By: Scott Way
And so ends another year, two thousand and twenty one. It's been interesting, to say the least, but 2021 also brought us some of the most riveting stories and feats of engineering the boating world has ever seen.
Where do we even start? The launch of the Sea-Doo 'Switch' might be the most interesting new product in 20 years. The new Mercury V12 engine is the world's largest outboard and it will change the trajectory of boat design forever. We discovered that houseboats are all the rage, and that a rage-inducing incident on the Welland Canal was the catalyst for a conversation about boating safety. We found a chap living on a refurbished ferry in downtown Toronto harbour and immediately wanted to buy a slip downtown. We discovered the world's biggest yacht has fractional ownership and considered buying a condo on the high seas. A top-secret government boat came up for sale, and we nearly joined the Navy. Our contributors took exciting journeys on the Great Lakes and beyond, then regaled us with their adventures. We went back through boating history in order to go forward into 2022. We shared stories, we shared memories, and we all learned a thing or two.
To commemorate an eventful 2021, here are the 21 best stories of the year, as chosen by the BoatBlurb editorial staff.
1) Mercury Stuns with Industry First 600 HP V12 Verado Engine
No surprise here. There were rumours Mercury was set to drop something big in early 2021. Something big, indeed. The V12 Verado is the industry's first 600 horsepower outboard with enough 'industry first' technology to put them years ahead of their competitors. Read more.
2) Sea-Doo Launches 'Switch' Pontoon Line
Sea-Doo flipped boating on its head in August with the launch of the 'Switch' pontoon series. A unique pontoon that uses handlebar steering like a standard Sea-Doo, the Switch is the template for outside-the-box thinking. Read more.
3) Houseboat Living - The Emerging Alternative to Cottages
The pandemic has triggered major cultural and economic shifts, two of which are occurring in the the real estate market and the boating industry. Cottagers priced out of market are turning to houseboats to live the waterfront lifestyle, while aging boaters sick of tight living quarters and a bumpy ride are doing the same. Read more.
4) Innovators in Boating - N.E. 188th Street & The Famous "Thunderboat Row"
The saga of Don Aronow and 'Thunderboat Row' on 188th St. in Miami is legendary. Money, power, corruption, and high-octane thrills were a hallmark of boating's most ambitious era. Richard Crowder takes you through high-performance history and explores how some of boating's most fast paced brands left their mark. Read more.
5) The Secret US Military 'Ghost' Ship is For Sale
The story of 'Ghost' is one of government's most inept tales, and that's saying something. She was built in private by Juliet Marine Systems, until the US government swooped in decided it would take the helm. The infighting that ensued is a case study in bureaucracy, and sadly it scuttled the 'Ghost.’ Or so we all thought, until it popped up for sale in New Hampshire. Read more.
6) Is the Multi-Outboard Trend Justified?
You've heard the phrase "more money than brains," and some argue that adding outboards to a transom does little except cost you money. And that may very well be true. So, to answer the question, "is the multi-outboard trend justified?” Captain Bill Jennings did the math to determine at what point adding engines stops increasing performance and starts decreasing your bank balance. Read more.
7) Near Miss on Great Lakes Shows Importance of Knowing Right of Way
A harrowing near miss between a freighter and a sailboat on the Great Lakes kickstarted a passionate debate about who has right of way. If anything, we all got a reminder that 'might has right' and that knowing the rules of the road is often overlooked. Read more.
8) The Pros and Cons of Cruisers
Captain Bill Jennings gives you the blunt truth about cruisers - what they can do, what they can't do, and what you need to understand if you intend to get into big boat ownership. No fluff, just truth. Read more.
9) Mercury to Introduce Electric Outboards by 2023
As the industry's most influential company, Brunswick Corporation and its subsidiary Mercury Marine have made multi-billion dollar commitments to electric power. In the race to develop the first viable electric outboards for mass production, Mercury is set to release their first electric outboards in 2023. How will the industry react? Read more.
10) The 'J' is Back! 2022 Previews with J-Craft President Chris Holmes, Jr.
As one of boating's truly unique brands, Canada's J-Craft reigned supreme in the 70's and 80's thanks to an unmistakable look and a high-performance wake-less ride. After disappearing in the early 90's, the iconic company resurfaced in 2018 with the all their original style intact. We got the scoop on their ambitious plans for the future. Read more.
11) Captain Makes Clutch Decision to Save Superyacht 'GO' in St. Maarten's Crash
The internet exploded in March when the superyacht GO smashed into the St. Maartens Yacht Club not once, but twice. A horribly timed electrical glitch sent the rogue yacht bouncing around an enclosed harbour, but an interview with Captain Simon Johnson was a great reminder of what makes a great boat captain. Read more.
12) Innovators in Boating - BRP & Sea-Doo Personal Watercraft
The history of Bombardier Recreational Products and the formation of Sea-Doo is one of boating's most peculiar tales. Despite being released on the heels of the successful Ski-Doo in 1968, the Sea-Doo didn't catch on for 20 years, until its popularity suddenly exploded in the late 80's. Since then, it's been one wild ride. Read more.
13) The '10 Days to Georgian Bay' Series
Rick Layzell takes you on a 4-part journey covering 10 days of boating on Georgian Bay. He takes you through the preparation and planning, the experience of getting to 'The Bay,' and what life is like aboard a cruiser during an epic 10 day excursion. Read more.
14) Urban Boating- Living on a Boat in Toronto Harbour
Stuart Galloway lives and works in downtown Toronto, but rather than buy a condo and deal with all the hassles of condo ownership, Galloway refurbished a retired ferry and lives on the cheap just a block from the CN Tower. Read more.
15) Boating the Trent-Severn Waterway - Our First 'Big' Experience
Moving up from day boating to overnight cruising is often a cause of trepidation. Rick Layzell walks you through his experience on the Trent-Severn Waterway, including hoisting his boat 100 feet overland along the famous Big Chute Marine Railway, and teaches you what to prepare for when spending a couple days underway. Read more.
16) The 728-Foot 'Somnio' is the New World's Largest Yacht
Not only is Somnio the world's largest yacht, it's also a fractional ownership arrangement where you can buy a luxury condo to give yourself access to Arctic adventures, Mediterranean cruises, and a floating city with every amenity you could possibly imagine. Read more.
17) The Forgotten History of the Hydrofoil
With the sudden resurgence of the hydrofoil in boating, Richard Crowder goes back in time to remind us that the hydrofoil isn't a new concept. In fact, it has a fascinating and rich history in naval circles. Read more.
18) What is Deadrise on a Boat?
Most boaters know the term, and have some general idea of what it represents, but few understand how much a boat's deadrise affects its movement, maneuverability, and performance. We broke down the science so you can choose the right boat for your needs. Read more.
19) #WeirdBoats - This Real Estate Listing is Every Boater's Childhood Dream
Lots of us grew up wanting a racecar bed, or a treehouse, or a pirate ship to run around on with our friends. If that youthful enthusiasm has carried into your adult years, the SS Huronia might be your ultimate living quarters. The unique waterfront home in Michigan sits on the coast of Lake Huron and is modeled after a classic steamship, including a living room helm with a ship's wheel. Read more.
20) The #1 Cause of Boating Accidents
The debate around this one was plentiful, but no matter your vote for the #1 cause, we all learned the importance of boating safely. Do you know what the statistics say is the #1 cause of boating accidents? Read more.
21) Before Fibreglass - World War II & The Fairmile
Richard Crowder's 11-part series on the history of boating 'Before Fibreglass' is an epic journey through time. He wraps up 150 years of history with a look at one of the most overlooked pre-fibreglass boats ever made, despite its critical involvement in WWII - The Fairmile Class B. Read more.