32nd Wooden Boat Festival launches in Port Townsend

By Jeff Chew, Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A near nautical mile of wooden boats and a 94-year-old woman who once canoed from Anacortes to Ketchikan, Alaska, are among the fascinating, floating attractions at the 32nd Wooden Boat Festival today through Sunday.

Festival Harbor Master Matt Barnett estimated that 6,021 feet of boats will be in the water for the 32nd Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend.

A special attraction near the festival entrance is the new foundation laid for the future home of the Northwest Maritime Center, which will become the heart of future festivals beginning next year.

The boats were streaming in and around Hudson Point Marina, festival central, on Thursday.

Among them, the state's tall ship, Lady Washington, tied up at the Northwest Maritime Center pier for tours this weekend, as well as the 1929 elegant Seattle cabin cruiser, Olympus.

Regattas scheduled include a 2:30 p.m. Friday 26-foot and under sail race, a 10 a.m. Saturday rowing race for fixed and sliding seats, a 3:30 p.m. Saturday Northwest Schooner Cup race, and a 3:30 p.m. Sunday festival sail by. All take place near or off Point Hudson.

Waterfront boats available for public sail include Adventuress (for tickets, go to www.soundexp.org), Lady Washington, Hawaiian Chieftain, SSS Odyssey and Merrie Ellen.

Besides the boats clustered at the festival's center, speakers and maritime skills demonstrations, boat related exhibitors, food, local brews and music can be enjoyed.

Attendees are welcome to board all boats and attend all activities at no charge once inside the gate.

Tours of vessel, including the Lady Washington, are scheduled as the captains allow.

Moored wooden sailboats and motor vessels dotted the Port Townsend waterfront Thursday, framed by fog banks that were burning off as sunny temperatures took over.

"Bringing together expert boat designers, boatbuilders, circumnavigators, sailors, authors, marine artists, musicians, powerboats, kayaks, tall ships and rowing vessels creates an atmosphere of optimism and possibility, an appreciation for legacy and innovation, a celebration of travel and living that connects people to nature and to the blue parts of the globe," said Festival Director Kaci Cronkhite, who has been on the job since 2002 and seen the festival grow and mature.

Barnacle Betty
In what may be her last public appearance, Betty Lowman Carey, 94, also known as the legendary "Barnacle Betty," will be onstage at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Point Hudson Port of Port Townsend Marina Room.

In June 1937, as a 21-year-old Anacortes girl, Lowman set out from Guemes Island in a red dugout canoe outfitted with oarlocks, determined to reach Ketchikan to see her father.

Lowman made it to Ketchikan, and in the process created a legend of the red canoe she rowed through the wild Inside Passage.

Lowman's journey is chronicled in Bijaboji: North to Alaska by Oar, and her trip was not duplicated by another woman until 2004.

For the past 25 years, visitors arriving at the Sandspit Airport in the Queen Charlotte Islands have passed the red canoe on display in the terminal.

That red canoe will be on display during Lowman's Port Townsend presentation. Its final resting place will be at the Anacortes History Museum.

In addition to Lowman, two other women, Dale McKinnon and Robin Clark, have rowed the Inside Passage.

They will talk in Port Townsend about the challenges during their rowing trips, and the changes during the last 70 years to the people and livelihoods that sustain the communities up and down the Inside Passage.

Waiting list
It is the festival's first year that all wooden boat exhibitor applications received after Aug. 10 went on a waiting list, a sign of the festival's growth and popularity.

"We've never been so full, so early," Cronkhite said.

"We've got an excellent variety of boats this year, with the pre-festival harbor layout indicating we're three or four boats deep on the linear raft-out and, given the mix of boats, it appears we're half power, half sail in the water.

Power boats include large and small tugs, classic northwest and international designs, green-designed plywood boats — all running on a variety of fuel such as biodiesel, solar, diesel, gasoline and electric motors.

Sail boats include tall ships, schooners, sloops, innovative rigs and clusters by design or rigs like Tbirds, Devlin, Calkins, Chamberlain, schooners and Folkboats.

The Wooden Boat Festival is sponsored by, and raises funds for, The Wooden Boat Foundation.

The foundation supports sailing, rowing and maritime education programs at the Northwest Maritime Center year-round.

TICKETS TO THE 32nd Wooden Boat Festival, a three-day festival that begins today, can be purchased at the Main Gate at the end of Water Street in downtown Port Townsend near Hudson Point Marina.

The gates will open at 9 a.m. daily, today, Saturday and Sunday.

Information about demonstrations, workshops, entertainment, and special events for children will be available at the entrance tent.

Tickets are $12 for one-day and $24 for three-days. Tickets are half-price for children from 13 to 18 years old, and for seniors 65 years old or older.

A full rundown of events and activities can be see on the festival's Web site at www.woodenboat.org/festival/default.aspx

The complete festival guide is available online as an interactive document that can be browsed and printed at http:/issuu.com/leader/docs/2008—wood—boat—pages.

In addition to information about boats, event details, stories and sponsors, the guide includes a map of the festival marina and grounds, which is on Page 19, and a pull-out of the entire schedule — Pages 20-21.

A printed schedule also is available at Main Gate entrance.

Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 04. 2008 9:00PM
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