The 2012 New England Boat Show – Video Edition

This year, we pretty much only shot video, using my Evo 4g with an 8 mp onboard camera.  It’s really  the first time I’ve edited one of my videos down for release, and I can see a few obvious problems, such as the horizontal vs. vertical issue which has got to be as rookie as you get.  Still, I think it came together well enough to share.

So without further ado, the 2012 New England Boat Show in 4 minutes…

Boat dealers, you’ll remember where the comments section is below from the past couple years…  Everyone else, I look forward to your thoughts on this video effort vs. the print reviews of the past few years.

Other Links…

The 2011 Boat Show
The 2010 Boat Show
The 2009 Boat Show

 

Thoughts on the 2011 New England Boat Show

I shot plenty of video as I walked around the 2011 Boat Show with my two daughters, but I haven’t had time to post edit and honestly, I’m not sure it’s all that good to begin with.  My hand shake (essential tremor) has gotten bad enough that I don’t think I should be handling the lens work anymore.

My initial thought was that there were a whole lot more ski and sun boats this year.  The true coastal fishing machines were somewhat few and far between.  In general, I found the prices on most of the boats utterly shock worthy, enough that I question who has the money to spend on a 42′ boat that’s north of (touching pinky to chin in the best Dr. Evil I can manage) $1 MILLLION DOLLARS.  I guess that’s a good way to weed out the folks who would have trouble tossing a grand or two into the fuel tanks a weekend.

The good:

  • J-Way Diesel of Scituate offering Diesel Engine Courses for boaters – If you can’t do basic triage on your engine you shouldn’t be running one.
  • Allied Boat Works WB-20 – A no nonsense, no frills 20′ center console with a good casting platform, clear deck and sqat console, for under the price of the truck you’d tow it with.
  • Rampage 34 – now available with IPS Pod Drives – you absolutely have to check out their video of them dancing the boat around.  It doesn’t squat when you back down on a fish, and is the most nimble boat in that size I’ve ever seen (oh wait, this is the web, why don’t I just show you…)

The Bad:

  • Edgewater Boats getting $65,000 for a 20′ center console –   Seems like the decimal point is in the wrong spot there. I love the boat, but the price point on this and so many others is wayyyyy out there.
  • Sealegs – the boat with wheels – an amphibious rigid inflatable center console.  So you can drive to the water in your boat.  Really?  Again, let’s go to the video…
  • Starcraft, my beloved Starcraft…only showing a handful of mundane center consoles…with FIBERGLASS hulls.  Maybe its the economy, maybe NE just doesn’t hold my affinity for aluminum boats, but not seeing a decent aluminum boat makes me feel empty inside.
  • Me for pulling a rookie mistake and wearing work boats (we’d had 2 inches of snow the night before) instead of boat shoes.  Dumb, dumb, dumb…

The Ugly

  • Guy getting in a fist fight with a parking attendant when he asked to park for a second at the side of the hall, was turned away, then the attendant let the next car park.  Literally, the guy got out and chased down the attendant.  Wonder how he like the police station…
  • The Boston Convention Center –  who employs something like half of Southie: perhaps they could find someone with the technical prowess to plunge a toilet once in a while.

I’m sure there were a lot of other monsterously priced center consoles, but here’s my take: for $65k, I’d give up and start chartering exclusively.

Boat dealers, you know where the comment form is…many of you will remember it from last year…flame on.

Not enough?  Here are the reports from last year and the year before…

Random 2010 Boat Show Thoughts

The New England Boat Show 2009

Random Boat Show Thoughts

The Edgewater 35ex

I should (hopefully…fingers crossed) have a vidcast from the floor of the boat show for you tomorrow.  Depending on my ability to edit it down into something approximating a coherent effort.  Which is a bit of a tall order, seeing as I shot the whole thing on my iPhone.

The good  stuff will be in the video.  But for now a few random observations:

  • Attendance appeared to be on par with last year.
  • Admission price was less, at $13 per adult, including a magazine subscription to Motor Boating, Yachting, or Ski.
  • Lots off smaller booths this year with non-marine products like knives and such.  Other semi-marine products like “Rescue Tape” also had fair presence.
  • They had an “Affordibility Pavilion” – one notable entry among the 16′ ski boats there was the 18′ Maritime Skiff, coming in with a price tag of $29,000.  That’s a whole bunch of money for a bay boat.
  • On the other end of the hall, the bigger power boats were smaller this year.  42′ seemed to be about the biggest.  The prices, however appear to have continued to grow, economy be damned…
  • Boston Whaler had a ’37 Outrage that looked like the space shuttle, with a price in the same ballpark at $449,000.  Question: aside from Powerball Winners and the AIG Bonus Brigade, who can afford that kind of stuff?  And who wants to sling a bleeding bluefish over the side of a boat in that price range?
  • Sealegs: it’s a boat with wheels.  Insert your own snark here…
  • I ran into my ex-Brother in Law Brad Pierce and his son Bill at the show – hadn’t seen them in something like 16 years.  Wonderful to see them after 16 years!

Does Twitter Dilute Media Brands?

For the past couple weeks I’ve been tweeting for the Reel-Time.com site under the Twitter handle “Reel_Time” and I’ve found some very interesting trends.  Most disturbing is that Twitter doesn’t really appear to be an extension of the conversations that start on my site, it appears to be something wholly different.  Similar conversations in a place where I don’t get any ad revenue.

As of yet, I’m not seeing this as increasing the value of the Reel-time.com brand.  Of course, while twitter may be hitting the mainstream, I suspect we’re still on the bleeding edge of Twitter in the saltwater fly fishing niche.  It just seems that where my readers used to find me, I am now trying to find them.  A horribly upside down delivery model it is when you’re starting out!

The Bad, or Not So Good:

  • Spammers – they apparently target new accounts – a good number of my initial followers apparently thought I wanted to pay for the “secrets of making millions via twitter”.  For the record, I don’t think there is anyone out there making THOUSANDS yet.
  • Mostly Shops, Guides and Website Owners – in a lot of ways its me and my competitors talking.  Honestly, that makes me want to share…less.
  • Haphazard Marketing – I’ve seen several shops or guides who don’t have a website or haven’t updated that website in over a year.  Yet they have time to tweet on a regular basis.  Tweeting is nice, but take care of your marketing 101 basics first.

The Good:

  • Fishing Reports – while my forum users macerate on the implications of posting fishing reports via Twitter, its already happening and there are enough respected industry names doing it that I can say with certainty, fishing reports via twitter are here to stay.
  • Immediacy – I’m a big fan of  “right the heck now.”  I hate to wait.  Twitter means I won’t have to wait.
  • New Enough That We Can Make This What We Want – I suspect the real gold here is in the hashtagging of reports.  If we develop a way of tagging that makes regional sense (most New Englander’s don’t need reports from Maryland) then we’ll all win.  I generally hate protocols, but this may just be what we need.  Something like #SWF-BOS for Boston area reports…then fight to keep it from becoming another Usenet.

The trial continues…

Reel-Time.com Updated

rt_sshot1Over the past couple months, I’ve been working nights and weekends to get Reel-time.com updated and running on WordPress.  The project, while far from complete, reached critical mass this week and I was able to go live Tuesday night.

This site has been around since 1995, and frankly, if you knew where to look, it was showing it’s age.  The homepage was left justified, which is something designers haven’t been doing since around 2001.

There were a lot of challenges.  First off, a lot of the content was gnarly hand-coded html of varying quality, which for the most part has had to be moved by hand.  That task will no doubt continue for a while.  Secondly, I didn’t have call on a designer.  As such, what design work had to be done, was done by me…and if you could see how I dress, you’d understand humor in that. A few of the high points:

  • WordPress is my CMS – Yes, I’ve been running a number of sites on a version we’ve customized at Namemedia, Inc., but this is the first time I’ve gone with an out of the box installation.  All customization for the site is done by plugin or theme.  Absolutely no changes to WordPress code whatsoever.
  • Comments, Sharing, etc. – Reel-Time never had comments on articles before, so now it does.  A small change, but actually one that will help to extend the community from the forum out into the  site.
  • Syndicated News Feeds – In the past, we always avoided sharing the link love.  No longer – we’re running feeds of pertinent content on our landing pages which gives us more great content from around the globe and shares our link juice, being top in Saltwater Fly fishing rankings.
  • Landing Pages – We’ve started doing pages by article category, so now we can present a dense, targeted page on any topic in our vast arsenal of content.  Add to that feeds of content similarly tagged from our forum, and the syndicated feeds, and you’ve got tons of content on any particular subject.  I only have a handful of these pages up, but rest assured, if it swims in saltwater and fishermen like to catch it, it will eventually have its own page.
  • A Standard Theme – I went with a base theme from the WordPress Theme Gallery then customized.  It saved time, and honestly, without it, I doubt this project ever would have happened.
  • A Classified Ad System – I’ve thought this was one of the big missing functions on the site for a long time.  Now we have one.  The question is, are we late to the game?
  • Vimeo Videos presented in high definition – Everybody has small videos, so I went with really LARGE video presentation.  It looks great, although I need to get more ads on the page.
  • New Content – for the first time in a long time, we’ve got new articles coming in.  I have no budget for this stuff, so I asked our community.  They have responded.
  • More Social – I put in links to our Facebook Group, Facebook Fan Page and to the Reel_Time twitter account.  Again, there is a lot more to do here.

I still have a lot of stuff to do.  If you read this blog closely, you’ll know that I had a quandry about what to do with our fishing reports section.  I think I have a solution to that, which I’ll be working on next.  Also on my list:

  • Develop a Content Team – me working 30 hours a week won’t happen anymore.  The work must be spread around the community.
  • Import All the Content – about 50 stories remain to be imported.  From there I have old fishing reports with valueable intro sections by some of the best writers in our sport (many started out writing for us).
  • Get More Community Happening – I’ll hold this one close to the vest for new.  I’m well aware that this blog is read by some that participate in my niche, so no need to tip my hat here.

Remember, one of the salient points here is that this was a nights and weekends project, only a 2 days of actual “work” time went into it.  Also, the an important round of thanks to the moderators for the site, Bob Parsons, Sam Riley, Ray Avitable and Shaun Ruge who were of immense assistance in the planning and as always, in providing a firm sounding board for potential ideas.  Without them, the site, I fear, would crumble to dust.

Okay, there was one other MAJOR change and no one has commented on it.  Can you?

The New England Boat Show 2009

(Note: I wrote this on the second day of the boat show, but only now, two weeks later have I been able to find the time to process the images…)

The Everglades - note the killer center console, but the low Florida freeboard.
The Everglades - note the killer center console, but the low Florida freeboard.

Yesterday was one of the days I look forward to for the entire year: the day I attend the New England Boat Show at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center on the pier in Boston.  I’ve been attending as long as I can remember, first tagging along with my dad, then later by myself and now with my daughter Mackenzie.

In some ways, my dogged attendance is a bit out of character, as I suspect even if I’d won the Powerball Lottery, my ingrained Yankee frugality would keep me from ever buying a brand new boat.  I mean, the things lose like half their value as soon as they hit the water, and the rest soon there after.

This years show was particularly poignant given the growing economic crisis.  Walking into the center, you could smell the odd melange of new fiberglass, carnuba wax, and desperation hanging in the air like  Gloucester fog.  The show floor itself was 2/3 the size of the show last year. Continue reading “The New England Boat Show 2009”

Open Discussion: How to Crowd Source Weekly Fishing Reports

cape_led-july27

(Update: In thinking about this, I believe my fundemental problem is that while I’ve crowd sourced content generation, I am now at a point where I need to crowd source some of the content entry, formatting and editing tasks…)

I’ve been editing the Fishwire Reports at Reel-Time.com since 1995.  The task has generally been hugely manual, requiring tons of my time, most of which has happened over the years between the hours of 4am and 9am on Friday mornings.  In short, a really bad system.

The Scenario:

We cover 6 distinct regions throughout the northeast.  Each area is the responsibility of a different writer, although last year I wrote the reports for two regions.  The reports each contain around 6 subregions, such as “Boston Harbor” or “The Cape Cod Canal.”

Generally on Tuesdays I send an email out to my sponsors (generally area fishing guides) and regular contributors.  Then over the next two days the reports and images come back in via email.  If the weather is good, I probably have close to enough for a report.  If not, I go into our forum and look for posts that contain info from the general area.

I do a ton of cut and paste, much of which requires me to use notepad as an intermediary, since half the email comes in with nasty word or other formatting embeded.  Also, I get many of the images at full res, as many of the guides don’t have or don’t know how to use Photoshop.  Hence photo editing is a huge component of the task.  The images are generally optimized, have a caption added, and get a photo credit.

Then I put together the best of the images to use as the story leads for the homepage.

The current system, if it could be called that, is custom coded php that dates back to the dark ages.  I plan to move most of the non-forum components of the site to a highly customized version of WordPress that we use for many  of our sites.   If needed, I have the capability to make WordPress stand on its head and dance.  I do a LOT of WordPress development.

The Question:

My big problem is that I only see moderate improvement in the process no matter what I do.  Essentially, we’re managing a crowd sourced report here.  Many contributors, a writer, a photo editor,  and an editor.   How are other people doing stuff like this without having to use so many different skills?

The readers and sponsors really like the personal touch the writer gives the report.  I wouldn’t want to go to just a directory of reports, that’s been tried and failed repeatedly.  In fact, our presentation is one of the big differentiators.

Can you see a better way?  Do you have examples of how others are doing this in new and better ways?   Or should I just look at getting a couple interns to make it work manually?

As always, I look forward to the shining light of your collective wisdom…

(Oh, I’ve had a suggestion: why don’t you just do a blog – the short version to the answer is that I did that in 2004 as a test and found that only a very small subset of sponsors would post, so I ended up cutting and pasting again.  Plus, the subset that did post was way over represented on our site.)

Reel-Time Fishwires Updated

A Bonito

In the Cape Cod Fishwire for Reel-Time.com this week I spent a little more time than usual actually delving into the issue of rotten inshore catches of striped bass off the Boston coast. Basically I note (with statistics) that two of the past 4 years have been some of the worst spawning years since the 1980’s, when the fish almost ceased to exist. Not a good thing…

To the North in the Boston Fishwire, I have good reports of tuna and even some bluefish showing off Plum Island. The stripers are making a better show of it in both Boston and Plymouth Harbors, but its still a dog of a season for most of us. Check out the commercial catch stats I posted in the Cape Cod report…very interesting.

Reel-Time Fishwire Reports Updated

A busy afternoon – I’ve posted new reports for Boston and for Cape Cod on Reel-Time.com

In Boston, we’re still waiting on a real appearance by the bluefish.  Very strange, they haven’t been so late that I can recall.  It kind of reminds me of the stories the old timers told me back in the 1970’s that they remember not seeing blues in the 30s and 40s north of Cape Cod.

School bluefin are showing out at Stellwagen, so the games in Cape Cod Bay and off Cape Ann should start very, very soon.

On the Cape, the bonito have moved in to Menemsha, so figure in the next week someone strikes green in Falmouth, then from there, the entire south side starts to light up.  The funny fish are in and things get bizarre from here.

Angler Just Misses Striped Bass World Record

Peter Vican with a 75.4 Lb. striped bass - Providence Journal
Peter Vican with a 75.4 Lb. striped bass - Providence Journal

Peter Vican caught a 75.4 lb. striped bass off the reef at Block Island over the weekend.  Well, it was the Block Island reef, as the story in the Providence Journal says, he normally fishes off Block Island, and in the tradition of real striper fishermen, he apparently wasn’t even willing to admit he was in the Atlantic Ocean.

The current world record striped bass on hook and line is 78-pound 8-ounces and was caught by Al McReynolds during a storm off a jetty at Vermont Ave. in Atlantic City, NJ using a 5 ½ inch black-back silver Rebel plug on Sept. 21, 1982.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen several large striped bass, well over 60 lb. come out of the waters around Block Island.  Here’s a hint for you:

Big stripers school together.  If you want your shot at a world record fish, now is the time to be fishing the Block Island reef.

There you go.  The best advice you’re going to get from anyone today, for sure!