The In-The-Water Boat Show, which opens to the public today for its ninth annual run, seems to expand every year, even though there never seems to be any more space. This year, the West German exhibit moved into the pool at the Hilton Hotel to float a racing sloop.
The show has been extended beyond all the existing docks and the usual temporary docks. Now there are floating styrofoam platforms off the Navy Academy property and boats jammed so tightly in every available cranny it seems you could walk across Spa Creek.
Big isn't everything. Two years ago everything looked the same. This year, the exhibits show a moderate return to some older, conventional sail-boat designs and a pleasing sign that wood isn't dead in boatbuilding.
There's the Cherubini 44, a spectacular cruiser designed and built by the Cherubini family of Willingboro. N.J. Says Lee Cherubini, who sailed her down. "It's a completely wooden boat in a glass hull. There's no glass above the rail cap."
Cherubini's father, John, designed her. "It's the only boat we ever wanted to build," Lee Cherubini said. The price tag - $125,000.
The Cherubini's decks and much of the other woodwork are built by the Western System, a technique of laminating wood strips with epoxy glue to create a substance stronger and lighter than fiberglass, with the look and feel of wood, which is what it is.
Two years ago there were no wooden boats at the show. This year, there's at least one - Arthur Martin's Appledore Pod.
The "Pod" is a 16-foot combination rowing shell and sailing canoe, made completely in the West System. Total weight is 70 pounds. "You can jump on it anywhere," said Martin, a droll naval architect from Kittery, Maine. "It won't break."
Martin is duplicating the design in a 48-foot motorboat that he claims will run 10 knots with a 30-horsepower motor. Total hull weight is one ton, which is almost ridiculous for a boat that size.
There are other intriguing boats at the show. Ah H-28 caught my eye. It's a nicely turned replies of a Francis Herreshoff design, manufactured in fiberglass. The builders, Stay-sail Yachts of Huntington, N.Y., are marketing her for $33,500, complete.
There are, of course, enough glittering new boats around to leave even the most avid yachtsoman shivering with terminal information overload.
The show runs Friday and Saturday from 10 to 8; Sunday 10-7 and Monday 10-6. The powerboat show follows next weekend. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children.
One caution - do not drive into town. There are no parking places in Annapolis, period. Shuttle buses run from a parking lot at the Naval Academy's football stadium. Take the bus.