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Found at the Boat Show

      For the first two weeks of October, the U.S. Boat Shows are the hottest ticket in Annapolis. 
If the boat bug has bitten you, taken even a little nibble, you’ll walk the blocks of exhibits and miles of floating dock in awe at the wonders of marine technology. As for boats themselves, you’ll see hundreds, including lots of new design trends and models on display with sellers persuasively explaining the merits of their craft.
       Buy a boat and you also buy a maritime lifestyle, which you can equip in exquisite, detail. Keep your eyes peeled for the unexpected — from a personal submersible, to a foldable canoe, to a four-wheeler that also functions as a jet ski.
      Most dealers offer Boat Show exclusive pricing, so it is a buyer’s market.
      Sailboat Show Oct. 4-8, Powerboat Show Oct. 11-14 (see 8 Days a Week).
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
      There are tons of freebies and giveaways, from koozies to crab mallets to canvas totes. I get my year’s crab mallets each Boat Show, plus a tote to carry them in.
–Audrey Broomfield
      I was the kid in the candy store on my early visits to the U.S. Boat Shows. I slipped off my shoes to board boat after boat after boat, awestruck at the amenities of each until overload shut me down. Over the years, I grew more selective, stalking the floating docks for my dreamboat. That’s how I heard the siren song of Sabres, backed up by Back Coves. Oh, the beauty of their lines! The wonder of their inlaid decking! They were out of my league, but how I lusted for such a boat.
     Undiminished over a couple of years, that lust led me to Albin 28s, priced at only about 20 — as opposed to 50 — times more than our accommodating little Sea Ray Sundancer. I blame it all on the Boat Show.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
A Boat Surveyor
      Next I found at the Boat Show was a boat surveyor, to hammer, peer and thoroughly inspect the boat I eventually found. The boatyard was in the Eastern Shore village of Trappe, where I knew nobody. But I had cards — and a good impression after 15 or 20 minutes of questioning — from the previous year’s Boat Show. The surveyor was from Kent Island, far enough north on the Shore to be neutral territory. From his nitpicking, I got my money’s worth.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
Is it a Boat Hook, Pump or Squirt Gun?
      The most useful things I’ve found at the Boat Shows are opinions and technical information. The show provides exceptional opportunities to meet manufacturers of every imaginable type of marine equipment, find out how it works and why it is absolutely essential to have at least one.
      One essential was an extendable boat hook that served as a pump. Extending the long tubes of the handle drew water in and seemed practical for bailing out hard-to-reach spots in the bottom of the boat. It also served as a very powerful squirt gun to surprise people on other boats or on the dock. Unfortunately, this clever device worked only a few times before it broke.
–Warren Lee Brown
My Dream Boat Mop
      I really couldn’t use another dreamboat given that I already had one sapping my family treasury. But I might be able to afford the sort of mop that kept the decks of all the Boat Show dreamboats shimmering so bright that you need sunglasses to look down. I checked my pocket to make sure.
      To me, the accessories you find at the Boat Show are as much fun as the boats; the purple lines, teak chart holders, brass gimbals and all those other marine geegaws that will fill an anchor-emblazoned shopping bag before you can say, Ahoy there!
      Then one day I saw it: the boat mop of my dreams. Forget all those stiff brushes that don’t clean corners and those cotton stringy things that turn black and require wringing out as if it’s the 1930s.
       What I found was idyllic: a soft brush with squeegee “for gentle, scratch-free cleaning,” a flow-through design, a water on-off switch and foam handle grips, all on a telescoping aluminum pole.
      I was in love. I think the price was $30, but the fellow gave it to me for 20 bucks either because the show was about over or I had bought other stuff.
      Please don’t tell anybody that I also use it to clean the tile in my ­billiard room.
–Bill Lambrecht
The Right Windlass
       A number of year’s back I decided that to be a serious Chesapeake Bay fisherman, I needed a windlass for my boat. In terms of cost, installation time and the big holes I would cut in my boat, this would be the biggest project I had ever attempted.
        So I did substantial research, starting online. Locally, the model I wanted was nowhere to be seen. The Boat Show was only a short time away, so I held off my purchase. At the Boat Show, I was able not only to see my preferred model but also many others.
      My plan was to make a final decision at the Boat Show, then come home and order the windlass from whatever online vendor had the lowest price. On further reflection, I realized that if I bought it online and ran into trouble, I would have no one to call for help. A local dealer matched the online price and promised to answer the phone if I called for help.
–Bob Melamud
Protection in Case of What If 
      The sails rip, the mast comes down, the rudder breaks, a crewmember needs surgery, something catches on fire, we run out of food or drinking water … Just a few of the things to worry about when planning an offshore passage from the Chesapeake to the Caribbean. What if we hit a whale and the boat sinks?
      Over 1,500 miles in the ocean, a lot of things can happen. 
      The Annapolis Boat Show provides great opportunity to inspect and select safety gear, including a life raft.
       Seems simple, but there are dozens of choices of life raft: ISO or ISAF or SOLAS standards, insulated floor or not? Valise or canister storage? Canopy design? Ballast bags? Gluten-free emergency rations and a water maker? Do you want to tread water with the sharks nibbling at your toes, thinking you saved a lot of money, or invest in the top of the line?
       We finally chose one with the best reputation for quality and rigorous offshore standards. The last question was: Do you want a Bible or playing cards?
      Fortunately, we didn’t need either. Over 12 days and nights at sea, as well as a 12-day return trip from the Virgin Islands to Annapolis the next spring, the raft was never deployed. But we felt secure knowing it was there.
–Warren Lee Brown 
Pit Beef and Possibility
       The most enduring thing I have found at the Boat Show is the pit beef at the Fleet Reserve Club. I’ve been going to the show for over 30 years; the boats and accessories often change, but the pit beef remains the best I’ve had in town. Maybe the excitement and energy of all those people spending a day in dreamland makes the food taste better. Whatever the reason, I can always count on the quintessential Maryland pit beef experience.
       This year I’ve been thinking it’s time to trade the Jet Ski in for a small day-sailor, so for the first time in many years I will be attending the Sailboat Show. Everything will be different, except for my lunch.
–Bob Melamud
A Must-See
      Living in or around Annapolis, there are things you should do at least once. Feasting at the Rotary Crab Feast. Cheering the Mids at a Navy home football game. Touring the state capitol — the only one still in use that was also the federal government’s seat. Catching a ride to dinner on the water taxi. Burning your socks on the vernal equinox.
       And, of course, visiting the U.S. Boat Shows. Deal with parking, brave the crowds and check it out. There’s nothing like it.
–J. Alex Knoll

From the Seller’s Side
Peter Mueller, Harbour Cove Marina
      Once you have found your dreamboat, the next step is to find a place to keep it. The Annapolis Boat Shows offer a great opportunity to shop around for marinas and land storage options. I have been working the Boat Show for about 10 years for Harbour Cove Marina in Deale. We have 64 wet slips and covered storage racks for 180 boats. 
       The show is an excellent way to drum up business for slip rentals and outboard engine sales. The sales might not take place immediately at the show, but the booth provides a chance to meet people and develop leads that often materialize in the future. Last year, at least two new customers were gained from the show; other visitors to the booth may still be good prospects for years ahead. Sometimes it seems that we are selling dreams and a lifestyle that may take time to become a reality. 
      The show also is a great opportunity to meet other people in the marine trades to provide a feel for what the competition is doing. Of special interest is how the population of boaters is aging and what marinas are doing to accommodate older boaters. Being upstream from a bridge, we don’t cater to sailboats, but we do have customers who have switched from sail to power.
       The Annapolis show in the water is much more fun than the indoor displays of other shows. I also find that the Annapolis show offers lots of interesting equipment; everyone needs some new gadget.
       I’ve noticed that a lot of people get into boating and buy a new boat without basic safety training, without understanding the dangers of the Bay and not really considering the costs of operating a boat. I can’t promise good weather, safe navigation or success in fishing, but we do organize classes for marina customers on these important topics.