The household fleet has ebbed and flowed over the years, currently numbering four -- a venerable, 21-foot Owens Sea Skiff; a 20-foot, 20-year-old ski boat; an 8-foot rowing dinghy of similar age; and a 31-foot cruising sloop.
Through most of the past three months, they have sat -- engines winterized, hulls draped with tarps or canvas -- awaiting the first warm days of March, when recommissioning will begin.
The Owens, fitted with its original, 1961 Flagship V-8, needs its distributor rebuilt or replaced. The ski boat could use new seats and carpet, the water pump needs to be rebuilt and a trim cylinder must be replaced on the outdrive. The dinghy needs elbow grease and a new set of oars.
The sailboat needs little except an oil change, cooling system flush, bottom painting, compounding and waxing; but, if the money holds out, it could use updated electronics, some of the running rigging replaced and a set of cockpit cushions.
While it will be another five or six weeks before the work will begin, the business of finding equipment, parts and prices starts on Saturday, when the Chesapeake Bay Boat Show opens at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The biggest draw of the show, which runs through Feb. 9, is the hundreds of new boats on display, from dinghies to large power cruisers.
Along with the new boat displays are aisles of exhibitors anxious for business -- gasoline and diesel engine shops, upholsterers, electronics dealers, riggers, refurbishers, marinas and boatyards, accessory retailers, tackle shops and so on.
And anyone who has chased parts or service for old boats that have taken a licking and need to go on ticking should appreciate the convenience of having an array of experts available in one location -- and the possibility of buying parts or service at low show prices.
One might have to root around to find the right source and the best price, so make a list of what you need before you go. Pick up a show program at the door, mark the stops you need to make and wade in.
According to show organizers, this year's exhibition is larger than in years past, with more than 400 boat models on display.
At the winter show, regional dealers are anxious for orders for boats that can be built before the spring season, and knowing what the production schedule will be allows builders to reduce costs.
It also allows buyers to select colors and options of their choice rather than buying a stock boat later and adding options at a higher cost.
Another possibility is to buy last year's model from a dealer eager to clear its inventory before the 1997 boats begin to arrive. As with automobiles, year-end pricing can mean significant savings.
Used boat dealers and brokers also will be on hand with listings of hundreds of power and sail boats not at the show.
Each year the show also puts on a series of seminars available free to ticket purchasers. This year's schedule includes topics on water skiing, fishing, electronics and Coast Guard licensing.
Boat show seminars
Feb 1: 1 p.m., USCG Captain's Licensing, Capt. John Schneider of ProCAPTAINS/Captain's Quest; 2 p.m., Barefoot Water Skiing, Steve Gaylor of Shoreline Sports; 4 p.m., Bluefish and rockfish, Rich Novotny, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association; VTC 6 p.m., Striper Fishing in Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, Keith Kaufman of The Fisherman magazine.
Feb 2: 1 p.m., Barefoot Water Skiing, Steve Gaylor of Shoreline Sports; 2 p.m., USCG Captain's Licensing, Capt. John Schneider of ProCAPTAINS/Captain's Quest; 3 p.m., VHF/Marine telephones, Jim Walsh of Maritel; 4 p.m., Flounder and trout fishing, Keith Kaufman, The Fisherman magazine; 5 p.m., Ocean Fishing for Tuna and Marlin, Capt. Bob Gowar, Ocean City Fishing Center; 6 p.m., Bluefish and rockfish, Rich Novotny, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association; 7 p.m., Striper Fishing in Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, Keith Kaufman of The Fisherman magazine.
Feb. 6: 6 p.m., Barefoot Water Skiing, Steve Gaylor of Shoreline Sports; 7 p.m., USCG Captain's Licensing, Capt. John Schneider of ProCAPTAINS/Captain's Quest; 8 p.m., Bluefish and rockfish, Rich Novotny, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association.
Feb. 7: 6 p.m., water ski clinic, Mastercraft Team Pro Skier Cory Pickos; 7 p.m., Bluefish and Rockfish, Richard Novotny, MSSA; 8 p.m., USCG Captain's Licensing, Capt. John Schneider; 9 p.m., water ski clinic, Cory Pickos.
Feb. 8: Noon, water ski clinic; 2 p.m., USCG Captain's Licensing; 4 p.m., water ski clinic; 5 p.m., Bluefish and Rockfish; 6 p.m., VHF/Marine telephones; 7 p.m., water ski clinic.
Feb. 9: Noon, water ski clinic; 1 p.m., VHF/Marine telephones; 2 p.m., USCG Captain's Licensing; 4 p.m., water ski clinic; 5 p.m., Bluefish and rockfish.
Facts and figures
What: Chesapeake Bay Boat Show
Where: Baltimore Convention Center
When: Feb. 1-9
Hours: Show opens at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
Admission: $7 for adults, $3 for children ages 6 to 12
Pub Date: 1/26/97