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When looking for a boat show to attend in the US, there’s no better show to go to than the Annapolis Boat Show’s Sailboat Show. Here’s why and our experiences attending the show.
Annapolis Boat Shows puts on four boat shows throughout the year in the Annapolis Area. The largest one is the United States Sailboat Show, which is held in October every year.
Additionally, an Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show is held, as well as two other shows focused more on motorboats. We have not attended the Spring Sailboat Show, so we will focus on the fall show.
For 2019, there are 20 catamaran brands exhibiting at the show:
- Fountaine Pajot
- Ocean Explorer
- Royal Cape
- St Francis
It’s no wonder we went to the boat show to buy Starry Horizons. There are so many catamarans to look at!
The space for the boat show is huge, and Chesapeake Bay provides enough room for the show to import temporary docks to stretch out. Annapolis is quite the boating hub of the East Coast.
The Annapolis Boat Show schedules free sailing and boating seminars throughout the day. A lot of them are amazingly invaluable. I don’t recall us going to many seminars at the show, as we were focused on the boat-buying process.
The 2019 schedule of free seminars is not up yet.
These are the advanced-level classes. They are at additional cost, and taught by a collection of some of the world’s foremost cruising experts. Topics cover everything from Marine Weather Forecasting to Diesel Engines to Sewing on a Boat.
- Wear easy slip-on/slip-off shoes. Going from boat to boat is a lot easier when you don’t have to un-tie and re-tie shoes.
- The Annapolis School of Seamanship seminars require registration at 9 am. Tickets are limited, so show up early the day of your seminar to grab a ticket. Then, seats are first come first serve, so get to the seminar room line early.
- Food is readily available on Main Street in Annapolis, adjacent to the show. There is food in the show at Pusser’s and some food stands, but we found that sit down restaurants on Main Street had no wait.
- Treat yourself to some sweets on Main Street too. There are lots of shops selling ice cream, cupcakes and fudge.
- Make sure you have a game plan. Our number one priority was the boat, so we spent the first day touring every cat in our size and price range. We also got on some that were outside of our range just to make sure we weren’t missing out on anything. We wrapped up the first day by stopping off at our favorite boat one more time, to refresh our memories. We spent the evening talking about the boat and doing research. Day 2 was back to the booth with follow-up questions. We also walked the show to look at accessories that interested us but mostly to get brochures to later research. Keep in mind that not all models will be there.
- Buy your tickets in advance. The ticket booth was hectic. People didn’t know how to work the scanners or didn’t even have a scanner. However, it was the faster route. The ticket purchase line was significantly longer.
- The VIP day is worth it. The weather was crummy so that deterred a lot of people, but the weather was also crummy the first open day and it was much more crowded. On the VIP day, we had a lot of time with our dealer and didn’t feel rushed.
- Arrange your accommodations early. We did not stay at the Marriott, but we were walking distance to downtown and the show (20 minutes).
- Weather prep. Just like a boat, come prepared for a variety. We had rain coats and an umbrella in our back pack. We also got tired of carrying the backpack (how did we do it all day in school???). In hind sight, I would have packed clean socks or galoshes because 2 days with 10 hours of each walking in soggy shoes = no fun. However, in past years weather has been beautiful or even snowy.
- If you are looking seriously to buy something, like a boat, contact the vendors in advance. You may be able to get free tickets to the show ro invitations to demos and test sails.