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The 2008 Annapolis Sailboat Show
Annapolis Boat Show
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Well the 2008 Annapolis boat show has come and gone, and much to my surprise there were throngs of people all weekend. Boat sales from what I can gather from the salesman were brisk but down from last year, if the sales people are to be believed. I seriously doubt that there were a lot of sales but  I do personally know of 1  as I happened to be present while the negotiations were going on. During the dealings I hear some serious concessions were made by the sellers as they too are feeling this market.

We arrived at the Show on the Sunday, went and confirmed our demo sails on the Lagoon 380, the Lagoon 420 Diesel and the Leopard 40. Though we have been leaning toward the Leopard  no decision had been made due to the severe shrinkage of funds and this really bad market, primarily the housing market where most of our boat capital lies. Anyway with the demo's confirmed we decided that we we head off to Ocean City and go and walk down the Boardwalk.

 

Oh, before I forget, we prepaid for a rental car from Thrifty car rental, some weeks prior to our arrival, and requested a 4 door anything other than a Dodge Caliber. It is always good to plan ahead, right? Surprises are great in amusement parks or casino games but usually not with basic travel logistics. So, a month ahead, we booked our 4 door non-Dodge Caliber Well what are we given, yes, you guessed it, a Dodge Caliber. This must be the worst vehicle that I have driven, not because it came from Thrifty but because it has more blind spots than you can imagine. You cannot see out the rear when you backup as the rear side panels are so large that you have huge blind spots. We get the car and there is a 3" x 5" non removable sticker [Click here to see photo] about virtually in the center of the windshield on the drivers side of the car, so I mention it to the attendant who really does not want to be working at noon on a Sunday, and we are told that there are no other vehicles in our requested size, and if we want a larger vehicle we would have to pay for an upgrade, which is not about to happen. Anyway the car performs as required and besides a few near misses as I cannot see the vehicles in the left lane we make it to Ocean City and stroll along the boardwalk.

boardwalk
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Monday arrives and we are both really excited and ready for the show, expecting to see far less people as Monday October 13th was only a vacation day for the government and the banking industry. At least we got it partly correct. Anyway we did not buy tickets to the show as I wanted get them at the gate, so we get into the very short line and no sooner do we settle into the line and this guy comes up to us and says here I bought 2 tickets too many you can have them and just disappears. Well I figure this is some kind of prank, I mean the guy disappeared faster than you can blink, but I go up to the tickets bought on the internet and much to my surprise the tickets are real. We get our wristbands and go looking for the guy so that I can at least give him some money but he is just nowhere to be found. I probably would not have recognized him anyway, that's how fast this was. Lesley and I checked our pockets, purses and wallet to make sure we weren't fleeced and everything was there. So whoever you are thank you for the tickets...

Once inside the gate we headed straight to the Lagoon display and hooked up with our broker Brian Hermann, we again discussed with him exactly what we were looking for (must have had this conversation 10 times now Brian keeps asking, and we keep changing our requirements), this time we let him know that nothing had changed and we were still vacillating between the Lagoon 380, the Lagoon 420 and the Leopard 40.
Brian works sells used boats through 2Hulls and new Lagoon Yachts through the Catamaran company, as a result he can sell us a pretty much anything we want. We aboarded the Lagoon 380 and I did not remember it being as small and as tight as it was, I also did not remember that there was so little actual useable storage onboard. We did however really like the finish and workmanship of the 380. While we are standing on the 380 I hear mention of a Lagoon 400 and my ears prick up, it turns out that Lagoon is introducing a 400 in 2009 which is will compete directly with the other 40ft yachts in the market. I asked what is to happen to the 380 and I am told that no one knows, but with nearly 600 of them around the sales people believe that it is unlikely that the will stop production. My opinion is next year we see a Lagoon 400 and the Lagoon 380 is discontinued. With that in mind the Lagoon 380 seemed all but dead as far as I am concerned.
Moxie M37
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Next to be boarded was the Lagoon 420, and damn this is a beautiful Yacht, but at nearly $600,000 it had better be. It's layout is fabulous, the finish is out of this world, and it has space that just does not stop. The Yacht is 2 feet shorter and the Lagoon 440 but is just as beamy, the result is, all that space. This year Lagoon did not have the 420 Hybrid there, I wonder why? and we were looking forward to the demo sail on the 420. Once we had completed our tour of the 420 we headed for the Leopard 40 which was just across the way. I looked at my wife and as far as I could tell there was simply no question which vessel she favored. She had this strange grin on her face as she boarded the Leopard. Off she went checking out closet and storage space while I re-familiarized myself with the engines, rigging nav station, helm and such.
After spending about an hour on the Leopard and discussing the fact that this yacht had just about every nook and cranny converted into storage space, and that the aft deck and saloon area were wide open and designed for entertainment and that it had a galley up configuration so that anyone cooking can entertain and be entertained and still be part of any festivities, this to both of us is very important. Lesley said that when we buy that there is only one yacht as far as she was concerned and that was the Leopard 40. I on the other hand attempted to remain neutral and objective as I had not yet sailed on a leopard 40.

After coming to see what we had planned we started walking the show and looking at the other catamarans that were on display, and we found a few that we had not seen at the 2007 Annapolis boat show. The first was a Moxie M37 and 1 first impression was that this was a lightweight cruiser built purely for speed. She had a Gunboat type of look to the helm position and she looked as if she would not make it across the Atlantic, however the sales guy that I spoke to assured me that this was not the case and that this particular boat had come across from South Africa on her own hull, and bypassed hurricane s Gustav, Hanna and Ike. I Still did not like the look of the boat, just different I guess and to me outside of mainstream cruising.

Seawind 1160 with saloon doors open
Click on image for gallery of Yachts

After that we came across the little tomcat 9.7, now this little fella would make a great weekend cruiser or something a young couple would have a ton of fun with. The yacht is well built and has everything needed for a cruiser, but was just too little for me. The designers opted to install outboard motors in the sugar scoops. [Click here to see photo]

Next in line was the Seawind1160, built in Australia and it was really nice and open, and had what I thought was a great feature, in that the entire entrance into the saloon which consisted of 3 doors, folded up onto each other and then were hoisted into a pocket and latched to the underneath of the hardtop bimini.

Lastly we stopped over at Fountaine Pajot, a really well known French manufacturer to see if they had updated their designs from the late 1990's and sadly they had not. The boats have really nice large saloons, but there is little room on the aft deck area where you entertain. We believe if you are going to be out in the Caribbean you need to be able to relax with with your guests without being all cramped up.
So after a really full and rewarding day we headed back to the hotel for dinner, a discussion, the anticipation of Demo Day, and some really good winds on Chesapeake Bay.
... Demo Day ...

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