Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hooray! Annapolis! Boat Show! ...

Day One ...

Wednesday afternoon, checked into the Maryland Inn, one of the three historic inns in Annapolis, we began our boat show with a stroll down Main Street to the venue and a cocktail and oyster shooters at McGarvey's on Dock Street.  Bartender Tom made it clear why this is the best bar and best oyster house in Annapolis!  We could hardly tear ourselves away, but we had plans for a first-rate sushi dinner at the Joss Cafe and Sushi Bar, without doubt the best in town.  What a treat!  And afterwards, we were eager to watch the first presidential debate, but no comments on that here.

We had purchased boat show tickets on line for Thursday and Friday, and it looked like the rains and drizzles we'd been experiencing since the beginning of the week we gone for the two days we'd actually be at the show.  Unfortunately, we awakened to drizzle in the morning, but after coffee at Starbucks (in the basement of the hotel) and with an umbrella in case we needed it, we set out for breakfast at Chick and Ruth's Delly, the best breakfasts in downtown Annapolis.  By 10:30, we had arrived at the boat show and began tackling the displays in some of the tents, because the drizzle had arrived outside.  The humidity in the tents didn't help things, but it was better than being drizzled upon, and we made the best of it.  The Moorings charter company provided us with a lovely large tote bag, and we set out to do half the show on the first day.

By far the biggest sailboat show in the country, even on the first day with fewer visitors than were certain to be there on the weekend, this was daunting.  Thankfully the drizzle soon let up, and we escaped the tents to visit displays and booths outside.  The day before the show started, I discovered via Facebook that my old friend Fuu Miyatani French (Zen, to me) was there with a Japanese day sailer, the Zen 24, made by Aoki Yachts Corporation.  Zen is the American representative of the company as well as a USCG licensed captain and ASA sailing instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In a month or so, he's setting forth with his wife on their 30-foot catamaran on a transpacific sail from San Francisco south to Los Angeles, thence to Hawaii, the Marshall Islands and finally working his way north to Japan.  What an adventure!  And how good to see Zen again!

The Zen 24 was judged at the show by Sail Magazine as one of the best boats for 2013. They were filming a spot for the Sail Magazine website when we were there, and if you look closely at the very beginning, you'll see Penelope and I talking with Zen.  It's the boat used by the Aoki Yacht Club's sailing school in Japan, and I know Zen would not represent any boat that wasn't top rate.  Well priced and with a choice of an electric outboard or electric inboard, solar panels for keeping a charge, and a 3.5-foot draft, the Zen 24 seems a good choice for day sailors on the Atlantic coast and for inland lake sailors.  Check out their brochure.  I don't know if the sold the one they trucked from California for the boat show, but I'm pretty sure, if they did, the buyer got a hell of a good deal.  Damn/spit!  Could have been me.

Another exhibitor I wanted especially to be sure to see was Karen Larson at Good Old Boat Magazine.  They bill themselves as the boat magazine for the rest of us, and after looking at the plethora of new boats the show - very few of them under 30 feet long and most between 40 feet and up - it's plain that their slogan is appropriate.  I've written several book reviews for Karen over the past four years, and we've come to know each other without ever meeting, so I was looking forward to dropping by her booth.  Each year the Good Old Boat crew that mans the booth has a great time, usually with Tom Wells, the Good Old Boat Troubadour.  Tom was there singing comedian Golf Brooks' song "Senior Moments," which seemed to hit the mark with this old sailor.  And, of course, you can't visit without walking away with something, in my case a Good Old Boat sailing cap and a T-shirt.

Constantly removing one's sandals to clamber off and on boats becomes tiresome after a while, so our next stop was for a refreshing drink.  Of course, this meant fighting crowds and hoping to find a seat at a bar somewhere.  On this first day we were lucky and two seats opened up at the end of Pusser's outdoor bar.  There we met a couple who were starting a move from riding Harley's to sailing.  They had just finished the basic ASA course near Annapolis, and this was their first show.  So they were filled with questions, happy to hear our stories, and naturally great fun to have a beer with.  We gave them our boat card, and while it would be fun to hear from them, I suspect we never will.

After our pick-me-up, we made our way around the quay toward the main entrance to the show.  Along the way we ordered two sailing caps with our boat name Alizee sewn on the front (which we would pick up the next day), considered buying a new wind chute, the Breeze Booster, for our front hatch (we'll probably have to order it on-line now), and Penelope got the scoop on a very nice looking rail mounted barbecue that comes from Australia.  

We also spotted a couple of small boats that drew me in.  The first was the Melonseed Skiff, by Crawford Boat Building in Marshfield, Massachusetts (base price $11,900).  Howard Chapelle in American Small Sailing Craft showed a set of 1888 plans for the Melonseed, "a remarkably handsome gunning skiff ... built at Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey."  Probably built no earlier than 1882, it was an improvement on the Barnegat Bay sneak box, a local market-hunters gunning skiff, which was first built in 1836 and gradually modified into a common configuration by 1855.  It was "well know to American sportsmen through Forest & Stream magazine." Versions of the garvey, a New Jersey centerboard working boat from about 1880-1905, was also an improvement on the the sneak box, and its plans are quite similar to those of the Melonseed.  Roger Crawford told me that a half-built, rotting old Melonseed made from Chapelle's plans became his "prototype."  "I added just a tiny bit of fullness in the bow section to give the boat a bit more buoyancy and life as it punches through small chop.  It has never ever seemed that it wanted to broach and rides high up and over each wave rather than burying its nose." 

Another classic small boat we saw is the Doughdish, introduced in 1973 and an exact replica in fiberglass of the wooden Herreschoff 12.5, first built in 1914.  Today's H-Class is based on Herreschoff's 1914 gaff-rigged design, and the Doughdish is the only fibreglass boat accepted in the class.  With a fixed keel, teak trim, seats and sole plus varnished spruce spars, she really keeps the classic look of her wooden predecessors.  She is built today by Ballentine's Boat Shop in Catuamet, Massachusetts.  You can have one starting at $44,500, but when you add extras and a trailer you'll certainly spend more.  Nevertheless, this is a gorgeous boat, and with the almost full keel she's a seaworthy craft.  With a draft of 2' 6", she'd be great to sail the Gulf Coast waters in Florida.  Too many boats, so little time!

In addition to these classic boats, we were drawn to Stuart Marine Corporation's version of the Rhodes 19.  Designed by Philip Rhodes in 1958 for George O'Day's boat-building company, this fast little keel boat draws 3' 3" (or 10"/4' 11" with the centerboard model).  O'Day built the Rhodes for about fifteen years, and discontinued when Bangor Punta acquired the firm.  In 1980, Rebel Industries of Jackson, Michigan acquired the Rhodes production facilities, but produced no boats.  Finally, in December, 1982, Stuart Sharaga, a well-to-do Rhodes 19 owner, bought the molds and inventories, established Stuart Marine in Maine, and two years later began producing both centerboard and keel models again.  Rhodes are sailed and raced in one-design competition on San Francisco Bay, Lake Michigan, the Gulf Coast, as well as throughout the north Atlantic seaboard.  A new one with no options runs $24,800, while used Rhodes run from $8,000 to $24,000.  I like these boats, but I am much more drawn to the classic designs of the Doughdish and Melonseed.

Since we have Alizee, what initially led us to look at small boats was our thinking about a hard chine tender.  Our 8' 9" hypalon Walker Bay dinghy is a solid tender that has given us good service for the past four years, but our couple of experiences having to row her were miserable, and wouldn't it be fun to have a little sailing dinghy when at anchor.  I've been looking at build-your own stitch-and-glue boat kits from Glenn-L Marine and Chesapeake Light Craft, but I must admit that I'm not much of a shop guy.  I've even thought of asking  John Tuma, who built the little rowing tender Pup for my Islander Bahama 28 Dog Days, to build me one; he's more than happy to oblige, but he's in California and we're in Florida.

So, while I was agog over the Melon Seed, Penelope struck up a conversation with David Foynes, owner of Fatty Knees Boat Company.  Originally designed (in the 1970s, I believe) by Lyle Hess, famous for his Bristol Channel Cutter 28, the Fatty Knees dinghy was the favorite of the now well-known cruising couple Lin and Larry Pardey.  It's got a hand-laid lapstrake fiberglass hull, with teak and pine highlights.  It has two rowing stations, 50 sq. ft. of sail, and you can get a wood mast rather than aluminum if your in a mind to.  Penelope quite liked the 8 foot version, which weighs 104 lbs. and sells knew for $3,460.  Add the sail package, teak floorboards, oars, boat cover and a few other do-dads that you'll have to have, and the F.O.B. price at Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts is about $6,400.  Oops, not as good a deal as one might think at first glance.  Nevertheless, there are a whole lot of choices in hard chine dinghies, so we're still puzzling over this, and probably comparison shopping.

Finished with our small boat shopping for the day, we started winding our way to the exit gate, when I saw a booth for Martin & Bird, the brokerage firm through whom I bought Alizee, and there was Chet Pawlowicz, my broker.  He recognized me immediately, and we had a lovely little reunion and a bit of reminiscing over Alizee.  I mentioned to him that I'd hoped to see Simon Edwards, the boat delivery captain who had helped familiarize me with Alizee, but my number for him was no good.  So, Chet gave me the right number, and later Simon and I laid plans to meet sometime the next day.

Our first day at the boat show.  Whew!  We sat for a bit on the quay and let the crowds slip by us.  The sun had come out, and we were exhausted.  After regaining our strength, we headed over to McGarvey's for a reprise of oyster shooters, for we were meeting old sailing friends from one of our treks along the ICW for dinner a bit later.  While we don't have a photo of the shooters, you can tell from our smiles along the quay that we were a happy couple.

We got to O'Brien's Oyster Bar and Restaurant around 18:30, and settled in at the bar.   We met Ginger and David Kauppi at anchorage in Antipoison Creek, Virginia, when we were starting our homeward trip to Florida in 2009.  Their anchor dragged during the night, and we exchanged hellos.  The next day we left at about the same time, heading for Norfolk, and we each took pictures of our respective boats.  We eventually exchanged the photos - the one they took was the first I had of Alizee under sail - and later we spent another evening together with another couple at anchor in North Carolina.  We connected again at a marina in Florida when we were headed south to to jump off to the Bahamas in 2010, and they later that year when they came through Daytona Beach.  They've sold their boat and retired to land, recently selling their home in Connecticut and buying a condo just outside Annapolis, which puts them close to their grandchildren.  Such is the life of cruisers; eventually everyone swallows the anchor.  Anyway, we had a great dinner at O'Brien's, did lots of reminiscing as well as enjoying a good political conversation - it helps that we are in agreement on such matters.  A fine ending to our first day at the show.  (Another boat show post coming.)


Blogger Unknown said...

HOOray! :)

6:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hooray! Looks like fun. :)

6:26 PM  

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