Just because it takes a king's ransom $350,000 to buy the queen of the U.S. Sailboat Show doesn't mean you should deny yourself the pleasure of strutting about its deck, gripping its wheel and shouting a few commands.

The queen is a ketch-rigged Windseeker 55 and it is the biggest, most expensive ornament of the eighth annual in-the-water show that starts at 10 a.m. today and runs daily through Sunday.

There are some 400 boats - 237 in the water - plus four tents of nautical equipment and accessories. The show occupies every foot of the City Dock and the adjoining water and, because a nautical flea market has been added this time, extends all the way to the summer theater on Compromise Street.

The show is good theater: the boats bob about as though part of an intricately patterned chorus line, a low-keyed but persuasive pitch is sung by the salesmen chorus and the stars - the big pleasure palaces - are so captivating that the audience is quite willing to sail off into the sunset with any of them.

That would especially be apt on the Windseeker 55. Its 750-gallon diesel fuel capacity gives it a 3,000-mile cruising range while the roller reefing arrangement for all sails and a self-tending jib mean that two good sailors can cope without any trouble. Once in paradise, the cycles can be wheeled out of the Honda garages on the foredeck and the crew can take off to seek if the attractions of the place conform to the advertisements.

If a cruise capability isn't important and you want to add an athletic program to sailing's essential sedentariness, the 16-foot Appledore Pod might just do it. An A-frame must handles a 52 square-foot sail which can be lowered. Oars can be fitted and the whole thing can be converted into a rowing shell in a matter of seconds. Cost: $1.360.

At the extreme end of the price sale is the Sandpiper 11. It sports an orange and yellow hull and those colors plus red and white in the sail. Put it on the station wagon for $289.

Admission prices are the same as last year - adults $5 - Children, 12 and under $3. Show hours through Saturday are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays, doors close at 7 p.m.

Drivers to Annapolis should take Rte. 50 and turn off at Rte. 70/Rowe Boulevard.