What Caught Our Eye at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

Big boats and new marine electronics take center stage at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
2023 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show
An eagle-eye view of the 2023 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Courtesy Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

One word describes the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show: Big! With multiple venues, hundreds of exhibits, and more boats, motors, electronics and accessories than you can imagine, this show can be overwhelming. But if you’re looking to live large, this is the show for you. The 2023 show did not disappoint. Here are some of the big products for boating anglers I saw at FLIBS this year.

Formula 457 FISH

Formula 457 FISH
Formula 457 FISH Courtesy Formula Boats

Formula Boats staged a huge announcement at FLIBS. It introduced a big new center-console: the Formula 457 Fish. The company presented a detailed scale model of the new boat, and the real thing will be at the Miami International Boat Show in February 2024.

“Built to your preference, from hardcore fishing to upscale sport cruising, or a little of both, the 457 will match your boating style,” Formula’s Scott Porter announced. “Opt for foldaway aft seating and pressurized bait wells, plus the bait station and fully appointed tower command for a fishing battlewagon. We will build a boat to suit your wants and needs.”

At 47 feet, 7 inches in length with a beam of 13 feet, 9 inches, the 457 will boast a 700-gallon fuel capacity and up to three Mercury Verado 600-hp V-12 outboards. Two rows of helm seating will accommodate eight crew members in comfort. Speaking of comfort, a fully appointed cabin will make long cruises and overnighting at the islands a genuine pleasure.

Grady-White Canyon 386

Grady-White Canyon 386
Grady-White Canyon 386 Courtesy Grady-White

Grady-White Boats always seems to make big news at FLIBS, and this year was even more spectacular with the debut of the Canyon 386 center console. Mirroring the best design elements of the Grady-White flagship model, the Canyon 456, the 386 offers an immense amount of deck space.

“You’ll find no other boats of its class with the magnitude of square footage that we’ve been able to create in our design process,” said Grady-White Product Designer Christian Carraway. “With an eye toward fishability and luxury, we’ve crafted a boat that’s both rugged and refined.”

With a length of 36½ feet and beam of 13 feet, 2 inches, the Canyon 386 features four luxurious helm seats and a spacious, fully appointed cabin accessed from a sliding door on the helm deck. The roomy cockpit has side doors on both sides, dual 35-gallon transom livewells, and a 291-quart insulated refrigerator/freezer fish box with a digitally controlled thermostat. A fold-away transom bench seat offers extra seating, but tucks away quickly when the angling action heats up.

On the forward console is an inviting lounger and posh seating in the bow. The updated engine area eliminates the traditional motor well and supports triple Yamaha XTO Offshore 450-hp outboards, now available in classic white to perfectly match the iconic Grady-White gelcoat.   

Aquila 47 Molokai

Aquila 47 Molokai
Aquila 47 Molokai Courtesy Aquila

The ranks of big offshore-capable power catamarans welcome a new member at FLIBS: the Aquila 47 Molokai. The double-step 45-foot, 8-inch-long cat hull features carbon-fiber forward and aft main bulkheads to create the structural strength required for up to four powerful 400-hp outboards. High tunnel clearance creates an air cushion and reduces hull noise when trolling. The deck level offers 360 degrees of walk-around space, and the forward platform grants elevation when cast-netting for bait to fill the twin 42.5-gallon transom pressurized livewells. There are 180 gallons of in-sole fish-box capacity and two 74-gallon forward coffin boxes.

Port and starboard side doors ease boarding of crew and big fish. A console sliding door at the helm offers access to the cabin boasting a queen berth and an enclosed head with a shower for cruising and overnighting. Expansive hull-side windows provide cabin illumination. The hardtop integrates stylishly with the full-height windshield, protecting two rows of helm seating for up to seven crew members.

Garmin GPSMAP 9000 Series

Garmin GPSMAP 9000 Series
Garmin GPSMAP 9000 Series Courtesy Garmin

Talk about big! Garmin’s new GPSMAP 9000 chartplotter series is available with 19-, 22-, 24- or 27-inch touchscreen displays. The multifunction displays (MFDs) boast stunning 4K resolution with edge-to-edge clarity, and are powered by a processor that’s seven-times faster than previous generations. They also feature the new Garmin BlueNet gigabit network for comprehensive, high-speed connectivity throughout the boat with sensors and other networked devices.

Each new MFD can be flat or flush mounted, and offer in-plane switching (IPS) touchscreen displays that can be seen from all viewing angles, even with polarized sunglasses. The GPSMAP 9219, 9222, 9224 and 9227 come preloaded with Garmin Navionics+ mapping that includes Auto Guidance+ technology for faster and more detailed route calculations.

ICOM IC-M510BB Black-Box VHF

ICOM IC-M510BB Black-Box VHF
ICOM IC-M510BB Black-Box VHF Courtesy ICOM

ICOM’s new IC-M510BB represents the latest in VHF technology, letting you expand your VHF accessibility throughout the boat. All operations, including DSC, can be made from the CommandMic allowing the VHF radio unit to be installed in an out-of-sight place and as far as 60 feet from the CommandMic. Up to three of the CommandMics can be connected to the IC-M510BB, which allows it to double as an onboard intercom system on large boats. NMEA 2000 networking capabilities provide plug-and-play data communication with other electronics such as an MFDs. The radio can also share GNSS (GPS) position, AIS, and DSC calls with other onboard equipment. The unit has a last-call voice recording function that automatically saves up to two minutes of a recent incoming call. A built-in 15-watt amplifier increases the audio output to an external hailer speaker, and there’s built-in hailer function that also sounds foghorn patterns.

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