Exactly why I have not been to a major sailboat show until now is unclear.

Doesn’t matter. We finally made it happen and all signs point to us making up for lost time by becoming boat show groupies.  We’re already planning our trip to the Miami Boat Show in mid-February.

You probably should too.

The reasons are endless, but start with “Where else are you going to see more than a billion (with a ‘b’) dollars’ worth of sailboats all snuggled together and on display?” That is just the beginning of course. Excellent charter companies from all over the globe with boat show deals too good to pass up, discounts on any and everything else you might need for sailing, exposure to all the new stuff you didn’t know existed, and meeting other like-minded sailors whose collective energy and enthusiasm for life on the water makes the event truly special.

I loved it all, but definitely walked away with a few favorites from the show.

DREAM BOAT – The Oyster 575

I would have stowed away on this boat had it not been for the company rep keeping an eye on things below deck. As an alternative, I briefly squeezed my eyes shut and thought “Dream big and this 2.4 million stunner that is 10 times nicer than your home can be yours!” Yeah right. Not likely. And this is their smallest craft. Apparently, I wasn’t even dreaming big! Oyster Yachts is seriously all about a lotta boat. That said you might wonder why I didn’t put the 120-foot Oyster at the top of the dream list. Easy. Just considering sailing, not to mention docking, something that large gives me hives. The mental image of me crashing into everything I can’t see ahead of me ruins it.


This is the only boat I visited twice. I loved everything about the Hanse 458, and while they certainly aren’t giving it away, it is financially in reach. What did I love?  It has a smart, open layout without that pesky compression post, great décor options that feel a bit higher end than others in the class, a separate master toilet and shower, and it felt solidly built with German engineering throughout. I am not going to lie. I want this boat.

CREWNITY – Hylas Yachts

This special category is part team, part company, and part community. Hylas has it all in abundance! I’ll just say it, I want to be part of this group. From Cassie who took down our info, to Peggy the COO and member of the family that has made these beautiful boats for generations, to Brian the owner of the 70-foot model we toured, to Josh the broker who gave us so much great information it isn’t hard to see that this is a very special company making very special boats. If we ever decide blue water sailing is for us, we are all yours Hylas!


The fact that Brian, one of the co-founders of Snag A Slip, gave us each a beer and a koozie on the last day of the show is not the only reason we lingered around their booth so long. Truth is, we just love this idea! Look for and download the Snag A Slip app before your next sailing trip and use it to find and reserve slips ahead of time. Would have been great to have that sailing in BC when we showed up at the full Gibson Marina and were scrambling toward our Plan B. Or to have had the app on Lake Champlain when the weather was getting bad and we weren’t able to contact the marina on the phone. Or…I could go on. Point is, this is a terrific, helpful free app for sailors!

CRAB CAKE – Chick & Ruth’s Delly

I love Crab Cakes, so gobbled down as many as I could over the course of two days. The winner? Hands down, Chick & Ruth’s Delly. A half-pound of loosely packed crab deliciousness in an unpretentious though storied location. I was standing outside a store with yelp trying to track down crab cakes and my husband walked up to ask if I had found our next crab cake destination. A local woman overheard us and pointed us to Chick & Ruth’s Delly, bless her heart. She was not wrong. It is just right up the hill from the dock (165 Main Street) and is a must-visit.

DISCOUNT – Musto Rain Jacket, 60% off!

I have been in the market for a good rain jacket for a while, but I didn’t want to pay $250 for one and let’s face it, I hate shopping.  So, I hadn’t made much (any) traction on finding a good jacket until the boat show when the most perfect race red Musto jacket practically leapt off the rack and into my arms. Bottom line, the boat show is an outstanding spot to get some great deals.

SNACK BREAK – Rooftop Fresh Oysters

Looking at incredible boats all day can be strenuous. Ok, not really. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to want a break in the middle of the day for a beer and bite to eat. Right on the dock there is a place where you could go upstairs, and they shuck fresh, giant, delicious, inexpensive oysters right before your eyes. Great draft beer options too. Casual and fabulous with live Reggae music too. And just when I thought the show couldn’t get any better.

PERSON – Brendan

Brendan was the hotel clerk who checked us in at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel and he is as close to a desk angel as we’ve ever found. First of all, he was really nice and told us all about the flooding that happened before got there and even looked up the show times for the last two days. But his true magic was giving us an unbelievable corner room with views of the marina and a little patio where we could sip wine and watch it all go by. We booked our room using points because we were a bit late to the reservation party and other options were far away or expensive. Our reservation didn’t specify a room type, so it was our hero Brendan that made our excellent accommodations happen. This is why, even though we met tons of amazing people over the two days, he is still our stand-out favorite person.

NEWS – Panama Bareboat Charter!

Guess where we are going in 2021? Did you guess Panama? If you didn’t you aren’t paying attention. Anyhow, the answer is Panama! According to Giovanni Gaudiano representing Shelter Bay Marina, Panama will begin allowing bareboat chartering in June 2020. Keep an eye out for more details on https://escapeundersail.com. We plan to watch this one carefully because we have always wanted to sail the San Blas islands. Stay tuned!

So, who’s coming with us to Miami in February?

Lea Maxwell is the sailor and scribe behind Escape Under Sail, a web|blog project that connects new and future bareboat sailors with the resources, information, and motivation they need to competently and confidently sail beautiful destinations around the world.

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