The Bay Bridge Boat Show, April 12-14 in Stevensville, Md, is bringing in over 250 boats, seminars, and demonstrations to open the Bay's Boating Season. Photo by Ben Cushwa for the Annapolis Boat Shows

Bay Bridge Boat Show Opens the 2024 Boating Season

The Bay Bridge Boat Show, held April 12 through 14 in Stevensville, MD, is the unofficial opener of the 2024 Bay Boating Season.

The Chesapeake Bay is known for its fall boat shows, it’s true. But for locals and those boaters a bit more—ahem, serious about getting on the water—the spring boat shows are where the real party happens.

The Bay Bridge Boat Show, happening April 12-14 at Bay Bridge Marina in Stevensville, is known for always bringing much more fun than originally advertised. With a demo dock, dealers looking to get to know you, and educational seminars that are compelling and helpful, the Bay Bridge Boat Show feels much more like a boaters’ networking event with cool toys than an actual trade show.

Photo: Ben Cushwa for the Annapolis Boat Shows

One big draw is, of course, the PropTalk Demo Dock. There are currently 16 boats on offer, everything from center consoles to ribs, pontoon boats to sport boats. Each morning, trial spots are up for grabs, giving you between 15 and 45 minutes of sea trial opportunities. (Pro tip: if you see a boat you want to check out, email the dealer and ask for more time.) It’s a great opportunity to check out a new boat (we don’t necessarily need a new boat, but we’re not not looking, either) and it’s also a fun way to get out on the water.

On the docks and in tents, the Bay Bridge Boat Show boasts more than 250 boats on display, with 75 percent of those boats on the docks. One of the new featured boats is the SuperRib 30 SO – the SO stands for “Special One,” and it’s exactly that. With a deck made of cast carbon and a power package that can exceed 600-hp, the fully-customizable power horse can reach speeds of 70 miles per hour in open water.

Dour Yachts broker Chris Dommel, who is giving the SuperRib its US premiere, can testify to the boat’s speed. “I’ve done it (hit 70 mph), and it rides perfect at that speed, which is crazy,” he says. Dommel notes that the boat is not necessarily designed for speed. “It’s more of a family boat, it just also happens to be fast. A lot of speedboats are narrow, and not deep V hulls. This is kind of the opposite of that. It has a big deep V, draws almost 3ft, and is almost 10 feet wide. On the Chesapeake Bay, this boat is perfect for someone who lives on the water.”

Dommel will have the SuperRib 30 SO on the Demo Dock waiting for you to check it out.

Seminars and demonstrations (many of them free of charge) allow boaters to fine-tune their skills with the help of pros. Here, Mark Talbott of the Annapolis School of Seamanship speaks on boathandling. Photo by Ben Cushwa

If you aren’t specifically shopping for a boat, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. The Annapolis Boat Shows have been prioritizing educational programming and seminars to help bring more learning opportunities for boaters. Some of these courses are paid, but the vast majority are free. The Annapolis School of Seamanship, BoatUS and others have several courses on things like docking and boat handling, as well as seminars on everything from VHF etiquette (I mean, more people really should sign up for this) to light tackle jigging.

Speaking of fishing, angler-oriented programming has also been prioritized, getting the whole family ready to cast lines. The Chesapeake Invasives Corner presented by FishTalk Magazine brings a significant fishing focus to the Boat Show, with activities for kids, seminars for adults, and plenty of opportunities to check out new gear.

The Boat Show is helping to kick off Coastal Conservation Association’s (CCA’s) Great Chesapeake Invasives Count, a yearlong initiative intended to help fishery managers better understand the threat of invasive species by working directly with anglers.

“The tournament is more than a reactionary push to preserve the angling industry amid stricter rockfish regulations,” says Ryan Gullang, communications coordinator for the Boat Shows. “Some anglers have justifiably complained about the integrity of population studies and how they impact regulations. This tournament gives anglers the opportunity to provide valuable data points to researchers, remove threats to the Bay, and win some cool prizes in the process.”

Outside the Gates

There will be plenty of food vendors inside the show, but one of the best parts of the Bay Bridge Boat Show is getting to eat at two of Stevensville’s best restaurants (arguably two of the best restaurants on the Eastern Shore): Libbey’s Coastal Kitchen and Knoxie’s Table at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club.

One thing to note: both restaurants are popular with dock-and-diners, but their docks won’t be available for those planning to dine and then hit the boat show (there’s a 2-hour docking limit). There may be dock spots at the marina, but you’ll need to contact the dockmaster. We recommend taking advantage of parking at the show ($10 at the entrance) and then walk to either restaurant for a meal afterward.

Full details:

Bay Bridge Boat Show, presented by the Annapolis Boat Shows
Location: Bay Bridge Marina, Stevensville, MD
Friday, April 12: 10am to 6pm
Saturday, April 13: 10am to 6pm
Sunday, April 13: 10am to 5pm

General Admission: $18 in advance, $20 at gate.
Children 15 and under are free.
Parking: $10 per car, CASH ONLY