The real boat show is walking the docks

We spent more time than usual in marinas in the early part of this year’s cruise. We’re hoping to reverse the ratio of marina nights to anchorages now that our guests have gone. But there’s much to be said for time spent in port.

The good old boats (and a few new ones) — just in Bayfield’s Port Superior and Pike’s Bay alone — are an impressive sight.

Dock walking, for example, is about as good as it gets in Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands. Until we visited Annapolis, in fact, we’d never seen a greater concentration of good old boats. We can’t help ourselves when walking docks. We want to identify every sailboat we see.

It becomes a challenge we can’t ignore. Cove stripes help. Little designer flourishes and specific identifying marks help, such as the taffrail on the Bayfields or the wishbone cat rig on the Nonsuches. Manufacturers’ plates help. Bold lettering helps (our thanks to all manufacturers who do that!). Logos help. Sometimes the mainsail cover provides clues.

Since our C&C 30 has an identifiable C&C cove stripe that it shares with every other C&C (and even, unfortunately, with the Vikings designed by C&C), we knew there was something to this cove stripe thing and concentrated our efforts on those. I started taking photos of the cove stripes as the bow and at the stern of as many good old boats as I could find. Then I posted those images — http://www.goodoldboat.com/resources_for_sailors/boat_identifiers — and other sailors chimed in sending photos of their boats’ cove stripes and helping to identify those we posted as “unknowns.”

It’s been fun. I always meant to add more as a part of our relentless dock walking, but haven’t had access to as many docks with boats until spending time this summer once again in Bayfield, Wisconsin. We’ll post our additions later this fall and hope to hear once more from other sailors who can identify the “unknowns” and post further rare or hard-to-find sailboats we’ve missed.

If we ever complete our “collection” of boat identifiers, as we call them on our website, we’ll still enjoy walking the docks with our printed out “code book” in hand. Seeing the modifications people have made and the designer variations that are possible from sailboat to sailboat is a delightful way to spend an afternoon ashore. We attend the real boat show, as far as we’re concerned, every time we walk the docks.

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4 Responses

  1. Yes, there’s nothing like a boat show to see new boats, compare features and get ideas for rigging your own boat. It’s interesting to see how different manufacturers come up with ways to make the boats more useful and easier to operate.

  2. Indeed dock walking can be extremely enjoyable and you can see a great number of vessels and a wonderful view.

  3. Boat shows are the best way that you can see new boats and compare the different features and specs. I’ve been searching for a used boat for sale recently. Great post.

  4. Yeah, I love boat shows that have the water displays! However, have you see how big Ft Lauderdale is. That is a lot of walking! Its like Disneyland for boats!

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