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For the Love of Wooden Boats

by Eva Seelye

Wooden boat Whether you’re a wooden boat lover or you simply enjoy an epic day in what’s arguably Washington’s best weather month, you’ll want to head over to Port Townsend September 7-9 for the Wooden Boat Festival. Forty-two years in the making, this annual event features over 300 boats on both land and water, 100 presentations, dozens of exhibitors, and live music to keep you dancing for 72 hours straight. Here, you have the chance to get up close and personal with some of the best-kept wooden legends around the West Coast.

Discover staggering tall ships, vintage and modern wooden boats, racing schooners and more and climb aboard one of these beauties on a tour if you’d like. There are many ways to get out on the water, either rowing or sailing, at no charge, but if you decide to tip all proceeds will go towards youth sailing programs. Visit the Free Rides Booth to try out a paddleboard or rowboat off the NWMC beach; first-time paddleboarders can meander on over to the Point to try a paddleboard in a pool. Children ages five and under can try out the Bumble Bee sailboat here as well. Or, try your hands at one of their many workshops including Polynesian Wayfinding, Japanese Boatbuilding, Women Circumnavigation, and Paddleboarding the Northwest Passage are also available.

Row and sail a replica of a 1792 longboat, cruise aboard the Martha J – a 1984 24’ motor launch – or embark on the classic 1924 gaff-rigged Schooner Zodiac. She’s the largest historic windjammer in the Pacific Northwest! The Schooner Zodiac deck tours are free, but a sail costs $69 to $85 a person. Other tall ships offering tours and charters this weekend are the Pacific Grace, Pacific Swift, Virginia V and the Adventuress.

A full-fledged family affair, the Wooden Boat Festival sets aside an area specifically for kids’ activities. These include a boatbuilding class where your child can design, build, rig, and sail their own small wooden boat, T-shirt painting, storytelling, and multiple family-fun events that happen throughout the festival; one of which is the “Bon Voyage! Passport to Adventure Scavenger Hunt” on Sunday. Or, if you’d rather have a little alone time, child care is available.

Whatever you do, make sure to stick around until 1500 hours on Sunday to see over 300 wooden boats pour into the harbor and past the waterfront in full sail in the “Sail-By” event. To read up on additional kid-friendly activities or to get a better idea of this boater’s paradise of a weekend, visit nwmaritime.org/wooden-boat-festival.
Photo by Mark Saran

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