From dinghy to yacht, boats match every dream Show runs through Feb. 9 at Convention Center

February 02, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

From her living room window on Stoney Creek in Pasadena, Joan Bielski has watched boats like this race by, all muscle and speed.

Yesterday, she wanted to step inside one.

So, as she sat on the spotless white leather upholstery in the cabin of the Fountain 42-foot Lightning, Bielski imagined it blasting down her creek at 80 mph, even though it sat on a platform at the Chesapeake Bay Boat Show in the Baltimore Convention Center.

The Lightning, at $367,179 fully loaded, was perched amid hundreds of other boats that don't come close in speed or price. You can get a blender built into the white laminate and Lucite counter top. A sleek gunmetal gray refrigerator is recessed into the counter. A Sony CD player and television are flush with the wall.

But the sleekness and comfort are secondary. The head doesn't have a shower, for example -- the owners of this boat would stay in a hotel.

After all, this boat is built for speed.

"I wouldn't pay for this power -- I only want to play with it," Bielski, 44, says after her brief daydream on a boat she says is for the young and rich. She prefers to anchor a boat, lounge around and watch the birds.

Fountain salesman Shane Cannon doesn't expect to find a buyer for his almost-top-of-the-line boat -- tip top of the line Fountains go as high as $700,000 -- during this week's show. The kind of person who buys these high-end boats doesn't come to shows, he says, and a sale usually takes six months to a year to develop. The Lightning is here to impress and inspire.

"It's one of those 'wow' boats," said Cannon. When he takes it to the Annapolis boat show -- on the water instead of a concrete floor -- he fires up the staggered twin 525-horsepower engines. Heads turn.

But if you want a test drive, Cannon has to feel like you're 95 percent ready to sign the deal before he'll put the "hours" on the boat. Boats like this have hour meters just as cars have odometers.

Bielski and her husband, Jim, came to the show to shop for a different boat.

Something more yachtlike, at around $130,000, like the Carver yachts that are about the size of a studio apartment.

But Bielski also came to dream, and that's why Cannon, of All Pro Marine in Upper Marlboro, brought the Lightning. As if to keep from bursting the dreamers' bubbles, Cannon doesn't even bother posting the price. To find it, you have to look in a three-ring binder, after Cannon finds the page and chart and points out all the variables.

For those looking for something smaller, there is the Zodiac Cadet inflatable 8-foot boat. To finds its price, all you have to do is look at the bright orange card stuck to it: $995. But saleswoman Sherri Shettle of Inflatable Xperts in Annapolis does not consider this a poor man's boat.

"Most people buy these to get out to their bigger boats on the water," she said. Deflated and rolled up, it fits into a vinyl tote bag and weighs about 50 pounds. You can put it in the trunk and still have room for a cooler.

The Chesapeake Bay Boat Show continues through Feb. 9 at the Convention Center. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Feb. 9; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children.

Pub Date: 2/02/97

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