A Really Big Show -
October 17, 2002
About 50,000 people attend the Annapolis US Sailboat show each year
The organizers of the Annapolis US Sailboat show claim their event is the world's oldest and largest in-water sailboat show. We didn't count all the bodies milling about the Annapolis inner harbour last weekend, but we'll take their word for it. Over 250 sailboats lined a mile of floating docks. More than 200 exhibitor tents were crammed on three quarters of an acre of public park space around the harbour's edge. A steady stream of yellow school buses brought visitors from parking lots at the edge of town and dumped them off at the show's entrance gates. It was a really big show.
All boat shows are dangerous, but because of its sheer size, the Annapolis boat show is very, very dangerous. There are people there who want your money. They have things that are absolutely essential for your boating enjoyment, maybe even for your very survival on the water. Things you never imagined existed. Things you must have. You face a high risk of serious credit card meltdown.
We've attended several boat shows in Annapolis in the past and our cruising kitty has always taken a major dent. Sometimes we vow that we won't buy anything new. We'll just return all the stuff we bought the previous year that broke soon after we left the show gates. Boat shows are good for that. Nothing inspires customer service like a throng of prospective buyers lined up behind you as you launch into an animated account of everything that's wrong with the product being sold. This year David brought the electronic barometer back to the same booth where he had bought it two years ago. From the first day it was on our boat it only spewed out random numbers. The flushed salesman tried a few adjustments, gave up, and handed David a new barometer.
David found Eileen at the vendors booth where she was promoting her recordings. He beamed as he showed her the new barometer. "Better quit while you're ahead," Eileen cautioned. David mumbled something about checking out just a few more things, and drifted away into the crowd. He returned an hour later with his arms full.
"I got a great deal on this foul weather jacket," he announced. "My old one leaks." Eileen looked at the foul weather pants he had in his other hand. "I can understand getting a new jacket, but there's nothing wrong with the pants you already have."
"Well, yes," David admitted. "But they were an even better deal if you bought them as a set."
"What about those boots?" Eileen persisted. David had been trying to hide the bag containing a new pair of deck boots. "They match the foul weather gear," he lamely explained.
"I thought you'd sworn we weren't going to spend any money at the show this year," Eileen remonstrated. "Don't forget the new barometer," David argued. "It's worth something and we got it for free."
"Yeah, right," Eileen said. "Just wait until we get back to the boat and try turning it on."