Dan, Josh, & John at the Cutwater Plant in Front of a 30 Sedan
Three guys, five hotels, and a red eye flight from LA later...the Hamlin's Marine sales team is now ready to suit up for the New England Boat Show in Boston in a couple weeks.
Our sales staff braved the 12th Man (the Seattle Seahawks united legion of Seahawk fans) to work the Seattle Boat Show with Bellingham Yacht Sales to promote Cutwater Boats (http://www.cutwaterboats.com).
After a legendary Garth Brooks show in Boston, we flew direct to Seattle on JetBlue ($99 one way flight!) The flight came in late...11:30 Pacific Time, so we weren't able to pick up our rental car before crashing at the airport Hampton Inn. After a short night, we scarfed down the hotel buffett breakfast and cabbed it to Enterprise for our rental whip...a red 2015 Chevy Cruise complete with a Garmin GPS (totally necessary) and a booming subwoofer for 80s rap music compliments of XM radio.
Off we went through rush hour Seattle traffic to Monroe, WA for our first leg of our journey...Cutwater Plant #1. Upon arriving, we wondered if we had the wrong address, as the building looked a bit run down. We had expected to arrive at the gates of the Emerald City...not so much. But sure enough, we saw the tell tale sign of beautiful Downeast lines under a veil of shrinkwrap and a tiny Cutwater sign.
Our Cutwater representative pulled in with his white Suburban and escorted us to the front office where we met the Livingston family...legendary West Coast boatbuilders who were the brain trust of innovative designs for Regal and Bayliner over the years. Now, they manage an empire of five Washington plants manufacturing Ranger Tugs and our own Cutwater Boats.
Although the first plant showed its age, the people on the floor were an army of worker bees, and you could smell productivity...or was that styrene? Anyway, our crew admired the production of 26' & 28' Cutwater, as well as the brand new 24' outboard powered Cutwater Solara. This new model is going to shake up the recreational boating industry for years to come! Think Downeast classic styling with the performance of a Porsche 911 turbo!
2015 Cutwater 24 Solara
After our tour, we followed Mark Mansfield to a nice hotel in Everett, Washington perched on Puget Sound. We took a moment to marvel at the West Coast boats at the attached marina. Windshields faced forward and massive plate-aluminum fishing boats clogged the slips. The odd boats and 65 degree January weather reminded us we weren't in Rockland or Southwest Harbor. No...we were in a strange new land of boating, and we were excited!
We loaded up into Mark's suburban and braved the heavy traffic to Centurylink Field...home of the Seattle Seahawks and the annual boat show. Luckily, those wayward seabirds were in Arizona prepping for their funeral with the New England Patriots. I was glad I was here to work the Seattle Boat Show and not to tackle that Skittle-eating, Marshawn Lynch!
The Seattle Show showcases over 1000 boats, so we took the time to wander the show. We spent some time at the Garmin booth to bone up on the latest electronics. I was excited to see that networking a Flir infrared camera is now possible with Garmin. I can't believe that the technology that Arnold Schwarzenegger used in the Predator is now available for recreational boaters!
The Hamlin's Marine sales team joined the Cutwater booth and were welcomed by the fine folks of Bellingham Yacht Sales. Believe it or not, the owners of Bellingham Yacht Sales are Mainers from Madison, Maine...Maine Maritime graduates, no less! Check out this video by John Clark of the Cutwater 30 Command Bridge.
The staff was great and toured us through all the Cutwater models and showed us all the new 2015 features. Bellingham was an original Cutwater dealer and these guys just crank them out at the Seattle Show. Last year, these guys sold 55 boats at the show! When we left, they were on pace to break that ridiculous figure.
After the show, Mark Mansfield treated all of us to a fine dinner of oysters, poke (a Hawaiian raw fish concoction), and King Salmon...followed by a massive helping of blueberry cobbler. That meal accompanied by a couple of West Coast IPAs had us staggering to our rooms just after 10:00 P.M.
Josh Reviewing the West Coast IPA Selection
Then next morning, Josh and I woke up before dawn for a morning run along Puget Sound so that our pants would fit for the show. I took the opportunity to wear my Rob Gronkowski Patriots jersey to snub the 12th man. Good thing it was still dark out!
Gronk on Puget Sound
Our white Suburban chariot was there to pick us up after a quick breakfast. We headed to Arlington, Washington which is home to the new Cutwater plant. This is where they build the 30 Sedan, Command Bridge, and Sport Top boats for Cutwater. The crew here was impressive, as they have a full cabinet and woodworking shop as well as a new glass and window shop. You see, Cutwater is now building their own windows and frames for the cabins. These new windows are sleek and custom fit complimenting the boats. As we admired the facility, a couple of wise-ass boat builders/12th Man guys handed us a deflated football. Good one, guys!
The Arlington plant is massive and is ready for increased capacity, as Bayliner used to build ninety-five 47' boats a year in this facility during the boom years. Now, Cutwater has ten 30 foot models in production. Based on the sales at the Seattle Show, they will be hiring!
Men at Work at the Arlington, WA Cutwater Factory
All of us spent the afternoon at the Seattle Show and took some time to do some video tours of the boats that will be found on our Youtube channel. Because of the blizzard back home, we had a free day and we did a bit of sightseeing including a drive up the foothills to admire the towering peak of Mount Rainier before boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight to LA for a connecting redeye back to Boston.
If you ever find yourself in Terminal 3 at LAX, do not order their famous New England clam chowder. Trust me...it ain't the same!
Bye, Bye Seattle
Our team arrived at Logan at 6:00 a.m. after maybe 4 hours of sleep and headed to Bristol, RI after digging our our Toyota Tundra in the Park & Ride. Our last stop was NorthCoast boats to check out the new 27' Hard Top and a couple of our customer boats in production. The NorthCoast factory is one of the finest in the world and we all admired the signature solid fiberglass hulls and massive support stringers that make these boats the burliest saltwater fishing boats in the world.
NorthCoast Stringer System...No Wood Here!
The new 27' Hard Top is massive with a 10'2" beam and sleeping for four. She features a 20 degree deadrise and can be powered with twin 250 outboards; it can be easily maneuvered at the dock with an optional bow thruster. We spent some time talking with the owner, Jose DaPonte, and admired his passion and energy. What a partner we have in NorthCoast Boats! Charlie Tasso, the sales rep, handed us a copy of this month's "On the Water" magazine which features a 21' Hard Top NorthCoast on the cover.
21' NorthCoast Cover
After as couple of hours at the plant and a double dose of Dunkin' Donuts coffee...we finally headed back to Maine.