We had a great time at the Annapolis Sailboat show this year. We spent three days at the show and surprisingly we could have done another day. We never did get to cover everything we wanted to.  We did of course have too many Pusser “Pain Killers” which I suppose, might have slowed us down a bit. Teresa proved to me she had a better sense of direction while we were at the show. Every time we wanted to find something she knew just what direction to head. I did make the mistake of telling her she was “WRONG” on one occasion, but can assure you I will not make that mistake again as she quickly proved just who was “WRONG” and it was of course not her! (I have a feeling I have not heard the last of me telling her she was “WRONG!”)

Teresa at Annapolis boat show

Teresa at Annapolis boat show

Not a ton new from last year though and that was a bit disappointing. I was there doing some research and making connections for some future articles I am thinking of doing. It was good to get to meet several of the vendors but we were a bit put off by the number of salesmen and brokers who seemed more interested in their cell phones than the shopper. Many would not even look up as people came onto the boats or into their booth.  Some were downright rude when I asked questions. I have seen this at other shows but it seemed really bad this year. I hope sales are that good that they can treat show goers with such distain. There were however, many that were a pleasure to talk to, so it is not all bad, just surprised me how many acted like they really did not want to be there or could not be bothered.

The weather was not great with light rain on most of the days. This did however cut down on the crowds and I think left the more serious show goers. It seemed like there were fewer vendors in general this year so not sure what to make of that. Could be some are too busy with work or maybe things are slow and they did not want to spend money doing the show. The sales reports were encouraging from what I heard, but then I have learned many salesmen tend to be overly optimistic. Here are some of my general thoughts on the boats at the show:

The boats seemed to come in 3 classes


Signal hulled catamarans

Traditional monos

The cats were all interesting but I just do not like the light weight construction. The floors creaked and I am not a fan of the Euro styling myself but it may work for others. I just do not like the hard cold feel to the interiors. I understand the reasons for this construction and in some cases the engineering is impressive but just not my style. The room and layouts were nice though. I like the trend to the forward cockpit I think this will be the coming thing with the cats in the future.

Some of the builders are taking the cat interiors and doing the same thing to a wide hard chine mono. I really do not like this look and I think these boats will be uncomfortable at sea due to the flat sections. That said I have not sailed one yet so this is just an opinion. Nice to have all that room but I really question how these boats will behave at sea. These and the cats seem to be primarily designed for the charter trade and for that they look great. They look like they would do well for day island hoping and nighttime partying.  Large cockpits and good interior volume make for a good charter boat.

The traditional boats were nice. Almost all the boats had the teak replaced with cherry which is a good replacement. Some of the Euro built boats had African mahogany or teak. Prices were high but quality seemed good for the most part. Once again many lacked good sea cabins or sea berths. I saw some that had under counter refrigerators that opened only on the side, port and starboard, making them useless on one tack or the other. Most had no or few berths that could be used at sea and few had good galleys for underway use. There were exceptions though and in general I really liked the Tartans. Of course the really high end boats, like the Hylas’s were very nice as well.

Fold down swim platform

It was interesting to see the new style transoms with fold down swim platforms and steps on many of the boats. This seems like a nice transition from the scoop transom. Although the scoop is a good idea it does waste storage space. The fold down will greatly improve boarding from a dinghy without wasting the whole aft storage.  I am pondering the possibilities of doing  this to Vayu as it seems to lend itself well to doing a retrofit. It also does not radically change the looks of the transom.

New helm Pedestal

The newer helms were nice as well allowing clean installations for chart plotters and such.  It would seem the days of the small traditional Edson type pedestals are numbered. They simply do not allow enough space for all our electronics these days. I have always liked the way I set up Vayu with many of the often needed switches and nav gear right at the helmsman. It is good to see the builders now doing this as well. Not that I started the trend but it just makes sense. I always like to see the new little design innovations on the new boats. Might as well try to take advantage of their engineering and ideas if they would work well on my boat.

Not a lot new in gear but I did not look much at electronics in general. Some interesting new safety gear seems to be appearing though. I think I am going to have to do some more research on some of this new safety equipment.  We also spent a fair amount of time talking to vendors about boat bedding for another upcoming article. Keep an eye out in Ocean Navigator for an article on marine generators as well as I just finished that piece for them.

As much as we enjoy Annapolis, I think maybe next year we will go to the Lauderdale show instead. Mainly just for something new. Neither one of us has been to that show so I think it will be fun. Hope they have Pain Killers there!

Wayne & Teresa


About the author: Capt. Wayne


Boat builder, Sailor, Surveyor, and freelance writer.