ISLAMORADA -- Several years ago, when Shari Tribby rode in a go-fast boat for the first time, she grimaced so hard from the bouncing that she bit her tongue, and she clutched the hand rest so tightly that the unsteady ride left her with bruises on her arms.
The experience was so unpleasant that Tribby, who a year ago opened Bone Island Bob's marina on Lower Matecumbe Key with husband Bob Milligan, vowed never to ride in a go-fast boat again.
But now Tribby isn't just riding in go-fast boats, she's selling them.
Recently, Bone Island Bob's, located between Mr. Lobster and Crazy Billy's Country Store, on the former site of Sandy Cove Marina, became the only authorized dealer in Florida of Ocean Express go-fast catamarans.
Generally, Ocean Express boats are custom made at the company's Michigan plant to the buyers' specifications, but Bone Island Bob also took delivery of three demo boats in December. They can be seen parked along the Lower Matecumbe frontage road, in front of the marina.
Milligan also helps design the boats and makes periodic trips to Ocean Express' Algonac, Mich. plant, he said.
Tribby says Ocean Express has changed her mind about go-fast boats.
"They're awesome. They're catamarans. They ride up above the waves, so you're not feeling the chop," she said.
Ocean Express is the inspiration of Ross Focht, who pioneered go-fast racing catamarans in the 1970s and '80s, even winning a world championship in Key West in 1982. Today, Focht is out of the racing business and instead puts his innovative efforts toward go-fast catamarans for fishermen, sport boaters and poker runs.
The poker run catamarans are built chiefly for speed, without extra frills in the cabin that would weight them down, the Ocean Express website says. The fishing catamarans are designed with special features for anglers. The sleek-looking sport catamarans offer a large cockpit and an enclosed cabin. Ocean Express refers to them as an "all around fun dayboat." Boats range in size from 22 to 56 feet.
Whatever their purpose, all of the Ocean Express boats are plenty fast, said Milligan, and generally can go 85 miles per hour without any special adjustments or equipment. He guaranteed the vessels will go 65 mph. As for fuel, Milligan say Ocean Express catamarans burn approximately three miles per gallon. The company's website says they are 35 to 40 percent more efficient than the typical v-hulled boats.
Catamarans are typically more efficient than their singled-hulled competitors, Milligan said, because the twin hulls trap air, giving the boats lift and leaving less of the hull to push through water. The lifting effect is also the reason that Ocean Express vessels provide a much smoother ride than traditional single-hulled go-fast boats, he explained.
Ocean Express boats range in price from $80,000 to $400,000. They can be tailored for U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement use.
In addition to boat sales, Bone Island Bob's offers a full compliment of marina services, including dry storage, repairs, a put-in ramp and a deep sea fishing charter. The marina can be reached at 305-664-4142 or found online atboneislandbobs.com.