For sailboats it would be tough to beat Annapolis in October. The best powerboat show I've ever had to attend was the Miami Boat Show, which was beyond anything I could ever imagine. Lots of sailboats there as well. I'm not sure about the Norwalk show, but it was pretty big when I was last there several years ago.
Don't waste your time heading to Toronto in January, it's mostly power, cottagy stuff and even "no were near boating" stuff. Keel boat are limited to Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina, Bavaria, McGregor. Head to Annapolis or Chicago.
Just got back from Miami Boat Show/Strictly Sail about an hour ago. Had a great time, went to the Lat's & Atts crusier party Saturday night..FREE beer & pizza! Its in 3 locations with a water taxi that takes you between 2 marina's in downtown Miami and a shuttle bus that takes you out to the convention center on Miami beach. Had a great time with the best part of the show being, of course, strictly sail at the Bayside marina. The other marina and the convention center were predominantly power boating. Still great seeing the other locations and after spending the weekend there we barely scartched the surface. Got to go on a huge variety of sailboats from all the big names, tons of equipment/gear/rigging stuff, watermakers, clothing, etc etc etc..
Highly recommend the show and we'll be back next year for sure..and for longer . Beautiful weather beautiful boats..it was an awesome show.
OAKS BOATS! March 2nd or so, right off 422 behind the Lowe's. Trailer out back has pretty good perogie, got what I think was a shrewd buy on some "rescue tape" last year. Interesting headwear and spectacular tattoo display amongst the audience because of and/or despite the weather. Large choice of "jerky" for a boat show. Venison jerky, pork jerky, chickun jerky, jerky jerky all on display. Lots of camo stuff too ( camouflage) in case you do not want to be seen on a boat or anywhere near Oaks for the show.
Well yeah, Annapolis is probably okay, but it isn't till October. Even then do they have jerky? Funnel cake? Rescue tape? May I remind you sir we are looking for the BEST here.
Did I mention the Rescue tape is available in many colors? Dare I mention the same is true for the jerky?
Oaks it is - be there! Sometime in March somewhere behind the Lowe's...........
Vancouver just held its annual boat show. Its designed more for power boaters and was quite disappointing for sailors. Bene, Catalina, Hunter, Bavaria, Juneau and Dufour all had about 3 models there. What ever happened to using real wood to build the interiors?
Annapolis hands down. I highly prefer a sail only show and they split sail and power on consecutive weeks. Enormous display of boats of all sizes. More equipment vendors than you could visit in two days.
I asked one of the equipment vendors, who displays at both shows to tell me the difference in attendance and crowds. Naturally, the power boaters are all drunk.......
He did say that weather was an attendance factor. If the shows are on sunny days, both get a great turnout. However, if it rains, the stink potters stay home, while attendance at the sail show goes up, foulies and all !!
My two favorites are the Maine Boat Builders Show in Portland in March and the Maine Boats and Harbors in water show in Rockland in August. Both are sail and power and neither has anywhoere the numbers of production boats you see in Annapolis or the other larger shows but a lot of custom and semi custom boats and restorations. If you a looking for something different from the larger shows try those.
On the flip side, the worst boat show - I was appalled at how bad the New York Boat Show was, the one time I naively went to it. It proclaims itself the "National Boat Show" and the oldest in the land, but it was not even good by the standards of a powerboat/fishing show.