Friday, February 25, 2011

Does this boat belong in the Smithsonian, or on your dock?

Mastercraft.  What does it mean?  The brochure may have you believe that it is a line of boats straddling the line between luxury and performance.  To us at Hamlin's on the northern fringe of the developed world, we view the Mastercrafts as art on the water.  Mastercraft simply offers the best design and features available on the market today.  We ordered three masterpieces for X2, an X15, and the new 214V.  The X2 has already found a home for next season.

The 214V is of particular interest to us this season as it is a completely new design, seemingly cut from a piece of granite rather than fiberglass.

Somehow, someway Mastercraft manifested a seamless combination of form and function.  Comfortable seating and practical storage combines with exilirating performance.  The 214V is an engineering marvel powered by an Indmar LY 6 delivering over 400 HP to just over 21' of boat.

The 214 is a V-Drive (managing to push the motor to the back of the boat without comprimising soft and flat wakes for slalom skiing).  If you are skiing, you better trust your driver not to pull your arms out of their sockets.

A functional and beautiful new windshield design allows clear and unobstructed viewing of a skier on a boom.

Now if you are the chosen one to pilot this beautiful craft, visiting hours are available in our Waterville showroom with an appointment.  The only thing that will make me happy when this one leaves the showroom is the thought that I might be able to order another one!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Pen Bay Explorers Memories

One cold and nasty January afternoon back in 2009, a group of avid boaters gathered at Hamlin’s Marina  with the intent of forming a cruising club.  That day people from all walks of life came together to have lunch and talk about a common passion...boating.  At that meeting, The Pen Bay Explorers cruising club was formed. 

Together we planned trips to different destinations surrounding Penobscot Bay to places like Castine, Belfast, and Butter Island.  Although it seemed that it rained every day in June and July, the Pen Bay Explorers took to the seas despite the weather.  We had plenty of fun though thanks to the many restaurants, taverns, and festivals.  Here’s to a bright and sunny summer for the Pen Bay Explorers!  We welcome new members with boats from 20’-32’ in length who have both a sense of humor and adventure.  Here are just a few of the pictures of the good times we've had:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Ain't Your Grandpa's Pontoon Boat!

Nothing has spawned more confusion in boating than the emerging popularity of pontoon boats, a.k.a. party boats, float boats, or party barges.   It seems that only a few years ago big, powerful sport boats were the ticket to family entertainment.   Now, a much larger and younger sect of buyers are scouring boat shows and dealerships nationwide for the perfect pontoon boat for entertaining, water sports, fishing, or often all three.

The rising popularity of pontoon boats is no mystery.  Operation and maintenance costs are much lower than fiberglass runabouts, and pontoon boat manufacturers have stepped up to the plate with new styling, features, and performance options that will compete with the best sport boats on the market.

Shopping for a pontoon boat is not for the faint of heart.  Compared to sport boats, the buying process is often much more complex.  Sport boats are fairly easy to compare.  All you have to do is choose the proper layout, check performance (seconds to plane, top end speed, and fuel consumption),  research the warranty, and most from a reputable dealer.  Often the most difficult decision facing a consumer buying a sport boat is choosing color.

This is not the case with pontoon boats.  At Hamlin’s Marine, we offer forty-three different pontoon boat models to choose from.  Each model has a unique layout, size, or style.  Choosing a model is actually the easy part.  The biggest challenge is deciding on a brand and a dealer.

What Brand?

Choosing a brand is a challenge because boat builders in this segment seem to follow the old adage, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  Each brand seems to have an entirely different set of construction  guidelines.   Of course, each brand believes they are building the best boat.  The problem the consumer faces is that there is no consistency, and it’s impossible to make accurate quality comparisons.   This is troubling because most of the cost of the boat is wrapped up in the build and not the layout.
Here is some common sense advice when it comes to identifying quality construction. 
  1. Wood is good, and comes with a lifetime warranty against rot.  Nearly every manufacturer agrees that marine-grade, pressure treated plywood is the answer for the deck.  Wood provides superior anchoring for top-deck upholstery when it is properly fastened with stainless bolts, backing washers, and nuts. 
  2. Carpet linings in storage compartments are bad.  Even if ventilated, the carpet will hold moisture and encourage mildew and mold growth. 
  3. Check under the deck to verify that upholstery has been anchored through the deck with stainless bolts, washers, and backing nuts.  It is less time consuming for a manufacturer to screw upholstery to the deck, but eventually the seats will come loose.
  4. Be wary if a dealer tries to sell you on one or two features that make their boat superior.  Buying a boat is like buying a house.  Just because the kitchen has beautiful granite counters, doesn’t mean the roof isn’t going to leak or the foundation won’t crack.
  5. Finally, choose a manufacturer that has been around at least twenty-five years.  The best boats are built with experienced hands.
Which Dealer?

After you’ve chosen a brand, you need to choose a dealer.  For convenience it makes sense to buy from the dealer nearest you.  That way if you experience any problems, the dealer will make your problem a priority and get you back on the water quickly.  Make sure that your local dealer has the facility, personnel, and equipment necessary to provide the best service experience.

Which Boat?

This is the fun part.  For example if you plan on using  your boat for fishing, and you have to trailer the boat because you don’t live on the water you might consider the Sweetwater Tuscany 1880 FC.   
This model has four fishing seats...two at the stern for trolling and two at the bow for bass fishing.  There is also a comfortable L-shaped seating near the helm for resting after a hard day’s fish.  The boat measures 18’ long and 8’ wide, so it’s a breeze to tow and squeeze into tight landings.  Fishermen should consider the vinyl floor option, seat covers, Ez Loader 2075 lbs rated pontoon trailer, and Yamaha High-Thrust 25 fourstroke outboard for slow trolling.

If you are lucky enough to own a camp or home on the water, a larger pontoon boat designed for entertaining may be the answer.    As is the case with any other type of boat, it usually makes sense to go larger than you think necessary.  Your family will only grow...and so will your circle of friends when they hear about your new boat!  Chances are if you do live on the water, you will be spending a great deal of time on your boat.  The more you use the boat, the more you’ll want to consider comfortable upholstery and options that cater to entertaining.  Those of you fitting into this category may want to consider a model like the Aqua Patio 220.  Our line of Aqua Patio boats feature beautiful styling and upholstery with comfort in mind.  Pontoon diameter is standard at 25” to handle even the roughest of lakes.  It’s impossible to appreciate an Aqua Patio without taking the time to lounge in one of the chaise seats with armrests.  Then make sure you do your homework and check out all of the onboard storage.  There is an extensive list of options available on our Aqua Patio line of pontoons, but our recommendations might include a changing room curtain, vinyl floor covering with snap-in carpet, seat covers, stainless pull up cleats, stainless cupholders, and a Yamaha F90 fourstroke (if you plan on watersports like tubing or wakeboarding).  If you do have a waterfront home, you may not need to purchase a trailer.  Why? Because Hamlin’s Marine offers pick-up and delivery service for our  pontoon boat customers.

For some, only the best will do.  That makes a decision easy...the San Pan line of pontoon boats.  No other brand even approaches the styling, functionality, and sheer beauty of a San Pan.  The 2010 models were actually inspired by the 1930’s Dusenberg automobile.  Stepping aboard a San Pan is comparable to stepping into a fine lounge or a luxury suite.  The list of standard equipment is voluminous.  If you must add options, here are some recommendations: lifting strakes (high performance option), changing room curtain, vinyl floor, snap-in carpet, seat covers, stainless steel grill center, pull up cleats, flag pole, raised teak helm pedestal, and I-Pod adapter.  Go for at least a Yamaha F115 for plenty of power.

Final Thoughts
A boat show is the best place to help you decide on the right boat for your family.  First, take the time to meet each dealer and research each brand.  When you’ve found a dealer and a brand that you are comfortable with, the rest is easy….just pick a layout, a color, and wait for spring to arrive.  Good times await!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ethanol...the Devil's Offspring?

I woke up at about 3:30 in the morning.  I was having a dream that I was Superman, and one of my enemies had secretly sprinkled Kryptonite on my Wheaties.  As you can probably guess, my dream had not been going well.  I had broken out into hives, I was wheezing, and it felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. 
I’d woken up from this terrible dream soaked with sweat and shivering.  Why would anyone want to put Kryptonite on Superman’s cereal, but more importantly why in the heck was I dreaming I was Superman. 
I started thinking and I realized that there was a convoluted connection to my dream and the recent drama that is going on in my life.  You see, an intruder has just stepped into my life.  That intruder is called E-10, or gas tainted with 10% Ethanol (corn alcohol). 

Kryptonite on Superman’s Wheaties is just like E-10 in a boat.  Superman doesn’t feel so hot  when his cereal is laced with Kryptonite, and your boat isn’t too happy when you put E-10 in its gas tank. 

Here’s why E-10 is bad for boats:
  1. Ethanol is hydrophilic, meaning that it absorbs water from the air through the boats fuel vent.  This is especially true when air is moving over the vent, as it naturally does when you are cruising along.
  2. It is a solvent.  It cleans all the gunk and dirt in your fuel system that has built up over the years and dumps it into your carburetor. 
  3. Ethanol likes to pull a stunt called “phase-separation” which means the ethanol and water pull out of the fuel in layers which may cause your engine to suddenly stop. 
  4. E-10 reduces overall fuel economy and performance because the net energy of the fuel is reduced. 
So, Ethanol is something to get serious about right now, as E-10 was only introduced this fall. 
Here’s what you can do to ensure that your boating is not ruined by a few creative politicians and corn farming lobbyists:
Make sure that you run the existing fuel out of your tanks before you put E-10 in your boat.  Last years fuel will not mix well with the new blend. 

If your boat is not equipped with an in-line fuel/ water separator make sure that you purchase a 10 Micron filter and have it installed before you hit the water.  Hamlin’s recommends a Yamaha or Racor manufactured filter.

Add Star Tron enzyme fuel treatment to your fuel.  One bottle costs $12.99 and will treat 128 gallons of fuel.  The enzymes in Star Tron allows for a more complete burn of E-10; the enzymes also fight phase-separation of the fuel.

Finally, this goes against what everybody’s told you about keeping your fuel tank full.  Carry only as much fuel as you need, and don’t let the fuel set undisturbed in your tank for long periods of time.  The best way to adhere to this rule is get out in your boat as much as you can.  Heck, I don’t even care if you blow off work.  Tell your boss that you’ve got a bad case of E-10!