Thoughts from the Annapolis Power Boat Show

October 21, 2017

Last Thursday, I attended the Annapolis Power Boat Show as I have done for many years. There was a time when I worked this and many other boat shows, but now I just attend to see old friends and check out what’s new.

The one thing that struck me was the number of large center console boats on display. I love a center console boat for day trips reasonably close to shore, but some of the new models are more than 50 feet and designed to run way offshore. Saying this, I must confess that I began by offshore fishing in a 22-Mako back in the early 1970s when some old-timers thought my brother-in-law Paul Coffin and I were crazy. I was in my early 30s and so was Paul. We have both turned past the 75-year mark and neither of us wants to run that far in that boat anymore.

The larger center consoles have four very large outboard motors that propel the boat past the 50 mph mark. I can tell you from long experience that days when the ocean is calm enough for your boat to run at 50 mph without shaking you, your passengers and lots of stuff on board beyond endurance are few and far between.

Then there is the cost. The big center consoles will top the $1 million mark. For that kind of money, you can buy a solid day boat with diesel engines and an enclosed cabin.

Speaking of money, the sticker shock was not only on big center consoles, but on just about every boat in the show. For crying out loud, a Hobie kayak went for more than $2,000. And you had to paddle the darn thing.

A typical 24-foot, ocean-capable boat like my 24-foot Albemarle (that they don’t make anymore) is going to set you back more than $100,000. That does include electronics, but no trailer. I paid $20,000 for my 1989 Albemarle in 1991. I think a new one was somewhere in the $40,000 range. They had inflatables at the show that cost more than $40,000.

You can still buy a good boat for less than $100,000. Parker, Sportcraft, Grady-White and others offer boats in the 18- to 22-foot class for $50,000 to $100,000.

I did notice a lack of big sportfishing boats. Viking had its new 37-footer, and Bertram brought its beautiful 35-foot model and another in the 50-foot range. Albemarle’s largest model on display was a 32-footer.

As usual, the tents were full of all sorts of stuff. Some of it having to do with boats and some of it not.

All in all, I had good time, learned a little, walked a lot and can’t wait till next year.


Tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 21, the third annual Boo-Que by the Sea will take place at Delaware Seashore State Park. As part of this event, low-digit surf-fishing permit tags will be auctioned off. The lowest tag in the auction will be No. 6, with other low numbers also available. Surf-fishing tag No. 6898, along with the matching Division of Motor Vehicles license plate will also be in the auction. If you plan to bid, bring your checkbook. Bidding starts at $250 and the average price for a low-digit surf fishing tag has been $2,978.

Proceeds from the Boo-Que by the Sea will support the John and Linda Hollis Delaware Children in Nature Endowment Fund. Monies from the low-digit tag auction will go to the Division of Parks and Recreation for beach access.

Fishing report

The weather has hindered fishing, but when the boats can get away from the dock, they have been catching tog, sheepshead and triggerfish. Everyone is looking forward to Sunday, when sea bass season reopens.

Lewes Harbour Marina’s Tog Tournament is underway, and right now, Shevla Stohler is in first place with a 6.82-pound tog. James Rodex holds down second place with his 6.53-pounder and Jason Destafney is in third with a 5.42-pound blackfish.

Down in Ocean City, Md., Hooked on OC sponsored the Ocean City Inshore Classic. The boat Reel Quick took the top prize in the open division with a 9.2-pound sheepshead, plus it had all three places in the tog division, winning $775. Minor Threat brought in three flounder weighing from 2.8 to 4.4 pounds to win $970. Miller Time came in first with the only rockfish entered in that division plus a third-place win in the open division with a 4.4-pound bluefish. They walked away with $1,927.

Hooked on OC considered this first-of-its-kind tournament a success and hopes to hold the event every year.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at