Building the Boat Shows
Each October, for more than 37 years, the United States Sailboat Show (Oct. 5-9)
and The United States Powerboat Show (Oct. 12-15) take over the docks and harbor
of the colonial seaport of Annapolis. These two events are, the oldest and
largest in-water shows in the industry, and they are the only major boat shows
not produced in an existing marina. Playing host to more than 250 sailboats,
nearly 500 powerboats and hundreds of land exhibitors requires the construction
of a temporary marina facility of stupendous proportions.
To accommodate this veritable navy of recreational vessels, show producers
will drive 57 temporary pilings in the waters of Annapolis harbor. Those
pilings anchor a mile and two tenths of floating docks, assembled in
twenty-foot sections, requiring 636 three quarter inch bolts just to hold
them together. Exhibitors are supplied with fresh water for wash downs by a
temporary water system incorporating 1400 feet of three-inch fire hose and 5
custom built “Christmas tree” style hose bib manifolds.
More than 200 tents, erected on over 500 wooden floor sections covering more
than three quarters of an acre, accommodate land exhibitors. Both land and water
exhibitors receive electrical service via a system of submarine cables and
wiring that incorporates over 57 miles of wire.
This enormous construction effort takes place with almost military precision and
timing in the space of three days, with the Sailboat Show opening at 10:00 AM
Thursday morning. At 5:00 PM Monday the transition or “change-over” from Sail to
Powerboat show begins. Change-over has become a bit of an event in its own
right, with crowds of onlookers cheering from bars and restaurants surrounding
the show site as boat operators and the show staff transform one show into
another. The load out of sail, load in of powerboats and the reconfiguring of
docks, land and tent displays is completed by Wednesday evening and the
Powerboat Show opens Thursday morning.
Sunday evening at 6:00 PM the air at city dock is filled with the sounds and
exhaust fumes of hundreds of engines as the “breakdown” of the Powerboat show
begins. Within about an hour and a half, the harbor basin empties of boats,
accompanied by the cheers and jeers of the hundreds of onlookers who critique
the close quarters boat handling skill of the departing exhibitors.
By Tuesday morning, like the legendary Scottish village of Brigadoon, the show
has vanished, seemingly into thin air, to return again next year. In fact, the
floating city has been broken down into its component parts and transported to
its permanent storage site in Owings, 26 miles south of Annapolis.
On Wednesday the process of repair, refurbishment and planning for next October
Adult and children’s tickets as well as VIP day ticket for both the U.S.
Sailboat Show and U.S. Powerboat Show can be purchased on line at www.usboat.com
and clinging on the ticket icon.