What if I told you it’s possible to buy a boat that actually grows? You don’t have to feed it. It doesn’t require a larger slip. It won’t consume more fuel due to its growth. You’d probably think I was pulling an April Fool’s joke on Sea’s readership. That is not the case. There is a developing trend toward boats that expand — or at least their aft decks do — and boat owners and their guests are the ones to benefit.
A few years ago, Wider introduced a boat whose midsection slides outward to port and starboard to create a lot more square footage for passengers to enjoy while the boat is at anchor. Suddenly, with the push of a button, the boat becomes an island. At the 2016 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, we toured the Evo 43 and the Astondoa TopDeck 65, both of which have an expandable aft deck. The sides fold down (Astondoa) or slide outward on hydraulics (Evo) and the transom folds down or lifts up and out to create a teak-covered beach. (Check out the Astondoa on page 10 of this issue.)
Now Sea Ray has joined the expandable boat club. It introduced the SLX 400 at the Miami International Boat Show in February. While only one of the hull sides folds down on the SLX 400, it still creates more space on a 40-footer, which is always a bonus. The port side doesn’t fold down, because it conceals a large storage space — big enough to hold standup paddleboards. But increased storage is another trend for another time.
On a smaller scale, Scarab Boats has a near-20-footer whose transom folds flat to open things up, so the trend is moving up and down the size range.
Anglers, divers, feet danglers, entertainers and sun soakers are sure to seize upon a feature that adds usable outdoor space to a boat, and if the concept proves popular, it’s a good bet other builders will introduce their own versions of the portable beach.
On a semi-related note, don’t forget that April is the month for the Newport Boat Show, which will take over Newport Beach’s Lido Village Marina from April 27-30. More than 200 boats of all sizes and makes will be on display, so take advantage of the opportunity to compare and contrast any number of boats you might find fascinating. Visit NewportBeachBoatShow.com.