Home Making Waves Making Waves – February 2023

Making Waves – February 2023

by Randy Woods
Making Waves - Seattle Boat Show Preview

[ the boat show begins! ]

Boating Action & Crazy Contraptions at This Month’s Seattle Boat Show

Life or sailing isn’t a simple straight line. Take tacking for example; sometimes sailors know that to move forward, you have to change course and head into the wind. And all sailors also know that you can overboard and make a simple task complicated. Nothing demonstrates this more than a Rube Goldberg contraption, and Seattle Boat Show attendees will be lucky enough to see such a nautical-themed contraption materialize before their eyes during the show.

From February 3-11, visitors at the nine-day Seattle Boat Show at Lumen Field Events Center will witness the creation of a boating-related chain reaction machine from Zach Umperovitch, a leading authority on some of the complex devices ever built and the host of the Discovery Channel’s “Contraption Masters” TV show. Each day, Umperovitch will put his ever evolving, increasingly complex machine together, piece by piece, until its full function is revealed in spectacular fashion at the end of the show. Boaters will spot many marine-related items in the construction, and all told, the machine will span almost 100 feet with a section hovering over an aisle walkway. There will be opportunities for audience participation, so plan to stop by each day around 4 p.m. as Umperovitch will display the latest mechanisms that have been added to the machine.

Of course, the Boat Show has lots more on the docket. One of the most anticipated events at the show will be this year’s Boat Show University series of more than 200 seminars and classes tailored to expand attendees’ knowledge of cruising, technology, electronics, fishing, communications, and navigation, and taught by dozens of respected maritime experts. The show also features a wide range of exhibitors who wish to show off their latest vessels and equipment. Popular Friday social events for adults include the Uncorked wine-tasting celebration (February 4) and the Sails & Ales beer bash (February 10). For the many salty dogs, the show will hold an on-water Rescue Dog Demo (February 8; find out more on this in this month’s Expert Take on pages 64-65), as well as the annual Dogs on Deck event (February 9) for any registered and leashed four-legged sailors who wish to fetch some fun. Anthony’s Restaurant will also offer free clam chowder to all ticketed attendees who visit Bell Harbor Marina each weekday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

Admission to the Seattle Boat Show is $20 per day, but nine-day passes for most events are also offered for $40. To attend Boat Show University seminars, admission is $99, or for $119 with the inclusion of the 2023 Waggoner Cruising Guide for U.S. residents ($139 for Canadian customers). Parking for the Boat Show will be offered for $5 at the Bell Street Pier Garage via a coupon that attendees can get from the Bell Harbor Marina box office. Free shuttle service will also be available during show hours between Bell Harbor and Lumen Field. 

For more information on hours of operation, ticket packages, and other Boat Show seminar and event details, please visit: seattleboatshow.com.

Making Waves - Pacific Shipwreck

[ salvaging maritime history ]

Local Salvors Confirm Discovery of 150-Year-Old S.S. Pacific Shipwreck

Most boaters are understandably most interested in vessels that float on the surface. But a small Seattle-based nonprofit called the Northwest Shipwreck Alliance (NSA) is celebrating its confirmed discovery of a steamship that’s been on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean for nearly 150 years.

In December of last year, a salvage operation called Rockfish, Inc. found the most convincing evidence yet that the remains of the infamous wreck of the S.S. Pacific steamship have finally been located. The evidence came in the form of clear sonar images of the wreck, plus a few bits of coal, boiler firebrick, and worm-eaten timbers from the ship, discovered about 40 miles southwest of Cape Flattery at a depth of more than 1,000 feet.

Under a mutual agreement, Rockfish will transfer any future salvaged items from the wreck to NSA. The NSA/Rockfish group had already been granted exclusive salvage rights to the wreck in November after a U.S. District Court judge determined that since the ship’s former owner went belly-up in 1938, the wreck belonged to the salvors. The wreck was also found outside the contiguous federal National Maine Sanctuaries protection zone 24 miles off the U.S. coastline, so it is not subject to federal claims of ownership. This allows the wreck to fall under what is essentially the “finders-keepers” rule of maritime salvage law.

The sidewheel steamer S.S. Pacific foundered and sank on the night of November 5, 1875, after colliding with the sailing schooner Orpheus during a raging storm off the coast of Cape Flattery. While the Orpheus survived and ran aground on a nearby island, the Pacific went down to the bottom with an estimated 325 people aboard, leaving only two survivors. Though a final death toll was never determined, the sinking is still considered the greatest loss of life in a West Coast maritime tragedy.

The S.S. Pacific, which had been sailing from Victoria, B.C., to San Francisco at the time of its sinking, had a devastating impact on Northwest maritime history as it was one of the first vessels to regularly carry passengers on the treacherous coastal route from Canada and the Puget Sound to San Francisco. In addition to its human passengers, the ship also carried many tons of coal, grains, animal skins, and—rumor has it—a significant amount of freshly mined gold nuggets, which have not yet been found.

The search for the S.S. Pacific has been a decades long endeavor. Salvage team leader and Rockfish president Jeffrey Hummel first began the search for the wreck in 1993 with a small team of marine explorers, who conducted a series of 12 expeditions on a shoestring budget before finally hitting paydirt. Rockfish and NSA plan to continue raising funds for future salvage trips to the wreck site in 2023 and 2024 in the hope that more artifacts and pieces of the ship can be retrieved.

“As elusive as the shipwreck felt sometimes, the dream doesn’t stop here,” Hummel said. “Our thoughts have turned to something we have all wanted to rebuild anew—perhaps a floating maritime museum, which would house the history of our passion and stories of the Pacific Northwest’s oceangoing commerce.”

For more details on the salvage effort, go to: northwestshipwreckalliance.org.

Making Waves Port Round Up

[ port improvements and upgrades ]

Puget Sound Ports Continue Makeovers

Soon after the Port of Everett won a “Port of the Year” award last month from the Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA), several other ports across Puget Sound said they were moving forward with new improvements for 2023 and beyond, including waterfront projects in Poulsbo and Kingston.

In Everett, the WPPA cited the five-year, $150 million investment the port has made to improve its international shipping terminal, its marina facilities, and in real estate development. Two of the keys to Everett’s success have come from the completion of its $57 million South Terminal modernization project in 2021 and the opening of the 40-acre, $40 million Norton Terminal in December, the first new cargo operation the West Coast has seen in the last 10 years.

“With most trade-compatible properties along our nation’s waterways already spoken for, it’s extremely rare to see an all new cargo facility come online and add much needed capacity to a strained logistics chain, which we have all had a front row seat to witness over the past year,” said Lisa Lefeber, CEO of the Port of Everett. The combined projects, she added, have nearly doubled Everett’s total freight-handling capacity, allowing the port to handle larger cargo ships and more rail freight traffic.

Meanwhile, over on the Kitsap Peninsula, the Port of Poulsbo said it has nearly completed the removal of its 60-year-old marina breakwater so that construction can soon begin on a new structure. The new breakwater design, to be anchored and supported by floating concrete pontoons, will include more transient moorage space, greater public access, and about a two dozen 30-foot and 50-foot slip spaces.  

After the new breakwater is completed this spring, engineers said the marina may see a 10-20% increase in wave energy as a result of unrestricted flow beneath the floating breakwater, but the structure will include 30A and 50A power pedestals, a new floating restroom, improved lighting, safety ladders, and a fire-suppression system.

In Kingston, the port in that town said it is working with Wenzlau Architects to develop an area adjacent to the ferry terminal, known as the “Tent Pad.” After the property was re-zoned from neighborhood commercial” to “urban village center,” Wenzlau submitted two proposals for commercial retail and hotel, including open space for social gathering and outdoor dining options.

The Port of Kingston also said the architecture firm will be submitting more development proposals that will be subject to a public comment period before they can be voted on by the Port Commission.

For more details on all these port projects, visit each port’s respectively websites: portofeverett.com; portofpoulsbo.com; and, portofkingston.org.

Making Waves

[ boosting regional boating ]

NMTA’s Grow Boating Program Names 10 New Recipients for 2023

The Northwest Marine Trade Association’s popular Grow Boating program, which generates more interest in boating in the Pacific Northwest, expanded its reach last month with the awarding of grants to 10 new organizations with boat-related programs.

The Grow Boating Committee awards multiple grants with a combined total of up to $30,000. The Committee oversees the management and allocation of NMTA’s regional Grow Boating fund, and determines what programs, events, and promotions should be undertaken to serve the group’s purpose of encouraging boating in the Northwest.           

This year, one of the grantees is the Seattle-based Blue & Gold Foundation, a University of Washington-affiliated nonprofit created to support the Husky Naval ROTC battalion, which trains and develops Navy and Marine Corps officers. Another grantee, the Bremerton-based BYC Sailing Foundation, promotes sailing education for all ages, diversities, and economic demographics, including instruction in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and on-the-water practical experience. The group’s youth sail camps for kids ages 8 to 16 teach safety, sailing, and boat-handling skills, as well as respect for the marine environment.

The Anacortes Waterfront Alliance (AWA) is also a nonprofit on the Grow Boating grant list, offering community programs that focus on small boat sailing and hosting Anacortes High School’s Sailing Team. AWA, created in 2018, builds on the legacy of a group that formed the Anacortes Small Boat Center, a coalition of community waterfront interest groups. Since its formation, AWA has partnered with the Anacortes Parks & Recreation Department to offer youth and adult sailing classes and hosted three youth regattas in 2019, bringing more than 200 sailors and families to Fidalgo Bay. AWA has also offered affordable boat storage for more than 40 small boats, manages two dinghy docks, and raised funds for the replacement of its sailing-instruction fleet with new RS Tera Sailboats.

Other Northwest-based organizations receiving Grow Boating grants for 2023 include:

  • Antique & Classic Boat Society (PNW Chapter, Eatonville, WA), a national association of more than 11,000 members connecting people who love classic boats with events, information, expertise, and other people who share the passion. The regional chapters organize more than 100 classic boat events throughout North America.
  • Corinthian Yacht Club (Seattle, WA), a club promoting, advancing, and encouraging the sport of amateur sailing, including racing and cruising, and to strengthen the sailing community through the voluntary action.
  • Oregon Women’s Sailing Association (Portland, OR), an all-volunteer nonprofit group organized by local women sailors to promote opportunities for women to learn sailing through education and practical experience in Oregon and southwestern Washington. 
  • Sisters in Action Sports (Bothell, WA), an organization dedicated to inspire, encourage, and empower girls and women through participation in action sports.
  • Southern Idaho Sailing Outreach (Boise, ID), which offers sailing programs to youth in the Treasure Valley of Southern Idaho and Eastern Oregon.

“We are very pleased with the diversity of grants we were able to award this year—both geographic and activity diversity,” said Mike Kirshenbaum, vice president of HO Sports, NMTA board member, and chair of the Grow Boating committee. “We awarded grants to organizations across the region for youth and adult sailing, fishing, and power-boat activities. Additionally, many of the organizations will be using the grants to provide scholarships to their programs to low income or disadvantaged youth.”

Since 2003, NMTA has spent more than $2 million through its Grow Boating program to foster boating education, support various maritime events, arrange sponsorships, raise grant funding for boating. In the past eight years alone, 56 boating organizations have received grants from this program. For more information on how to get involved in NMTA’s Grow Boating effort, visit: nmta.net.

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