Now that March is here and the official start of the sailing season is next month, a number of boating-related businesses and organizations in the area are offering unique and interesting ways to help jump-start the season.
Coast Navigation of Annapolis will conduct its 10th annual Spring Tent Sale next weekend, and will take advantage of the opportunity presented by the large number of representatives of major marine manufacturers from across the nation who will be there byoffering a series of "Tech Talks" covering a number of important andinteresting subjects.
Among the visiting exhibitors who will be at Coast's Legion Avenue store, a block from West Street, will be representatives from Raytheon, Trimble, Brookes & Gatehouse, Standard Communications, ICOM, Micrologic, Schaefer Marine, Autohelm, Avon, Switlik, ACR, Navico, Newmar and Heart.
Among the new products introduced for the first time locally is the new economical, high-tech Category II EPIRB (EmergencyPosition Indicating Beacon) from Litton Industries, which was approved by the FCC in mid-February.
The free Tech Talk series, which covers Global Positioning Systems (GPS), life rafts and EPIRBs, navigation with radar, 12-volt electrical systems and West System epoxies this year, is a key feature in the event.
"We've found that an educated boater is safer and enjoys the sport more," noted Jim Tindall, Coast's president. "This year, the increased technical support offered by the manufacturers will make these discussions the best way to learn more about essential equipment and systems from the people who knowthem best."
In addition to the many other exhibitors and special events, representatives of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will be on hand to keynote ecologically responsible boating and will sell refreshments on Sunday as a fund-raiser for its Special Projects Committee. The U.S. Power Squadron also will be on hand with a display and information on boating safety.
For more information or a schedule of events, stop by the store and pick up a special flyer, or call 268-3120.
Another event which has quickly become an annual standard despite only two previous events is Crusader Yacht Sales' open house and boat show, set for Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15, at the firm'sPort Annapolis Marina headquarters on Bembe Beach Road in Annapolis.
"It runs from 10 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.) both days and there's something going on all the time," said Crusader's President Nancy Cann. "We'll have lots of new and brokerage boats in the water and out of the water for people to look at, and a heated information tent with experts on financing, sails, canvas, engines, chartering, insurance and electronics."
Cann said that, unlike the annual U.S. Sailboat Show inAnnapolis each October, where there are many more boats to see and visitors to talk with, she enjoys the 3-year-old Crusader event because of its smaller scale and more relaxed tempo.
"People really lovethe atmosphere," she said. "It's low-key and friendly and it's a good place to talk to celebrities, experts and owners of boats you mightbe interested in. A lot of the owners come because it's a chance forthem to talk to the factory people, the designers and the experts, and I think it's helpful for other people to be able to find someone to talk to who has owned a specific kind of boat for a couple of yearsand can share their experiences with it."
Cann said that more than 800 people visited the open house/boat show last year, and she expects a similarly strong attendance this year.
In addition to the information tent and dozens of boats, a key feature of this and previous Crusader open houses is the celebrity/expert lecture series.
This year's speakers include W.I.B. Crealock, one of the world's most famous designers of cruising yachts, such as those manufactured by Pacific Seacraft and Freedom, as well as Freedom Yachts President Paul Petronello, on hand to discuss the history and benefits of the Freedom unstayed rig and to unveil the new Freedom 35, due out in the fall.
Tartan Yachts designer Tim Jackett also will appear at the open house, discussing modern cruiser/racer design and highlighting the new Tartan 4600 in specific detail.
In addition, a panel discussion on organizing a major off-shore racing campaign will feature the crew ofNick Brown's J/44 Iona, which spent last summer racing in Belgium, France and Great Britain, and culminated their season with a win in the IMS division of the legendary Fastnet Race. Iona also will be on display and available for boarding.
"If we held this event at the Key Auditorium and charged $20 a head to get in, it would be a sell-out, just as the Tanya Aebi lecture was last year," Cann said. "And thisis free and open to the public to anyone who's interested."