Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Ker-Splash! Recreational Power Boaters Guide by Floyd M. Orr

(Writers Club Press / 0-595-21431-2 / 978-0-595-21431-0 / April 2002 / 276 pages / $17.95)

Ker-SPLASH! is a comprehensive, up-to-date reference book for the family power boater and water skier. A complete list of manufacturers, how-to instructions, and entertaining boating stories are included.

A book of this nature for the recreational power boater has not existed before. Many books are available on the subjects of fishing and sailing, which are not included in this book. Ker-SPLASH! covers all those other types of boats intended for family fun: sterndrive runabouts, offshore performance boats, speedboats, personal watercraft, mini-jet boats, tournament ski boats, wakeboard boats, and others. The manufacturers of all these types are profiled and compared. The engine specifications and comparisons are detailed, too. The makers of skis, wakeboards, and all other water toys, as well as the retailers of these products are also profiled.

Ker-SPLASH! offers step by step instructions for teaching a beginner to ski on two skis, and then to slalom. The delicate art of properly driving the boat as a towing vehicle is described. The book also includes detailed descriptions of the process of selecting and purchasing skis, accessories, and water toys.

This is an entertaining, fun-to-read book. All the descriptive facts, figures, and details are enlightened with the author's own true-life stories of how not to go boating. The entire book is one man's stated opinion. You can accept or reject whatever advice is offered. The beauty of Ker-SPLASH! is that no other book offers this particular information. The author is not affiliated with or sponsored by any corporation, which happens to be the unfortunate reality of most buyer's guides. The author does not include most of the elementary aspects, such as how to drive a boat, how to spot a lemon on the used market, or how to drop an anchor. Neither does the author advise you what brand or model of anything to purchase. The author's intent is to provide the best-detailed overview of the power boating hobby, to give the boater or the potential boat buyer the information he needs to make intelligent decisions.


I need to fill you in on a couple of personal idiosyncrasies that will aid in your understanding of this book. I became a fan of Mad Magazine back about the time Ahab the Arab first rode his camel named Clyde. One of my favorite things the magazine's writers used to do was to call everything by its Department, such as The Don Martin Department. My favorite of Mr. Martin's work has always been "The Hardest Head in the World", from Don Martin Bounces Back, but that's not the point here. The point is that you will be referred to The Offshore Power Boat Department or The Sterndrive Runabout Department, etc., repeatedly throughout Ker-SPLASH! Well, just get a grip and deal with it. I think The Department is more fun than a page or chapter number, and apparently the editors of Mad agreed with me. The other thing you will just have to put up with is that I write from a personal viewpoint because I think that's fun to read, too. I am far from the most accomplished slalom skier in the world, and I can't afford a tournament ski boat or a Scarab any more than I can a Ferrari, but all three are things I would dearly love to own. I'm a dreamer just like you are. I skied behind the boats my father could afford in The Sixties and I ski behind a four-cylinder Capri now. My hope is that a lot of you out there can identify with my silly attitude and Southern perspective.

Sea Ray is another very major boat builder, but with a slightly different perspective than Bayliner. If Bayliner is the Chevy of boat builders, then Sea Ray most certainly is the Mercedes-Benz. Sea Ray is the number one boat builder, as measured by dollar volume. The Knoxville, Tennessee, company has been a part of Brunswick since 1986. Founded in 1959, the company makes fifty models from 17-feet to 68-feet. Sea Ray purchased Baja in 1995 and Boston Whaler in 1996. Sea Rays are currently being manufactured in seven plants: three in Tennessee, three in Florida, and one in Arizona. The 2002 prices begin at about $15,000 and go where no wallet has gone before. The 19 runabouts up to 26 feet make up almost half of the Sea Ray model line. Although the brand is legendary for its selection of Sport Cruisers, Sport Yachts, and just plain yachts for millionaires, the runabouts are more the speed of this book. All Sea Rays use Mercruiser power, starting with the ubiquitous 135-hp Four in the entry-level bowrider and going up to the 425-hp 496 with a Bravo III in the 27-footer. If conservative style, ultimate quality, and a legendary nameplate is your speed, and your banker won't burn you at the stake, then a Sea Ray could be the boat for you.

Contact: Sea Ray Boats, Inc., 2600 Sea Ray Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37914, (800) 772-6287 or (423) 522-4181 - searay.com.

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