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Smuggler's Blues

Driving the original Miami Vice boat (Wellcraft Scarab 38KV)

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Smuggler's Blues

About eight years ago I had just been made redundant as a yacht broker due to the recession and was trying my damnedest to build a career as a freelance marine journalist writing for boat magazines in the UK, with limited success it has to be said. 

In 2011, having penned a few articles for a then big UK boat magazine called Motor Boats Monthly, a friend (who knew I was a massive Vice fan) told me that the original Miami Vice Wellcraft Scarab (the boat Sonny used from Season Two onwards) had been fully restored and was up for sale. I checked out the web site and then emailed the editor of MBM saying we should do an article. He agreed, and asked me to speak to the owner, get some info and a few photos sent over and write something up.

I contacted the owner, a lovely guy called Jim who had the boat in Ohio who said 'great, come out and have a go on it'. I spoke to the editor and said 'you got to let me go out and do this'. He said he'd love to, but there was no budget for flights and hotels, sorry. Desperate for the chance to see and experience the boat I told him that if he covered the expenses I'd do the article for him for free. No dice. So then I said, what's the most he could pay me for the article? He told me, I worked out the cost of flights etc and it didn't cover them. But it wasn't far enough off to stop me. I spoke to Jim, booked the flights and went (it was only the second flight I'd taken in my life at that point!)

The result was the trip of a lifetime. Jim and his friends Mark and Kyle that joined us and helped were fantastic company. I was there for three days and they really looked after me, we all had a great time. I bought a new Nikon SLR before I left (I knew nothing about photography, just stuck it on 'auto' and hoped for the best) and borrowed a video camera. The weather was amazing and the boat was unbelievable! It looked like new but was authentically restored so it looked exactly as it did in Season Two (there were other Scarabs in later series - if you look closely you'll notice that colours and spec change slightly as the seasons progress - the radar arch changes from white to silver and spolights appear on it later on for example).

I edited the video and put it on YouTube at the time. I wasn't great at video editing and the music I used (such as Crocketts Theme) caused the soundtrack to be silenced due to copyright violation. So anyway, I have re-edited it as best I can (unfortunately the original footage was lost, so I had to edit the edited video) and have put it on my AQUAHOLIC YouTube site. You'll find it here (as well as some video of my current boat 'Smuggler's Blues 2', my previous boat 'Smuggler's Blues' and the boat before that from a while ago, 'Mi Vice II' - you may notice a theme to my boat names!)

It was the trip of a lifetime for me for lots of reasons. As a massive Vice fan and boat enthusiast, driving the original Vice boat was like a Trekkie getting a ride on the USS Enterprise. I made lifelong friends, visited the USA for the first time, and it even kick started my career. I got a terrific five page feature out of it, and two weeks later I had a call from the editor, would I go back to America to do a new boat test for them, this time all expenses paid. I ended up Boat Test Editor of that magazine a couple of years later, in great part due to the Miami Vice boat trip giving me the opportunity to show them what I could do.

If you'd like to see Crockett's boat in action, you can find the videos here: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCitH5iJ0s-YwbuAg3MIo4Aw/videos

Incidentally - Part 5 is just a series of still photographs, but amongst them are shots of the boat's interior, something you never see on the show. 

I hope you enjoy the videos, they bring back some amazing memories for me every time I watch them. 

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vicegirl85

Nice footage!  I can believe it was the trip of a lifetime!  Thanks for sharing :)

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Smuggler's Blues

You're very welcome. I'll dig out some photos of the trip later and add them to the post.

Incidentally, if anyone viewing them has a YouTube account and can give any or all of the videos a 'thumbs up' it would be hugely helpful. I'm not an expert on YouTube, but I'm lead to believe it helps the videos in the search rankings and it would be quite nice to get them 'out there'.

Cheers, and I'll be back with some photos when I get a chance. 

 

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Smuggler's Blues

A few photos as promised.

You can also see the feature I wrote about it on my web site www.nickburnham.co.uk 

Click 'Portfolio' then 'copy'

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Stinger390X

Hey SmugglersBlues good to hear your story!

Jim did a remarkable job getting that boat back to original and it looks fabulous.

Too bad I didn't know about your trip? I am over in Niagara on Lake Ontario and I could have taken you out on "MY VICE" which is my boat. You could have done a shoot of my boat as well as it is far rarer than the Scarab. I always liked the Scarab and a guy I knew of owned one of them back in 88 here in Niagara called "Champaign Flight"

Although the Chris Craft and Scarab are both great  introduced in the show,they are quite dated as to todays technology. If you had come by I could have taken you out on my friends Profile or my other buddy's Hustler or my friends Fountain. These boats top out at over 110mph each and make my boat look slow at only 65mph. I still have fun on mine though every summer out on the lake. I personally can't afford to go any faster but it's fun to go out once in while in my pals boats for a thrill!

If your ever in Niagara for any reason feel free to contact me through here and I will be glad to take you for a ride in my dinosaur and my buddy's real speedboats!

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Edited by Stinger390X
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Smuggler's Blues

Hey Stinger - wow next lake up and I never knew! I think to have driven both Vice boats might have blown my mind however..! :D

Yours looks fantastic, and I love the little one next to it decked out in the same colours.

Whilst I think the Scarab has become known as THE Vice boat, the Stinger was the original, is the one that appears in every single episode in the opening credits, and of course features in those incredible scenes running out to the Bahamas and back in Calderone's Return with 'Voices' and What's Love' playing - surely amongst the most epic of the Miami Vice scenes that helped cement its reputation. 

If ever I get out that way again I shall be sure to look you up! 

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Stinger390X

The little boat is a "Fantasy 13" I picked up cheap as a joke. I painted it to match the big one and we play with it out on the bay all the time. It's loads of fun!!!

The CC is one of 12 made and is hull "120" which means it's the one hundred and twentieth boat built that year of the 201 hulls produced by them. Two boats were leased by Universal studios and the other ten were sold to regular people. I am the third owner of the boat and it is still essentially all original except for the power. It has two newer engines in it now.

Here is a short video of the small boat out in my bay.....

 

MOV02733.MPG

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Stinger390X

Here is a short clip of my pals and I playing around in the bay...

 

MOV02777.MPG

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Smuggler's Blues

That's awesome! It looks like a shark getting ready to strike! 

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IA-SteveB

Awesome adventure.  I love the pictures of the engine bay and the sound lets you know there is some power on tap.  I couldn't even imagine how much gas it takes to feed that pair of monsters.

Can you tell me what the radar arch is for aside from looking cool?  Does it serve a purpose?

Edited by IA-SteveB

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Stinger390X

The "radar arch" is exactly what it is for...a radar is usually mounted on top. There is a light underneath the arch to light up the daybed pads over the engine cover. I have the light but the radar was removed years ago and the three holes have been filled in. I use a chart plotter with a gps which also has dsp and vessel ident beacon capabilities so I don't need an antiquanted radar anymore. Radars are old school like Loran navigation guidance systems......................gone like the dinosours!

Besides housing the night light under the arch, it also makes a great place to put your drinks! :)    or you can hang a disco ball from it and party all night long!

 

discoball.jpg

Edited by Stinger390X
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Smuggler's Blues

Also sometimes used for attaching canopies and a useful place for nav lights and antenna.

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Stinger390X
On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2017 at 3:22 PM, Smuggler's Blues said:

Also sometimes used for attaching canopies and a useful place for nav lights and antenna.

My old boat had one that I made myself! I saw one on another boat just like mine and I asked the guy about it. He said he bought it at so&so's for a thousand dollars!!!

I made mine for 28 dollars and some cutting welding and painting myself. I mounted my VHF and UHF antenna and a pair of night lights.

 

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Smuggler's Blues

That looks really good! 

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Stinger390X

Yeh, that is my old boat before I bought the 390X.

I had both boats for two years and it was fun to flip a coin on which one I wanted to play with, but finally sold the 260.

 

MyToys.JPG

Edited by Stinger390X

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Smuggler's Blues

Nothing wrong with the 260, but you kept the right boat..! 

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Stinger390X

When I saw "The Great McCarthy" (episode 8 S1) on TV I fell in love with the boat and made a pact with myself that someday I would own one.

Took me over twenty years but I finally got one.

 

The 260 was a lot of fun and easily towed so I could go upriver or stay below the Falls. I had a Bronco and a dual axle trailer so I could move it around a lot easier than the 390. I have a Dually now because the tri-axle trailer is too much for a 1/2 ton type vehicle. The Bronco is too short a wheel base to tow it anywhere significant or across the Peninsula to Lake Erie, so the dually does the job well.

 

trkboat.jpg

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pahonu
On ‎12‎/‎1‎/‎2017 at 10:33 PM, Stinger390X said:

I use a chart plotter with a gps which also has dsp and vessel ident beacon capabilities so I don't need an antiquanted radar anymore. Radars are old school like Loran navigation guidance systems......................gone like the dinosours!

I don't know Stinger?  More than once I've been heading home through the channel outside the Port of LA/Long Beach gates in some crazy heavy fog.  Couldn't see a 1000+ foot container ship 100 yards away and that's waaaaay too close!  I was pretty glad we could follow the HEAVY ship traffic (busiest port on this side of the Pacific and in all of North America) on the radar and keep out of their way.  Also, there's the weather capabilities.  Just my experience.

 

Edited by pahonu

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Stinger390X

I ran an electronics and Radio store at the marina for years. In all that time I only installed one radar on a 42 foot cruiser and if I remember correctly it was a black and white system. I sold more radios and Chart plotters over the years than anything else. I was an Icom dealer and also sold Standard Verizon.

Radars does work good in fog up to a point, but the sales numbers say a lot to what people prefer. I know the big vessels still use radar as they must! Other systems such as "Loran" are all defunct in the Great Lakes because the frequencies they use are now derelict. The old Loran beacon sits in Lake Ontario near the Burlington Skyway 100 feet offshore and has been dormant for over 20 years! It takes a long time to change course for an 800+ foot long vessel. But.......these vessels travelling through the Great Lakes and the Welland Canal all run GPS ident signals transmitted on marine frequencies that are tied to the internet and rebroadcast on 144.390 for APRS. These technologies make everyone visible to everyone else.

There still are many vessels in my marina that are over 40 feet that run radar equipment and as long as they operate that is good. When they break, it is difficult to find parts and repair facilities to get them working again. Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu do not even manufacture them anymore sadly. It is a good system though.

Sadly even the commercial office for Speery Radar closed a few years ago. My buddy worked there(he's retired now) and they did all the maintenance and installs on ships from all over the world, as they travelled through the Canal.

Edited by Stinger390X

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Smuggler's Blues

AIS is becoming very popular on ever smaller boats on the coast in Europe. It transmits and receives boat info between other AIS equipped boats. All commercial traffic has it. What's cool is that you don't need to be on a boat to see it, web sites like this let you log in. 

www.marinetraffic.com

Take a look at the English Channel - the strip of water between the UK and France! One of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. 

That said, radar is still very popular for offshore work here in the UK, most boats over 40ft have it. The advantage with radar is that if it can 'see' it (get an echo) then so can you, so it shows up buoys, rocks, anything really above the water.

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Smuggler's Blues
On 09/12/2017 at 1:40 AM, Stinger390X said:

When I saw "The Great McCarthy" (episode 8 S1) on TV I fell in love with the boat and made a pact with myself that someday I would own one.

Took me over twenty years but I finally got one.

 

The 260 was a lot of fun and easily towed so I could go upriver or stay below the Falls. I had a Bronco and a dual axle trailer so I could move it around a lot easier than the 390. I have a Dually now because the tri-axle trailer is too much for a 1/2 ton type vehicle. The Bronco is too short a wheel base to tow it anywhere significant or across the Peninsula to Lake Erie, so the dually does the job well.

 

trkboat.jpg

I think The Great McCarthy was one of the episodes that made me fall in love with Miami Vice! 

What's great is that it's one of the episodes in which you can really see that Don Johnson can properly handle a boat. 

That rig looks fantastic! 

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pahonu
11 hours ago, Smuggler's Blues said:

That said, radar is still very popular for offshore work here in the UK, most boats over 40ft have it. The advantage with radar is that if it can 'see' it (get an echo) then so can you, so it shows up buoys, rocks, anything really above the water.

That reminded me, one time the fog was so dense as we approached the giant breakwater to the outer harbor that we couldn't see it from 50 yards, or tell where the gate was.  We cruised parallel to the radar image of the breakwater and when it showed the opening for Queen's Gate we cautiously made are way through.  Very unnerving!  We could hear the gate as we approached, but even the lights were fairly obscured.  This was on a 41 foot Formosa ketch. 

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