I love Boat Show time in Annapolis! My efriend Melissa Renee put it this way: "I love this show. So many new shiny boats begging for owners that will love them. Many gadgets to buy in all the booths. Pussers painkillers in tin mugs to drink. The best weather in the history of the show."
We went on to detail our purchases. We can be excited about "girl stuff" - she bought the same nesting cookware I bought last year, and I got new shades for our portholes (expensive, but hey, this is my home). But we are sailors after all, and got equally excited about boat hardware - a snatch block for her and a 6-part purchase for me.
In our crowd, no one asks "if" you're going to the boat show; they ask "which day(s)?" And the only topic of conversation in the evening is "Whadjaget?" Answers can range anywhere from "a couple of keychain floats, beer coozies, and a t-shirt" to big ticket items like solar panels, watermaker, or sails. New breathable rain gear (or "foulies" as we call them), and binoculars were other popular items.
Our boat had been used as a daysailer and floating condo before we bought it, and we're gradually getting the systems up to standard for extended cruising. Dan and I went to the show on Friday, and spent 6-1/2 hours walking through the vendors' tents. Some really clever ideas in boat gear to explore, others I can only describe as "solutions to problems you didn't know you had." For us, it was equal parts Christmas morning (without the cold), and shoppers with a mission as we had quite a list of products to research. We barely had time to look at new boats, but we certainly contributed to the local economy and now there are a fistful of receipts on our board. And in the aftermath of the show, I'm blogging and Dan's bending pipe cleaners into a model of the arch he wants the steel fabricator to build for our boat.
Of course, it's a boat show, after all, so we had to look at the boats themselves. We're not in the market for another boat, being totally happy with the one we live on, but that doesn't stop us from shopping for ideas. A lot like going to open houses and looking at model homes, I learn the most in my own price bracket or slightly above. We tend to look at boats that are more or less within our own size range - 30 to 36 feet. I can't wrap my mind around the luxuries aboard an 80-foot megayacht. The boats at the show, and their prices, were impressive for the most part. Some of the production boats were forced to make some changes, compromising on materials to keep the boat in a certain price range. (Melissa Renee confirmed this with one of the sales people at the show.) Sad in that sense, but I'm all for anything that will allow more people to get into sailing.
Most of all, I love the energy of the out-of-town crowds, the chance to meet/reconnect with friends from far away who've come in for the show. We had parties or friends over almost every night, and I had more than my fill of pizza, munchies, beer. One particularly fun gathering was a group from an internet sailing site - some of us have been emailing for years, and now have a face to put with a screen name. Mike and Christie won the 'distance award' for that group, having flown in from Colorado for the show. Now the powerboaters are in town, and its a totally different vibe. Hoping to get downtown for some good people-watching this afternoon!
Mike and Christie, taking a break from the show