Indoor boat shows and educational courses are great activities in the winter for those of us looking forward to warmer temperatures on the Mid-Atlantic coast.
You don’t have to be in the market for a boat to enjoy a boat show since show producers typically provide entertainment, educational seminars, and a multitude of displays with maritime information, products and services to peruse.
Every year, I take in the Baltimore Boat Show, and while the food’s not all that great in the convention center, the atmosphere inside is optimistic with shiny new boats, free giveaways, contests, and activities such as remote-controlled docking and virtual fishing. Kids build a toy boat and exercise their balance in the SUP zone along with parents. Mechanically minded folks learn to unclog a carburetor at Fred’s Shed. Across the street, at the Pratt Street Ale House, there’s plenty of good food and drink to be had. This year’s show in Baltimore runs January 26-29 with more than 300 boats from luxury cruisers to kayaks under one roof.
Other regional shows include the Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina, January 13-15. Over 100 local, regional and national companies will showcase tackle, rods and reels, apparel, maps, charters, sunglasses, boats, motors, electronics, knives, and so on. And there’s the Richmond Fishing Expo at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia, January 20-22. ncboatshows.com; baltimoreboatshow.com
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offerings
On January 28, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law an act to create the United States Coast Guard, a combination of the nation’s Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard is a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and one of its many missions is to educate the public on safe boat handling. How does it do that? The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary exists to support all U.S.C.G. missions except roles that require direct law enforcement or military engagement. As of 2015, there were approximately 32,000 members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Every year auxiliary members help save some 500 lives, assist 15,000 distressed boaters, conduct at least 150,000 safety examinations of recreational vessels, and provide cruiser safety instruction to more than 500,000 students. In total, the auxiliary and its volunteer efforts save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
If you’d like to gain some nautical know-how from experienced auxiliary members, find a course nearby by simply entering your zip code into the National Public Education Calendar Database, which holds and displays all the public education courses taught by auxiliary flotillas nationwide. Topics include GPS for Mariners, Weather and Boating, Weekend Navigator, Lines and Knots, and many more. Upon entering my zip code, for example, I found Sailing Skills and Seamanship, a class offered by Lynn Disque on Wednesday evenings from 6-9PM starting on January 25th and running until April 12th at the U.S.C.G. Station-Annapolis. The cost is $70, but many insurance companies offer discounts on boat insurance to anyone who successfully completes the course and can present a course-completion certificate. cgaux.org/boatinged/class_finder/index.php
By Christopher Knauss, Southern Boating Magazine January 2017