The Annapolis Boat Show 2023

Posted:  December 1, 2023
👁 2344   12

The Road to Annapolis

After a few solid days of hanging with the fam’ in Massachusetts, we tossed our backpacks in the rental car, punched Annapolis into the GPS, and geared up for a week of pure shenanigans. “Well, this is gonna be somethin’,” Chris declared, biting into one of the apples we had picked at Shelburne Farms the day prior. As we hit the road, my aunt’s wisdom about “watching out for Massholes” echoed in our heads, giving our trip a bit of an edge. If only we knew what was coming our way!

We listened to podcasts, music, and shared how excited we were to see our dear friends as we drove through four states. The landscape changed from lush foliage to cement around the time we could see both New York, and New Jersey ahead. I gently peeled back the wrapper from a muffin, ignoring Chris’s side eye that was clearly supervising to make sure I didn’t make a mess. Somehow, my Grandma Jeanne found a way to fit the entire flavor of fall all into a single muffin – and she (thankfully) sent us with a baggie of four to enjoy on the road. 

bomb threat at BWI

Traffic at a stand still

“I can’t believe they made it” I said as we took the offramp towards the airport. Our beloved friends Max and Karen from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle had escaped Hurricane Lidia by only a few hours before it made landfall in Banderas Bay. It was the first hurricane to hit the Bay in 20 years which made me even more grateful we were able to rebuild our engine and sail north prior to hurricane season. Max and Karen’s safe arrival in Maryland was a godsend, as was the arrival of the “Panama Pals” that we were enroute to pick up from the terminal… or so we thought. 

Traffic was at a standstill as hundreds of unmarked vehicles barreled by us with police and firefighters close behind. Helicopters hovered overhead as we stayed safely tucked on the shoulder, waiting for news. “Bomb threat” I mumbled as I scrolled through Twitter – or, should I say X. I posted a photo of the traffic situation and was immediately contacted by reporters asking if they could use my image. About 45 minutes later we were allowed to proceed and snagged our new friends Mike and Taylor (SV Via) from the curb, then hightailed it as far away from Baltimore International Airport (BWI) as we could get. Little did we know, this was only our first bomb threat encounter – but we’ll save that tale for a little later.

Max and Karen had their own rental car and received the remaining Panama Pals which included our new friends Kyle and Leah (SV Jubel) and Mike and Leah (SV X-Factor). “See you at the house” Max said over the phone. We were eager to see our digs for the week, but needed to make a pit stop for some serious provisioning. Although I had envisioned a more cinematic reunion, it seemed fitting that we ran into Max and Karen as we were leaving Wholefoods, while I was stuffing my face with mac n cheese. I nearly dropped everything in my hands as I wrapped myself around Karen, then Max shortly after. It had been nearly 6 months since we had sailed out of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, temporarily leaving them behind in our wake. Being able to reconnect so soon was such a treat, we couldn’t wait for the coming days to unfold. 

The rental house was lovely; 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and plenty of space for us all to cohabitate. However, it was next door to an elementary school and the direct neighbor was a cop so we were reminded to be on our absolute best behavior… or close to it, if anything. Once the fridge was filled with 6 different types of beers and 4 types of ciders and seltzers we decided to make our way to dinner at the Boatyard Restaurant where Karen, Leah and I left our mark on the wall. 

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Back at the house we continued the party outside, where us ladies found ourselves on the trampoline. As we jumped around our laughter rolled, making us all feel like little girls again. The boys (unsuccessfully) tried to “shush” us from the lawn, but we couldn’t be silenced as we laid the foundation for what would be a wonderful long weekend. 

Boat Show Day 1 – Lay of the Land

Despite not going to bed until 1:20 in the morning, we still managed to make our way to the Show by 9:00. Jeff Bach, the mastermind behind the Creators Booth, walked us in with our credentials with Max and Karen close behind. Chris and I weren’t on “booth duty” until later, so we toured some catamarans with our buddies who were searching for Lusty 2.0 then broke off to go meet with some of my publishers. While en route we crossed paths with my old clients and sailing pals from SV Two Short – it was great to finally meet in person and hear about their new charter business. 

Nearby was the Cruising World Magazine booth, whom I have had the honor of writing a handful of articles for and have more on the way. I had hoped to finally meet Theresa, their Editor in Chief, but she was nowhere to be found so I snagged a hard copy of the recent edition with my piece, left a note and promised to connect later on. As Chris and I made our way back to Max and Karen, we made one more stop to say hello to Wendy and Lydia at the SAIL Magazine booth

Marissa Neely SAIL MagazineWendy and I had worked together for years through Good Old Boat magazine, but she recently became the Chief Editor of SAIL Magazine which opened the opportunity for me to write for that publication as well. In writing (and life in general) connections are everything, but finding friends in the industry makes it all worth while. After a quick visit, we reconnected with the Lusty crew and made our way to Pusser’s for some Painkillers – a boat show must. 

With cold drinks in hand Chris and I took our place at the Content Creators Booth between 1:00 and 2:00, where we met “fans” and “followers” of our various platforms. Truth be told I have been working through my social anxiety so throwing myself into the deep end of meeting and greeting people was interesting exposure therapy; especially since last time we did the show it felt like a petting zoo situation. However, this time was different. Perhaps it’s because our following has grown or maybe the vibes were just better coming out of the covid years, but we had some wonderful conversations with fellow sailors and people who watched our videos as well as read my articles. Right when I thought it couldn’t get better, a very sweet woman approached us.

Thank you Kris!!!

She introduced herself as Kris, and explained that she had followed our story for a while. “I know it’s going to be a long weekend” she said while extending a brown bag to me, “so I put together a little care package for you to help you through it.” Inside the bag was tea, honey sticks, cough drops, hand sanitizer, tylenol and a little note with her stamp: Sailing to Hope, Two Cats and Their Human. At that moment my heart was so incredibly full – it was a sincere act of kindness that remains one of my favorite moments of the Boat Show. 

When our time at the booth was up we rendezvoused with the rest of our friends at Pussers – a crew we collectively named the “Party Rock House” or “Party Rockers” for short. It was there I finally had the opportunity to meet Erin from SAILING Magazine whom I have had the pleasure of working with for years. As an avid gardener I was eager to get her input on the land Chris and I had just purchased and see what her thoughts were for my soon-to-be garden. We chatted, shared a round of drinks and watched passerby’s as time rolled on. Eventually we decided to get up and wander back to the booth to meet Ben and MP from Sailing Yaba in person after years of fostering an online friendship while they rebuilt their boat, Yaba.


While at the booth we also got to reconnect with Ben and Allie from Breaking Waves who we had met in La Cruz. The gang was together, all we were missing was our sweet, sweet friends Jay and Kenna from Sitka. Nearby the booth we finally got to meet Beau and Brandy after years of online friendship – a common theme at the boat show, and in the sailing community in general. Chris got to be a total fanboy over Mads from SailLife, the two sharing the same love/insanity for fiberglassing and all things DIY. While the pair were geeking out, a certain smile caught my eye and came running towards me – it was Katie, from Parlay Revival. 

We had met the Parlay gang in La Cruz and even partook in their going away party before they crossed the Pacific. When we had last seen Katie she didn’t know how to sail; I remember her showing me the “Sailing for Dummies” book that she kept in her bunk. But now our little Katie was a proper shellback, earning the tattoo she proudly displayed above her elbow. How quickly things change in the span of just a few months! It was a long day of reconnecting with friends old and new, chatting non stop and walking – so much walking. That evening we headed to a somewhat reception dinner alongside the fellow creators where we enjoyed a much needed hearty meal. 

Boat Show Day 2 – Can I Get A Heyo?

It was a slow morning in the Party Rock House – the Via crew had booth duty, Jubel crew had HH obligations and X-Factor had to work the Xquisite booth, leaving just us and Lusty. The four of us finally mustered up the strength to hit the streets of Annapolis and have breakfast at the Iron Rooster, a place we had tried to visit with our family a few years prior but were unsuccessful. Luckily, this time we were seated promptly and I had the best eggs benedict of my life – seriously, I think about it to this very day. After breakfast we met up with the Precision Sails guys who invited us out aboard their friends’ floating picnic table. Yes, that is exactly how it sounds and it was awesome!

We had another Creator Booth time slot between 1:00 and 2:00 and this time we had the pleasure of being visited by all of the fellow Cheoy Lee owners that we have been chatting with online over the years. Amongst the mix we least expected to finally meet Roxy from SV Sonder, one of the prettiest Cheoy Lee’s (let along sailing vessels) I have ever seen. We took a family photo, once again missing the presence of the SV Sitka crew who were busy getting Sitka ready to splash in Guaymas, MX. Maybe next year 😉

“I was introduced to you through your writing,” the man in front of me said. He was about my height, wore Rayban glasses and had his beanie curled just right. “I think your writing is beautiful with the words you choose to give emphasis to stories or make the reader really feel like they are there with you” he continued to say. I was so shocked by the compliment all I could do was sincerely thank him for reading. Unfortunately, I never got his name but it was a conversation I will never forget. (On that note, thank you to EVERYONE for reading this blog!) As he walked away a smiling face popped up in the background, accompanied by a wave.

Jennifer and I had been online friends for a few years and she is one of Avocet’s biggest supporters. She was working at the Panama Posse booth and charged with the task of handing out free rum cocktails… which is how one (of many) ended up in my possession. We promised to visit more with each other later in the show when we weren’t both on booth duty, so we hugged goodbye-for-now and parted ways. Chris and I had finished out our final booth responsibility which meant it was time to find Max and Karen and keep the party going – to Pussers!

While en route to the Party Rockers we came across Nicki from Latitude 38. She may or may not be aware, but she is one of my favorite people due to our shared love of snowboarding, sailing and mental health advocacy. Chris and I hadn’t seen her since we were sailing in San Francisco Bay, so it was wonderful to reconnect, even for a moment, at the Boat Show. After a little chat and hugs we headed home to get ready for the awards show that was held at The Graduate, a prestigious hotel nearby. 

SV Avocet Latitude 38

Nicki B!

The International Cruiser Awards were hosted by none other than our pals Colin and Jamie from Parlay Revival and the occasion inspired all of the content creators to gather in their best dressed. We had the wonderful opportunity to be nominated for the refit of the year award but gracefully lost to the well deserving David Shih who took the stage with his sweet family. Right when we thought the festivities were over, Karen rushed the stage and grabbed the mic, leaving Max and I absolutely speechless. “What is she doing?” I asked, wide eyed. Max mouthed “I have no idea” as we watched the most memorable moment unfold. 

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“Can I get a heyo?” Karen yelled from the stage. When the audience looked confused she repeated the question with poor Jamie, who she had hastled to come back on stage, at her side. She was escorted off and joined the rest of us, while I was laughing so hard I cried for 5 minutes straight. “Are you okay?” Allie asked as I wiped the tears away. I couldn’t even compose myself to form a response. Karen, who had clearly drank one too many celebratory drinks, was sent home to sleep it off while the rest of us made our way to the after party.

Karen on stage in Annapolis

Can I Get a HEYO?!

Avocet and Breaking Waves

Uh… Dillos?

Once we rounded up the remaining Party Rockers, we followed Kyles navigation instructions to the club. While on our way, a man with a boombox strutted by, inspiring us to form a parade behind him, dancing along to the music. People turned heads as we walked by, and eventually we wished our music man a good night as we reached our destination: Dillos. 

The floor was sticky, music was loud and the vibe was not my scene – Chris and I lasted maybe an hour and a half (mostly due to Katie’s arrival) before we made our escape. We were home by 2:00 and greeted by Karen who joined us in bed for a cuddle. The rest of the crew returned home around 2:30, then Max and Kyle joined us in our bed as well to extend the cuddle puddle. I told Karen she was a legend for what she did… even though she had no recollection of the incident at all. Fortunately, it was all live streamed so we could relive the moment with her. Laughter ensued and we all giggled until around 3:30 when the cuddle puddle dispersed and everyone returned to their designated sleeping quarters. What a day!

Boat Show Day 3 – Ain’t No Party Like a Bacon Party

“Are you coming to breakfast?” Max asked, surprisingly chipper despite his antics from the following night. He, Karen, Mike, Leah, Kyle and Leah decided to head to breakfast while we and the Via crew stayed behind. After all, we would be leaving the house and relocating to a hotel only a few hours later and had a lot to pack up. 

The rest of the Party Rockers returned home an hour or two later to help us clean and vacate. Once all was said and done, we hugged farewell to the Jubel and X-Factor crews who were flying back to Panama. It had been a pleasure to get to know both couples and we hope we can share an anchorage in the future. The rest of us headed to our new digs at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – “Crowne plaza with an e, that’s how you know it’s fancy” – Max

Once settled, Chris and I headed back to the boat show to make a few more rounds. After all, we needed to find a couple more of my clients and the Latitudes and Attitudes guys. We entered near the Creators Booth which is how we met a sweet couple who showered us in the kindest words of encouragement and admiration for our journey thus far – they were shocked to learn Avocet had been out of California for 6 months since our most recent YouTube video (at the time) showcased us battling the storms in Morro Bay. After a few laughs and short stories we thanked them and navigated through the rest of the show. 

“It’s the cover girl!” David said as we squeezed into the Latitudes and Attitudes booth. I had the honor of being tha Magazines covergirl for their 25th edition, which happened to also fall on my 25th birthday, and be the final edition under Bob Bitchin’s ownership. It was a pretty significant publication! They were so sweet and chatted with me about upcoming stories and encouraged Chris and I to do some “shopping” in the pile of swag they had. I grabbed a hat and a burgee, then we snapped a photo and promised to meet again before the end of the show. But our stomachs were growling and we had a very special pub we wanted to pay a visit to. 

Marissa Neely Latitudes and Attitudes

Chris, Bob Bitchin, Marissa and David

William Reynolds, hatter and dry goods salesman, leased the glebe land adjacent to Franklin Street and Church Circle from St. Anne’s Church in 1747. He constructed the tavern from which he conducted his hat business, rented rooms, and operated an “ordinary” (a.k.a. tavern) which served hot and cold food and liquor to visitors. The Beaver and Lac’d Hat, as the Tavern was known, provided a meeting place for farmers, gentlemen, merchants, and soldiers. Here one could eat, drink, leave messages, buy theater tickets, conduct business and trade, stable horses, and have a game of cards, chess, or backgammon. Among others, the Corporation of the City of Annapolis and the Mayors Court met regularly at the tavern. Reynolds Tavern consists of four levels; the Pub in the Cellar (1747 Pub) displays the stone foundations of the building, a walk in fireplace, and the existence of the Rumford Broiler, all dating back to the 18th Century. The first floor tea rooms are very much as they were originally built. The second floor has hotel rooms: two prestigious suites and one single bedroom.

Karen loves eloteChris and I ordered a round of drinks and an appetizer while waiting for Max and Karen to arrive. I would classify the Lusty Crew as certified foodies with their standards and flavor palettes – one of the many reasons we adore them. We nearly ordered everything on the menu to nosh on and luckily the food passed the test – especially the corn, which is one of Karen’s favorite things ever.

Once full we made our way to Bacon Sails which is the east coast equivalent of California’s Minnie’s – a marine consignment shop where you can find it all. They had a full spread of food from tacos to deli sandwiches and an entire open bar. It was an impressive set up and cool to see the store filled with familiar faces. Chris got to hang out with Mads and Ben, the boat building’ boys, talking all things DIY while I made my rounds chatting with some fellow Seasters.

Around 12:00 we gathered ourselves and Allie, and slowly made our way home. “Goodnight lovely” Allie said, kissing my forehead before she ran inside her AirBnB. She flew solo all night since Ben was under the weather, and I am afraid she may have given me the kiss of death, because the following day was the beginning of a very rough week.

Boat Show Day 4 – The Sickness Sets In

“This is for you” Jennifer said, extending a little bag of goodies. It was around 10:00 in the morning and we wanted to make one last lap around the boat show before it all went away like magic. Jennifer was again at the Panama Posse group and had made me promise to pay her a visit so she could gift me a bag of all sorts of thoughtful things. She really is a sweetheart, and I truly appreciate her friendship and support! After I said goodbye to Jennifer, Chris and I set out to say a final farewell to my client Deb who is a life coach, sailing instructor and was a dear friend of Avocet’s Previous Owner which is how she and I came to be acquainted. It has been a pleasure to hear all of her stories about Avocet’s previous life and how well the boat was loved by Previous Owner – from the stories I can conclude he was a good friend and one helluva sailor. We shared some stories, some hugs, then made our way to find Max and Karen to cross something off their first-time-Annapolis-visitors list. 

The United States Naval Academy (USNA, Navy, or Annapolis) is a federal service academy in Annapolis, Maryland. It was established on 10 October 1845 during the tenure of George Bancroft as Secretary of the Navy. The Naval Academy is the second oldest of the five U.S. service academies and it educates midshipmen for service in the officer corps of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The 338-acre (137 ha) campus is located on the former grounds of Fort Severn at the confluence of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County, 33 miles (53 km) east of Washington, D.C., and 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Baltimore. The entire campus, known colloquially as the Yard, is a National Historic Landmark and home to many historic sites, buildings, and monuments. It replaced Philadelphia Naval Asylum in Philadelphia that had served as the first United States Naval Academy from 1838 to 1845 when the Naval Academy formed in Annapolis.

After I got to pay a visit to one of my favorite cemeteries (yes, I have a list of favorites) we started the bar crawl early at Galway Bar. Chris ordered his favorite, a Guinness, while the Lusty crew ordered Old Fashions and I had a local cider – all paired nicely with curry gravy fries and fried pickles. “Take a shot of this,” Karen said, pushing a shot of Jameson his way. He had just made a comment about his throat starting to feel rough, to which Karen’s cure is usually tequila but in the presence of the Irish flag she ordered his “medicine” accordingly. 

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Annapolis at nightWe closed our tab and continued towards the water where we just happened to cross paths with the Sailing Sunday’s crew who offered to shuttle us across to Eastport. We made them promise to come out to the bars with the rest of us, but perhaps their decision not to is what spared them the misery that the rest of us experienced – and I wish it was alcohol induced. 

“I know this place” I said as we walked down the street. We arrived at the steps of Davis’s Pub and I immediately got a flashback to Jon’s 30th birthday where we found ourselves in this very bar. Oh how things have changed. I once again ordered a cider and the four of us shared a crab pretzel while Karen broke out the travel Farkle dice I gifted her at the beginning of the trip. It felt right. Especially since I won.

The rest of the delinquents showed up an hour later, but as the fall chill set in we decided to move to the Boatyard Pub down the street which is where we kicked off this long weekend of shenanigans. My throat was starting to feel rough, and a cough was forming… it was time for Chris and I to make our escape. We drove Max and Karen’s car back to the hotel and they Uber’d back at 4:00 am, knocking on our door until we opened it for hugs and a debrief on how the rest of their night went. “Guys, you have to catch a flight in an hour” I said after looking at the time. They laughed, shrugged, and missed it, heading home to Mexico two days later. Those were our final moments with our La Cruz Familia, which was fitting. The goodbyes are always so hard, but luckily with them it will always be a “see you soon.”

Homeward Bound

Chris and I slept in two separate beds for our final night in Annapolis as I desperately tried not to worsen my cough, which didn’t help despite the valiant effort. We were up at 6:00 and airport bound by 7:00, doing our best to hold back our coughs and manage our runny noses. Luckily, it wasn’t COVID, but whatever we had would only get worse… especially since our return flight to California was on Spirit Airlines. 

Just as we were making our way through security, the airport security team yelled “FREEZE! NOBODY MOVE” … it was another bomb threat. Chris and I shared a glance at each other as we tried to assess the situation around us. Fortunately within minutes we were moving again… for the time being. With Dunkin’ coffee in hand we boarded our flight and were met with an overwhelming smell of cheap perfume, the shrill sound of screaming babies and (to top it all off) another potential security threat in the seat immediately behind us.

The man was in his mid twenties, mousey looking and arguing with the flight attendants that he was not going to get off this flight. His tantrum delayed us, even after he was removed because the marshalls came and investigated his seat and the overhead bins near him. As potentially worrisome as that situation was, all I could think about was how badly my sciatica nerve hurt in the hard plastic bucket seat that made it impossible to find comfort.


Looking how we feel

After hours of dosing myself with pain medications and NyQuil, we finally made it to LAX early thanks to our good pilot. It felt good to stretch our legs and my back while we patiently waited for the shuttle to get us and bring us back to Ventura. I slept the whole way in the bus’s comfy seats as the familiar sight of the Pacific Ocean greeted us out the window.

Mitch picked us up from the drop off with all of the car windows rolled down to keep our newfound “ick” out. I was a walking corpse, barely holding on as we made our way down to Sea Castle where I hit the bed and stayed there the remainder of the night. Sweet, sweet Quincey had made dinner that Chris partook in abroad Esprit, bringing me back a bowl of delicious nutrients. I thought I hallucinated the whole thing. After a needed shower, I went to bed for real, and then began the slow recovery process of both the Boat Show and whatever mystery sickness we and hundreds of other attendees contracted.

Despite the “ick” the trip was absolutely incredible, full of so many memories with friends old and new. We were honored to meet so many blog followers, YouTube watchers and “fans” of our travels – we appreciate you all, thank you for being here! Chris and I aren’t sure what next October will bring, but hopefully we find ourselves back at the Boat Show with our pals, but first we have a whole lot of sailing to do, so stay tuned!


Marissa (and Chris)

Special thanks to: Jeff Bach, Precision Sails, the Young Cruisers Association, all of our sweet friends and supporters and Pussers for keeping us hydrated.


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