Wooden Boat Festival to celebrate all things maritime
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“It's a wonderful community gathering,” said Jake Beattie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center, which is home to the Wooden Boat Foundation and the Wooden Boat Festival.
“It has an incredible electric energy,” Beattie said. “When it is happening, the whole town comes alive.”
Now in its 36th year, the event draws boating enthusiasts from around the world to the Point Hudson Marina festival grounds to learn the latest and greatest maritime techniques or just to appreciate the lines of a particularly compelling craft.
Although the festival begins in earnest Friday, a Music & Bar Harbor open to the public will kick it off Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The festival will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Music begins at 11 a.m. each day in the big tent next to the Cupola House, and festival attendees can dance until midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
General admission tickets for nonmembers of the Northwest Maritime Center are $15 for a single day and $30 for the entire festival. Seniors, students and military pay $10 for one day or $20 for all days.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.woodenboat.org/festival or at the main gate at the Northwest Maritime Center beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Tickets provide access to all festival boats, all daytime presentations and demonstrations, exhibitors, music performance, children's activities and food vendors.
Proceeds support the Wooden Boat Foundation.
Barb Trailer, who with Carrie Andrews took over directing the festival from Kaci Cronkhite this year, said that by Friday, 230 boats have signed up to participate and are expected to dock at the Point Hudson Marina later this week.
Trailer is less certain about the number of expected attendees, estimating that it could get as high as 36,000 — though she said there was no way to get an accurate number.
Along with the boats, technical presentations about boating innovations are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Sunday.
About 100 food and craft vendors will be on site.
The draw of boats is magical and not easily explained, Trailer said.
“People who love the water want to go out on the water, and they are quite passionate about it,” she said.
“They have different reasons.
“I'm drawn to the traveling aspect.”
The festival always has included an educational aspect, which is kicked into a higher level with the new Pilot House Training Center, which overlooks Point Hudson from the third floor of the Chandler Maritime Education Building.
When in its inert form, the room offers a wide view of the bay with nautical data displayed on the monitors.
When activated, three large screens rise like a scene out of a James Bond movie, creating a 180-degree simulation of a variety of 35 different vessels from a sailboat to a container ship as well as recreating any possible weather condition.
When it kicks into storm mode, anyone in the room will get a little queasy.
Tours of the Pilot House will be conducted during the festival every half-hour leaving from the boat shop, with a more detailed presentation taking place at 2 p.m.
Aside from becoming a classroom for local students, the room also will run exercises to prepare response to oil spills.
“You can add other ships and lower the light to practice night navigation,” Beattie said.
“The constellations are rendered so you can teach celestial navigation from the computer screens.
“For commercial mariners, all this is obvious, but for recreational mariners, this will be an incredible teaching tool.”
Plans for the Pilot House, which was concerted from a previously empty observation room, began about a year ago.
Beattie said he didn't know exactly how much the facility cost, as it had several funding sources that can't be accurately counted.
Much of the support came from grants, and there was a $300,000 software donation, he said.
Boat races are set Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The 26 & Under Sail Race — open to all wooden boats 26 feet long or less — is from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in Port Townsend Bay.
In the NW Schooner Cup, scheduled from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, schooners race around buoys and return to the marina.
The Rowing Regatta will be from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday in Port Townsend Bay.
The inaugural T-37 Model Boat Races will be at 10 a.m. Sunday in the harbor.
Up to 300 boats are expected to participate in the Festival Sail-by on Sunday.
The boats will begin to leave Port Hudson at 3 p.m. for the grand parade circling Port Townsend Bay, which will be in full swing by 3:30 p.m.
While there are several carefully choreographed events, it is the festival's spontaneity that makes it special, Beattie said.
“There is a lot of wild energy here which you can infuse with your own energy,” he said.
“There are a lot of unplanned moments of greatness and things that happen on the spur of the moment.”
For more information, visit www.woodenboat.org.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.
Last modified: September 04. 2012 5:49PM