ANNAPOLIS -- For many years, the Annapolis in-the-water boat shows have been a staple attraction each fall. Last year, in an attempt to bolster a sagging boating industry, area dealers ZTC and brokers added spring shows of new and used boats specifically directed toward local and regional customers.
This spring, the powerboat and sailboat shows have been combined into the Annapolis Spring Boat Show, which opens tomorrow at the Annapolis Yacht Basin and Harbor.
"We are tickled about the show we have put together," said Jeffrey Holland, an organizer for the show, which is sponsored by the Marine Trades Association of Maryland and the Yacht Architects and Brokers Association. "Last year, we had roughly 100 boats in the water for each of the two shows. This year, we will have more than 100 in the water, and it is a real good mix of power and sail."
Holland said Monday an exact count of boats was unavailable because new entries still were being accepted. Holland said he believes the mix of boats is roughly 60 percent sail and 40 percent power.
Last year, the combined attendance for the two shows was approximately 10,000, compared with "10 times that many at the fall shows," Holland said.
Looking at attendance and the number of boats on display, one might think that perhaps the spring show isn't worth investigating. But take a moment to consider what might be advantages to the average boat buyer.
At the fall shows, it is sometimes hard to get a look at a boat that fits the average pocketbook -- fall display models are often top-of-the-line models, and the number of people more interested in rubber-necking new models can be a real hindrance.
As far as the number of boats on display, there is a difference -- but it is not as great as one might think when comparing a local show with national productions.
"If you look at hard numbers," Holland said, "last year we only had 160 sailboats in water, and the power show was only about 225, well down from what was the heyday of the shows."
In 1986, for example, the fall sailboat show had nearly 500 boats in the water, and in 1989, the powerboat show had close to 500.
"So that is a real economic indicator of the state of the market, of the impact of the 10 percent [excise] tax and other factors that have really hit the market hard," Holland said.
So the bottom line is that dealers and brokers want to sell their boats, and they want to create an outlet that will interest the public.
True, not all the boats are new. But a good used boat that is properly equipped and has been well-maintained and updated through the years can represent a far better buy than a new model, which still must be equipped and updated to an owner's tastes.
At this weekend's show, all boats on display are ready for immediate delivery.
Facts and figures
What: Annapolis Spring Boat Show
Where: Annapolis Yacht Basin and Harbor, Compromise Street, downtown Annapolis
Hours: Tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $6 for adults; Children 12 and under accompanied by an adult admitted free
For information: Call (410) 280-5317