If you’re wondering how the Annapolis Powerboat Show (properly titled the United States Powerboat Show, though no one calls it that) started out this year, just check this picture out:

Rain and empty docks started the 2011 Annapolis Powerboat Show.

Rain and empty docks started the 2011 Annapolis Powerboat Show.

Yes, the show started off with a whimper, thanks to rain and a chilly breeze on Thursday. The docks were almost completely empty, save for a few brave boaters in foul weather gear, for the first hour or two. By lunch time, the crowd would best be described as “thin,” with the few dock-walkers dodging into tents and cabins as each intermittent downpour unleashed its unwanted moisture. As one dealer, Andy Eget of Jersey Marine Yacht Sales said, “we used up an entire week’s worth of shammies in about two hours”.

But in-between raindrops, there were some very interesting things to see. The new Southport 29 TE center console which Eget was showing was well worth checking out, and some other cool new boats introduced at the show included a new Glacier Bay 2770 cuddy cabin model, and a Composite 26 straight inboard single-screw fishboat. The prize for “most original” goes to the fellows at Frigid Rigid, a company that makes marine coolers, for introducing a nine-foot center console Rigid Boats Barefoot skiff. They claim the boat can hold ice for six days!

The most surprising find at the show was a new brand of outboard, called Power T. Their line-up of four strokes ranges from 2.6 to 25 horsepower, and the distributor claims that they cost about one-third less than some competing four-strokes. These guys are just now getting the company up and running—Power T first hit our shores less than a year ago—and so far they have just three dealers listed on their web site, which is exceptionally basic in nature. But the engine they had running in a tank sounded quiet and smooth, and the rep told me they’d have larger engines in the near future, including a 60-hp outboard now being prototyped.

Friday brought more rain, and more mostly-empty docks. Luckily, the weather broke over the weekend and Saturday and Sunday turned out to bring prime boat show weather, with highs in the low 70s and a nice breeze.

This was the Annapolis show’s 40th consecutive year, and although official numbers haven’t been released yet, organizers hoped for close to 100,000 visitors to attend the show. To prepare for them, 62 pilings and over a mile of dock was temporarily added to the harbor. Six hundred wood platforms were added to the town’s streets and parking lots, and six miles of electrical cable was run along the docks and tents. By the time you read this, workers will already be tearing the entire affair down and stowing the gear until October, 2012 – when we’ll all be praying for sunny weather.

-Lenny Rudow