It's an ongoing learning experience
Sunday 28 June 2015
Hard to believe that the site of Palm Beach’s posh Everglades Club was once a tourist attraction showcasing a pit full of alligators and crocodiles, but so it was.
Visitors paid a quarter to ride a chauffeured three-wheeled whicker chair along the meandering Jungle Trail to watch Warren Frazee, known as Joe Frazier, wrestle large reptiles, said Palm Beach historian James Ponce.
“That area was very low and a virtual jungle, and someone had cut a path through it from County Road to Alligator Joe’s. When Palm Beach’s Royal Park addition was platted in 1913, Jungle Trail became Worth Avenue, named for General William Jenkins Worth.”
In 1918, Singer Sewing Machine heir, Paris Singer, bought the alligator farm, hiring his friend, architect Addison Mizner, to build a convalescent hospital for veterans on the site. But World War I ended before the facility opened, and the Touchstone Convalescent Club was repurposed as the Everglade’s Club, captivating the town’s affluent social set who quickly sought membership.
“Mizner’s unique version of Mediterranean architecture caused controversy,” Worth Avenue tour guide Rick Rose said. “People were used to British Colonial and Mizner’s designs included lots of styles, blending different heights and different angles, but people loved the hodgepodge.”
The club was an immediate success, and Singer asked Mizner to supervise the construction of 12 “Maisonettes” to the east of the club, with storefronts on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. Soon after, Via Mizner and Via Parigi were built just across the street. A shopping mecca incorporating romantic architecture, enchanting passageways and intimate courtyards, the vias were the perfect setting for charming boutiques.
Early shops included Jay Thorpe, a fancy ready-to-wear shop; Exotic Gardens landscape company; Catherine Mac Veady’s shop, which sold hats and gowns; William Beaumgarten interior decorators; John and Annie Clifton’s realty; Feigh’s barbershop; Maria van Hausen’s corsetry shop; Etta Menko’s antique shop; and Darrah & Darrah silversmiths.
Within the decade, Saks Fifth Avenue leased the building where Ralph Lauren is now, and The Cadillac Motor Company occupied the space that the haberdashery Maus & Hoffman now occupies.
As Worth Avenue became the heart of the island, houses along the street slowly converted to storefronts, and by 1940, several Fifth-Avenue stores with Palm Beach addresses – the Elizabeth Arden Salon, Bonwit-Teller, Hattie Carnegie and Cartier – relocated there from the town’s older shopping areas.
The restaurant Ta-boo arrived in 1941 and Aldo Gucci opened his first store on the avenue in the 1950s.
“At that time, both sides of the road were solidly built until the last block on the south side facing County Road,” Ponce recalled. “That was a parking lot, and cross from it was the Standard Oil gas station.
“The town folded up by mid-April,” he added. “They even took the streetlights down.”
In the 1960s Ta-boo was the first to stay open year ’round, followed by Saks Fifth Avenue and The Breakers hotel, “and that was due to the advent of air-conditioning,” Rose explained.
Over the years, old buildings were replaced with new at the east end of the avenue, making room for The Esplanade (now 150 Worth), a two-story open-air promenade, and the premiere upscale department store, Neiman Marcus.
Some aspects of the avenue never change. Elegant clientele with discriminating taste know exactly what they want, and Worth Avenue merchants understanding that, offer tony labels as well as especially designed custom lines.
Today, the glamorous resort attracts a host of national and international visitors as well as winter residents who continue to establish multi-million-dollar seasonal homes on the island, and, as such, Worth Avenue carries a singular cachet that’s recognized the world over.
Considered one of the most famous retail destinations, famed purveyors of fine merchandise vie for the opportunity to display their pricey and precious wares along the thoroughfare. Among them are fabulous fine jewelry firms: Graff, noted for diamonds of extraordinary rarity and beauty; Cartier, crown jeweler to 19 royal houses; and Van Cleef & Arpel, a signature brand that bedazzles and beguiles with the choicest diamonds and gemstones in exquisite settings. Internationally renowned design houses proffer luxury wares that are the epitome of elegance and refinement, including Louis Vuitton, with its unparalleled hand-wrought luggage and iconic handbags, and Chanel, widely recognized for its exquisite haute couture and fashion accessories.
Currently, with more than 200 shops with a 60/40 mix of boutiques and corporate stores, “Worth Avenue is certainly not a concrete mall destination,” said Worth Avenue Association president, Gregg Beletsky, who is also general manager of Ralph Lauren’s Palm Beach shop. “It’s about 100 years of service, so to speak. You don’t get hand deliveries and personal note cards at big-box malls.
“We know our customers by name,” he said. “We offer an experience of community that’s been cultivated over the years, and that’s what makes us special and unique.”
In 2010 and 2011, the avenue’s $15.8 million renovation made shopping even more engaging, he said. “The mature trees, new sidewalks and benches along the street invite customers to sit down and take a moment to enjoy the beautiful landscape and architecture around them.”
Share or discuss
Saturday 18 April 2015
While the Princess 68 is the latest model launched by Princess Yachts America, it was not at the recent Palm Beach International Boat Show. That’s because it sold right after the Miami show.
Still, the Palm Beach show earned praised from James Noble, Princess Yachts America’s vice president and marketing director. “Out of five models, we sold four out of the show, and we still have activity going on that we are following up.”
Overall, Princess offers 10 flybridge models from 43 to 98 feet, and the 68-footer was developed to fill the gap between the popular 72-foot and 64-foot motor yachts.
“Unlike the 64, the 68 has a foredeck seating area. It has a hardtop, and it has the ability to carry a tender on the flybridge or the hydraulic platform,” Noble said. “It is a very unique layout for its size range. The galley is aft on the main deck, and it has a private stairway to the owner’s stateroom, which is very unique for a boat in this size range.”
Princess also makes nine V-Class express models from 39 to 85 feet; a 72-foot S-Class Sportsbridge; and three M-Class yachts at 30, 35, and 40 meters.
Plymouth, England-based Princess International, founded in 1965 by David King as Marine Projects, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In 1995, King’s company partnered with Viking Yachts, headquartered in New Jersey, forming Viking Sport Cruises, to produce boats for the American market.
“Our boats are 80 percent done in-house, including all the woodwork, metal work and tooling for the fiberglass molds,” Noble said. “Changes were made to fit the American market.” Appliance brands recognized in America were used, refrigeration was increased, and air conditioning and generator system specifications were upgraded for Florida and the Caribbean’s climate. Engine rooms were reconfigured for more horsepower, and electrical systems were designed to handle the increased load.
“When we first started in this market, Princess was not a known name in the American market because there was no customer support. While Viking didn’t have facilities to bring on a whole new product line, it could offer support and service after the sale,” Noble explained. In the United States, Viking has two service centers: New Gretna, N.J., and Singer Island, as well as a network of more than 60 yacht-dealer service locations in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Proving to be a winning combination, the two companies together made a mark. In 2008, Princess became part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy family of luxury brands (other brands include Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Christian Dior and Feadship). Princess builds about 300 boats a year, introduces three or four new models each year, and will soon launch its 30-meter and 35-meter M-class yachts.
“We’ve sold five of the 35-meter and we’ve sold some of the 30 meter, too,” Noble said. “What we learn when we build a new model translates to everything we do.”
Princess Yachts America has an administrative office at Royal Poinciana Plaza. HMY is its dealer in the Palm Beach area, with an inventory of four-to-six new boats docked at Palm Harbor, 400 N. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach. For information, call HMY at 833-6060.
article written for Palm Beach Daily News
Share or discuss
Saturday 4 April 2015
If you saw the 85-foot Arcadia at last weekend’s boat show, don’t let appearances deceive you. This gray boat is green.
Built by Arcadia Yachts of Italy, “Arcadia’s ‘Eco + Think’ philosophy aims to leave less of a carbon footprint; the engines are very economical, at 12 knots only burning 18 gallons an hour,” says Dean Young, broker at HMY Yachts, and partner representative for Arcadia Yachts.
The main aft deck is set up for al fresco dining, and in the salon, glass is everywhere, with walls of glass port and starboard, a half-wall aft, and an entire ceiling that features two layers of glass, which sandwich photovoltaic cells. Flip a switch, and silhouette blinds slide into place for shade.
“It’s called a heavy glass veranda,” Young says.
The photovoltaic cells are capable of producing 4 kilowatts of electrical energy, which will power onboard the audio-visual equipment, refrigerator and freezer, lighting and the inverter that makes this power for a period of up to 12 hours.
The Arcadia also has a Hamann System, which turns black- and gray-water sewage to fully acceptable discharge in any marine environment, Young explains.
In addition to its green technology, the yacht is also lovely, comfy and roomy, with architecture and interior design by Francesco Guida. Surfaces are richly finished in washed oak, lacquered zebrawood, and slate. Furnishings are by Poltrona Frau Group, and audio/visual is all Bang & Olufsen.
The dining area is part of the salon, and forward are the galley, pilothouse and foredeck with a dining / seating area that converts to a sunbed.
On the lower deck are the full-beam ensuite master stateroom, ensuite VIP stateroom and two ensuite twin staterooms, as well as two crew quarters with heads, the engine room and tender garage.
The yacht will cruise at a comfortable range of 1,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, and top speed of 18 knots.
Arcadia Yachts is a new corporation based in Torre Annunziata, Italy, that started in 2007. This yacht, which was launched in September 2014, is No. 8 hull in its series and the first built to U.S. specifications.
Sold through HMY Yachts, Arcadia is priced at 5 million Euros. For information, call Young at 833-6060.
Written for the Palm Beach Daily News. Click here to go to the story.
Share or discuss
Thursday 26 February 2015
As she embarks on her third decade in business, interior designer Lisa E. Erdmann follows an every-other-year schedule to decide when she will decorate a room in the American Red Cross Designers’ Show House, an annual fundraiser that benefits the charity’s Palm Beach Treasure Coast chapter. On alternate years, she focuses on a different organization, from creating a table setting for a benefit at the Norton Museum to helping the Center for Family Services renovate its West Palm Beach offices.
But this year, she’s returning her time and design talents to the 39th annual Red Cross Show House at a historic lakefront home in Lake Worth, which hosts a preview party Wednesday before opening to the public the next day for a month of tours.
“My parents raised me to always know it was our responsibility to give back if we had the means to do so,” Erdmann says. “So picking a charity is important in my makeup, and working with the Red Cross is a pleasure. It’s so well received that it helps expose our design talent, and it benefits them, too.”
Giving back is not the only way of thinking Erdmann learned from her family.
Her livelihood centers around homes and design, and she comes from a land-development family with a name certainly familiar to Palm Beachers. Her grandfather, E. Llwyd Ecclestone Sr. — an early proponent of building luxury homes clustered around golf courses — developed the South Florida luxury communities Lost Tree Village and John’s Island. Her father, Palm Beacher E. Llwyd Ecclestone, developed PGA National and Old Port Cove. Her brother, E. Llwyd Ecclestone III, meanwhile, has just finished work on a pair of houses he developed on speculation on the North End.
Erdmann graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont and attended Parsons School of Design while working in the design industry in New York City. Having also studied at Florida Institute of Technology, she founded Lisa Erdmann & Associates in 1994. It’s based at her family’s development offices in West Palm Beach but has also long maintained a Palm Beach address.
For this year’s show house, Erdmann is cooking up something special for the living room of the 1925 Mediterranean-style house known locally as the “Birthday Cake Castle,” although its formal name is La Florentia.
The 7,000 square foot house, recently bought by Scott Levine, was originally built by Sherman Childs. It received its Birthday Cake Castle nickname when former owner Upton Close gave the home to his wife, Margaret Fretter Nye, as a birthday present in 1954. With slender candle-like pillars, plaster swirls that resemble icing and graceful curves, it even has a birthday-cake stained-glass window in the stairwell.
Its grandly scaled rooms, casual spaces, and nooks and crannies of various shapes and sizes will be the basic ingredients for 20 designers, who will adorn them to create their own slices of decorating magic.
The living room’s existing architectural features were the starting points for Erdmann and her design team, Rhonda Grammer and Eden Tepper.
“It’s a gorgeous room, very big, with an original Adam fireplace, trefoil windows and original hardwood floor. It was a blank slate,” Erdmann says. “Since it’s an old house and has such wonderful character, we treated it like it was on the island of Palm Beach with a more formal living room.”
Erdmann often uses antiques as part as part of their design strategy, but in the Birthday Cake Castle they played an even more important role.
“This is the correct way the room should be presented. The home is Mediterranean, and the interior needs to be consistent with the exterior,” she explains.
Furniture pieces in the main seating area are grouped around the fireplace, a logical place to gather with family and friends. A second seating vignette, placed near an adjoining wall, consists of two wing chairs and a table, where the home’s residents might settle in for tea, or to play chess or backgammon.
Erdmann chose comfortable upholstered furniture, adding English antiques for a more formal feel. For balance, on the wall opposite the fireplace, she placed a Regency mahogany sideboard. Many of the antiques were supplied by The Elephant’s Foot on Antique Row in West Palm Beach.
Lamps and chandeliers are from Niermann Weeks. “The chandelier that swags either side of the fireplace are crystal and metal with a beautiful Venetian silver type of finish,” she says.
The color scheme is neutral with touches of icy blue. “A room this large needs color, but it has to be soft, which is more consistent with the formal style,” she says. “The room does not get lots of sunlight, and the icy blue brightens the room up.”
Fabrics are by Cowtan and Tout, and all the patterns are subtle, she says.
“There’s a soft pattern on the drapes, a small herringbone on one chair and a larger pattern on the wing chairs, but the room is not defined by pattern; it’s more defined by the mix of the pieces together.”
The goal, she adds, “was to be elegant. In a past showroom, I chose bold colors in the drapery fabric, to draw the eye to the view and away from the adjacent kitchen; that’s a little trick,” she says. “But this is an interior room, with no views. Even the stained glass keeps the eye inside, so the drapes are softer.”
Written for the Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 27, 2015
Share or discuss
Thursday 26 February 2015
For a chic two-wheel ride that celebrates Italian Week Palm Beach in style, hop on the bella Benelli Classica eBike, which importer Larry Ferracci calls “an haute item.”
Benelli Classica eBike
It’s being shown from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Friday at MacKenzie-Childs Palm Beach, 238 Worth Ave.
Benelli, a century-old luxury Italian brand known for its motorcycles, launched the Classica in December. For Italian Week, it’s available for test rides and for sale with a percentage of proceeds benefiting Il Circolo Palm Beach.
The Classica, which is perfect for urban streets, has a top speed of 20 mph and a range up to 40 miles. It comes in white, cream and black with natural saddle-color leather handlebar grips and seat. Its features include a lightweight lithium battery pack, with Samsung cell technology, that is concealed in the front frame. Recharging is as easy as charging a laptop.
It can be ridden as a bike without pedal-assist, or its rider can twist the shift on the grip to engage the motor and change speeds. Its LCD display shows battery capacity, speed and total distance.
“It’s a classic Milan bicycle and that’s what appeals to me,” Ferracci said. “And I like to think of riding a bike as fun.
“The last time I was in Palm Beach at the Four Seasons, I rode one of their bikes south to Manalapan. It was a nice leisurely ride and I was cruising looking around, but it took longer coming back because of 10 to 15 mile-an-hour headwinds.”
That’s when he wished he was riding a Classica electric bike with pedal assist, he said.
How does the bike work? Just like a bike. With its step-through design, you just get on and pedal. Engaging the motor is intuitive, with the dash integrated into the handlebar. From the grip, twist it on, choose the speed level, pedal and the system activates. It also has a throttle for a burst of energy.
Benelli Classica eBikes, priced at $2,100, can be drop-shipped anywhere in the United States within three or four days. For information, visit www.benellibikesusa.com. They also are available at specialty bicycle dealers, including Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop.
Easily maintained and serviced, “it is 98 percent a standard bicycle, with most of its components available at any bike shop,” Ferracci said. “There are only three special components: the front motor, display and battery pack; and a bike shop can call us for those parts, and we’ll send them.
“Keep air in the tires and the batteries charged, and you’ll have an enjoyable time.”
Written for Palm Beach Daily News, February 26, 2015
Share or discuss
Saturday 21 February 2015
Just up the waterway from Wayne Huizenga Jr.’s marina, Rybovich, is the Michael Rybovich & Sons Boat Works in Palm Beach Gardens at 2175 Idlewild Road, where Michael and Dusty Rybovich build sportfishing boats in their family’s tradition.
At 64 feet long overall with 18 feet of beam, Lizzie Bee’s walkaround design allows for fishing all the way around the boat. It has a 360-degree center-console fishing platform with a large raised helm deck, well-appointed cabin and four staterooms. “My wife, Pat, likes it as much as I do. She did all the interior design, and is just as enthusiastic,” Larry Wilson said. At its final sea trial, Wilson said: “We went from Palm Beach to Miami and back this morning. Ran perfectly: smooth, dry, fast, fuel efficient, quiet and a great ride.”
After Huizenga Jr. bought the Rybovich Spencer boatyard in 2004, he hired Michael to head the new-construction end of the business, Michael explained.
“But when economy tanked, so did interest in new construction, and rather than fund a speculative new-construction venture, they decided to disband the company that was responsible for new construction.”
After he left Huizenga’s Rybovich, in 2011 he, with Palm Beacher Larry Wilson, acquired land owned by E&H Boat Works. Then, Michael sunk money into the rundown property, cleaning it up and rebuilding to create his new boat building, maintenance, modification and repairs company.
Building Rybovich boats has been a family affair from its first boat, the 34-foot Miss Chevy II built for Charles Johnson in 1947, and it still is.
Dusty and Michael Rybovich, photo courtesy of Robert Holland
“In 1975 when I was 19, I was officially placed on the payroll,” Michael said. “I worked on a bottom crew. They haul, launch the boats, clean the bottoms, pull propellers, anything to do with work below the waterline.”
His son, Dusty, was born to the business. Dusty’s favorite Rybovich boat is hull No. 110, a 33-footer built at Ryco Marine in 1987. Dusty helped put new engines in it when he was in high school, he said. “Dad told me he was doing that boat’s sea trial, when mom went into labor with me.”
Like his father, he worked in the boat yard when he was in high school. “I’d come in after school and take care of all the messy jobs: painting in small areas, cleaning up, (doing) basic carpentry, digging through rotten wood, scraping barnacles.”
Undaunted, after high school, he went to Webb Institute in New York state and is now a naval architect and marine engineer. He joined his father in January 2013. “I guess being in the family business was what I’ve always wanted,” Dusty said.
Now with renovations complete, Michael Rybovich & Sons is up and running in all areas.
“We’ve done several major refits in addition to routine service and maintenance,” Michael said. “We worked a lot on our own boats and we’ll work on boats built by others, but most of our customers own one or more of our boats. I’d say we’ve worked on 20 to 25 of them.”
Custom boat builder
The boat building part of the company got underway in May 2012 with a 64-foot walkaround for Larry Wilson. It was finished summer 2014.
“Larry has been a fisherman and boat owner long enough to know exactly what he wants, and every time we’ve done work for Larry he wants something different,” Michael said. “He likes being involved in projects that push the envelope.
“This one was the largest walkaround that we’d ever built, and it had a unique propulsion system using a Volvo IPS Pod drive (a system that has forward-facing counter rotating propellers).”
How does Michael build boats compared to his father, grandfather and uncles? “I don’t want to get stuck with a particular method because we are constantly experimenting with methods of construction, combining Old World craftsmanship with the latest in weight-saving technology,” he said.
Currently, an 86-foot and a 68-foot conventional sportfishing boats are in the works.
“For our new construction business, we are a total custom-builder,” Michael said. “We can build anybody anything they want from 40 to 100 feet as long as it looks and performs like one of our boats.”
Since Dusty joined his father, designing is now digital. “We see how the boat is going to fit before we built it. It’s a great timesaver,” Dusty said.
“While each boat is completely custom, including the way it looks, we try to keep with our signature theme, but make each boat unique unto itself.”
Wilson, who has owned six Rybovich boats, has this to say: “Since 1947, the Rybovich family has been very innovative, with the tuna tower, transom door, fighting chair, and other items that are now standard for sportfishing boats.
“Rybovich boats were always the highest quality, and they were always made out of wood, which is lighter than fiberglass, and has a more elegant look. Of all the Rybovich boats built, 124 are still in use. That’s eight decades. They are works of art.
“Mike is a perfectionist, wants it right and keeps to a high standard,” he said. “He continues to build boats that ride better and perform better than other boats. They are more efficient and elegant. He builds a boat that I believe is the best.”
Currently, in addition to owning the 64-foot walkaround recently launched, Michael Rybovich & Sons’ hull No. 1, Lizzie Bee, Wilson also owns the 32-foot, Charmer, hull No. 108, built at Ryco Marine in 1985, and launched at that same time as Ruthie.
published: Palm Beach Daily News
Share or discuss
Sunday 4 January 2015
Link to original Palm Beach Daily News story
Here’s a bike that might make a perfect holiday gift. And it might be a perfect vehicle for your New Year’s resolve to get more exercise.
The GoCycle changes back and forth from your power, with manual shifting, to electric power, with gear shifting engaging automatically.
Karbon Kinetics Limited’s GoCycle G2 lets you pedal away to your heart’s content (and health), or you can choose to be completely lazy, thanks to this electric bike’s combination of two drive systems: a three-speed hub gearbox, as well as a front hub-mounted 250W motor.
First and foremost, the GoCycle electric bike is an actual bike, can be ridden as a bike and feels like a bike.
To get it going under its own steam, so to speak, just push its little red turbo button on the dashboard display on its handlebars, and you’ll zip around effortlessly.
The faster you were going when you pressed the button, the faster you’ll be propelled, although it won’t go much above 20 mph.
How far will it take you? Well, it depends on how much effort you put into it. You can ride forever under your own power; you can go up to 80 miles if you do some of your own pedaling; or you can travel a distance of 8 to 12 miles, if you don’t pedal at all, depending on the terrain.
Created in 2002 in Britain by ex-Formula One design engineer Richard Thorpe, the GoCycle’s second generation was launched in the United States at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in fall. The GoCycle G2 is ergonomic, environmentally friendly, elegant and fun to ride. It has a comfy saddle, and its fore-aft weight distribution, with a low center of gravity, makes it agile and responsive to ride.
How does it work? Utilizing its easy-to-use dashboard display on the handlebars, the rider can monitor the battery level; set the riding mode to city, eco, on-demand or custom; change gears; and regulate speed.
In addition, it has a trip odometer and calories-burned calculator. Also available is a Smartphone GocycleConnect app, which links to GoCycle with Bluetooth, and you can set modes that way. The app also can shut the GoCycle off, if it gets stolen.
With GoCycle, you don’t have to worry about getting into the wrong gear. The electric motor powers the front wheel, while the pedals power the rear wheel.
Either you are in command, changing the gears as you pedal along, or, when the motor is engaged, you let GoCycle intuitively change gears for you.
“What makes this bike unique, is that you can use it as a bicycle with no drag from the motor. It’s just so easy to ride. It figures out what you need and gives it to you. It’s amazing,” said Roger Moore, owner of Nautical Ventures of Dania Beach, a business that carries GoCycles.
Other features include high-tech, durable injection-molded magnesium fabrication; three-speed fully enclosed drive chain (so your clothes don’t get greasy or caught up); and interchangeable side-mounted front and rear wheels with hydraulic disc brakes. It comes in white, black and gray; and it weighs 35 pounds.
With four parts – frame, wheels, saddle – it’s technically foldable (to a dimension of 2 by 2.5 by 1 foot) and storable, so it’s ideal for yachts. Also, since it’s easily adjustable without tools, its driving position can be changed, and it can be made to fit a variety of body types, so the bike can be shared by different riders.
No special license is necessary; it can be ridden wherever a bike can be ridden.
The GoCycle, priced at $5,199, comes with a storage case, and is available at Nautical Ventures, 50 South Bryan Road, Dania Beach, where it also can be serviced. For information, call (954) 926-5250.
Accessories, including packs, mud guards and lighting, can be purchased.
“We just became dealers, and we’ve already sold a few,” Moore said. “We sell tenders, and for people with boats who want portability, it’s killer.
“We call it the ‘GoCycle smile.’ Customers, who take it for a ride, come back with big grins. It’s cool with all these intuitive features.”
Share or discuss
Sunday 4 January 2015
Link to Palm Beach Daily News Story:
If you buy a Universal Hovercraft Renegade IQ, not only can you hover, but you also can use it as a Jet Ski, snowmobile, amphibian, airboat and four-wheeler. No matter your destination, this hovercraft is an easy-to-drive two-passenger vehicle.
The Renegade IQ hovercraft, which comes with an LED headlight, rear-view mirrors, and cruiser windshield, is priced at $32,000.
Like a Jet Ski from the floorboards up, it has handlebars and a bench seat. But it also has a vertical fan that blows air underneath the hull, and a flexible skirt around the edge that keeps the air from dissipating too quickly, creating a bubble of high pressure that lifts and moves the craft.
“Mom can get in one with her kid, turn a key, hit the throttle and enjoy a hovercraft ride,” said Matt Stewart, who represents the company and also works for Nautical Ventures in Dania Beach.
“I could teach a 10-year-old how to drive it in a few minutes.”
For those who want some excitement, “you can be at a 30-degree drifting turn, while also doing 360-degree spins, if you can imagine that. It’s epic,” Stewart said. “The sensory experience is unparalleled.
“I can teach people to do 360s right off the bat, too.”
A sort of science-fiction vehicle that moves suspended in air, it seems otherworldly, even if you know the physics behind it. And, while it can’t go to Mars, it can go places no other vehicle can, such as over shallow water, thin ice or deep mud, as long as the surface is relatively flat.
It has a 29 horsepower engine, can go up to 50 mph and cruises at 35 mph. Seven gallons of gas will take you 140 miles. It’s registered as a boat, so you don’t need a driver’s license.
If you live on the water, you can just drive it out of the garage and into the water. Or, if you are in the water and want to bring it onto a beach that allows boats, you can drive it up on the sand.
They are compact, relatively lightweight, and can easily be stowed aboard most yachts.
With a foam core that’s wrapped with layers of Kevlar, it’s crash proof, Stewart said.
“Others have two fans: one that lifts and one that pushes forward. What the Renegade has is the lift and thrust with one propeller, so it’s less weight, which means you can pull it on a trailer behind a Mini Cooper; it’s simpler to operate and quieter.”
In the making for 10 years
Universal Hovercraft, headquartered in Rockford Ill. and founded by Bob Zang, has been in existence for 30 years. “The current owner, Bill Zang, likes to say ‘Uncle Bob didn’t invent them, but he was a pioneer,’ ” Stewart said. “From what I understand, Bob saw one on TV when he was young, and said ‘I’m going to make those,’ and that was it.”
The Renegade, made to be consumer-focused, has been in the making for 10 years. Its soft start was three years ago, and it was officially launched during the Miami Boat Show in 2014.
Universal Hovercraft makes 20 models, including commercial crafts, sports crafts that can hold several people, search-and-rescue crafts, and even a craft for kids.
Flies off the water
If you want to get really fancy, you can purchase its highest end hovercraft, the Hoverwing, which flies off the water.
The Renegade IQ, which comes with an LED headlight, rear-view mirrors, and cruiser windshield, is priced at $32,000. While it can go on any trailer, one designed specifically for it, the EZ Load Trailer, is priced at $1,890.
To price-compare some options, if you want to put the Renegade IQ together yourself, you can buy it as a kit for $23,995, or you can go all out and get the 240-horsepower Hoverwing for $190,000.
The Renegade IQ is available at Nautical Ventures, 50 South Bryan Road., Dania Beach. For $80, you can attain a demo-flight experience. For more information, call (954) 926-5250.
Share or discuss
Wednesday 10 December 2014
Built in the late 1920s and little altered since, the estate captures the grandeur and whimsy of its era.
Architect Marion Sims Wyeth set the front door into an elaborate stone frontispiece with a stepped-back arch and a Juliet -style railed balcony above it. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty
The historic architecture and the natural light — especially the way sunshine filters through the original stained-glass windows — are as special as they are lovely, said Merrilyn Bardes about her historic estate at 196 Banyan Road.
“I thought the house was magical when I bought it in 1998, and I still think it’s magical,” she said.
Designed by noted society architects John Volk and Gustav Maass for owner Harry Thomas, the 1929 Mediterranean-style house stands on a prime Estate Section street, and exemplifies the fanciful and elaborate homes of its era.
Just look at the report prepared before the house was granted landmark-protection status by the town in 1979. It aptly describes the house as a product of its time, a “unique example of the economic and social atmosphere during the Boom Time era of the 1920s. It was constructed after the hurricanes of 1926 and 1928, and just as the financial collapse of 1929 began. It represents one of the last ornate and expensive estates to be built in Palm Beach.”
At 196 Banyan Road, the landmarked home's two wings flank multiple outdoor terraces that were built by homeowner Merilynn Bardes. Landscape architect Mario Nievera, today of Nivera Williams Design, created the hardscape plan, while Bardes chose the plants. The house is listed for sale at $14.5 million through Sotheby s International Realty. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty
In the ocean block at the corner of South County Road, the main part of the L-shaped house fronts Banyan Road, while the more utilitarian rooms and garage run along County Road. Along the back of the house are loggias and terraces descending to a pool, which is set amid lush tropical landscaping.
Because Bardes has downsized, her four-story, seven-bedroom, 10-bathroom, three-half-bath home with a tower, staff rooms and 13,077 square feet of living space, inside and out, has been offered for sale. Sotheby’s International Realty agents Cristina Condon and Todd Peter have set a price of $14.5 million.
Much is original
Like many architects of the era, Volk not only had a hand in the architecture but also in selecting the furnishings, according to John L. Volk, Palm Beach Architect, a book compiled by the Volk family.
Visitors pass through the front door into a small foyer and then into the main hallway, where an arched passageway pierces the staircase and leads to the rear loggia. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty
“Volk traveled to Spain to find the furnishings, tiles, rugs and decorative materials for the house. A coffered ceiling was created from one small portion Volk found in a palace in Salamanca. He took the section and had it duplicated to create enough individual sections to cover the entire drawing-room ceiling. The decorative tiles for the stairways and bathrooms came from Seville and Barcelona.”
Adding to the history of the house, Bardes mentions that the late H. Loy Anderson was a former owner — followed by two more owners — before she purchased it in 1998. She has left the house mostly unchanged, except for the family room.
“It was a breakfast room and bar divided by pocket doors,” she said. “I redid them to be one big family room.”
She used pecky-cypress paneling and tile flooring, which blends with the original Cuban tile used on the first floor of the home.
“The Volk book will also tell you that the materials that he used cannot be reproduced today,” she said. “You can’t find Cuban tiles anymore, and nobody can make stained glass and the cast stone like this house has.”
Some of the stone details she’s referring to include elements adorning the stucco facades: a decorative frontispiece, with an arched door and a “Juliet”-style balcony above it, and a handsome stone cornice that embellishes the roof line.
Cinquefoil arched windows fitted with leaded glass create a romantic play of light in the foyer, living room, and dining-room gallery. Other architectural elements in the public areas include intricate ceilings, a carved-stone fireplace and crown moldings.
All in the details
A romantic double staircase with colorful tile risers greets visitors as they arrive from the foyer.
“The wrought-iron on the double staircase is one of my favorite things about the house,” Bardes said. “On the landing, you look through a basket of flowers made of wrought iron.”
With twin flights of stairs, a grand staircase greets visitors to the house. The living room can be seen at the rear left. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty
The home was made for entertaining, she noted, and it was a breeze to decorate.
“So much of my furniture that I’ve had forever — it just walked in, found a place to live and was happy,” she said.
Gothic-style arches with cinquefoil details adorn a wall in the stately dining room, which is large enough to seat 12 or even more comfortably. The Cuban-tile floors are original. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty
The master bedroom and bathroom are above the living room and loggia, and open to a broad second-floor terrace that wraps around the outside of the staircase landing.
“The master bathroom has the most beautiful pair of Art Deco sinks, with all the original brass knobs and spouts,” she said. “They are just perfect, and the tile is cobalt blue. It is magnificent. The whole tub area is beautifully tiled and the floor has terra cotta tiles, inset with tiles that have medieval hunting scenes. The ceiling is pretty — arched with rounded beams — and the windows facing Banyan have the same stained glass as downstairs.”
By the time she bought the property, the grounds needed work, and it was in this area that she worked her own breed of magic. A longtime member of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, she chose tropical plant materials and commissioned landscape architect Mario Nievera to design the hardscape.
“The house sits on almost an acre, and Volk had designed a beautiful fountain with tiles that came from Spain. But it was all long gone by the time I bought the house,” she said. “Now, there are steps that go down to the swimming pool, which is kind of surprise, since it can’t be seen from the main terrace.
“The landscaping sort of fell into place. Choosing a tree is like choosing a dress. You have to love it, and that’s kind of the way I garden.
“It’s definitely a tropical garden, with many species of palms. I have quite a few cycads, a fabulous Queen Fego palm, and a pink rain tree, Albizia Saman, that covers the terrace. I have my coveted Lady of the Night, which is a heavily scented plant, outside my kitchen door and another outside my family room door.
Other plants include a big gardenia, specimen hybrid hibiscus, an all-spice tree, bay-rum tree and bougainvillea — all of which have provided a lush backdrop for the outdoor parties and fundraisers she has hosted at the estate.
Share or discuss