If it had ever been suggested to me that I’d be spending the day walking around the harbor in Annapolis, Maryland in my bare feet on a damp fall day in the beginning of October I’d think you were crazy. Well, you’re not. I was in my bare feet and loving it. The 45th United States Sailboat Show was last weekend in Annapolis and my sister, Andrea, and her fiancé, Matt, meet me for an afternoon of ogling.
The show is one of the largest boat shows in the world, specializing in every kind of ship under sail and the largest in-water boat show in the country. The five-day event hosts boats of all sizes buy every major manufacturer. The harbor is a web of floating docks and boats letting you leisurely walk over the water from one side of the harbor to the other.
If you want to climb on board, kick off your shoes and explore above and below the decks of hundreds of boats. You’ll find small 15’ day sailors and 90’ luxurious yachts. I swear some the catamarans on display would qualify as a small cruise ship.
Andi, Matt and I spent the most of our time climbing around the boats of the Catalina section. I have found that Catalina owners, like Matt, feel like they are members of a club (much like Amanda and her Fiat). We checked out boats of similar layouts and varying sizes to get a sense of space for a possible upcoming joint purchase. But, Matt and I aren’t exactly rich, so the brand new boats sitting in the harbor with base prices of $150,000 were little out of reach. I found out recently that we missed the section of harbor called Brokerage Cove where there were dozens of used boats for sale (Amanda thinks this was a good thing). I guess it’s also an example of how big the show is, that you can miss a whole section of the harbor.
The boats themselves weren’t the only things to look at; scores of tents were set up with the latest electronics, accessories, clothing and nautical antiques. We even found a great booth that had jackets and bags made out of old sails. The afternoon was absolutely perfect, even with the cloudy skies and occasional rain.
If you’re planning to attend, I suggest parking at the Navy-Marine Corp Stadium and taking one of the dozen buses running free shuttle service to the show. The parking was $10.00 and, trust me, you won’t find an easier way to get in and out of downtown, where parking is hard on a normal day. A one-day Regular Admission ticket to the show was $18.00 a 2-day was $31.00.
The sailboat show wasn’t just a place to buy and look at boats, but a place to talk to the various owners and dealers to trade stories about sailing, sailing vacations, and lessons. I couldn’t believe that it took me 20 years to get to the show, but I’m sure that it’s on my list of places to go next year. Or, if I can’t wait, they have a smaller (but equally amazing) Annapolis Spring Boat Show.