Oh Annapolis, the city that seems to be made of brick. This fair city, hosts not only the nation’s largest in-water sailboat show each October, but they host a smaller boat show at the City Dock each spring.
I was completely wowed when I visited the gigantic United States Sailboat Show last fall and expected much of the same. That show is billed as the largest in-water sailboat show in the US and it was definitely a multi-day affair. Expecting large crowds, we made our way over toward Annapolis on Friday evening and grabbed a hotel. Early Saturday morning we started working our way toward the in-water fun.
Once we hopped off the shuttle, we quickly realized that the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show is considerably smaller than its big cousin. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though and it sure didn’t stop us from having a great time. We boarded lots of boats and it was actually easier to get aboard some of the catamarans. I completely skipped those during the fall boat show due to lengthy lines and large crowds.
Looking over the list of boats that were on display, I counted nearly 60. All the boats were open for us to explore and explore we did! There were also a number of tents set up with vendors selling boat-related gear.
We didn’t go to the show expecting to buy a boat. The new ones are way out of our price range! But, we were able to get a lot of ideas and really enjoyed checking out the interiors of boats we’d normally never get to board!
We visited the show on both Saturday and Sunday. Regular admission to the show starts at $18 per person (discounts are given for children under 12) with special prices for 2 day tickets and VIP sessions. The shows also offer Cruisers University classes that seem to fill up pretty quickly.
Near the end of each day, we took a harbor cruise with some of the vendors that operate from City Dock. On Saturday, we took a cruise with Watermark Cruises around the harbor area and out to the Thomas Point Lighthouse. The cruise was really nice and the crew were great and kept us informed of all the things we were seeing.
Along with the lighthouse, we were able to circle around the grounds of the US Naval Academy and witness some of the training equipment they have positioned there for our future Naval Officers. We’ve decided that our next trip to Annapolis will include a tour of the Naval Academy grounds – if for no other reason than to witness the Crypt of John Paul Jones.
On Sunday, we took an evening sail with Schooner Woodwind aboard one of their 74 foot sailboats. Even though there was only a light wind, this magnificent boat slipped very quickly through the waters. We spent nearly 3 hours sailing all around the Chesapeake Bay and had a great time talking with the crew and enjoying the atmosphere.
If you drive in from out of town, it is highly recommended that you park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Downtown Annapolis is very tight with small roads, lots of one-way streets, and limited parking.
Plenty of signs are posted as you make your way into the city directing the traffic toward the ample parking that is set aside at the stadium.
Be prepared: parking is NOT free. Parking at the stadium costs $10 each day and includes free shuttle service between the stadium and the Annapolis waterfront.
If you are visiting via the water, the mooring field is open during the Spring Boat Show and a dinghy dock is right next door. The mooring field is cleared during the Fall Show to make room for all the extra displays!
Worth the trip?
After our initial disappointment at how much smaller this show was, we truly felt it was a great experience. The lines were minimal and we were able to board all the boats we wanted to see. This also allowed us more time to get on the water and enjoy some quality time aboard. Given that there were nearly 60 boats on display, “smaller” is a term relative to Annapolis.
That said, we can’t wait for the show in October!