Last week, I had two full days at the United States Sailboat show in Annapolis, MD and got around to see just about all of my friends and advertisers. The show was held just the week after Hurricane Ian slammed the southwest Florida coast causing huge amounts of damage. Our friends Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School facilities in the Naples area were heavily damaged, unfortunately, along with many other marine businesses. But, VP Beth Oliver was happy to note that the St. Petersburg facility was open and running and honoring reservations. The OSS plans to rebuild and get their bases near Naples up and running again. And, their base on Scrub Island in the BVI is fully functioning and accepting transfers from reservations at the damaged facilities.
With Ian and the devastation in Florida on everyone’s minds, boat show manager Sheila Jones stepped up to the mic during the annual Sail America breakfast on Friday to announce that the show had created a portal through which donations could be made to help Ian’s victims. And, she also announced that the boat show itself had started donations off with a substantial gift. You can locate the portal and make donations here. I hope you will.
There were a number of new and interesting boats introduced at the show, many of which we highlighted in last week’s Cruising Compass. You can read the preview here. Four new multihulls really stood out. The HH 50 and the Balance 442 are high-tech, high-quality speedsters but not so high tech and so fast that a couple couldn’t happily own and cruise either. The new Fountain Pajot Aura 51 is a spacious family cruiser that can be set up with advanced hybrid solar-electric-diesel propulsion. And, the New NEEL 43 trimaran made its US debut to much fanfare; these cruising tris offer huge accommodations in multihulls that sail like the wind.
There were several new boats from Beneteau, Jeanneau, the Hanse Group that are speedy, spacious, modern cruisers with very modern lines and systems. Read the previews here. Dufour held a press reception on Thursday morning to introduce their new Dufour 37, a boat that is a kind of Swiss-Army-Knife among production family cruisers, since it can be configured in so many different ways. Also, is it being offered at a price under $180,000 that has proven very attractive to the dozens of new buyers who have ordered 37s in the month following its launch at the boat show at Cannes, France, in September.
It was good to see our home-grown American builders at the show this year. Catalina had most of its cruising line in their usual spot. Tartan had two boats on display; this venerable American brand is now owned by Seattle Yachting. Island Packet, from Clearwater, FL survived Ian and Darrell and Leslie Allen, who took ownershhip of IPY in 2017, were at the show with two models. And Andrea and Skip King, owners of Island Yacht Charters in the USVI who specialize in chartering Island Packets, were at the show. Andrea reported that they have recovered from the hurricanes of 2017 and now have 10 Island Packets available for charter; and their season is booking up quickly.
The Moorings, Sunsail and Leopard catamarans, all part of the same company, had a party and press conference on Thursday afternoon. Their news, offered by marketing director Ian Pederson, was entirely positive after two very trying years in the charter business due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. But through the charter slow down, Leopard sales manager Franck Bauguil noted that new boats sales of Leopards surged. Those two trends reversed themselves in the last half of 2022 with the charter businesses booming and new boat sales tapering off a bit.
Ashore, we visited dozens of vendors who were offering literally thousands of products old and new to the sailing hoards who attended the show. Whether it be a windvane from Monitor, a fridge from Sea Frost, a folding propeller from Gori, solar panels from Coast Climate Control or sailing instruction from the Blue Water Sailing School, there was something on display for everyone. And, I have to say that even following, the pandemic, Hurricane Ian and with inflation causing concern, the marine industry was remarkably buoyant and positive.
So, tick the box for the 2022 Annapolis sailboat show as “been there and done that” and I was a happier man for the experience.