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Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, and co-host of The Giz Wiz at GizWiz.TV, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now, and on Tech Guy Labs with Leo Laporte on But wait, there's More »

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    As East Coast Editor, I was in every issue of Powerboat Magazine for 40 years. Although Powerboat ceased publication, my love of boats, and marine gadgets continues and you can find some unique and interesting products here. If you're into Performance Boating Jason Johnson and Matt Trulio of Powerboat Magazine carry on with news for the go-fast set with their web based


    The Giz Wiz Gets A Visit From The Folks At BoatUS

    I've been a member of BoatUS since it started. In the December / January 2018, this article appeared in their trendy BoatUS magazine. Thanks to Rich Armstrong and Scott Croft for doing that. 

    'MAD' Man Across The Water

    By Rich Armstrong

    Humor writer Dick DeBartolo has a passion for both punch lines and fast powerboats.

    Dick DeBartolo aboard his pilothouse powerboatFunnyman Dick DeBartolo aboard his 23-foot Farallon pilothouse powerboat, the 26th boat he's owned. (Photo: Scott Croft)

    Among the rites of passage among American men of a certain age, especially the smart-alecky ones, was growing up reading MAD, the wickedly funny satirical magazine still publishing after 65 years.

    Dick DeBartolo holds the distinction of having his writing included in every issue dating back to 1966, earning him the comedic title of "MAD's Maddest Writer." You also may know him as the Giz Wiz gadget guy on TV, and he initially made a name for himself writing the humorous, evocative questions for the popular celebrity panel TV game show Match Game.

    "Just do the things you want to do is my philosophy," he says. "I've had good-paying jobs that weren't fun, and I left them."

    Born in Brooklyn, New York, he moved across the East River to Manhattan and never left. Funny by nature and searching for a career, he submitted a satirical TV commercial script to the New York City-published MAD, which he enjoyed reading. To his surprise, it was accepted and DeBartolo had his career, which he merrily continues today at age 71.

    "I always try to get involved in things I really love — like boating," he says. "In the mid-1960s, I moved to [Manhattan's] Upper West Side. I used to walk along the Hudson River and I loved looking at the boats, even though I knew nothing about boats."

    Although this city boy has never owned a car or even had a driver's license, he's now the proud owner of his 26th boat.

    "I started with an 18-foot boat, which had a 225-hp sterndrive and went 52 miles per hour," he recalls. "On my first trip, I tried running it at full throttle, and at that point I was hooked on fast boats."

    With his newfound love of fast boats, DeBartolo pitched another magazine he liked, Powerboat, which is all about fast powerboats. The publication accepted him, and he had a second career writing about boats, which he did for 42 years, until the magazine ceased publication in 2011.

    A lifelong New Yorker who boats regularly is a bit of an anomaly in "the city that never sleeps," but this funny man has a simple answer for that.

    "I love the water, but I hate the beach," he explains. "People ask me why I got a boat. I tell them it's the only way to get to the ocean without walking across sand."

    His latest boat is a 23-foot Farallon, a stout, seaworthy fiberglass pilothouse boat built in California to handle sloppy seas.

    "I got tired of worrying when I hit a log in the Hudson," he says, and keeps the boat, named Applause 26, in the water year-round at the West 79th Street Marina, a four-block walk from his apartment. He has a new 250-hp Yamaha outboard for power. Farallons are designed as workboats, but DeBartolo customized his with a small berth that sleeps two, a dining area, and plenty of storage.

    "I wanted a boat I could use year-round, and a closed cabin where I could warm up," he says, and he does. Even on a bitter January day, DeBartolo could very well be the only pleasure boater cruising the Hudson. In his mind, he has a cottage on the river that he can escape to any time he wants.

    "To me, boats are like therapy. You leave the dock with hands clamped on the wheel, and then the time on the water just relaxes you and you come back refreshed," he says. "Forty years later, it still feels the same way."


    The Giz Wiz Is A Fan of this Fan. 

    The Caframo Sirocco II (II is new version) 7" 12 and 24 Volt fan features a unique gimbaled design that allows airflow to be directed in any direction of the cabin - 360°. I like that it can also be folded flat and out of the way against the bulkhead when not in use. It's a 3 speed fan with an extra features I really like. A 3, 6, 9, and 12 hour timer setting. I used to worry about leaving the cabin fan on when I left the battery which would mean coming back to a dead battery. But with the timer setting it will go off automatically after the number of hours you choose. It has manual on/off too if you want that. The is also very quiet and the blades shouldn't hurt your fingers if for some reason you (or maybe the kid's stick their fingers in.) I stuck my fingers in and they stopped the blades with doing any damage, as least to my fingers. This is a premium fan that should last for years. MSRP is $129.99, but it's available for under $100 online.

    It was $95.80 here as of 6/7/17 with free shipping, but not Amazon Prime.

    Company website:


    From the NY Boat Show, I a bought a little something new for my older boat!


    World Introduction of the new Sea Ray SLX 400 at the NY International Boat Show.

    Here's what Sea Ray says about their brand new SLX 400. (I'm added my comments in brackets, like this one.) The SLX 400 was conceived as the ideal entertaining vessel for socializing with large groups of family and friends. (It can sit 16 to 20 people, but keep safety in mind.) It's marketed as ‘the Entertainer,’ because boaters will be hard pressed to find anything this boat can’t do — or store. For those into stand-up paddle boarding, you’ll find enclosed storage for two full-sized boards. Additional storage throughout the boat holds large items, towels and other belongings safely out of the fray. For entertaining there's a well-appointed wet bar with refrigerator, sink and available dual grills. The transom entertainment zone — featuring a stereo, sprayer, and comfy aft-facing seating overlooking the integral extended swim platform. The most remarkable cockpit feature is the innovative new fold-down patio, a brilliantly designed wing of the hull that opens 90 degrees to expand the cockpit all the way to the water. (This is unique, I haven't seen it before in a boat this size. The SLX 400 include Axius® joystick control, for effortless docking and maneuvering in the tightest of spaces. (I've used Sea Ray joystick control on a different 40+ Sea Ray boat and it is amazingly easy to use, especially for leaving the dock and returning.) Raymarine® 14” glass displays let you create your dashboard instrument layout. Below deck there's a private head with shower, luxury sleeping for four, flat screen TV and more. Engine options to power this beauty between 40 and 50 mph. Depending on options it can range up to the $500,000 range.


    Giz Wiz Video: (Forgive the low volume in the video. This was not a trade show, and a salesman was with a customer, so I'm talking very softly.)


    Company website:


    Great Yamaha outboard news to my 'nautical' ears! 

    Here's news I've been waiting for: Yamaha Marine Group's mechanical control versions of its legendary 225- and 250-horsepower 4.2-liter V6 Offshore outboards are shipping. The model F250XB is available in both left and right-hand rotation if you're installing twin engines, and the F225XB is right-hand rotation only. “Boaters who need mechanical control can now enjoy all of the legendary 4.2-liter V6 offshore benefits,” said Ben Speciale, Yamaha Marine Group President. "These outboards are great repower solutions for boats that don’t need digital electronic control, yet can benefit from Yamaha’s light weight, high efficiency 4.2-liter offshore platform.” (Hey, that's me they're talking about! I want to repower, but I don't want to replace all the instruments and have to rewire the boat.) These new models have big-bore V6 displacement thanks to plasma-fused sleeveless cylinders. This technology results in an outboard with the largest displacement in its class. Electronic Fuel Injection make these outboards up to 17 percent more fuel efficient. This is good news too: V6 Offshore Mechanicals are more than 50 pounds lighter than the venerable Yamaha 3.3-liter V6s. When repowering with the Yamaha 4.2-liter V6 Mechanicals, there is typically no need to change over to a new control box, thus providing an economical solution for work boats or other craft where digital control is not needed or desired. (That's me again!) The new F250XB is is exactly what I want to repower my Farallon workboat with and I'll trade-in my 2003 model Yamaha outboard. I'll be checking these hard-working engines out in person at NY Boat Show, January 25-29, 2017. Here's more info on the new engines via Yamaha: