"Wow, What a Wild Week"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014

Does it make any of you feel better that Detroit’s new, record snowfall exceeds everyone else’s in the Midwest? Weather reporters are always feeling sorry for Chicagoans but Detroiters are tougher. They just dig out and start planning their summer vacations up north, often in the Thumb.

This year they can bring their boats and be assured all Thumb ports will be ready for them, thanks in part to the plentiful snowfall. Water levels are expected to rise more than a foot due to the record snowfalls and lack of evaporation. Dredging efforts made at all the major harbors also will contribute to a successful boating season.

While all of you were fighting the snow, I encountered the southern variety — rain so intense it was blinding. I was headed to a press conference, by invitation only, at the Miami Boat Show in seven lanes of traffic. Yes, I missed it just as many of you are missing appointments and meetings due to snow.

The Miami show is one of the world’s largest boat shows. The Miami Beach Convention Center is the main location, but the show encompasses four locations offering in-water displays of boats. One could spend days at this show and many do, flying in from countries around the globe. I had article assignments to pursue which kept me busy in the main center.

Green was a theme again this year as it has been in the past. It is the password to new, improved products to help protect the environment. Inflatable boats led the way in many categories. Less petroleum product in their construction added to the factor of inflation chambers make them almost 100 percent unsinkable. Many also are using green power.

The latest lithium designs have greatly reduced battery weight. I previewed a new green engine made by Lehr Inc. It is a 15 horsepower, four stroke, electric start with a steel lithium battery. The fuel use is propane. Yes, the same tank that fuels your barbeque can also run your outboard.

Lehr offers 2.5, 5.0 and 9.9 HP engines plus the newly introduced 15 HP. You may even use your torch tank to fuel them. They also manufacture propane powered tools. Will a larger HP engine be on their drawing board? Although I was told, “Not at this time,” it would not surprise me coming from this futuristic company.

The main event of the WOW week was of course the Olympics. If we thought we were dealing with weather in our country, did you see what was going on over in Sochi? It seemed to change every 15 minutes. How about those skiers who started their runs on the mountain top in fog and ice, skied through falling snow which turned to sleet and rain and finished in slush! In a matter of less than five minutes all those weather conditions were encountered.

The ski jumpers raced down the mountain and literally disappeared into the fog before landing as though they had plopped out of the sky.

This year’s winter games certainly provided thrills and chills and wonderful performances with a beautiful backdrop of a country few of us have ever seen.


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