Welcome to the Annapolis Boat Shows! The largest in-water boat shows in the country each take place biannually at City Dock in downtown Annapolis. Over the course of two weeks, vendors, boat owners, manufacturers, and visitors come together to shop and explore the vast display of sailboats and powerboats. Floating docks extend over Spa Creek for the event, with over 250 boats docked and 500 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and industry trends. Several participants travel from outside of and across the country to visit the quaint city of Annapolis and enjoy the boat shows, as well as many exhibitors who attend annually. “We do a lot of exhibitions,” says Bob Peterson from MapTech, a publishing company of marine charts, guides, and chart navigator software. “...this is one of our favorites.” Simon, representing Bavaria Yachts, also commented on the excitement of the locale and popularity of the event; “[The] crowd has been super, everyone is really friendly.”

For someone who has never been to a boat show before, this year’s exhibition proved to be a fantastic introduction. I particularly enjoyed being able to step aboard several boats to explore layouts and special features. Some boats were the perfect size for a day’s cruise on the bay, others were equipped with kitchens and living rooms for overnight or destination trips – I was amazed by the variety of models and options available to buyers and visitors with newfound boat-owning ambitions.

Boat dealers and owners also have the opportunity to win awards as participants vote for their favorite candidates in several categories. I met the Jeanneau Yachts team (Margriet, Lara, Camille, and Evelyn) who celebrated their sailboat’s “Best in Show” award for display. Overall the event exudes a contagious energy on the docks; this, combined with the diversity of boat designs and views out onto the Chesapeake Bay, provided a small glimpse into what life on the waters could be like.

Photos courtesy of Melissa Kuhta