As an adult, I find it difficult to rekindle the joy, awe and excitement I experienced as a child on Christmas morning. But for the past 15 years, I’ve come close, thanks to the United States Sailboat Show held in Annapolis, Maryland, every October. Admittedly, there is no Santa, but there other things—better things—like shiny new boats, novel marine gadgets, maritime cheer and a plethora of sea captains (many of whom look like Santa). Boat-show fever is the closest I’ve come to the Christmas magic of childhood.
Like a child, my anticipation starts long before the show. I begin working on my wish list immediately after the previous year’s show ends, and I tweak it throughout the year. At the show, list in hand, I wheel and deal with the vendors to pick up all the latest toys. Over the course of those 15 years, I have purchased three boats, using the boat show as a research tool. Bouncing from boat to boat and dreaming about possibilities reminds me of lying in bed dreaming about Christmas.
Of course, no Christmas is complete without Christmas cheer. At home, we celebrate with “Tom and Jerrys”—eggnog spiked with rum and brandy. At the boat show, it’s Painkillers from Pusser’s—pineapple and orange juices with crème of coconut and dark rum. Instead of milk and cookies, it’s Maryland crab.
Once the presents are open, what can compare to the thrill of sharing your good fortune with those around you? After the show, my sailing companions and I gather at the hotel and scurry from room to room, showing off our new nautical novelties. We tell tales of boat shows past until we fall fast asleep, visions of rhumb lines dancing in our heads.
I may never again experience that wild-eyed, mesmerizing joy of a Christmas morning, but I’m pretty sure the boat show is the next best thing.
Visit SAIL's booth at the 2012 Annapolis Boatshow! We are located at 59B.
Also make sure to sign up for the WCC Ocean Sailing Forum on Saturday, featuring SAIL's Chales J. Doane!