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Old 05-02-2017, 15:02   #16
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

Hi NoahTreat, I would definitely recommend the Annapolis sailboat shows. They have one in Spring (April) as well as Fall (October). In addition to the Annapolis show there is a nearby Baybridge show which specifically is used sailboats. You can see a lot and get ideas on used boat pricing. Also, the Annapolis show has something called Cruisers University which offers various boating classes. I am pretty sure this spring they are offering a class for people planning on purchasing a sailboat. You can get more info by searching "Annapolis Sailboat Show" on the internet.
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Old 05-02-2017, 15:36   #17
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

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Hi NoahTreat, I would definitely recommend the Annapolis sailboat shows. They have one in Spring (April) as well as Fall (October). In addition to the Annapolis show there is a nearby Baybridge show which specifically is used sailboats. You can see a lot and get ideas on used boat pricing. Also, the Annapolis show has something called Cruisers University which offers various boating classes. I am pretty sure this spring they are offering a class for people planning on purchasing a sailboat. You can get more info by searching "Annapolis Sailboat Show" on the internet.


Thanks for the recommendation. What are the differences between the spring and fall shows, if any?
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Old 05-02-2017, 17:19   #18
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

Here's a contrary viewpoint. If you are really a newbie DON'T GO TO A SAILBOAT SHOW! You need an opportunity to spend time on sailboats and for an experienced person to take his/her time to "talk" you through what you are seeing. The bigger and better sailboat shows are too crowded for that and the salespeople are too busty. Instead, visit a few sailboat dealers. You'll have the opportunity to spend lots of time looking at the various models and should get good attention from salespeople. Then locate a yacht/sailing club in your area, contact either the Commodore or chief sailing officer and tell him/her about your circumstances and ask if he could put you in touch with a boat owner who would be willing to take you sailing and spend some time talking to you about sailboats. Look at several. Talk to a number of sailors. Board a number of boats. THEN, go to a boat show.
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Old 05-02-2017, 17:20   #19
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

Why not both Miami & Annapolis? If you're in the info gathering phase just go to and do as much as possible
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Old 05-02-2017, 18:01   #20
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

In addition to boat shows, join a sailing club or make friends on a dock with someone with a sailboat. The more you see, the better idea you will have of what you like. Shows are good for general things, but actually being out on one is a much better way to tell what you like and don't like. Also, think about getting a smaller boat, especially if you are on/near a lake. Learn to sail. Learn what basics you need/want/would like to have. Do you want a multi-hull or mono? Do you want a tiller or a wheel? What electronics do you think you would need for your situation? Deep draft or shallow? Solid Transom or sugar scoop? Forward head/aft head/both? Until you experience them in real life, you won't really know.

Good Luck, and have fun looking!
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Old 06-02-2017, 06:10   #21
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

NoahTreat, There is no difference between the two that I know of, other than updated models and perhaps some vendor changes as some are added some drop out. Cruiser University courses generallly change with each show also. Usually you can also get great prices on gear at the boat shows. Last October, my wife and I bought foul weather jackets for $199 that normally cost $299!
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:16   #22
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

I've attended both Miami and Annapolis over the decades, and some smaller shows in between. Like any major event (think football game or concert), if you are an expert and know what you are looking at, you get much more out of it. Still, you can learn by just walking docks and talking to sales people. In both big show, there are all types from the serious buyers to the "keel kickers" so you will not be out of place to wander aboard and ask questions. The sales people are into longer-term selling, so not like a car lot where they need to close a deal today.

You can spend a day at the Show, perhaps two if you're really interested, but then what do you do? Personally, Annapolis is a nicer town to visit, but we're not really into beaches and clubs. Both are tourist towns, so everything is pricier.

Personally, if I was interested in sailing and had a couple grand to visit a boat show, I would spend it instead on a beginners lesson at a smaller venue like the gulf coast. Boat shows are not sailing reality. You walk on board floating apartments staged like model homes. They try to remove any hint of sailing such as what this lovely room would look like healed over, or in four-foot waves. Get aboard a sailboat and leave the model home show for a later date.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:16   #23
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

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What is the consensus with the Annapolis show in April? Is it a good show to look at 40' live aboard sailboats. I want to show the wife what my newest idea looks like.
The fall show is substantially larger and better attended, so if you were only going to one I'd go in the fall.

To those of us who live in Annapolis, it's a running joke that it always rains during the show...and it does, so bring your foulies.

It's also worth shelling out a bit more for the first day of the show, which is VIP day. It's much less crowded and if your objective is to get on as many boats as possible, without waiting in line at some boats, that's the day to do it. Then, if you're there for subsequent days, you can revisit those boats that you have continued interest in.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:33   #24
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

Ahoy NoahTreat,

We have liked the Chicago Strictly Sail for good seminars and chance to see and talk to a lot of boats. Best to go on Thursday or Friday as Saturday is crowded.

We were in Miami in 2011 and will go back this year. We have a hotel on South Beach, so plan to visit the beach a couple of days and the boat show one day. The seminars are better for beginners in Chicago. Miami has a lot more electronic displays. I was fun to see the bigger boats and catamarans too.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:39   #25
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

Boat shows are very different. The "in the water" shows are my preference. I have attended Annapolis (Fall show - never done the new Spring version) for over 35 years. Prior to Bush 41 destroying the boat industry, there were numerous small and medium-sized manufacturers at these shows with their diverse offerings. Now - not so much. The Hunter-Beneteau-Catalina cabal pretty much dominates. Plenty of the very expensive boats. Shows also give you an opportunity to interface with brokers who will keep you in mind as they list a boat that meets your needs. Like there is no one-size-fits-all boat, there are different needs that can be fulfilled by a boat show. I love browsing the tents, looking at the latest gadgets and equipment. If I won the Powerball, I would approach these shows differently. I certainly approach them differently after sailing for 40 years than I did when I was hoping to find my first boat. Your current desires or needs are the biggest variables.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:54   #26
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

The Houston Boat Show (officially, the Southwest International Boat Show) in April does not hold a candle to Miami next week or Annapolis in the fall, for seeing lots of different boats, especially new boats (I live in South Shore Harbor, the show venue). At your stage in this pursuit, I would recommend both of the others.

When you get serious about buying a boat, however, definitely consider Houston (and it doesn't have to be during the boat show). The Clear Lake area, 25 miles southeast of downtown Houston (clear -- Ha, Ha), is supposedly the second or third largest concentration of recreational boats in the US, and at any one time, they are almost all for sale. But you'll need a broker to show you around, and you shouldn't do that until you're serious.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:36   #27
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

I vote for the first day in Annapolis. There is a pussers so you can get your pain killers and the fleet landing for lunch. Also there is a cool miniature ship museum at the Naval Academy you can walk to. Very neat little town.
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Old 06-02-2017, 16:56   #28
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

When the admiral and I were shopping, we did the Miami & Fall Annapolis shows. Miami was huge! Next came Annapolis. We were able to go onto a lot of used boats in one place at Annapolis Yacht Sales (no affiliation). It was there we were able to decide on a make/model to purchase. Hard to beat Miami in Feb. Annapolis usually has rain in the fall. Have fun wherever you end up!
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Old 06-02-2017, 17:25   #29
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Best sailboat show for newbies

Lots of great advice. I didn't realize Chicago had a sail show. We love Chicago. As you can see from my picture, we were there for the Chicago Cubs World Series.

I already have some ASA sailing courses planned for the spring. So that is the plan, and to visit a show or 2.
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Old 08-02-2017, 23:17   #30
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Re: Best sailboat show for newbies

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The bigger and better sailboat shows are too crowded for that and the salespeople are too busty.
That sounds like a perk and not a reason to avoid.
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