The Fleet's In At The Boat Show

UP FRONT

January 11, 1996|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SUN STAFF

Yes, he still wears the hat.

Actor Bob Denver, aka Gilligan, will be in Baltimore, goofy hat and all, for the 42nd Chesapeake Bay Boat Show. The show is scheduled to float into the Baltimore Convention Center on Saturday and stay through Jan. 21.

Mr. Denver -- it's OK if you call him "Gilligan" -- will be at the show one day only, next Saturday, Jan. 20. The actor who portrayed Maynard G. Krebs on the "Dobie Gillis" show is probably best known for his role as Gilligan on the television show "Gilligan's Island."

Mr. Denver, 61, is now retired from television and lives in West Virginia.

"I haven't done a boat show in a dozen or so years," he says in a telephone conversation from his home.

But, what the hey, he does have a little business to take care of while he's here. "I do want to buy a little, flat-bottom rowboat. Although I'm not really sure if they will have that," he says.

There may or may not be a little, flat-bottom rowboat at the show, but there will be hundreds of boats, engines and marine accessories available, says Henry Brehm, spokesman for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

"There are fishing boats, sailboats, ski boats, jet boats, cruisers and more, usually at specially discounted or 'boat show' prices," Mr. Brehm says.

Here are his tips for getting the most out of the show.

Get there early and, if possible, attend on a weekday. "On weekends, the attendance is lightest in the morning," he says.

And don't forget to pick up a floor plan of the show. "It is found in the show directory, which is available free as you walk in," Mr. Brehm says.

If you're there to buy a boat, you should have a price range in mind. While some people at the show will be trading up to larger boats, most people will be purchasing entry-level boats, the spokesman says. "In fact, the most-purchased boat in America today is a 16-foot runabout that includes a motor and a trailer for under $10,000.

"That old line, that if you have to ask how much a boat costs, you can't afford it, is fiction," Mr. Brehm says. "Just as there is a boat model for nearly every taste, boats are made to suit any wallet.

"There are plenty of new powerboats under $8,000. Personal watercraft start at under $3,000. Sure, the sky is the limit when it comes to assembling a boat package, but the same is true for many purchases," he says.

Powerboats remain the most popular. "Powerboats account for more than 90 percent of all boat sales annually vs. sailboats and other craft like canoes and kayaks," Mr. Brehm says.

"Some analysts say the short learning curve for operating powerboats contributes to their popularity."

He also suggests remaining focused on how you plan to use the boat.

"While boats are very versatile, providing a means to many activities, some boats are more specialized than others," he says. If you are a boating neophyte, it will be especially helpful to do a little research on the different types of hulls and engines.

"The most important factor in determining the proper hull and engine will be to determine where and what type of boating you are planning," he says. "For example, planing hulls are faster and require less fuel but are less stable in rough water."

Still lost? There will be people there to answer your questions.

The Chesapeake Bay Boat Show is produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. And Mr. Brehm recommends looking for the "NMMA" certification sticker when trying to decide on a boat. "This emblem means the craft has passed specific engineering guidelines and meets all required and voluntary safety standards," he says.

There will be seminars including "Striper Fishing in Chesapeake and Delaware Bay," "Bluefish and Rock," "Personal Watercraft Performance and Maintenance" and a water ski clinic. And what would a '90s show be without virtual reality? It arrives at the boat show in the form of the "Sportfishin' Simulator."

"The Sportfishin' Simulator can place the fisherperson right in the middle of the action without ever nearing the water," Mr. Brehm says. "The simulator, with the help of state-of-the-art interactive video technology, can coordinate the movement of the fish with the movement of the line. The sound of the reel and the feel of the rod have been realistically duplicated, and if you did not know any better, you would really believe that what you are experiencing is real.

"You will also get the perspective from under the water, with the opportunity to see how the fish will try to elusively run and duck to avoid being caught," Mr. Brehm says.

Or maybe boat-building draws your fancy. The curious can watch as a wooden skiff is built at the show.

"Boat builder James Shotwell of Nescopeck, Pa., will construct a 12-foot skiff over the show's nine-day run," the spokesman says. "Using traditional methods used by generations of American craftsmen, Shotwell will construct the skiff using mahogany and white oak."

If you are really lucky, you will go home with a 1996 Sportster by Sea-Doo and a custom trailer. There will be a drawing for the Sea-Doo and one for a 1996 Carolina Skiff 17.

So you've done your research, checked out the seminars and taken a chance on winning one of two prize boats. If you're ready to make a purchase, "Some dealers at the show will offer financing," Mr. Brehm says. "Banks and other lending institutions are usually available at the site." He cautions buyers to work out the best financial deal they can.

THE FACTS

What: The Chesapeake Bay Boat Show

When: Saturday through Jan. 21

Hours: Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

Where: Baltimore Convention Center, 1 W. Pratt St.

Cost: $7 for adults; $3 for children 6-12. On Tuesday, people bringing a canned food item will receive $2 off regular admission. Donations will be distributed by the Maryland Food Bank. On Jan. 18, women receive $2 off regular admission.

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