Alex 54//Ocean 58//Tiara 39 // Whaler 34 // Horizon 66 - 05/05/2010
BoatTEST Newsletter May 5, 2010 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
10th year anniversary
- Cruisers Yachts 470
- Island Pilot 435
- Ocean Alexander 54 Trawler
- VSC 63 Motor Yacht
- Meridian 441
- MasterCraft 300
- Nordic Tug 32
- Ocean Yachts 58 Super Sport
- Tiara 3900 Open
- Drettmann Elegance 68
- Horizon Yachts Bandido 66
- Boston Whaler 345 Conquest
- How to Keep Your Cool
- Tips from Sea Tow
- Royal Purple Products
- Shurhold Products
- Commissing Tips
- Boat Buying Tips
- Bird Catches Fish
- Accident of the Week
- Arabs Buy Blohm & Voss
- Calling all Meridian Owners
- Picture of the Week
- Send to a Friend
- Find a New Boat
- Just for Builders
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

New Cruisers Yachts 470:
A World-Class
Express Cruiser

Cruisers Yachts 470
The 5’ (1.53 m) swim platform can either be fixed, or as an option, you can have a Latham Lift for your tender or PWC. Kids also like to use the lift when swimming off the stern. Note the seat back folds down to reveal storage and to create a side table or work bench.

With its new 470, Cruisers Yachts is taking dead aim at Sea Ray and Regal in the U.S. and brands such as Azimut, Ferretti, Fairline, and Prestige in Europe. A proto-type has been tested by the factory with engineers from Volvo Penta and performance has passed muster with all involved, including the naval architectural firm of Blunt & Associates, the world’s experts on IPS-maximized hull shapes. But not only does the boat have SOTA Italian styling and performance, it also has several design innovations that we predict will be copied in a few years by the competition. If all of this weren’t enough, the new model has 2010 pricing that is hard to beat – under $900k for this 34,750 lb. (15,795 kg.) boat powered by twin IPS 500 diesels. If you are thinking about any new express cruiser in the high 40s to low 50s anywhere in the world, you might want to add this new design on your short list. Here’s the latest...

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First Look

Island Pilot 435:
A “Trawler” with 4 Props?

Island Pilot 435
The Island Pilot 435: You won’t see this kind of performance from a “trawler.” You also can’t see the four props spinning like mad under the Island Pilot 435’s stern. They make this “non-trawler” trawler fast and efficient. And the price is a winner.

The Island Pilot 435 is a cool boat, but somebody has hung the “trawler” moniker around its waterline -- probably one of those boating magazines, or an ad agency that was passing thru town. The IP 435 is about as close to a being a trawler as we at are to being ballet dancers. On the Island Pilot website they call it a “crossover” trawler. Crossover to what? From what? We have no idea, (but builder Reuben Trane does and we’ll tell you in the jump.) No, forget the “T” word: The Island Pilot 435 is a slick sedan cruiser that’s fast and efficient, thanks to an uber-modern drive train and four shiny bronze props. And you can dock it with a joystick! If you want a unique, low-production cruiser that comes standard with virtually everything you need turn-key, at a price that will make other builders in class cringe, you have come to the right place. Did we say four props? Read on all about...

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Ocean Alexander 54 Trawler:
For Long Range Adventure

Ocean Alexander 54 Trawler
The Ocean Alexander 54 Trawler has a LOA of 54'4" (16.56 m), a beam of 16'9" (5.10 m) and a loaded draft of 5'5” (1.65 m).

Distance cruising may not be for everyone, but for those who have the wherewithal to cast off the lines and head off for the horizon, there are some beautiful choices in the boats that could become your temporary home. Case in point is the Ocean Alexander... well, take your pick...Ocean Alex has many models to choose from. But we’re not writing about the whole lineup. This time we’ll narrow our research down to the 54 Trawler... a semi- displacement motoryacht that is not only made for distance cruising, but seems to focus on exterior as much as the interior. Let’s take a look and see what is going on here...

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Viking Sport Cruiser 63 Motor Yacht:
Outsourced to the Mother Country

VSC 63 Motor Yacht
The Viking Sport Cruiser 63 Motor Yacht carries onboard the British seagoing tradition, and at no extra charge. Built in Plymouth, England, where Sir Francis Drake played bowls while awaiting the Spanish Armada, the 63 MY combines the ruggedness required for boating in the English Channel with the creature comforts American colonials have come to expect.

How can a company like Viking, famous for building fish-anywhere convertibles in its New Gretna, NJ plant change gears and simultaneously produce a slick Eurostyle cruiser like the Viking Sport Cruisers 63 Motor Yacht? The answer is, they don’t, they hire someone else to do it. In this case: Princess Yachts International, of Plymouth, England. Yep, while virtually every other American boat company or yacht importer looking for an offshore builder turned to the Far East, Viking went in the other direction -- back across the pond to England! And we think that was a very good idea. If you want to know why, follow us...

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Meridian Yachts 441 Sedan Bridge:
Performance and Handling Video

Meridian 441
We tested the performance of the 441 SB on the waters of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway.

“Before you buy, try!” But let’s face facts... it’s not always practical to get on the water to drive every boat you are interested in, particularly if you think it may be more than you can handle. That’s where we come in. Our reader feedback has been showing marked interest in the 441 SB for boaters wanting to trade up, but they weren’t sure if they could handle a bigger boat, or more specifically... this boat. So, to show how the boat handles, and reveal her performance figures, we brought the cameras on test day and showed exactly what to expect for handling when bringing her into the dock, and what economy you can look forward to. Test video...

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Brand Evolution

MasterCraft 300:
Outside the Ski/Wake Box

MasterCraft 300
The MasterCraft 300 is anything but your typical dayboat. She’s loaded with features that set her apart from the competition.

When we first saw the MasterCraft 300, our reaction was the same as everyone else’s... “That’s a MasterCraft?” It’s certainly a departure for this ski/wake boat manufacturer to make an introduction into the “weekender” realm – but that is the bold move MasterCraft made last year. This boat is like a shot of adrenaline in the arm of the sportboat market. Building on the recent acceptance of boats from several builders of the pickle-fork bow, MasterCraft took the next step and designed a boat that is just as unusual inside. In fact, the rest of the boat is all new and different, as well. It clearly shows that the MasterCraft design team was told to think outside the box and start from scratch. Well, if this is the look of change, then we say “bring it on”. Check out our tour of the MasterCraft 300...

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Nordic Tug 32:
A Couple's Delight

Nordic Tug 32
The Nordic Tug 32 has a LOA of 34'11" (10.64 m), a beam of 11'1” (3.38 m), and she draws 3’11" (1.19 m).

We think the Nordic Tug 32 has created a nice cruising niche.  She can take a cruising couple 500 nm on a single tank of fuel, and upon arriving, a fill-up will have you loitering around the area for weeks before moving on. If there is a more affordable and roomy boat for cruising up Alaska’s Inside Passage, or for cruising North America’s Great Loop, then it’s got a lot of proving to do. (Better do it while the Chicago locks are still open!) With a single berth and one head, this is clearly a cruising couple’s dreamboat for taking you anywhere you need to go, short of crossing the oceans or really large and treacherous bodies of water. Sticking to coastal cruising is a great way either to spend a retirement, or even to get your sea legs ready for the future circumnavigation. The possibilities are just beginning with the Nordic Tug 32. Check out our full report and see if the distant ports are on your itinerary. More...

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Ocean Update

Ocean Yachts 58 Super Sport:
A Fast Family Tradition

Ocean Yachts 55 Super Sport
A gull’s-eye view of the Ocean 58 Super Sport shows a traditional battle-ready convertible. But is it strong enough to handle what Mother Nature can dish out? Read our report for a surprisingly frank answer.

What would the world of offshore fishing convertibles be without Ocean Yachts? For one thing, all sportfishermen might be slower than they are today. Ocean was the first company to insist all its boats break the 30-knot speed limit. And that’s 30 knots, or 34.5 mph: Back in 1977, when Ocean launched its 40 Super Sport, that was darn fast for a production convertible that size. But it made it possible to run from the New Jersey inlets out to the Gulf Stream and back in daylight, with plenty of time for fishing. Ocean Yachts is also the builder that turned convertible yacht interiors from being a floating fish camp into plush digs that even women could embrace. Third, there is the subject of price. Ocean Yachts has always been the lowest-priced brand of the big four American convertible builders. How much Ocean Yachts slowed the other builders’ price escalations we’ll never know, but there was a time when Bertram, Hatteras and Viking lost sales to aggressively-priced Ocean Yachts. Today, those three competitors have all caught up with Ocean Yachts on speed and interiors, but it still has the uncontested edge on price. But what about the “Flexible Flyer” rumors? We’ll address it all and the 58 SS, too...

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New Hull

New Tiara 3900 Open:
Joystick Control for Inboard Power

Tiara  3900
With its wide open cockpit, the 3900 Open has a number of possibilities for cruising or fishing on short or long trips. No matter what you want to do it will be easier now with JMS.

The Tiara 3900 Open designation is not new, but the model’s hull is! And that is not all that’s new in the Tiara 3900 Open – you now can get a full ZF Joystick Maneuvering System with inboard engines! Yes, inboards. Now you don’t have to go to pod drives in order to have the pleasure and ease of joystick control. That’s still not all that’s new, but you have to read our Captain’s Report to find out about the rest. Tiara correctly decided to not use the same Sovran hull, which was designed around pod drives, and made a new hull designed for inboards so the boat could have a proper fishing cockpit. Since Cummins has been a long-time partner with ZF Marine Transmissions, if you still fancy joystick operations, then ZF’s JMS, or Joystick Maneuvering System is available as an option on this boat. Read all about it...

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New Launch

New Elegance 68:
A European Beauty from Drettmann

Drettmann Elegance 68
The Elegance 68 has a LOA of 68.2’ (20.8 m) and a robust beam of just over 19’ (5.7 m)

This is the newly launched Cara Mia, an Elegance 68, marketed in Europe by the Drettmann Group. Her wide beam provides room for 4 staterooms and three heads, plus crew quarters. In addition, a PWC can be carried on the hydraulic swim platform, and a jet boat is housed in the transom garage. Elegance pulled out all the stops in this customizable yacht when it came to adding functionality to elegance. Designed by prominent Italian naval architect, Tommaso Spadolini, the Elegance 68 carries the exterior beauty so characteristic of Italian designs into the interior. Join us as we take a look through Elegance’s newest launch...

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New Boat

New Horizon Bandido 66:
Long-Range Voyager

Horizon Yachts Tournament 66
The Bandido 66 is the kind of boat that fuels a million dreams of far-flung voyaging. Anchors in hawsepipes, a Portuguese bridge, Satcom domes – to us, all of that says bluewater cruising, with the promise of adventure on the far side of the horizon.

Doesn’t every boatman, or boatwoman, worth the name at some point want to buy up and ship out? Just head offshore on a rugged voyager with no particular destination, other than somewhere on the far side of the somewhere? (If you’ve never felt like that, get off this website and find one on crochet or flower arranging.) And why not do it aboard a Horizon, maybe this new Bandido 66? Powered with twin 570-hp Caterpillar C12 diesels and carrying 2,360 gallons of fuel, the Bandido 66 has a cruising range of 2,700 miles at 7 knots – long enough to take you just about anywhere. Let’s tour this new boat...

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Second Look

Boston Whaler 345 Conquest:
An Express Cruiser for Blue Water

Boston Whaler 345 Conquest
The 345 Conquest is a go-anywhere boat and draws only 1’10” (.6 m). Bahamas anyone? You can cruise this boat just as well as fish from her.

Until last year when Boston Whaler introduced its new 370 Outrage, the 345 Conquest was the largest boat in Whaler’s fleet. While we and just about everyone else have been raving about the 370 and all of the innovations that are built in, it is easy to forget that the Whaler 345 Conquest is still a lot of boat and able to go virtually anywhere that one would take the new 370 – and possibly in even more comfort. As you can see in the picture above, the 345 Conquest has a very unusual coupe design that keeps you out in the fresh air but protects you from wind and spray. The 345 is the largest Whaler in the Conquest line and is not a walk around like its smaller siblings, but has grown into an express cruiser. We think it is an exciting concept in this size and type of boat. Let’s look closer...

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Marine Air Conditioning:
How to Keep Your Cool

Marine Air Conditining
Depending on the size of your boat, there are one or more of these units hidden around your vessel and any one can go on the fritz anytime, in the absence of TLC.

Few skippers pay attention to their air conditioner until it stops cooling, but a bit of TLC in the spring can forestall sweaty problems later on. Routine A/C maintenance is simple and inexpensive, and within the technical expertise of anyone with an opposable thumb. Combined with an annual professional checkup, the following simple procedures should keep your A/C chillin’. (Thanks to the folks at Dometic Corporation, manufacturers of Marine Air and Cruisair, for supplying this info, most of which is also available in their user's manuals. Have you read yours?) Okay, you haven’t, so here’s a primer on the subject...

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Check Your Friend's Boat
– Please!

Hong Kong
This photo was taken last May in Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong, where boating is still a way of life. We can’t help but wonder how safe this boat would be offshore.

We at believe that all experienced boaters have a special set of responsibilities to our friends who are newer to the sport, or who may not be particularly experienced. Do you have a friend who has a boat who is the complacent type? If so, then this month do him a favor by urging him to have a basic safety check of his boat done by the USCG, USCG Auxiliary, or Power Squadrons when they make their free safety inspections. (A stitch in time saves nine.) And another thing you might suggest is that he get a yearly membership with Sea Tow. Sea Tow does more than just tow boats, it also brings fuel, jumps batteries, and provides other important services on the water. If your buddy is careless, or doesn’t know the difference between a seacock and shuttlecock, chances are, sooner or later, he will need Sea Tow’s help. Then, he’ll thank you for the advice and for being such a good friend.

Brought to you by Sea Tow


Cranky Tug, Truck & Tractor Owners Use Royal Purple

Royal Purple
Royal Purple is available in quarts or in gallon jugs as well. Go to their website to find where it is sold near you.

For over a year now the team at BoatTEST has been testing and using the products offered by Royal Purple in our own boats and cars. We have published the tests we have conducted with it, and the chips fell where they may. Some of our more cranky and skeptical readers have made a fuss because we charge Royal Purple for the tests, the implication being that somehow that means our reports are not to be believed. (Oh, ye, of little faith, we’re not as sophisticated as Standard & Poors and Moody’s, we’re just country bumpkins here!) One test we have not performed yet is on a diesel engine. However, we have heard from a number of our readers who use Royal Purple religiously in commercial tugs and commercial fishing vessels. These boats give the oil a real test because, in the case of commercial tugs, they are running almost constantly. We have also gotten mail from over-the-road 18-wheel truck owners and from farmers who use Royal Purple in their tractors and both swear by it. Royal Purple synthetic oil actually seems to improve performance not only over conventional “mineral” oil, but over famous brands of synthetic oil as well. If you won’t take our word for it, then listen to the tug boat owners, truckers, and farmers – they are a pretty cranky bunch themselves. tests of Royal Purple...

How to find Royal Purple...


Shurhold Video Test:
Buff Magic Taken to Task!

Shurhold get image from video
Here you can see the Buff Magic being applied and worked into the hull of this heavily oxidized and scratched hull.

Owning a fiberglass yacht with a shiny, gleaming surface is one of the joys of boat ownership. But the hard work that goes into creating that look isn't so much fun. In order to find out how well Yacht Brite Buff Magic and Pro Polish work, we recently tested on a severely neglected hull. Capt. Steve followed the standard procedures, applied the products, and all the while our camera crew was shooting video tape. See for yourself what our tests turned up...

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Commissioning Tips

How to Get Your Boat Commissioned on Time!

Commissioning Tips
It is a happy day when the boat goes back in the water. But what month will it be?

Believe it or not, in the spring there are people who actually expect their boatyards to have all their winter projects completed, all new equipment on board, and have their boats commissioned by the desired date! If you are one of those optimistic (or masochistic) souls who puts your boat and your emotional well-being into the gnarly hands of a boat yard AND expect to have the boat ready when you want it, then we hope your boat is already in the water. If not, we have some tips for the tardy...

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Buying Tip

Last Call For
The Great Deals!

Boat Buying
If you are quick you may find some of the last good deals. The lingering overhang of non-current boats seems to be mostly in the larger sizes.

Late last month MarineMax, the world’s largest retail boat dealership with 56 locations in 19 states, issued its 2nd quarter sales results along with a public description of its current inventory situation. William H. McGill, Jr., Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "With our successful efforts to substantially reduce our inventory levels behind us, gross margins returned to more typical levels.” How is that for a double-whammy of bad news for deal-seeking consumers? Non-current boats have been pretty much sold off, so now prices can go back up where they need to be in order for both dealers and builders to stay in business. For MM’s complete press release, plus some short commentary on boat-buying today...

10 Year Anniversary

Fishing Tip

Bird Uses Bait
To Catch Fish!

Bird Video
Look closely at this picture. That is a bird fishing! The white speck in the water is the lure. If you thought birds were...well, bird-brained...take a look at this video...

If you will recall, in 1960 Jane Goodall discovered after years of following wild chimpanzees around in the Gombe National Forest in Tanzania that they actually made and used a “tool” to get food. The “tool” was a stick the chimps fashioned to pull termites out of their hills so the chimps could have them for an afternoon snack. (Flash: It was reported yesterday in the NYTimes that some chimps use a “tool” for sex.) More recently ornithologists have discovered that a couple of species of birds do the same thing – use twigs to pull food out of trees. Now comes the most remarkable discovery of all from the animal kingdom – a bird that uses actual “bait” to catch fish! So you thought you were so smart using a colorful Kona rig or some $5 flasher for bass? Put your beak here...

For those boaters who are interested in what tool some chimps use for sex, (this article has nothing to do with boating), peek here...

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Accident of the Week

Skipper Dies Saving
An Overboard Crewmember

John Zuzick
John Zuzick (above) jumped into the water to save a crewmember who had fallen overboard. The crewmember survived, but Zuzick died.

For the second week in a row we have the sad duty to report that yet another commercial fishing boat skipper died in the process of saving his crew. On April 24th off Nantucket, John Zuzick, 53, died of a heart attack as he entered the water in a survival suit to save a crewman. The hand had fallen overboard in calm seas when he became entangled in a net that had fouled on the 60’ dragger’s props. There are several important lessons for yachtsmen to learn from this accident, in addition to the lesson that commercial fishing is a dangerous business. Once again we are struck by the heroism of the man in charge. To find out more about this accident and how to avoid the same fate...

Industry News

Arabs Buy
Blohm & Voss
And OceanCo
Megayacht Yards

Blohm & Voss built the German battleship Bismarck which was launched Feb. 14, 1939. The 823’ (251 m) vessel had a 118’ (36 m) beam.

We don’t normally cover news in the megayacht category, but something is happening down on the Arabian peninsula these days. It seems that many people there want to buy western boat yards. Who knows where this all may end? First, a company in Abu Dhabi bought Bloom & Voss. It is possibly Germany’s greatest shipyard.  Then, last week, Mohammed Al Barwani, from the Sultanate of Oman, bought OceanCo, a Dutch yard that was founded in 1990 and has been one of the leading superyacht builders ever since.  To read news reports of the details...

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Meridian Yachts 580 Pilothouse
Meridian Yachts
580 Pilothouse
Meridian Yachts 459 Motoryacht
Meridian Yachts
 459 Motoryacht
Meridian Yachts 441
Meridian Yachts
441 Sedan Bridge

Owners Reviews
Calling Meridian Owners

By harnessing the reach of the World Wide Web and the incredible number of visitors to, we can literally focus the experience of the world’s boat owners on each brand and boat model to help guide future buyers. Hundreds of readers have already taken the time to pass along their experience on their boats to help new buyers. These “Owner Comments” go unedited into our database. Give fellow readers your input, no matter what Meridian model you own..

Meridian Yachts 408 Motoryacht
Meridian Yachts 391 Sedan Bridge
Meridian Yachts 368 Motoryacht
Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan
See all Meridian Yachts tests

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Pictures of the Week

Only in Dreams?

Picture of the Week

See a larger picture, when and who took the picture -- and where!

Send us your favorite boating images.

When sending photo, let us know what boat you were on, where and when the photo was taken.

Free Gift Idea

Give This Newsletter
To a Boating Friend

The e-newsletter is filled with boat reviews, engine reports and how-to info.

Why not share the information you get in the weekly newsletters with your boating friends? They’ll thank you for this thoughtful gift.  Right here...

* Remember, BoatTEST does not spam. Your friends will be sent a link that they may choose to opt-in with or not.

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Member Services

Are You Looking
For a New Boat?

Member Services
The staff at has helped thousands of members with their new boat buying from boats 15' to over 100'.

If you are currently researching a new boat, the BoatTEST staff will be happy to provide their expertise and guidance to you via email or phone. This is part of our "Member Services" program and there is no charge. We do not sell boats and we are not a dealer. Our purpose is to provide you with our insights and recommendations and to leverage our industry relationships in your favor. Sign in here --

10 year

Just For Builders

Are You Getting the Best Advice?

BoatTEST Impact

If your advertising and marketing partner is not providing you with feedback from boaters that helps you sell your boats, then maybe it’s time for a change. With the largest community of self-identified new boat buyers in the world, imagine what you could do with the knowledge we gather each day. As the only marine media organization that maintains constant communication with boaters who are researching their next new boat, we can provide the guidance and tools to increase your contact and engagement with new boat buyers. For a consulting call, please call Christopher J. Hughes at 203.323.9900 or email him at

"The market has changed, have you?"

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Lesson of the Week

How to Prepare for Man Overboard

Lesson of the Week
If you see someone fall overboard, send out a throwable device right away and keep your eyes on them at all times if you are one of the passengers.

This week Capt. Steve goes over thirteen new lessons and guidelines on how to be prepared for a man overboard emergency. Having practiced this drill ahead of time with your crew or passengers is important since MOB happens so quickly that people have very little time to react. Learn how to pick someone up in the water and position the boat downwind, how to improve your chances of getting rescued, what a Williamson Turn is, and how to treat someone once they’re back aboard for hypothermia. These are basic procedures which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of’s USCG-approved boating course called “Smart Boating.” Watch these video boating lessons every week on

To view this week’s lessons --

To view past lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"Honey, I see it as half empty not half full..."
- D. Simmons

Second Place

"I knew we should have put the keel in the middle!" - S. Mink

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"Hey Ethel, come look, we can see airplanes and fish on the radar!" - S. Leker

What's Going
On Here?


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All articles, Captains’ Reports, video content or other material which appear on and in its newsletters are accurate and factual to the best knowledge of and its staff.  All findings, beliefs, experiences, or endorsements presented are the honest opinions of or its contributors. In compliance with FTC 16 CFR Part 255 advises its readers that content that appears in its newsletter or on its website may have been produced for compensation or the prospect of future compensation. makes no claims for the veracity or motivation of reader comments, Owners’ Reports, and other contributions which are all clearly labeled as such.