Boat show buoys spirits in Annapolis

April 24, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

Forget the robins and daffodils. In Annapolis you know its spring when the boaters return.

So despite a chill in the air, there was no doubt of the season when the 12th annual Spring Boat Show opened last week.

Vendors at the show were selling everything from T-shirts to luxury yachts, and they displayed optimism appropriate to the season.

"Business is looking much better," said Bob Weintraub, a salesmen with Tidewater Yacht Sales, based in Portsmouth, Va., and Edgewater.

Richard R. Edwards of the Better Boat Co., a marine electronics specialist, said that within the first hour of the show, a customer ,, bought a 45-foot cruising yacht, then walked across the pier to Mr. Edwards' booth and purchased a $2,200 color video fish finder.

"We easily paid for the show and made some money besides in the first day," Mr. Edwards said.

Those who attended this year's show seemed more serious about buying than those at last year's show, Mr. Edwards said. "A lot more people are buying things; they're not just looking and putting things on their dream lists."

Smaller than the city's power and sailboat shows in the fall, the spring show provides the opportunity for local marine businesses to display their goods.

Jeff Holland, a spokesman for Annapolis Boat Shows, which coordinated the event, estimated that 12,000 people would attend this year's show, the only spring show on the Chesapeake Bay that includes new and used boats.

Organizers had expected nearly 200 powerboats and sailboats to be on display, but the severe winter prevented many dealers and brokers from getting their boats ready in time, Mr. Holland said. Only about 110 boats were at the show.

The dealers and brokers who did make the show seemed pleased with their prospects. Last year's repeal of the luxury tax on boats and this year's relatively low interest rates were boosting sales, they said.

The only trouble, said Ed Baumann, a broker from Georgetown, Del., is that demand is outstripping supply. The shortage of used boats is exacerbated by the decline a few years ago in the production of new boats. "We're selling more boats than we're listing," he said.

David L. Trostle, a loan officer with Sterling Acceptance Corp. in West River, said his business has turned from refinancing for old boats to loans on new ones.

"We're seeing a real flurry of activity," he said. "And we're seeing the dollar amount of the loans getting higher."

Still, many of those who came to the show were there just to browse.

Steve and Kathleen Shuman had been on vacation with their four children and decided to check out the show before returning home to Cape Cod.

"We're always in the market for something," Mr. Shuman said. "When you own a sailboat, there's always something that needs to be replaced."

While noting that Annapolis' spring show is smaller than the shows in Newport, R.I., the Shumans said the show made them eager to return home and ready their boat for the sailing season.

Ted Carskadden of Severna Park gazed at a 30-foot cruiser.

Although not planning to buy one, Mr. Carskadden said he was looking for that special boat. "If I fall in love with it, I'd buy it," he said.

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