So what is going on in boating on the East Coast of the US? I went to the Annapolis Boat Shows to find out.

The Annapolis Boat Show is really two shows. The first show is the United States Sailboat Show, with over 165 sailboats in the water. This year there were more large catamarans than ever before. Jeanneau introduced their new 64’ monohull, which they call a “superyacht of sailboats.” Room, room, room, and well equipped, too, with a 180 hp Volvo, bow and stern thruster, electric winches, and lots of amenities. While it might be a while before one comes to the NW, you can take a virtual tour and watch a walk around boat tour courtesy of Boattube. Particularly impressive are the perfectly flat foredeck hatches.

Marlow Hunter showed their new pilothouse M47 sailboat for the first time. This new boat could be a hit in the Northwest. Imagine sailing in an enclosed pilothouse with full wrap around windows. In comfort, attention to detail, and styling, this is a far cry from the legacy Hunter line.

The new Marlow Hunter 47

The new Marlow Hunter 47

There were not just large sailboats, but plenty of small sailboats too. Some of my personal favorites were the Alerion 28 and 38. Just imagine yourself out for an afternoon sail with friends or your significant other in these classic sailing yachts. The lines and build are beautiful.

The catamaran display area had more boats than ever before, and they were larger, too. The room and performance in the new cruising cats makes them a compelling option. High on this list at the Annapolis show was the formidable Gunboat brand. They look fast and sexy with their wave piercing hulls and sleek, stark design. The Gunboat 55 was named Cruising World’s Boat of the Year after the show. In Cruising World’s sea trials the Gunboat showed what it can do in a 30-knot squall with a comfortable 20 knots of boat speed.

A Lagoon cruising catamaran.

A Lagoon cruising catamaran.

If the foiling boats in the Americas Cup give you a thrill, take a look at the foiling Gunboat G4. Built of carbon fiber, boats like this are not for the feint of heart and will require new sailing, or shall we say, flying techniques. Want to see what happens when things go bad? Click Here. And this was with Gunboat president Peter Johnstone at the helm of Hull #1. G4 Hull #2 is under construction and looking for an owner. You know what they say: “If you have to ask the price …”

You don’t need to be Larry Ellison to fund a foiling sailboat. For about $31,000, not including shipping from the UK, you can have a Whisper foiling catamaran. This is a lot of fun in just 18′ of molded carbon fiber. The one shown at the show sold before the show was over. You can see what I mean here.

The prevalence of foiling cats makes me wonder if we’ll see one in the next Race to Alaska, aka R2AK. Could a foiling cat make the trip from Victoria to Ketchikan in two or three days? That would mean an average course made good of somewhere between 11and 16 knots. Doable in a foiling cat, but what a ride that would be!

Speaking of the Race to Alaska, if you have not seen the audacious R2AK smackdown video challenging Larry Ellison to enter one of his foiling boats click here.

At the end of the sailboat show there was a large rooftop party to watch the quick breakup of the display boats with 165 sailboats exiting the in the water area to be replaced by the powerboats for the United States Powerboat Show that opened just 3 days later.

The Powerboat Show

Just three days after the sailboat show ended, the powerboat show began. And the news from the powerboat show was like the sailboat show: bigger is better. New, bigger boats from Sabre and its sister brand Back Cove, Hinckley, Maritimo, Grand Banks, Ocean Alexander, Marlow and others showed that mid-sized yachts are getting bigger and more luxurious.

A new Hinckley powerboat.

A new Hinckley powerboat.

Northwest builders were well represented in Annapolis, with a broad array of boats from Aspen, Coastal Craft, Nordic Tug, Ranger Tug, North Pacific and others displayed throughout the show.

The uplands display areas featured over 460 different companies exhibiting many accessories seen before at other shows. A good boat show is still the place to go to see demos of the latest marine electronics. We got to play with the latest electronics from all the major manufacturers and they continue to make strides in ease of use and performance.

One product that stood out in the accessory display area was the Sirius SOS Distress Light. This is a floating LED flashing device, with a daytime signal flag, that meets the USCG requirement as an approved alternative to pyrotechnic flares on boats. The cost of the Sirius SOS light is about $100. It can be seen from up to 10 miles away and will work for hours from three C alkaline batteries. This device solves two problems that boaters frequently face: keeping current flares aboard, and disposing of expired flares. The Sirius SOS Distress Light never expires and doesn’t need to be disposed of.

Mark Bunzel

Mark Bunzel is the Editor and Publisher of the Waggoner Cruising Guide, an annual cruising guide covering all the great marinas and anchorages in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia Coast, from Olympia to Ketchikan.

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