from Florida, including top-of-the-line fishing paddleboards and a 16-foot flats-fishing and duck-hunting vessel called the Emerger. The sexy little boat comes with a lift-up center console sporting shotgun holders. Admirers were overheard describing it as a “blast and splash.”
This novel contraption was a crowd favorite, especially with boating moms.
The Searock Baby Seat made its premier at the boat show, and appeared to be selling out quickly. The sturdy seat, manufactured in North Carolina, is designed to hang from a boat’s T-top, but could easily be put to use at home on a porch or deck.
In the limelight
LED lights seemed to crop up almost everywhere in the higher-end boat designs: in cockpits, under gunwales, recessed into dashes and daisy-chained across control panels. Many manufacturers are even installing these small but powerful lights in boat hulls, so anglers can light up the nighttime ocean.
Inboards are out. Powering up with the newest, lightest and most powerful outboard motors continues to be the rule.
Take the Rock Doc, a massive Contender pushing 40 feet and captained by Bobby Wiggins of Folly Beach. The boat, on sale and display at the show, can push 70 mph when the Rock Doc team competes in the SKA Yamaha Professional Kingfish Tour.
These miniaturized, high-resolution video cameras have quickly become ubiquitous in the local fishing community, and you could spot plenty of the cameras and accompanying gadgetry at the show.
“Fish or cut bait,” the saying goes. Looking at the luxurious bait station on the new Scout 320, I wasn’t sure which was the better deal.
A sink and cutting board bookended a generous bait well, with beer and rod holders right there and plenty of tackle storage within reach.
What more could you want?
Boat show details
The show continues today from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults, $4 for children 4-12.