None of us needs any more reason to be frustrated about the COVID-19 pandemic. But if you are just now seeing some seriously cool lighting systems on the water and trying to figure out how the boat owners got them, you can absolutely blame the coronavirus for keeping you in the dark.
Imtra, the US representative for UK-based Lumishore, had been offering the Lumishore Lux lighting system exclusively to boatbuilders until early 2020, when the system made its debut for the general public at the Miami International Boat Show—”right before the world shut down,” says Tom “TJ” Orr, Imtra’s lighting project manager.
The plan had been to educate owners of boats up to about 90 feet length overall about how the Lumishore Lux system could give them the kinds of custom effects they see on superyachts, without the typical customization pricing and installation headaches. The lights can be installed in all kinds of combinations above the waterline, below the waterline or both. They can be set up to change colors, sweep, strobe, pulse with music and more, all depending on what kinds of effects the boat owner wants.
But with limited ways to demonstrate the Lumishore Lux system for boat owners in person, Imtra instead expanded the work it was doing directly with boatbuilders. That’s how, going into summer of this year, an increased number of hulls started making their way onto the water with all kinds of theatrical lighting effects. The Lumishore Lux system was available to everybody, including for refits, but most people heard about it only if they were buying a new boat.
“Mag Bay has this standard,” Orr says. “Chris-Craft is offering it. Pavati is offering it for their boats as an option. Jarrett Bay, Bayliss, F&S and Spencer are all custom builders. It’s one of the things they tell people about. They’ll contact us, and we walk them through to find out where the people want the lights. We make it as customizable as they want to get.”
Barrett Howarth, the vice president at Mag Bay Yachts, says that on his yard’s 42-foot model, customers can choose the Lumishore Lux system as an option in whatever parts of the boat they want. “We’ll put in strip lighting, underwater lighting, the downlights. It’s a pretty nice deal,” he says. “I can have my bait tank going with a strobe-and-disco look, my tower lit up another color—really anything.”
Almost every buyer of a Mag Bay boat these days is adding the Lumishore Lux system as an option, he says. And based on that business, he thinks that having a fully customizable lighting system on board a boat will become like having a Seakeeper or a large multifunction display. It will ultimately become something expected or standard.
“As a side project, I’m building myself an 18-foot Boston Whaler, and I’ve actually made provisions in my build for lighting,” he says. “I’m doing a full package: speaker lights, undergunwale lights, underwater lights. Whether I use it or not, that’s not really important. I think it’s important to have it on there.”
A full setup for a smaller boat like that Whaler, Orr says, can run about $2,500. For a midrange sport-fisherman with above- and below-waterline lights, the cost likely won’t top $15,000.
“It’s super-affordable for how advanced it is,” Orr says. “This is the most advanced thing on the market—and the only thing at this level that’s plug-and-play.”
Lumishore’s interface is simple to learn, Howarth says, and when boaters start using it, they get jazzed about ideas for personalizing their ride. A single screen tap can change the boat’s lights from standard white to theatrical scenes of all kinds.
“They give you a high level of customization,” Howarth says. “You can have different intensities of light in different zones. You can have one zone changing and one zone sweeping. You can have them strobing. You can dip down some of the lights 10 or 15 percent so you’re not blinding your bait. It’s fun stuff.”