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Spotlight on the U.S. Boat Shows

The best show in town reminds us that Chesapeake Country’s marine trades are alive and well

Faceting makes a stone into a gem. Brilliance shines from the cut faces and their interactions.
    That may be true of places, too.
    Chesapeake Country is a well-faceted place. The central facet is natural beauty, but the sidelights cut by human imagination and endeavor make this place shine still brighter. With seasonal and calendar changes, new facets catch the light. Week by week, Chesapeake Country turns new facets to fascinate us.
    This week and next, the United States Boat Shows take the spotlight. Boats, exhibitors and boaters from near and far come to Annapolis for this great marketplace.
    Boaters come into their own this time of year, but you don’t have to be a boater to enjoy the show.
    It’s an alluring spectacle beginning with the speedy expansion of City Dock with a mile and a half of floating dock. Those docks mean opportunity, and opportunity draws a crowd maybe 50,000 people strong.
    Hundreds of boats — 250 or so for the sailboat show and perhaps twice that number for the powerboat show — tie up at those docks. Manufacturers bring their latest models, often in a sequence of styles ranging from big to enormous. In the perfection of newness, these boats come to show off. They’re polished to a high shine and fitted out with all the latest bells and whistles.
    Any boater who comes near the boat shows is caught like a fly in a spider’s web.
    Most of the boats accept visitors, so you can climb aboard and imagine what it would be like for this boat or that one to be yours. Sit in the captain’s chair. Rub your hand over the glistening teak, cherry or holly. Pop open a drawer and appreciate its responsive hardware. Dream of sleeping in its berths. Envy the spaciousness of the galley and head. Peer into the engine. Study the mechanical specifications. Choose your upholstery.
    I am sticky from all the webs from which I’ve barely escaped. I’ve nearly dreamed my way into two or three sailboats, and I’m not a sailor.
    At last year’s powerboat show, I saw my future on a Greenline Hybrid 33. Imported, of all places from Eastern Europe, the boat is environmentally friendly in ways I long to try out. Solar panels on the roof add an alternative source of power, supporting the diesel and feeding a generator that powers a full-size fridge, a stove with an oven, hot water, heating and cooling — and the boat. On a sunny day, you could cruise, at under four knots, on solar alone. Sustainably harvested wood paneling and soles, elegantly roomy salon, cabin, galley and head — oh my!
    “It’s a good boat to do the Great Loop on,” said the salesman. In that instant, 5,000 or so miles seemed immediately doable. We’d get the boat now and start on the journey in May.
    I was writing a check for the down payment on the well-appointed boat show showboat when my husband dragged me away.
    He bought me lunch and, from among the treasury of boat tools and amenities for sale from hundreds of on-land merchants, let me choose a new boathook and scrub brush for the last boat I fell in love with at the boat show.
    Every boater who enters this eight-day crash course on marine marvels will endure equal temptations.
    But you don’t have to covet boats or spend much money to enjoy the boat shows. The invention, the energy, the people who come to share in it for fun or profit are a show of their own. There’s not a better show in Chesapeake Country October 4 to 8 and 11 to 14 — plus before, in between and after, for assembly and breakdown are amazing spectacles.
    We take the occasion of the boat shows to write about Chesapeake Country’s own marine trades. They range from — and far beyond — world-class designers like Farr Yacht Designs in Annapolis to builders of ocean-traveling fishing boats like Weaver Boatworks in Tracys Landing to single craftsmen keeping old traditions alive.
    This week, Steve Carr — our intrepid Volvo Ocean Race chronicler — lets you in on Annapolis’ biggest sailing news: the one and only 2014 Volvo ocean racer is being designed right here. In a Bay Weekly conversation with Carr, Farr Yacht Design president Patrick Shaughnessy tells us all about it.
    Right now, Weaver’s newly built 88-foot sport-fishing yacht Mantra — whose story we told September 6 — remains docked at Herrington Harbour North, poised to begin its shakedown cruise off Ocean City before it boards a cargo ship in late October for transport to the Indian Ocean. This week, two of Weaver’s somewhat smaller sportsfishermen joined Mantra at the docks, making quite a sight.
    Next week, we’ll bring you a story of boatbuilding on an entirely different scale.
    Many of Chesapeake Country’s marine enterprises — from boat builders to marinas — are on hand at the boat show. Look them up while you’re there, and tell us who else we should be writing about.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; [email protected]