Annapolis U.S. Sailboat Show — A Sailor’s Smorgasbord
by Bill Hooper

Craig Ligibel and daughter, Katie with steamed crabs at Mike’s on the South River, Photo by Bill HooperAnnapolis Maryland is the sailing mecca of the U.S. and when the boat show comes to town it becomes the frenzy of sailors. The 38th Annual U.S. Sailboat Show starts October 4th and ends the 8th. So start making plans now. Most sailors fly into BWI (Baltimore) and rent a car for a 30 minute drive to Annapolis. There are a number of hotels, B&B’s, or rooms to rent, but don’t delay. They are spendy close to the show, so spread out if you are on a budget. For parking, find a ramp, lot, or go to Eastport and find a spot on the street. Buy tickets at the show or online at This time of year, when midwest weather cools off, you are usually treated to another weekend of wearing shorts as you walk the docks and climb on vessels from all over the world. Compare dinghies, daysailors, ocean cruisers, racers and multihulls. Browse tents packed full of accessories, info and fun.

It is one of the largest shows in the world — all sailboats — in the water and nestled in a harbor deep within a town off of a post card full of history, fabulous food and shops. Everything around you is nautical. If you are in the market for a boat you can talk to builders, designers and sales staff. I am sure you won’t need guidance on how to navigate a boat show but, I might be helpful in suggesting where to drop your hook for a bite or other non-boat show landmarks.

Hungry? Get out of the show for a break and try Oyster Shooters at the Middleton Tavern (circa 1750), or Maryland Crab Cakes at McGarvy’s. All within walking distance from the show find all ethnic foods, but don't forget seafood. Grab a water taxi and cross Spa Creek for lunch at Carol’s Creek, or dinner over the water at the Chart House and O’Learys for seafood. If steaks are your thing, go to Lewnes. The Boatyard Bar & Grill and Davey’s Pub are Eastport local sailor bars, but at the show, all the bars are sailor’s bars. Want to get away? Try Sam’s Waterfront Café (Chesapeake Harbor), or devour steamed blue crabs at Mike’s on the South River (Riva Road) or Cantler’s. Into fine wines to take home? Mills Liquors is tops.

Photo by Bill HooperWant history? Take a stroll to State Circle to the first U.S. Capitol and see the Naval Academy, their harbor, maritime museum (Preble Hall) and John Paul Jones crypt. Or drive across the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore to St. Michaels. Check out the unique architecture of old town Annapolis by foot.
Want more boats? Walk Eastport or take Bay Ridge Road to Edgewood and see real marina life on Back Creek. Like marine stores? Faucett’s is impressive or Weem’s & Plath. You will find a most outstanding selection of nautical art, clothing and artifacts in Annapolis. You will also find a most outstanding selection of sailor people there too and you can become one of them.

Bill Hooper owns Hooper’s Yachts in Afton, MN. He has been a regular at the Annapolis Sailboat Show for over twenty years.


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