DOCKSIDE DETENTE

Bruce McArthur Marketing, Powerboat, Sailboat, Sailing, Sports

Does Annapolis hold the Sail and Power boat shows a week apart for convenience or peace-keeping? Probably a little of both.

A Yale engineering student with the serendipitous name of Cameron Waterman created  the first outboard  (not Ole Evinrude, as is commonly believed), four-stroke,  gasoline motor. The moment he fixed it to the transom of a dory, he got the stinkeye from sailors. Ever since, it’s been a cold war of epithets and right-of-way, stink-pots versus blow-boats.
Bruce is a serious sailor. The soundtrack of his mind sounds like snapping canvas and halyards zipping through pulleys.
I’m a serious fisherman. I like the melody of Merc Verados with the tattoo of bluefish thrashing on the deck.
As is usually the case with feuds and rivalries, when you peel away the rhetoric, the combatants have more in common than they like to admit.
This sign, seen in the cockpit of a sport-fisherman, says it all.
Whether wind or motor, boats are, figuratively and literally, vessels that transport us to our dreams.
But this is America, and conflict is king. One must take a side, so it would be unpatriotic not to compare and contrast the Annapolis Sailboat vs. Power Boat shows.
For eye-popping nautical bling and the jing it takes to produce it, there was more money sitting in that harbor with screws than sails – by a huge margin. 
Advantage: motor boats.
For overall aesthetics and ambience, each show drew a good-looking crowd. The weather was perfect. From a seascape perspective, masts and flapping pennants beat tuna towers and outriggers.
Advantage (Slight): sailboats. 

As far as savvy marketers deploying babeage to lure shoppers, we found none to compare to the sail show sirens (see Oct. 12 Rhumbline post). There was an attempt by one yacht maker, but the data-mining gauntlet (two women demanding all sorts of personal information before allowing anyone to come aboard – for an escorted tour? Puh-lease) operation so undermined the fun factor as to eradicate it entirely. A beautiful boat they could build. But clearly, they needed professional help on the marketing side.  When you want someone to buy a seven-figure yacht, just welcome them  aboard and try to make them feel good – not as if they’re applying for a job.

Advantage: sailboat show.

We met many smart boat-builders. By and large and enterprising bunch – bootstrapping do-it-yourselfers who thought they had a better idea and proved it with the craft beneath their feet. Some prefer to do their own marketing, which we find curious. You don’t fix your own teeth. You don’t cut your own hair. Invariably, DIY marketing looks like a self-inflicted hair-cut.  Don’t try it at home. 

Boats aside, Annapolis is an extraordinary town, steeped in naval history, as evidenced by this guy. 
  
Cadets from the US Naval Academy were ubiquitous — each one, An Officer and a Gentleman.  None resembled Richard Gere, although I do think I heard someone yell, way to go, Paula!

  LB