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Florida Recreation

Buying a new Boat!
A few tips to narrow your search
and to make a sound decision

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Look before you lea

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Where to catch a big one

Florida Diving

Artificial Reef Map
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Diving 101

About PADI

Miami Wreck Diving

A professional yachtsman's perspective

By Captain Charles Nethersole

Although South Florida is the central hub of North America's brokerage, refits and maintanence for the boating industry, it is not known as a world-class cruising destination. Aside from the Florida Keys, Florida's coastline affords little in the way of protected anchorages for vessels with a draft over six feet. However, there are two serious keel-boat regattas held anually in South Florida-Key West Race Week, held in January, continues to attract the world's top sailors in one-design, INS and PHRF fleets.

Over 250 boats compete each year. In addition, a revamped SORC (Southern Ocean Racing Conference) is held in February off Key Biscayne in Miami, although ocean legs are no longer a part of this event. There are, however, year-round dinghy and shoal-draft sail boat races held throughout the year, particularly in Biscayne Bay, also in Miami. These events include Optimists, Lasers, J-24's, Shields, Stars, Lightnings, Etchells, Hobie-Cats and Windsurfers.

Strictly Sail-Miami

The sail-only portion of the Miami International Boat Show returns to South Florida for its 15th year Feb. 17-22, 2000, at Miamarina at Bayside Marketplace.

More than 225 exhibitors from around the world will display the latest sailboats, accessories and charter information at the unique in-water and dockside show located on Miami's Biscayne Bay. Show highlights will include seminars led by champion sailors, test sails on exhibiting crafts, a "Learn to Sail" program for beginners and special activities for family enjoyment. The Bayside location will complement the excitement of the show and offer visitors an unlimited selection of shopping, entertainment and dining options.

"Strictly Sail-Miami will offer something for everyone - from the avid sailor to the amateur helmsman," said Kevin Murphy, manager of the National Marine Manufacturers Association's (NMMA) Strictly Sail shows. "Show visitors will experience the joys of sailing and find the best deals of the season on the newest boats and accessories."

Advance tickets are available now by calling (888) 322-9922 or by visiting the Miami International Boat Show Web site at Visitors can also purchase tickets Feb.18-22 at the Miamarina at Bayside Marketplace. Show tickets, which allow same-day admission to Strictly Sail and the Miami International Boat Show locations at the Miami Beach Convention Center and Sealine Marina and Yachting Center, formerly the Biscayne Bay Yachting Center, cost $10 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12. An adult two-day pass, valid any two days Feb.18-22, costs $16. Visitors can get a special sneak preview of show attractions on Red Carpet Day, Feb. 17, for $20.

Free shuttle bus service will connect the Miami International Boat Strictly Sail locations. Self-parking for Strictly Sail-Miami will be available.

South Florida makes an excellent transit point for boats coming up from the Caribbean to points north, and vice versa. All aspects of the yachting industry are represented in the Fort Lauderdale area particularly. The numerous canals and waterwaysfacilitate a unusually large number of baotyards, repair shops, builders and so forth. Accordingly, because of the high boat traffic through the area, all the top brokers are on hand to facilitate purchas, charter and management. The major boat yards in the area include Direktor-Ganell, Chinook, Playboy, Bradford Marine and Merill Stevens. Principal brokerages include Agents International, Burger Yacht sales, Camper and Nicholson, Fraser, Northrop and Johnson and Nautor's Swan.

Principal points of interest in South Florida for the vacationing sailing enthusiast include Biscayne Bay in Miami and the Keys. In North Florida, St. Augustine with its fine harbor, though somewhat shallow, is another favored spot. If you wish to charter a sailboat in the Soth Florida area, contact Florida Yacht Charters at Miami Beach Marina (305/532-8600) and The Moorings in Coconut Grove, Chandleries (boat supplies and equipment) include, for new equipment, West Marine in Fort Lauderdale and Miami (305/947-6333) and Boat Us, also in both cities, and for used equipment check out the vast array at Sailor Man in Fort Lauderdale.