On 9 October, we made a wonderful discovery that began one of our more important recent traditions, the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland. There is a smaller show in the spring, the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show, and while both are great, the fall Sailboat Show (as it is known) is the largest in-water boat show in the United States, and one of the largest in the world. The show also has a wide variety of vendors, selling everything from sails and biminis, to winches and engines, and also aggressively marketing marinas and sailing schools.
The show lasts four days (the VIP day is on Thursday, and while tickets for this first day of the show cost more, the crowds are far less and it is definitely worth the price of admission). At this show, we started thinking seriously about buying a boat. Thinking; just thinking, because while the Sailboat Show gives attendees a tremendous overview of the wide range of boats available, and the various manufacturers, it is also dissuasive because of the prices. These boats are the newest boats on the market, and the floating docks for the Sailboat Show are their showroom. You can climb aboard all the boats, stand at the helm, go down below to the cabin, or relax on deck. Essentially, you are "kicking the tires" of these new vessels. The show also gives participants an opportunity to explore the differences between catamarans (and other "multihulls") and monohulls (the more traditional form of sailing vessel, with one hull vs. the two hulls of a catamaran or the three of a trimaran). While we love the space, and luxurious functionality of multihulls (my son SMC sat on the flybridge of one with his feet up, kicked back against the cushions and exclaimed, "I like this" (he hasn't repeated this sentiment so vociferously since - smile), we are traditionalist. We love the clean classic lines, stability, and maneuverability of monohulls.
Unfortunately, the prices of these new boats are overwhelming, especially the multihulls (yes, that is another reason we see ourselves as monohull people - smile). When people see these prices, it fosters the idea that sailing is super expensive, and only for the wealthy. Even in the "Brokerage Cove," where the Sailboat Show offers used boats for sail, boats are very expensive. The boat above, was a beautiful 1980 Sabre 28 MK II. It was described as "A Gentleman's little Yacht." This stunning boat really caught our eye, but at $27,000 we knew this would be a long way off for us.
In addition to the show, there are workshops, both free and relatively expensive. The free seminars are hosted by a variety of groups, including the magazines Spin Sheet, Chesapeake Bay, and Cruising world; along with the Annapolis School of Seamanship. The paid seminars are part of what is called "Cruisers University" and requires advance registration, and usually sell out.
While at the show, we met a wonderful couple, Tim and Julie, relative newlyweds who were also contemplating the cruising life. We were all standing at the dinghy dock for "Ego Alley" as the long strip of water at City Dock in Annapolis is known, looking out over huge catamarans and monohull sailboats. Tim and Julie have become our closest sailing couple, as they invited us to sail on their Seidelman 30, and we have spent wonderful time together off the water as well, golfing and enjoying good food.