Kelly Fullerton

contender boats In Miami, FLEric’s Contender once again held on to the number 5 company in the country for market share 24′ contender boats and up for the 2015 calendar year in Boating Industry Magazine.

We would like to thank our dealers and everyone for making this possible!

Kelly FullertonEric’s Contender #5 company in country for market share 24′ contender boats and up
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Here are some images from the 2017 Towing Guide that we were part of.  There are some helpful tips in this article.

Click HERE to read the article from the website.




















Kelly FullertonCheck us out in the 2017 Towing Guide
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outboard boat for sale Miami, FLAlong with concerns for humans, water and beaches, the bloom has affected boat maintenance and requires diligence from boaters wishing to protect their vessel and its Yamaha outboard parts.  The large blue-green algae bloom that has erupted in south Florida recently has caused concern for the people’s health and the environment as it fills the water and coats beaches in foul-smelling slime.

Origins of the bloom

The algae bloom currently affects Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin Counties and may affect others as time passes. The cause of the bloom is the polluted waters from Lake Okeechobee as the Army Corps of Engineers releases discharges through locks to prevent flooding of nearby towns. The aging dike system can’t handle a large amount of runoff and rain flowing into the lake and discharging the water through east and west locks seemed the only way to prevent flooding. Unfortunately, the water from the lake contains agricultural pollutants runoff containing inorganic fertilizers and manure and the discharge flows into downstream rivers and lagoons before eventually reaching the ocean.

yamaha outboard parts

The combination of pollution, freshwater, and saltwater causes huge phosphorescent algae plumes and the current bloom makes the water unsafe for humans and animal life. The warm temperatures, large amounts of sunlight and calmer waters of the southern Florida waterfront communities have made the algae bloom worse.

Impact on outboard

As you deal with the cleanup of the algae bloom, you take special care to wash and wax your contender boat and outboard but you may overlook the outboard’s cooling system and this can be detrimental. During normal use, the water pump pulls in sand, silt and mud that then flow through the engine, but during the algae bloom it could have pulled in additional toxins that can harm your Yamaha outboard parts if you don’t flush the system properly. Marine growth behind inlet screens and debris accumulation in outboard cooling passages are common occurrences but algae blooms are not and left untreated, all of these factors can lead to insufficient cooling and engine damage.

yamaha outboard motors

Credit: Hans Paerl, University of North Carolina

Protecting your Yamaha outboard parts through all marine extremes is essential to protecting your boating investment.

Fresh water flushing

In normal conditions, the outboard requires flushing following every occasion you use it in dirty water or salt water. Flushing the system with clean freshwater dislodges silt, sand and mud and forces them out of the cooling system passages while also removing salt buildup that may lead to engine block corrosion and poor cooling. Freshwater flushing protects your contender boat and Yamaha outboard parts and can extend their lifetime, especially in light of the recent algae bloom.

fishing boat for sale, Miami, FL


There are three main tips for flushing your outboard parts:


#1 Flush bag –

This method uses a collapsible bag that’s sturdy, fits below the lower outboard unit and fills with water. The flush bag submerges the gear case and once the bag is full, you run the engine, which allows the motor to pull in the cooling water through inlet screens and send it out via the propeller. This method works best on outboards with more than one inlet attached to boats that are moored or on a trailer.

#2 Flush muff –

This method works for single inlet lower unit outboards and uses a garden hose and rubber cups (muffs) that you fit on the water inlet of the gear case. With the garden hose attached to the hose fitting on one of the cups and the water running, you run the engine to flush the system. To do this safely your boat should be on a boat lift or trailer and completely out of the water. Always turn the freshwater on prior to running the engine to avoid overheating damage to your Yamaha outboard parts and system and never rev the engine as there’s insufficient water to cool the system at high RPMs.

#3 Built-in device –

This device is a hose fitting usually found near the lower rear cowling of the outboard. To flush with this system, you can’t run the engine. The gear case should be out of the water but the boat can be on a lift or in the water while flushing.

Whatever method you choose to flush your system and protect your Yamaha outboard parts of the damaging effects of the algae bloom always make sure the inlet screen on the lower unit look clean and clear following flushing. Even without the algae bloom problems, freshwater flushing extends the outboard’s lifespan when you boat in saltwater.

Contender Boat exterior

Removing the algae from your boat exterior requires cleaning agents specifically designed for the vessel’s material. The best way to prevent staining and remove algae after you’ve been out on the water is to wash the hull immediately with fresh water. If you have a boat lift or trailer for your boat, get your vessel up out of the water and rinse it thoroughly. For tough algae stains, consult an expert to learn the best and safest methods for restoring your boat’s appearance without damaging the material or finish.

contender boat, Miami, FL


Along with keeping your boat looking great, running properly and protecting your parts with freshwater flushing, you need to address additional issues the algae bloom created for waterfront residents. The danger, appearance and strong smell of the algae bloom may have forced you to stay inside, visit friends or relatives in other areas and even stay in hotels until the bloom dissipates. If you’re someone who spends most of your life out on the water, this is especially discouraging.

yamaha outboard parts Miami, FL

Cleaning off docks and other waterside surfaces is essential for safety as the algae slime can cause slips and falls. Manually washing the algae off docks, steps and ladders with water or other environmentally safe cleaner is better for the marine life than using bleach. Unfortunately, bleach has proven the most effective in removing algae and preventing regrowth so if you decide to use this agent, you should dilute it to minimize harmful effects.


Removing the harmful algae with another agent that harms the environment by being toxic to fish and shellfish is counterproductive in the already over-stressed Florida shorelines.

Boat and dock ropes

The sight of green, slimy algae on your boat ropes and ties may make you want to wash or soak them in bleach, but this is unnecessary and often harmful to synthetic ropes. Although some staining may remain on the ropes, rinsing them with fresh water is the best way to keep them clean as algae and mildew don’t actually weaken synthetic ropes. For especially stubborn algae stains, soaking the ropes in hot water and an appropriate amount of mild detergent for a few hours does the trick. Agitating the ropes by hand following the soak and scrubbing any remaining spots with a brush can help remove slippery residue.

yamaha inverter generator Miami, FL


Follow up by washing any ropes or ties in a pillowcase in a clothes washer but continue to avoid harsh detergents or bleach. Bleach can roughen line texture, make it stiffer and remove lubricants, diminishing its usefulness in securing your contender boat. Allow washed ropes and ties to dry completely in the sun before using.

Eventually, the algae bloom issues will have a resolution, but until that time, it’s vital to protect your contender boat’s Yamaha outboard parts, motor, dock, and property.

Kelly FullertonThree tips to maintain Yamaha outboard parts from Algae Bloom
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For this issue of Cocoplum Living we are featuring an interview with one of our sponsors Eric Raistrick, President and Founder of Eric’s Outboard Marine Service, Inc. He started out as a Mobile Marine Mechanic way back in 1986, and over the last 30 years, with a lot of hard work and determination; Eric’s Outboard has grown into one of the most respected Contender and Yamaha dealerships in the country. We’re picking his brain today to find out how Eric has been able to thrive in an industry where it’s challenging to find a reliable, straightforward and trustworthy company.

Eric you’ve been in the boating business for over 30 years. What’s the story behind how you got started with Eric’s Outboard? You know, I’ve had a love for boats and fishing since I was a kid. As I got older, I began learning how to repair outboard engines. It went from a hobby to a business in 1986 when I decided to start doing side repair jobs out of my backyard. Eventually, the business outgrew my backyard and we had to move into a warehouse.

Click on image to read the full feature article!

Outboard motors for sale

Eric’s Outboard Marine Service featured Cocoplum Living Magazine

Kelly FullertonFeatured in May issue of Cocoplum Living Magazine
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The 2016 Yamaha Cotender Miami Sportfish Tournament Concludes its successful event

Proceeds Go to Marine Conservation, Education and Scholarships

The Yamaha Contender Miami Sportfish Tournament (formally the Miami Billfish Tournament) concluded a successful and exciting fishing tournament and fundraiser! The tournament produced a winning weekend for everyone! Held at the Miami Beach Marina on South Beach in Florida boats fished for a $30,000 Top Boat Prize, plus other cash prizes, gifts and trophies. A total of almost $80,000 in prize money was awarded for one day of fishing! Thanks to its anglers and sponsors, this non-profit organization donated proceeds to area marine conservation organizations, education programs and scholarships.

On Thursday, April 21st, the tournament started with the Kick-Off Party and Captain’s Meeting with fantastic food from Flanigan’s. Saturday, April 23rd was the day of fishing competition for dolphin, tuna, kingfish, wahoo, cobia, mutton snapper and billfish (3 billfish per boat). This mixed bag made it possible for anyone to win! The fleet was able to head out from any South Florida inlet for a day of fishing and then meet back at Miami Beach Marina for the official weigh-in. At the end of official fishing hours, the fleet converged on the marina and the excitement of the weigh-in grew. To make the festivities even more enjoyable, participants and their family, friends and spectators enjoyed ice cold brew from Islamorada Beer Company, cocktails from Tito’s Vodka and Papa’s Pilar Rum and wine at the Presidential Challenge Wine Bar.

Once all the fish were weighed and the billfish catch cards confirmed, it was an extremely close competition, but Doing It All/Hardway Too was in the lead with a total of 172.4 points. This earned them the title of Top Boat of the 2016 Miami Sportfish Tournament and won them $37,950. This was from the Top Boat Prize of $30,000, plus top boat in the Kettle of Fish for $2,550, another $4,250 for the top boat in the Sportfish Jackpot, $850 for the heaviest Cobia added-value category and $300 for the Top Cobia, brought in by Mark Lamb.

Second Place went to Frick & Frack with a total of 168.7 points. This won them $9,380 as a result of the $5,000 second place prize, $1,530 for second place in the Kettle of Fish and $2,550 for second place in the Sportfish Jackpot and $300 for top Kingfish. Third Place boat in the tournament went to Miss Britt with 152.8 points. This allowed them to take home $4,300. Team D&D/Flanigan’s came in forth with 127.1 points. Fifth Place went to the Reel Karma with 120.4 points and 6th place with 104.3 points went to No Worries.

The Master Angler of the tournament was Howard Walters, who also had the Top Dolphin in the tournament! The Top Lady went to Debbie David aboard Frick & Frack with 84.5 points, Top Junior was Laurel David, also aboard Frick & Frack with 82.4 points. Laurel also won Top Kingfish. Finally, the Top Pee Wee went to the defending champion, Danny Horowitz on Lisa L/Fishing Experience. Other winners included Carlos Martinez aboard Fishless/How Ya Reelin for the Top Wahoo and the Top Tuna was brought in by Chris Strelic on Eren’s Addiction.

All of the winners received their cash prizes, trophies and other great prizes during the Yamaha Awards Party catered and hosted by Flanigan’s with a fantastic BBQ dinner. This party also offered participants and the public a huge silent auction with exotic trips, tackle, electronics, jewelry and more. The end of the party was the moment everyone was waiting for…the drawing for the 25′ T Contender Boat with twin 150 hp Yamaha 4- stroke engines, Bluewater T-Top and Lean Post, Tigress Outriggers and Lighting and a Continental trailer. After a youngster from the audience came up and pulled the ticket, the winner was Brian Mundey from Miami Beach. Brian served in the military and completed three tours of duty. He is quoted as saying “I was sitting on my balcony one night and a premonition came over me to buy tickets for the boat because I knew I was going to win”. Congrats to Brian and thank you for your service!

The Miami Billfish Tournament has now raised and donated $750,000 to marine conservation, education and scholarships and the fulfilling the Tournament’s mission to promote awareness and support marine enhancement, education and conservation.

Kelly FullertonThe 2016 Yamaha Contender Miami Sportfish Tournament
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boating-fishing-cubaCuba was once a boater’s paradise and Cubans are eager to re-establish it as the ultimate destination for boaters and anglers.

Due to the trade and investment embargo that the US established against Cuba in 1962 the boating industry in Cuba has floundered and all its accompanying accommodations are in short supply.

The easing of restrictions by the Obama administration is creating high hopes and excitement, both among Cubans who will benefit economically from increased nautical tourism, and American boaters who are eager to have new territory to explore.

Change is occurring and even greater change is on the horizon.

The opportunities for fishing and boating are abundant in Cuba.

So if you see a boating or fishing trip to Cuba in your future read on for ten things you should know.

1-Cuba has a long boating history

Surrounded on all side by water it’s not surprising Cuba has a long and rich boating history. Before the days of communism recreational boating was very popular.

Founded in 1886 the Havana Yacht Club held sailing regattas every year. International rowing competitions were popular by 1910, and by 1924 powerboat groups had formed.

Four years later fishing began for blue marlin and by 1960 there were more than a hundred boating and fishing clubs.

But by 1961 Castro was in control and private society, and much of the recreational boating industry, came slowly to an end.

2-Until recently travel to Cuba has been heavily restricted

In 1958 Fidel Castro overthrew Dictator Fulgencio Batista and seized control of Cuba. He soon established communist rule, mostly to end US economic control of the island. At the time the US owned many of the largest companies and dominated industries in Cuba.

Cuba aligned itself with Russia and promoted communism around the world and denounced democracy. Several incidents further eroded relations between Cuba and the US, including the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1962, the US first authorized the embargo against Cuba in an effort to weaken Castro’s hold on the land and push for democratic reforms.

Part of the embargo was restrictions on US citizens travelling to Cuba.

They’ve been strengthened and weakened over the years but recently under Bush, travel to Cuba was completely prohibited without a Treasury license.

It was hoped that the strict economic sanctions and travel restrictions would impoverish Cuba and force Castro out.  Fifty years later, the Castro family is still ruling Cuba. Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother assumed power in 2008 after Fidel suffered from health issues.

Under Raul, conditions in Cuba have improved as he has sought to make social, economic and political reforms and open up the country to foreign investment.

3-A turning tide

December 2014 marked an historic turning of the tides. In his State of the Union address President Obama spoke of improving the lives of the Cuban people and creating opportunities for Americans by allowing travel and business to occur between the two countries.

Obama and Raul Castro are both moving toward loosening restrictions and lifting the embargo against Cuba, although that probably won’t happen until after the election in 2016.

It’s widely acknowledged that the embargo is an economic hindrance for both the US and Cuba and global superpowers disapprove of it. Worldwide the momentum to abolish the embargo has never been stronger.

4-A boating bonanza

Cuba is a future boating bonanza.

It’s estimated that between 60-80,000 US boats will visit Cuba the first year post-embargo.

That’s huge. American boaters are just drooling over the possibilities of what an open Cuba would offer.

Many of them have already repeatedly sailed the Caribbean and the Bahamas. They’re ready for something new. Meanwhile Cubans are eagerly anticipating the influx of American dollars. Cuban marina owners are visiting the states regularly to establish relationships with US boating clubs in order to promote Cuba as the next best destination for boating and fishing.


An open Cuba could spark huge growth in the charter market. While private yachts already travel to Cuba regularly charters don’t because of the travel restrictions on Americans. The charter market has been growing exponentially. A $300 million dollar market ten years ago it’s now a $1 billion dollar market. So far it has been growing organically and without a lot of marketing. Once Cuba is open, all of those charter customers are going to want to go. Plus, around 78% of people to buy or build a yacht have been previous charter customers.

Are you wondering what’s so special about Cuba? Keep reading to find out why boaters and anglers consider it nirvana.

5-What makes Cuba so Sexy


Location, location, location

Perhaps the most important quality that makes Cuba so highly desired by boaters and anglers is its proximity to the US. It’s just ninety miles south of Key West, which is only about a one day boat ride. Unlike other areas in the Caribbean it isn’t overcrowded with boats or tourists. Located at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and the 17th largest in the world. It has over 3,500 miles of shoreline, which includes 200 sheltered bays, over 4,000 keys and islets and over 365 miles of beautiful beaches, all just begging to be explored. It also has calm waters, averaging less than half a knot and not exceeding three knots, making Cuba ideal for boating.

Natural Beauty

When Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba in 1492 he said, “This is the most beautiful land one has ever seen.”

What was it that so impressed Columbus? Cuba is big and as a result benefits from a variety of stunning landscapes. Although most are flat with rolling plains, there are mountain ranges (Sierra Maestra and Sierra Cristal mountain ranges in the southeast), agricultural valleys, biosphere reserves and National Parks, and endless white sandy beaches. There are also rain forests, cliffs and waterfalls that magically drop off into the ocean.

cuba-natural-beautyThe coastline is gorgeous and richly textured,  and a mix of mangrove covered, rocky and mountainous, interrupted by creeks, rivers, marshes and lagoons. Both the coasts facing the Atlantic and the Caribbean oceans have fantastic coral reefs. One of the reefs is part of the largest reef in the world and originates in South America. The crystal clear waters are calm and pleasantly warm, typically between 75 to 85 degrees and averaging less than half a knot and not exceeding three knots, making it ideal for boating.

Gorgeous Architecture

Like stepping back into the past, Cuba has remained unaffected by much of western culture and trends. Often referred to as a time capsule, or frozen in time, many of the cars are American models from the 50’s. Cuba has an eclectic mix of architecture that reflects its complex history. After Christopher Columbus’ arrival Cuba was under Spanish rule.


Many early settlers built homes that have a distinctly Spanish/Moorish influence. Built to take advantage of the mild climate, they were often constructed with big front porches, columns, patios, fountains and had mezzanine floors,  that were use to accommodate slaves. Later baroque styles became popular. Cuban baroque, however, is less ornate version than classic European baroque.

Constructed between 1748 and 1787 Havana’s asymmetrical Catedral de San Cristóbal is perhaps the best of example of Cuban Baroque. In 1791, a slave uprising on Haiti caused many of the French men who lived there to flee and settle in Cuba where they left their mark architecturally as well.

They favored Neoclassical style structures, which was popular in France at the time. Many of these colonial homes remain today. Havana and Trinidad are famous for their colonial architectural richness.

Great weather

Cuba doesn’t disappoint on the weather front either. With typically about 330 days of sunshine of year, it’s a great place for outdoor activities.

The temperature averages between 70 to 80 degrees, with the warmest month being August and the coldest, January.

The rainy season is from June through October with June being the wettest month overall. June through November marks hurricane season, with September and October having the highest risk. Cuba has about 20 cold fronts a year that last for a couple of days each. East-northeast winds prevail on the north coast, in the south east-southeast and southeast winds predominate. The wind speed varies between 8 to 12 knots.


Cuba’s biodiversity is the richest in the Caribbean, both on land and sea. Called the “Accidental Eden,” thousands of plants and animal species flourish here. A popular spot for ecotourism, it has some of the Caribbean’s most intact marine ecosystems.

It has many coral reefs that are healthy and thriving and inhabited by abundant populations of big fish that are not typically found elsewhere in the region. Seagrass beds, mangrove forests, marshes and lagoons teem with marine life. Species include: a variety of reef fish, sharks, dolphins, sea turtles and manatees.

Although it’s isolation may not have benefited the Cuban people, it’s definitely allowed the wildlife to thrive uninterrupted.  Low population density and the US embargo has kept people away have and that has definitely benefited its wildlife.

6-Getting to Cuba now

As restrictions have eased people are flooding into Cuba. US travel to Cuba has increased seventy percent in the past year. Still, you can’t just jump on a plane or boat and go, yet.

If you want to travel to Cuba you must show that your trip is for one of the following purposes: family visits, official business of the US or another government, journalism or reporting, professional research or meetings, educational or religious activities, public performances such as workshops, sporting events, clinics or competitions, research trips funded by private foundations or educational institutes, exporting, importing or transmitting of informational materials, authorized export transactions, support for the Cuban people or humanitarian projects.

Although you don’t need to get a specific license, you do need to be able to prove that your trip is for one of these reasons.

You are not, however, required any longer to travel with a group. New rules have been established that allow people to people trips. Makes it a much more affordable option, since group tours generally start around $4,000 per person.

People to people trips are defined as educational programs that require a full time schedule of activities in order to produce “meaningful interaction” between the traveller and individuals in Cuba.

Travelers who take these trips must keep records of what they did while in Cuba for five years.

Commercial flights are not yet available, but will be soon. United has already filed paperwork to begin flying to Cuba from Newark, Houston, Washington, DC and Chicago. Flights will most likely begin later this year. Many other airlines are also jumping on the bandwagon. It’s estimated that in a couple of years over a dozen US cities will fly to Cuba. As for now you will need to fly charter.

It is possible to sail to Cuba from the states, as long as the purpose for your trip fits into one of the categories above. You are no longer required to get a special license, however you will need to get a permit from the coastguard to sail into Cuban waters. To get the permit go to, use form CG-3300. Be sure to submit the form a few weeks before your trip so it arrives in time. You can stay in Cuba for fourteen days having come via boat.

Getting ready to sail to Cuba? Well you’ll need some where to land. Here is a list of authorized ports of entry for non-Cuban vessels are:


  • Marina Hemingway



  • Marina Puerto Sol Darsena de Varadero
  • Marina Gaviota Varadero


Ciego de Avila (the “Cuban keys”):

  • Marina Gaviota Varadero



  • Base Nautica Gaviota de Naranjo
  • Base Nautica Marlin Boca de Sama


Santiago de Cuba:

  • Marina Marlin Punta Gorda



  • Marina Puertosol Jagua


Los Canarreos:

  • Marina Puertosol, Cayo Largo


Pinar del Río:

  • Maria La Gorda Centro Internacional de Buceo Puertosol

cuba-marinasCruise ships are also starting to set sail for Cuba. Carnival won approval and will begin sailing between the US and Cuba this May. In order to fall under the US guidelines of people to people trips the cruises will have a different twist than you may be used to with educational, artistic, and humanitarian themes. Many more cruise lines are sure to follow.

Anglers are free to travel to Cuba to compete in any of the many fishing tournaments there. Smartly, boating and fishing enthusiasts in Cuba are organizing more and more tournaments, hoping to lure anglers and get them hooked on fishing in Cuba.

7-What to expect when you get there


Accommodations vary greatly in Cuba. You need to do your research and select your accommodations carefully.

There are five main hotels chains that run most of the hotels and they are government run. Identifying which of the five chains a hotel belongs to will give you a pretty good idea of the quality to expect.

Islazul ( is a budget brand, and the buildings are often not well maintained and sometimes units come with broken, noisy or leaking fixtures and unappealing food.

cuba-accomodationsCubanacan ( is much better, and generally runs the mid-range options price wise. However, some of their hotels are excellent, for instance the Encanto brand establishments, which exceed some of the most expensive chains. Cubanacan also has the most new and recently renovated hotels.

The Gran Caribe ( and Gaviota ( run hotels that are often past their prime but are located in historic buildings or prime locations. Habaguanex hotels ( are only available in Havana and the best appointed of the state run options. Most of them are in the old town in carefully restored, historic colonial buildings.

The accommodations will continue to improve as tourism increases. Internationally hotel chains are eager to jump into the Cuban market. The Starwood chain recently announced a management contract with three of the top hotels in Havana. They plan on dumping millions in to get the hotels up to their standards.


Many marinas in Cuba are old and in disrepair. Boaters need to manage their expectations and come prepared with their own supplies. The money just hasn’t been there to provide proper upkeep. If your boat breaks down you can find mechanics but you’ll have to track down the parts.

But it won’t stay that much longer.

Cuba has been waiting for the influx of boaters for a while and in anticipation the government built the Gaviota Varadero Marina. With over one thousand slips the Marina Gaviota is now the most modern and largest marina in Cuba. The marina is accompanied by a five star hotel with nine restaurants. Plus, loads of opportunities for diving, sailing and fishing.

You can expect many new marinas will be built as more boats cross from the US to Cuba and demand grows.


If you’re heading to Cuba you will need to bring cash. Few places accept credit cards and there are very few ATMs. There are two currencies in Cuba, the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) and the CUP (Cuban Peso). Most foreigners will only use CUCs and when you exchange your dollars at the airport that is what you will be given.

The exchange rate is 1 CUC for 1 US dollar. However, there’s a 10% penalty when exchanging US dollars and a 3 percent exchange fee. So in reality your getting about 87 cents for each US dollar. If you have access to other foreign currencies, bring them instead and you will get a better exchange rate.

Cell phones

Until recently your cell phone was useless in Cuba but now a few US carriers are working with the ETECSA (the Cuban national telephone company) to provide roaming plans in Cuba. Sprint and Verizon currently offering roaming there. However, you will want to inquire about any additional charges for calls and texting during your trip.

8-What lies Ahead…

Clearly the opening of Cuba via the full lifting of the embargo will give boaters and anglers loads of new opportunities to enjoy their craft. Boaters who have grown bored of the Caribbean will cruise over in droves. Sailing trips to Cuba will be incredibly popular overnight.

Cuba will benefit greatly economically from the influx of American tourists. As the money pours in facilities will be improved (whether by the Cuban government or with foreign investment) and new marinas, hotels, resorts, etc. will be built.

fishing-boating-cubaThe boating industry on a whole will see a boost as more people who are enticed by all that Cuba has to offer enter the market.

In Cuba the growth will only be slowed by the Cuban government. It maintains strict control and prohibits foreigners from buying property. Anyone who wants to invest in there has to deal directly with the government. Despite these restrictions development will come, but it will be strictly overseen and limited to certain regions. Happily, Cuba most likely will not become Americanized any time soon.

Cuba will need to be especially cautious with the potential increase in fishing. Many of its large fish populations have declined due to overfishing. Fishing has been one of the main staples of the economy (and diet) throughout the embargo and as a result overfishing has left many fish species depleted. Scientists estimate that over 40% of Cuba’s fish species are overfished. Fortunately, the Cuban government is aware of the problem and is taking measures to restore fish populations.

Cuba is known for its step back in time charm. As a result of development some of that may gradually disappear. On the flip side accommodations and amenities will improve making a trip to Cuba more enjoyable. The strictness of the Cuban government will hopefully insure that growth doesn’t run rampant and destroy all the qualities that make Cuba such a desirable destination.

In Conclusion

At Eric’s Outboard we are very excited about what an open Cuba will mean for the boating and fishing industries on the whole.

Personally, we can’t wait to stock up and sail over to Cuba. However, with a scarcity of verifiable fishing boat repair shops on the island it’s imperative that you make sure your boat is fully serviced before you set sail.

We offer a full line of Yamaha Outboard Engines and Yamaha Outboard Engine parts. Plus, our Yamaha Authorized Service Department does everything from minor tune-ups, annual services and maintenance to major overhauls, all performed by Yamaha Certified Master Technicians.

Before heading in the open waters, make an appointment with Eric’s Outboard to insure your boat is in top notch condition.

An open Cuba is coming, be ready for it!

Kelly FullertonAn open Cuba is coming: 8 things Boating and Fishing Enthusiasts should know
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Group of friends jumping from the boatIf you’re a Florida boating or fishing enthusiast than getting out on the water is your first priority come vacation time. But picking a spot that has enough action to keep everybody happy can be challenging, to say the least. Florida, with its miles of beaches and year-round sunshine, is a boat lover’s paradise.

A peninsula, it’s surrounded by ocean on three sides. It also contains over 30,000 lakes!

Florida is literally overflowing with fabulous boating and fishing spots. So pack your bags and lots of bathing suits. We’ve uncovered the best spots in the sunshine state for your boating and fishing vacation the whole crew will enjoy!


jacksonville-family-fun-boatingJacksonville literally sits on the water. With seven bridges that expand across both the Intracoastal Waterway and the St. John’s River, there is water everywhere. Jacksonville has an awesome downtown area that’s alive with concerts, festivals, fireworks and first class dining. Conveniently you can dock downtown at the Metropolitan Park Marina. From there you can walk around downtown and over to Everbank field to see the Jacksonville Jaguars play.

Cruisers will love Jacksonville’s location as the gateway to the St. John’s River, the largest in the state at 310 miles long. Unusual because the current flows north, it’s an amazing place to spot wildlife, including gators, herons, eagles, and osprey. The river is slow moving and wide and provides optimal conditions for sailboat enthusiasts. Don’t miss the Annual Mug Race, the world’s longest sailboat race, takes place in the spring here every year.

Fishing is huge in Jacksonville. It hosts a variety of tournaments including the largest kingfish tournament in the state. The St. John’s River is legendary for it’s bass fishing and you can catch a variety of salt water sportfish along the coast including dolphin, bonito, tuna, sea bass, wahoo, cobia, barracuda, grouper, king mackerel, black sea bass, sheepshead, pompano, flounder, bluefish, cobia, and silver and speckled sea trout.

new-smyrna-beach-vacation-boatingNew Smyrna

South of St. Augustine and east of Orlando, New Smyrna is known as one of the world’s best surf towns. Also with an historic feel it has a thriving arts community and is loaded with cafes and eclectic shops that you will want to explore. Art festivals are held throughout year and you can find incredibly unique pieces in the local galleries. For boaters it offers 13 miles of white sand beaches as well as secluded estuaries. It’s a great place to go fishing, birding and to get up close to manatees and dolphin. You can boat in or rent any type of watercraft from local marinas. Deep sea charters leave New Smyrna daily, so if you’re ready to tackle the big game fish of the Atlantic you can!

The Sinking Islands are an unique part of New Smyrna. Located just inside the Ponce Inlet this series of sandbars attracts boaters from far and wide. With white sand and blue water as far as the eye can see the sinking islands are idyllic and feel remote. Boaters regularly gather here and at low tide you can barbecue and play bocce ball. As the tide comes in sit in lawn chairs and enjoy the warm water.

Now if northeast Florida doesn’t float your boat don’t worry we’ve got more great southern and western destinations coming up!


orlando-boating-vacationBelieve it or not, Orlando, the undisputed top destination for family dream vacations is an awesome area for boating too. It’s overflowing with lakes and fishing and boating opportunities. Disney itself sits right by Bay Lake, known for trophy largemouth bass, and the Seven Seas Lagoon. Fishing charters and guides are available at both. So you can hit one of the Disney parks to keep the kids happy and then kick back on one of the lakes.


Boating Vacation

Kissimmee lies just south of Orlando and is home to over 50 lakes. It’s hard to go far without bumping into water and the water is full of fish! The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is one of the world’s best bass fisheries. Lake Tohopekaliga (called Lake Toho by locals) is where the pros fish. Bass fishermen from all over the world congregate here and compete in tournaments. You can catch bluegill, shellcracker, black crappie and catfish and more.

The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes connects to the Alligator Chain of Lakes and are easy to navigate. There are parks and marinas in locations throughout the lake areas and boat ramps and docks are easy to find. A nature lover’s paradise, you can camp lakeside and spot alligators, exotic birds and even bald eagles flying overhead.

lake-okeechobee-boating-vacationLake Okeechobee

South of Orlando and straddling five counties lies Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in Florida. Waterways on either side run into Lake Okeechobee making it part of the 152-mile man made waterway way that crosses the entire state known as the Okeechobee Waterway.

Known as the Black Bass Capital of the World, Lake Okeechobee is rumored to have the best bass fishing in the world. With it’s more southernly location the fish keep biting even during the winter months.

Beware, locals can be stingy about sharing the best fishing spots. Hiring a fishing guide is suggested to insure your success. There are many marinas, ramps and camp sites along the lake but due to the vastness of it they are not always easy to find. Three of the best known are: Okee-Tantie Marina, located on the northside of the lake. It offers a campground, ramps, picnic area and a fuel dock. Located right on Lake Okeechobee is the Taylor Creek Resort which has boat ramps, private docks and RV stations. The Indiantown Marina is located in Indiantown about 25 miles away from Okeechobee. It has affordable fuel and docking rates, marine supplies and camping sites.

For landlubbers, Clewiston is the town with the most to offer in the area. Located on the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee, Clewiston is known as “America’s Sweetest Town,) due to the presence and history of the sugar industry here. Jump aboard the Sugarland Express for a tour of a local farm and mill. There’s also a three hour boat cruise that explains the lake’s history and heritage. Bike, hike and camp along the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. Known as LOST, it’s a 110 mile trail that circles around the lake atop the 35 foot dike and offering elevated views of the lake. There are campgrounds and resorts in Pahokee, Belle Glade, Moore Haven, and other towns for resting and sleeping along the trail. Ideal for nature lovers, look for manatees, alligators, wild turkeys, bobcats, deer, wild hogs, egrets, osprey, kites as well as a variety of other birds.


miami-boating-vacationMiami is one of the world’s favorite vacation destinations and for good reason. There is a ton to see and do in this bustling tropical city. For shoppers there are many large malls with top retailers (the Ventura Mall is one of the best) as well as unique family owned stores in areas such as Coconut Grove. Lincoln Road, an outdoor, pedestrian-only mall, is lined with restaurants and stores and is a great place to go day or night. The Art Deco District located in South Beach has over 800 structures of historical significance; a must-see for history and architecture buffs.

Despite it’s reputation for glitz and glamour Miami also offers a variety low-key, family friendly boating opportunities for you to enjoy. Miami Beach is actually a barrier island that protects mainland Miami from the Atlantic Ocean creating numerous bays and protected coves that are fun to explore.

The Miami Beach Marina, offers 400 slips accommodating vessels up to 250 feet and has a dive shop, provisioning, and a fuel dock. The city of Miami operates three marinas and the Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation operates six marinas in the Miami area. The options and opportunities for boaters are limitless in Miami.

With the Gulf Stream just a few miles offshore, Miami is a haven for blue-water anglers. Blue marlin, white marlin, yellowfin Tuna, sailfish, cobia, dolphin, kingfish, amberjack, snapper, tilefish and grouper can all be caught. The nearby coral reefs offer an exotic underwater theatre for scuba divers.

Both Fort Lauderdale and Miami are good launch points if you want to head over to the Bahamas. Many Miami boaters run the 50 miles out to Bimini and back in the same day.

Fort Lauderdale

Known as the Venice of America, Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts over 300 miles of waterways and 40,000 resident yachts. It is crisscrossed by the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), rivers, hundreds of canals and several lakes and borders the Atlantic Ocean. It’s tropical weather, boat building history and ease of access to the Caribbean make it a boat lovers paradise. It’s one of the few areas in the world where salt and freshwater fishing are available just minutes apart. In addition, the largest megayacht boat show in the world, The Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, is held here annually. In Fort Lauderdale you can access nearly everything by water and marinas and boat ramps are plentiful and easy to find.

Fishermen will enjoy the variety of catch the area offers. In addition to more than 200 fresh water species found in the county’s lakes, there are deep water fishing fleets located in Deerfield, Pompano, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Dania Beach; and, each of the six cities that line the Atlantic coast plus four municipal piers.

Off the water, Ft. Lauderdale is loaded with sites and activities that everyone will enjoy. For fabulous shopping visit Las Olas Boulevard. With over thirty outdoor dining options, ten museums and 65 shops, Las Olas is first class shopping experience. Ft. Lauderdale also has beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and historic districts, all worth exploring. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District is also worth a visit. It stretches 21 blocks along the New River in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and has world-class cultural venues, upscale restaurants and cool shops.

florida-keys-boating-family-vacationFlorida Keys

The Florida Keys span 158 miles from the Biscayne National Park in the north to Key West in the south and offer more fishing and boating opportunities than anywhere else in the world. Due to the warm climate you can enjoy the water all year round. The Keys draw boating enthusiasts from far and wide and you can rent a boat from one of the 36 boat-rental shops. It encompasses 2,900 square miles of Atlantic and Gulf waters, and contains 6,000 reefs and 800 islands to explore.

Each island has its own personality and offers unique sites and experiences. Bahia Honda State Park, on Bahia Honda Key, is one of the nicest beaches in the Keys and the US. For a bit of history visit Dry Tortugas National Park. An archipelago of seven islands, it’s home to Fort Jefferson, one of the largest coastal forts ever built, and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Try camping out here for a truly back to nature experience. There are many of camp sites throughout the Keys (just book far in advance because they fill up fast). Islamorada, the Sportfishing Capital of the World, is a mecca for sports fishermen from around the globe. Key West is the southernmost key and is rumored to have the best sunsets in the US.

Fishing around the keys is first rate. Bayside explore the flats and fish for bonefish. Offshore you will find sharks, tarpon, tuna, sailfish,marlin, snapper and dolphin. There’s always something biting no matter what time of year you go. Caution, between the other boaters and reefs navigating can be tricky here and you may want some help. There are plenty of guides and ship captains for hire that can help you find whatever species you want.

Key West has lots of entertainment and nightlife. There are festivals, museums, music, and more. One of it’s most famous attractions is the Ernest Hemingway House. Located in the heart of Old Town Key West, the house was built in 1851 and still contains the furniture the famous author and his family used. 40-50 cats inhabit the property; they are direct descendants of the cats Hemingway kept as pets.

Fort Myers

fort-myers-family-boatingFort Myers, also known as the City of Palms, is most visited for it’s golf courses, white sand beaches and deep sea fishing. A sun-soaked metropolis, Ft. Myers offers plenty to do and will keep everybody in your party entertained. The city is overflowing with restaurants, shops, clubs, museums, galleries, live music and nightlife. Two of the best known attractions are the Henry Ford and Thomas Edison estates. What served as winter retreats for Ford and Edison are now museums. For shoppers Ft. Myers is a Shangri-la boasting several large outlet malls and many shopping areas. Stop by Coconut Point, home to over 100 stores, over 25 restaurants and a movie theatre. Art enthusiasts must visit the galleries on Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island and Matlacha, for island-style artistic inspiration.

West of Ft. Myers along the coast you will find a series of islands. Captiva and Sanibel are two of the most popular. Sanibel Island is a seashell collectors paradise and has stunning white-sand beaches, and a huge variety of wildlife. There are cultural events all year round and great restaurants and places to stay.

Captiva has a totally different feel and has been described as “upscale, quirky and exclusive”. Every service you could imagine is available here. The island is loved for its walkability, fantastic restaurants and luxury accommodations. Swanky!

The best way to enjoy the beaches of Ft. Myers and it’s outlying islands is definitely by boat, especially since that’s the only way to reach many of the most beautiful locations. Sanibel and Captiva are great launch points for island hoppers. You can spend the day hopping between islands like Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key and Boca Grande.

Fishing is BIG throughout the Ft. Myers area, but if you want to hook a tarpon head north of Captiva to the Boca Grande Pass, located at the south end of Gasparilla Island. The giant pass connects the Charlotte Harbor with the Gulf of Mexico and is a famous tarpon hangout. Tarpon, some in the 150 pound range, congregate here in May prior to spawning, and just a warning so do sharks. Fishermen regularly hook hammerheads and bull sharks in the pass. Woops!

St. Petersburg

Fishing CharterSt. Petersburg, which lies right across the bay, is another city with lots to offer. Its waterfront parks line the bay and provide visitors with dining opportunities galore and quaint boutiques. Cultural attractions abound including the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and Mahaffey Theater, home of the Florida Orchestra.

Life in St. Petersburg and Tampa revolves around the water. Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest open-water estuary stretching 398 square miles. There is boating to suit everyone. Inshore, offshore, spear, backcountry, wade, kayak, bridge, family-friendly or party boat – it’s all here.

There’s fish to be had just about everywhere and all year round. Snook, redfish, spotted sea trout, grouper and mackerel are just some of the varieties you can catch. Canoe along the Hillsborough River through a 16,000-acre wilderness park and get a peek of Florida in it’s natural state. You can fish along the grass flats or participate in a sailing regatta. A blend of salt and fresh water, the bay is brimming with fishing opportunities. Summertime brings hot weather and a chance to hook a 100-pound plus tarpon!

Along the shoreline you will find some of the world’s top rated beaches. Explore the barrier islands, draped in pristine white sand. Some, including Caladesi Island, remain undeveloped. Reachable only by boat Caldesi is a shell hunters dream and great for nature lovers. You can camp on the beach in Fort De Soto Park which consists of over 1,000 acres of preserved land and covers five interconnected islands. Numerous forms of wildlife live in the Park’s beach grasses, mangroves, wetlands, and palm hammocks. The beaches are spectacular and there is a lagoon protected by sand bars that prothat’s a safe spot for little ones to frolick. Looking for exercise? A 7-mile paved trail is perfect for biking and walking.


tampa-boating-vacationTampa has an international airport and a port which help make it a popular destination. The area is rich with history and has attractions to delight every visitor. Busch Gardens is located here, the Florida Aquarium and the Big Cat Rescue are just a few of the highlights. Tampa also has a NFL football team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With fine dining, art galleries and champion golf courses, Tampa has it all.


sarasota-boating-vacationA must-see destination for art lovers Sarasota is best known best for it’s love of the arts, and is abundant with cultural activities. The Ringling Museum of Art is located here featuring works by Rubens, van Dyck, Velázquez, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco, Gainsborough and more. There are numerous theatres, a ballet, opera, an orchestra, loads of musical venues and events year round. About one fourth the size of the Tampa, Sarasota is appreciated for its more laid back vibe.

Shoppers should aim for St. Armands Circle, which is actually its own island, for an experience that is truly a feast for the senses. With over 150 stores and shops, an art gallery, and indoor/outdoor gourmet restaurants, cafes and bistros, “The Circle” is landmark gathering place for locals, visitors and snowbirds.

Sarasota is the gateway to miles of beaches with fine sand and shallow waters. With six keys, or barrier islands, there are 35 miles of beaches in Sarasota County. It includes some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, Siesta Key Beach, Turtle Beach, Lido Beach, Venice Beach and Caspersen Beach all have been nationally recognized for their cleanliness and environmental conservation. Longboat Key is eleven miles long and is home to the Longboat Key Club and Resort, one of the country’s finest upscale retreats. Siesta Key has eight miles of beach and bay front and excellent shopping.

Boating and fishing locations are limitless in Sarasota. The Gulf of Mexico waters are generally placid near the shore and the keys provide easy navigation, but beware many of these areas are shallow. Boaters can tie up at Marina Jacks, in the heart of downtown. The region has one of the world’s largest manatee populations. Certain times of year there are sea cows everywhere. The Gulf offers excellent deep sea fishing. If you dream of reeling in a dolphin, tarpon, grouper or kingfish, this is the place do it!

Pensacola Bay

pensecola-boating-vacationThe Pensacola Bay Area is an activity-packed destination. Where else can you scuba dive the world’s largest artifical reef and fly a simulated jet at one of the world’s most famous aviation museums? The area is rich with culture, outdoor adventure, museums, attractions and boasts 52 miles of stunning beaches. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, nature lover, golfer, foodie or a super shopper, you’ll never run out of things to do in the Pensacola Bay Area.

One of the earliest European settlements in the U.S., Pensacola is awash in history. Visit Historic Pensacola Village and take a guided walking tour through the city’s past. The downtown area offers restaurants, galaries and cultural venues. Palafox Street was named one of the “10 Great Streets in America,” and is worth a visit.

The city has a proud military heritage, which is on display at attractions like the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

With so much of the area covered in water, whether bays, sounds, bayous, rivers or the Gulf of Mexico, it is obvious why boating is a favorite pastime here. Lauded as an ideal sailing destination, sailors benefit from the constant breezes, and picturesque mooring spots.

Novice sailors can attend the Lanier Sailing Academy, which offers sailing lessons, cruises and charters. Kayaks, motor boats and jet skis are available for rent on Pensacola Beach. Santa Rosa sound is rumored to be a great spot for novice boaters to safely get their sea legs. The start of the Florida Paddling Trail can be found at Perdido Key, which links the waterways of the Pensacola Bay area to the entire state and is perfect for those wanting to meander along in a canoe.

Fishing is big here. From the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay to inland creeks, springs, and rare dune lakes, good spots to fish are plentiful. Shallow water flats and back-country estuaries are ideal for catching trout or redfish. Out on the bay or pass can you can reel in grouper, snapper, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, Jack Crevalle, or sheepshead, depending on what’s in season. Offshore and inshore excursions are offered by local fishing charters most of which include all necessary equipment, bait, and fishing licenses, etc. Whatever you’re looking to catch, you’ll most likely find it here.

That concludes our round up of the best vacation destinations for boating and fishing in Florida. Pack your cooler and get your boat prepped. With so many great places to boat, fish, shop, dine, explore and more, there’s no time to waste!”

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