2011 Wooden Boat Festival, Port Townsend, Washington

I am sending out the call to all hopelessly boat struck sailors. It is Wooden Boat Festival time once again. September 9 to 11 will see Port Townsend Washington awash in wood and the spirit of maritime history. Schooner watchers everywhere must come and see the gems of the Pacific Northwest. Small craft enthusiasts will find many fine examples of sailing and rowing vessels. The Northwest Schooner Cup race is a must-see gathering of the finest kind of sailing vessels ever to taste salt water.


The festival is as educational as it is entertaining. Be prepared to learn. There will be many seminars including various aspects of boatbuilding, sailing, cruising, safety, and navigation. Featured speakers include Lin & Larry Pardey and Nigel Calder. Activities begin on Friday and continue through Sunday. Look at the activities page and make some plans in advance. There is so much to do and some events overlap.

At least two interesting video screenings are on the schedule: “Charlotte” about the building of the schooner Rebecca at the Gannon and Benjamin yard in Martha’s Vineyard and “Schooner or Later” a documentary about the building of the Dolores M. Jackson, a Murray Peterson Coaster III schooner which was 30 years abuilding. Roy Jackson will be speaking after the movie.

Don’t be afraid to take the kids along as there are special activities for young sailors. Kids of all ages are given free reign of the old boatbuilding shop to put together model sailboats with a variety of materials and tools provided on the premises. I am personally acquainted with this program as Westport Shipyards, the company I work for, donated about 2,000 wooden block boat hulls. Several people spent quite a few hours of production time working on them at the interior plant. I even got my hands on them myself by cutting out and shaping the first small batch while between door building projects.

The ultimate in kid’s adventures happens on Sunday with Captain Pirate’s Treasure Hunt. It begins at noon with the raising of the Jolly Roger on the flag pole by the Cupola House and ends where X marks the spot and some spirited digging in the sand reveals a treasure chest filled with booty to be divided among the young participants. The hunt is a ramble around the entire festival grounds and includes a fair amount of musket and cannon fire. Last years treasure hunt enthralled my Grandson who loves all things piratical.

As someone who has attended wooden boat shows on both the east coast and west, small craft shows, large in-the-water- boat shows in Annapolis, Maryland, Yankee Trader used Boat Shows and probably a few such events that are long since faded from memory, the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend is the best of the lot. I don’t know how any true sailor could go away disappointed. See you there!

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