Serious Sailboat Buyers Flood Annapolis' City Dock

October 08, 1990|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Greg Schaefer knelt over the white sail stretched out on City Dock Saturday and carefully added his name to the growing list of people opposed to a luxury tax on yachts.

He had driven his family to Washington from Nampa, Idaho, only to find the doors to the U.S. Capitol locked because the government had run out of money. So he came to the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, angry that the Bush administration wants to tax boats to help solve the problem.

"We already pay more than anyone else," he said. "Why should we pay more? This year, I worked twice as hard as last year and I'll be paying twice as much tax as last year. But I'm not using twice as much government services."

Schaefer's thoughts were well supported on the tarp, which was nearly full of signatures and slogans protesting the proposed 10 percent tax on yachts costing more than $100,000.

But elsewhere on the dock, thoughts turned away from politics and toward the show, which included hundreds of sailing vessels, from small sailboats costing a few thousand dollars to large yachts costing $200,000 or more.

"I haven't heard a single word about taxes," said Warren Campbell, president of Contemporary Yachts of Annapolis.

Boat buying is a serious business, and Jack Poterfield, who has bought two boats at the show in the last three years, said the bigger the better.

"The trend is for bigger and bigger boats," said Poterfield, who is from Annapolis. "They can always seem to afford them."

Boats are not cheap. Cata Marine, a Massachusetts company that sells yachts, had a 32-foot catamaran selling for $106,000 -- a performance boat that also is popular among families because it doesn't rock back and forth in the water that much.

And if you couldn't afford a boat, don't worry -- the Atlantic Credit Corp is there to help. Located near one entrance, the company offers boat loans at 10 percent interest. The catch: lenders must put 20 percent down and borrow at least $25,000.

"We're doing fairly well," said Mary Kucharski, a loan manager. "But yesterday seemed more of a buyer's day."

Company President Paul Paquin said the Annapolis Sailboat Show was good for business. "It is worth it to come here," he said. "It is the only boat show in America where people come ready to buy. People come here and hand me checks."

But before spending a lot of money, people want to thoroughly inspect the boats. Up and down the maze of docks, people stood in lines waiting for a tour. To get on most boats, people had to take off their shoes -- wouldn't want to scuff up a $150,000 boat.

"The important thing to remember," said Curtis Lamp, from Bryn Mawr, Pa., " is that there is more to a boat than what's on the surface." He said careful inspection and good questions are vital to securing a good sale.

"You get what you pay for," he said.

Not everyone at the show was looking for a boat, however. Teddy Turner was looking for a sponsor.

Turner owns and sails the Challenge America, an 82-foot sailboat that will be competing in the upcoming Whitbread, a 33,000-mile, nine-month around-the-world race starting in England. It is the sailing race to be in, Turner said. The next race is in 1993.

Last year, the race attracted 23 boats from 11 countries, including one from the Soviet Union called the Fazisi, which was at the show anddocked alongside the Challenge America. The boat finished 11th, said designer Vladislav Murnikov, who is from Moscow.

Murnikov said he currently is working with the United States on a joint venture for the 1993 race, which will include building a new and improved sailboat. "There is no other way to place in the race," he said. "It is necessary to build a new boat."

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