Friday, October 30, 2009

A Haunting Sea Song

This week’s Sea Song is The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot.

Could you think of a more suitable choice on the eve of Halloween than this chilling ballad about the sudden sinking on Lake Superior of a 729-foot long freighter?

You can learn more about the Fitz at BoatNerd, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum or Wikipedia.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fort Lauderdale. Period.

Our Thursday post is usually a "heads up" to let you know what boating events are going on for the weekend. You never know when you'll be looking for something to do and we'll be telling you about a boat show or regatta happening right down the road.

This weekend’s activities can be summed up in one word. Lauderdale.

If you’re into boating and are within a short drive, train ride or flight of Southeast Florida, you should be at this show. The world’s largest boat show is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend, and early reports are that ticket sales are up 20% over last year (source: Soundings TradeOnlyToday.) This place is buzzing with hope and excitement.

There are a few other events this weekend, but none as big as Ft. Lauderdale, so if you want to check them out visit our boating events calendar. Maybe there's one in your neck of the woods.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Winterize to Save Time and Money

November is knocking at the door. If you're raking leaves or shoveling snow in many parts of North America, it's time to stop procrastinating and winterize your boat!

Winterizing the right way "can actually make spring commissioning an easier, less expensive experience" according to Alan Sorum, past Port Director and Harbormaster for the City of Valdez, Alaska.

Among the many tips on Alan’s Boating & Sailing blog:

  • Wash and wax the boat hull right after it’s taken from the water to make it easier to clean up for use next season.

  • Remove cushions, lifejackets and other items that could mildew.

  • It's the little things that make your boat last, and following a checklist will help you remember all the details. Ericka Watson has just such a checklist on her Powerboating Blog. Ericka also includes instructions for winterizing your boat's drive system, hull and interior.

    After following both Alan's and Ericka's advice, you'll be ready for spring and another season of boating in no time!


    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Is it OK to be a Pirate?

    With Halloween only a few days away and news today that a British couple may be the latest victims of Somali pirates, an important question may be on your mind.

    Is it insensitive to dress up like a pirate for Halloween?

    Let’s face it, with two years since the last (and until the next) Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the notorious villains of the sea are not currently being glamorized by Disney as they so often are. Besides, Disney is facing other PR battles.

    So with machine-gun-toting Somali pirates in the news, taking real ships and risking real lives, is it politically correct to be a pirate for Halloween? If you do it, wouldn’t it be more realistic (and scarier!) to toss aside the hook-hand and eye patch and simply wear a dirty t-shirt and carry a machine gun? Trick or treat!


    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Buying a Boat

    Last week we shared our top ten reasons to buy a bigger boat, which was a lot of fun for us, and for you based on the feedback we received. However, we do realize that you may not be there yet – a big boat may just not be right for you at this time.

    That’s okay, because no matter what size boat you are seeking, FirstBoat has plenty of free, sound advice for both new and experienced boaters.

    We’ve recently updated FirstBoat, including the how to buy section, so that it is easier to browse. We figured that if you found our website hard to navigate, how could you trust us to help you navigate your boat?

    So, if you’re thinking about buying a boat – new or used, big or small, your first boat or your fifteenth - visit our How to Buy a Boat section first and we'll help guide you through it.


    Friday, October 23, 2009

    The TGIF Sea Song of the Week is Sailing

    This time we're featuring a live version of Sailing performed by Guns & Roses.

    Yes, the ballad made famous by Rod Stewart in the 70s was performed live at Wembley Stadium by G&R just a few years ago, and it kind of rocks.

    U2 has also performed Sailing in concert, but we can't find the video on YouTube. If you find it, please send us the link.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Countdown to Ft. Lauderdale

    You might think that there wouldn’t be any boating events this week, given all the preparations necessary for the 50th edition of the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, the largest boat show in the world, starting on the 29th.

    But there actually are a few events this week, especially for folks outside the US. This weekend marks the start of 50th Hanseboot Boat Show in Hamburg, Germany, as well as the Copper Cove Marina Festival in Wallaroo, South Australia. Here in the states, one of the few boating events is the 2009 Melges 24 World Championship – a sailing regatta in Annapolis, a city which hosted the US Power and Sail shows over the past couple of weeks.

    If you're looking for more boating events this week, your best bet might be to simply head down to Ft. Lauderdale early and watch the $3 BILLION worth of boats, yachts and merchandise move in for next week’s show – that type of logistical feat should be quite a show in itself!


    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    The Number 1 Reason to Buy a Bigger Boat Now

    Rounding out our Top Ten Reasons to Buy a Bigger Boat Now is:

    Reason # 1. Let’s Face It, ALL Boats Are Too Small

    It’s true. And after shopping for boats at countless boat shows, boat dealerships and marinas, you, too will notice the stark difference between how big a 30-footer looks up on pedestals in a coliseum or show room compared to how small the same boat looks in the water tied up at a dock.

    Most people are surprised when they first notice this. Of course, the boat doesn’t actually shrink when it’s placed in the water. But remember that about a quarter of the boat's exterior is now hidden below the waterline.

    Staring up at the hull at an indoor boat show makes the boat look huge. Staring down at the deck from the dock when the boat is in the water makes the same boat appear much smaller. It’s only then that you realize that much of that hidden real estate on the boat is not even usable living space, i.e., the engine, bilge, storage, etc.

    So, to avoid buyer’s remorse and ensure that you will not be disappointed by the size of your boat after you purchase it and place it in the water, buy that bigger boat now!


    Top 3 Reasons to Buy a Bigger Boat

    Reason # 2. Save on Fuel and Food

    This may sound counter-intuitive – but you can spend less money on both food and fuel with a bigger boat. It's simple if you go big and take it slow.

    Enjoying a bigger boat properly means taking more leisurely cruises than you may be used to. By going slower, you burn less fuel than you burn zipping around in a smaller, faster boat. You'll even enjoy sitting at the dock more on your spacious vessel than you would in a smaller boat.

    In fact, that brings us to how you’ll save on food. A bigger boat with a workable galley and comfortable seating areas will allow you to eat on board vs. heading on shore to the closest restaurant and spending a fortune every night. You’ll save a few bucks and experience waterfront dining at its best – on the comfort of your own boat.

    This tip was inspired by the true story of Capt. Eric posted on the Captain’s Blog at

    View the entire top ten list of reasons to buy a bigger boat now.


    Top 3 Reasons to Buy a Bigger Boat

    Reason # 3. Reduce "Guest Stress"

    Have you ever experienced "Guest Stress" right before going out on the boat? You know the feeling when 9 people show up at the dock when you only invited 3.

    Somebody brought their two kids AND one of the kid’s friends, your favorite aunt brought your other aunt who doesn’t even like boats, and even your spouse invited two people that you didn’t know were coming. You hate to be the bad guy, but safety first. Imagine the horror when you have to tell some of your guests that they can't come along!

    Wouldn't it be great if you could fit more friends and family on your boat comfortably – and experience less stress about the guest list? You will enjoy your boat more if you can have "more the merrier" attitude - heck, you'll probably even live longer! The folks at Discover Boating said it best: "Your family and group of friends are growing and they will keep growing. Once you find what you think is the right boat, check one out that is two feet longer. Three years from now, will your family be more comfortable in this one?"

    Check out the entire list of top ten reasons to buy a bigger boat now.


    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Reason 4 to Buy a Bigger Boat

    We're down to the last few reasons to buy that bigger boat now instead of getting a smaller boat. Don't forget, if you've already decided that you want a bigger boat, these reasons are free for you to use in making a case to your spouse or your bank so that they are on board with your purchase.

    Reason # 4. Extend the boating season

    Up here in chilly New England, all the small boats are pretty much out of the water for the winter. The bigger boats are still being used for fall fishing trips, foliage viewing, and many yachts are making their way down south for the winter.

    The first half of the summer was so rainy here that most small boats stayed docked or on their trailer until mid-August. But a bigger boat with a cabin wouldn’t let a little drizzle ruin the weekend. Small craft advisories are just that: warnings to small crafts. The big boys get to stay out and play if it’s safe to do so.

    Simply put, a big boat is more practical than a smaller boat because it can be used more often and for a longer chunk of the year. Rougher seas, inclement weather, a chill in the air… no problem for the bigger boat!


    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Buy a Bigger Boat (Top 5)

    We have moved on to the second half of our list of the Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Bigger Boat, and the complete list will be released over the next couple of days.

    Reason # 5: Versatility

    A bigger boat is more versatile than a smaller one, allowing you to take farther, longer trips.

    Sure, you could make an argument that a little runabout is more versatile than a cabin cruiser because the runabout could take a few people out for skiing, picnics, overnight camping, and day trips across the lake. While that is true, a larger boat can carry more fuel and withstand rougher seas allowing you to travel significantly farther than you would dare in most smaller boats.

    For example, a Connecticut boater with an 18-footer might not attempt a trip to Block Island, or even outside the safety of Long Island Sound. Meanwhile, the boater with a 34-footer wouldn’t hesitate. And with the larger boat, you can still go camping on the beach… but you also have the option of actually sleeping inside the boat. Heck, if your boat is big enough, you could even carry that smaller boat around in an on board garage like the one on this Lazzara LSX 92. How’s that for versatility?

    Check out the previous five reasons to buy a bigger boat now.


    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Sea Song of the Week: Island

    If the weather we’re experiencing in New England isn’t enough to make you want to sail away to an island, then the sounds and images in this video may do the trick.

    It’s been two weeks since we featured Jimmy Buffett in our TGIF Sea Songs, so we hope you soon get the chance to enjoy this tune properly... with your toes in the sand and a frozen drink in your hand.


    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Bigger Boat (6)

    Buying a new boat? You might want to go a little bigger – we’ll help you justify it. This rounds out the first half of the top 10 reasons to buy a bigger boat.

    Reason # 6. Sharks.

    You "Jaws" fans have been waiting for this line since we started discussing the Top Ten Reasons to Buy a Bigger Boat. Here it is... be ready for it...

    The sixth top reason to buy a bigger boat is not only because the late Roy Scheider said so, but it will also make you feel safer. I know, "Jaws" was just a movie, but come on - if you ever see a big fin in the water you know you’ll be wishing the boat you're on was just a little bit bigger! Get the bigger boat now, because you never know when you’ll run into a huge, hungry shark.

    Previous posts:
    Reason # 10: It’s the economy, stupid.
    Reason # 9: Tax Incentives
    Reason # 8: Prevent value loss
    Reason # 7: The Life Boat


    Buy a Bigger Boat Number 7

    If you thought the boat you want is big enough, you may be wrong. That’s why we came up with the top 10 reasons to buy a bigger boat. This post looks at number 7.

    Reason # 7: The Life Boat
    Let’s face it, life happens. You may choose to buy a smaller boat now and think that in a year or two you’ll trade up to a bigger boat (see 8).

    Think again. You never know what might transpire in your life over the next few years that could put buying a new boat on the back burner. Car and home repairs, college tuition, a career change or some other unforeseen event might take priority over upgrading to that bigger boat.

    The boat you buy now may end up being your "life" boat, the boat you have for a very long time – possibly the rest of your life.
    With that in mind, buy the bigger boat now as if it is going to be your boat for life.

    Previous posts:
    Reason # 10: It’s the economy, stupid.
    Reason # 9: Tax Incentives
    Reason # 8: Prevent value loss


    Buy a Bigger Boat Number 8

    If you thought the boat you want is big enough, you may be wrong. That’s why we came up with the top 10 reasons to buy a bigger boat.

    Reason # 10: It’s the economy, stupid.

    Reason # 9: Tax Incentives

    Reason # 8. Prevent value loss

    As a smart boat buyer, you have to face two simple facts: First of all, boats are like cars in that they lose a lot of value as soon as you “drive off the lot”. Second, no matter how big of a boat you buy, soon after your first cruise you will immediately start planning to buy an even bigger boat. That's just what boaters do.

    When you consider these factors, the cost of buying a boat, losing a bunch of money on it, and then buying the bigger boat later will add up to be much more than if you had simply bought the bigger boat now. Buying the bigger boat now may also quell your desire to trade up to an even bigger boat (at least temporarily!)


    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Buy a Bigger Boat Number 9

    Is the boat you're thinking about buying is big enough? Think again.

    Yesterday we posted Reason # 10: It's the economy, stupid.

    Reason # 9: Tax Incentives

    A real estate blog in the Washington Post reminded me recently that boat owners have an excellent tax advantage available to them. That is, of course, if they already own a home and if the boat is big enough.

    Boats that have a head and a galley (that’s a bathroom and a kitchen area for you newbies) may qualify as a second home in the eyes of Uncle Sam, possibly allowing you to deduct the interest on your boat loan.

    So if you’re on the fence between a boat that has these amenities and one that does not, there could be a financial incentive to you in April if you go with the bigger boat with all the extra stuff.


    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Bigger Boat

    Think the boat you're considering is big enough? Think again. Throughout the next several days, we're going to post our top ten reasons to buy a bigger boat. Remember: In the end, it's all relative and you should buy the boat that's best for you.

    Reason # 10: It's the economy, stupid.

    In this recession you can get a lot more boat for your money than you may ever be able to again. History and economic trends tell us that the prices of boats are going to rise significantly once they start selling again, as are the interest rates on boat loans, or the cost of money.

    And right now, boat dealers are making deals and individuals are putting boats up for auction to make a quick sale. Sooner or later, sellers won't be looking to make a deal to move inventory or to convince you that it's okay that a brand of boat is on the brink of bankruptcy. Interest rates won't be nearly zero for long.  It's a buyer's market, so grab all you can if have the means.


    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Historic Ship

    Ever wonder what happened to the famous Santa Maria, sailed by Columbus on his quest to prove the earth was not flat?

    The Santa Maria was the cargo ship in the famous voyage, and was wider and clumsier than the Nina and Pinta. As such, she was probably not very easy to maneuver among the islands that Columbus “discovered”. The Santa Maria ran aground on Christmas Day 1492 on the island of Isla Espanola, which is now known as Haiti, and soon after was taken apart for lumber to build a fortress.

    You can learn more about the ship’s history and crew at Wikipedia or


    Friday, October 09, 2009

    A Beautiful Sea Song

    This week’s sea song was an easy choice on the birthday of both John and Sean Lennon.

    Today’s Sea Song of the Week is Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) by John Lennon, which he wrote for his son Sean and released on what would be John Lennon's last album in 1980. Further qualifying this as a song worthy of sailing to is the metaphorical line "Out on the ocean sailing the waves."


    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    Columbus Day Weekend & Boats

    Got plans for the long weekend? How about something involving boats? What better way to celebrate the man who sailed across the Atlantic to re-discover the new world over 500 years ago? In fact, you could actually visit exact replicas of the Nina and the Pinta in West Virginia over the next few days.

    One of the largest sailing-focused shows in the world, the 40th Annual United States Sailboat Show is this weekend in Annapolis, MD, on the Chesapeake Bay.

    Other events this weekend include regattas in Alabama and Connecticut. Outside the US, you’ve got the Club Marine Mandurah Boat Show in Western Australia as well as the last couple of days of the Genoa show in Italy.

    More details at the calendar.


    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    Sailing Round the World

    As a recreational sailor, you may not be aware of the many races, large and small, occurring at any given point on the waterways – all over the world. Many demand months of commitment and a lifetime of preparation from their participants.

    One such race going on right now is the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which involves ten months and 35,000 miles of ocean racing among 400 people. This year’s race began on 13 September 2009 with ten sleek, stripped down 68-foot yachts embarking on a full circumnavigation of the globe, and claims to be the only one of its kind available to non-professional sailors.

    We love oceanic comparisons to mountain climbing. As if not to let us down, the Round the World website proclaims that “Fewer people have raced a yacht around the globe than have climbed Mount Everest”. That's probably true.

    You can get the latest news from the race, see great pictures, and even participate in the race virtually – from dry land – at


    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Relive the Titanic

    These days we cruise confidently on large ships adorned with pools, casinos and restaurants. Passengers on cruise ships risk the occasional salmonella outbreak, or perhaps some pirates if they're in the wrong "neighborhood."

    The days of fearing a cruise ship might share the fate of the Titanic are behind us, as we have reached a point between technology and experience that enable us to avoid such disasters. But wait… isn't that exactly the same hubris that led to the sinking of the mighty Titanic? Is it really such a good idea to tempt the gods of the sea with a Titanic Memorial Cruise on the 100 year anniversary of the fateful cruise?

    That's just what British firm Miles Morgan Travel is planning for the year 2012, according to an AP story in the Canadian Press earlier today. Would you want to be in the North Atlantic on a ship on 4/14/12, the same date the Titanic hit an iceberg and began to sink? Seriously, cruising is very, very safe, but is this really such a good idea?


    Monday, October 05, 2009

    Rough Weekend for Boaters

    This past weekend’s news included an unusually high number of boating mishaps, especially considering the cooling weather across much of the US.

    An accident Sunday night off Long Island, NY, resulted in a boat landing somewhere from 100 to 150 feet from the water. The AP reported that the 40-foot high-performance powerboat crashed onto a marsh island east of the Wantagh Parkway Sunday night, and unfortunately resulted in three people being killed and four critically injured.

    Earlier in the weekend, the St. Petersburg Times ran an article about a boating crash that killed a 17 year old girl and injured four other teens that were aboard a 22 ft runabout. Like the NY accident, the Florida tragedy involved operating a boat at a high rate of speed in a channel or harbor.

    Of course every situation is different, but please visit FirstBoat’s safety page for a couple of basic tips and resources for keeping safe during your boating adventures.


    Friday, October 02, 2009

    Sea Song for Friday: Come Sail Away

    Here's a live-in-concert version of today's Sea Song, Come Sail Away by Styx.

    Even though this twisted song is not exactly about sailing on the sea, the repeating chorus (come sail away, come sail away, come and sail away with me) can really put you in a nautical state of mind. And best of all... about 5 minutes in, it really starts to rock.


    Thursday, October 01, 2009

    Sail for Hope

    Sailing season is winding up in Newport, Rhode Island, but one final regatta is happening this weekend. Sail for Hope is an annual event which began after 9/11 to raise money for various charities. Hosted by Sail Newport, Sail for Hope has raised over ¼ million dollars for RI and humanitarian based charities over the past seven years.

    The 2009 edition of Sail for Hope, with more than fifty boats already registered, is this Saturday, October 3rd, and will be feature a sail around Conanicut Island. More info.

    If you’re looking for a boat show this weekend, you are in luck if you’re in Genoa, Italy, Massapequa, NY or Gonzales, Louisiana. In other boat show news, the New York National Boat Show is celebrating its 105th year with a return to its traditional mid-January dates and a new five-day format. The show will be held January 20 - 24, 2010.

    For more info about any of these events, visit the FirstBoat boat show calendar.