By Dorie Cox
Engr. Carlos Arias observed a change on his way to work on M/Y Kipany, a 116-foot Intermarine, during the Palm Beach International Boat Show last week.
“I noticed there were no power lines running down the dock,” Arias said.
Until this year, large electric generators and power cables had been brought into the boat shows in Palm Beach, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale to power the hundreds of large yachts on display. But the first of a wave of change has begun, said Andrew Doole, president of U.S. Boat Shows with Informa Global Exhibitions.
“We have gone green; there are no generators,” Doole said at the Palm Beach show’s opening day press conference on March 28. He works with Informa, parent company of Show Management, which manages and produces this show as well as the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and Miami Yacht Show.
The upgrades worked well for the majority of the boats on the docks. Engr. Gordon Skellet has worked on yachts in the Palm Beach show for nearly a decade.
“This is the first time that we didn’t have a problem,” he said. “The power was quick and easy, best I’ve ever seen.”
The new electrical setup was under the supervision of Randy Sorenson, department manager for electrical for Show Management Electric, under Informa. He and Jason Fusco, electrical department supervisor, walked the docks during the show with FPL employees to check the new transformers.
“We’ve eliminated all generators; we had six in 2018,” Sorenson said on opening day. “There is less noise, it’s cleaner, and more stable.”
Three of the transformers are near Palm Harbor Marina at the north end of the show and three others are on city property. This doubled the power for the marina facilities and has enhanced service for the city with a power increase of 300 percent over 2018, Sorenson said. The show set-up now requires less labor and runs more quickly.
“Diesel fuel and noise, we wanted to eliminate those and we were able to do that,” Sorenson said. “Now the power is more reliable than generators. They’re mechanical and things can go wrong. When they break in the middle of the show, they need to be repaired.
“Last year was a disaster,” he said. “We thought we had enough power, but we did not. That’s why we needed this.”
Conversations began after last year’s show and the infrastructure project has been in the works with local power company Florida Power and Light (FPL) and the local government since January, Doole said while on his way to the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the show.
“We worked with FPL for a combined effort,” he said. “It’s a huge improvement. We have new transformers and made improvements to the grid substantial enough to power the show.”
On the face dock on the Intracoastal Waterway off of Palm Harbor Marina’s docks, there were intermittent power problems, according to crew members on several of the larger yachts. In at least one corner of the marina, a couple of power pedestals on the temporary docks had issues and several yachts were on generator power. One crew member said the yacht’s generator needed to run to put hours in, but Engr. Christopher Poisson of M/Y Grey Matters, a 150-foot Palmer Johnson, said the electrical power had tripped the circuit twice. When it was fixed, the yacht stayed on generator instead.
“It’s more hassle to turn the boat back on after it trips,” Poisson said.
Sorenson expects such glitches to get solved for the next show.
“There were no power company issues, it was substations that belong to the marina,” Sorenson said. “There is a small power pack and out of that the [power] pedestals were fed on C dock. They had a bad wire shorting, but the contractors got it running the next morning.”
Doole hopes the wave of electrical infrastructure upgrades will continue for the October-November Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and next February’s Miami Yacht Show.
“Next is Miami,” Sorenson said. “We have six generators at Miami and this year we hope they all go away. And we are upgrading Fort Lauderdale over the next six months.”
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.