From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Seven Reasons To Go to the Annapolis Boat Shows

The U.S. Sailboat Show (October 9-13) and the U.S. Powerboat Show (October 16-19) unfold in Annapolis every fall, and thousands flock to Maryland’s capital to experience the impressive transformation of a quiet historic town into a sort of Disneyland for boaters. Here are seven reasons you should go.

Photo by Mark Talbott
Photo by Mark Talbott
  1. The shows offer great excuses to visit Annapolis. I often hear from friends in the DC metropolitan area or Pennsylvania say, “I love Annapolis, but I haven’t been there for a long time.” We’re all crazy busy. It takes a reason and a date penned on the calendar to escape our regular routines. These are Annapolis’s two most exciting weekends. You don’t want to miss them.
  2. To buy a fall jacket. Really. If you want an attractive high-tech, waterproof, layerable shell good in any season for outdoor activities, you will find a myriad of options at the Boat Shows. The same goes for deck shoes, warm boots, waterproof watches, sunglasses, floppy hats, sport gloves, handmade scarves, serious socks, and even unique nautical jewelry. If you’re already a boat owner, the sky is the limit as to what you may purchase at the shows: electronics, new lines, hardware, canvas, sails, gear, mattresses, hammocks, custom flags, boat hooks, books, ship’s bells, anchors, boat-friendly dishes, and fishing gear.
  3. To buy a boat. If you’re considering buying a boat, even someday, don’t miss the show(s). Your head will spin with the hundreds of options you see before you, but by being there and wandering around, you will learn a lot about what you want and do not want, what you can and cannot afford, what feels like “Life of the Rich and Famous” and what feels like your lifestyle. During both the Sailboat and Powerboat Shows, a “brokerage show” (translation = used boat show) runs nearby, and your show ticket earns you entry into it. This means you’ll find both shiny, new boats and pre-owned yet more affordable options in the same place.
  4. Just curious. Curiosity about the boating and the on-the-water lifestyle are good enough reasons to go. You won’t be disappointed. Annapolis expands out into the harbor with a mile of temporary docks, creating its own amazing labyrinthine city of new boats to explore. Whether you know how to operate them or not doesn’t matter. You’re allowed to climb on deck and go down below (that’s sailor speak for downstairs) and check out how the other half lives. If you are honestly interested in sailing or boating in the future, you’re crazy to miss this opportunity to talk to sailing and boating schools about where to start, charter companies about interesting vacation options, and boating and sailing experts eager to share what they know.
  5. For medicinal reasons. Pussers Caribbean Grille is right next to the show gates along the water, and veteran show goers always stop in for its signature Painkiller (Pussers Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut). Don’t drink? Don’t worry. Among show goer favorites are the huge and homemade Nutty Buddy ice cream cones sold outside show gates by the Annapolis Optimists Club to kill your pain.
  6. Because it’s there. There are two types of travelers: those who go to Mardi Gras, and those who would rather visit New Orleans in the off season. If you’re the first kind of traveler, know that these boat shows are so cool that thousands of people come from all over the world to be there. Click to com and buy tickets now ($18 each). If you are a quieter or crowd-phobic traveler, know that Thursdays, known as VIP/trade days, may be more expensive ($35), but they are considerably less crowded than the weekend days and also open to the public. Both those who do not mind crowds and those who want quieter days should follow the parking recommendations on Shuttles run frequently and efficiently. These shows have been going on for 40 years; they do parking right.
  7. Meet Molly. That’s me. You may know me as an Old Town Crier columnist, but in my other life, I edit sailing and boating magazines and give seminars to introduce people to sailing. Two such free, one-hour seminars run Friday, October 10 at 10 a.m. and Sunday, October 12 at 10 a.m. in the Arnold Room of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Seminar attendees may ask local experts everything they always wanted to know about sailing but were afraid to ask. All are welcome.
Photo by Mark Talbott
Photo by Mark Talbott


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Written by: Molly Winans


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