Wooden Boat Fest’s ‘roaring success’ in First Friday Lecture

PORT TOWNSEND — The first Wooden Boat Festival was expected to attract 800 people. Rather, it brought 3,000, along with 200 boats.

Every year thereafter has been “magical and inspiring” in its own right, said Carol Hasse, owner of Hasse & Co. Port Townsend Sails and one of the festival founders.

Hasse will join a panel of speakers at the Jefferson County Historical Society’s First Friday Lecture today in the historic Port Townsend City Council chambers. Accompanying her will be Barb Trailer, current Wooden Boat Foundation festival and events director, and Kaci Cronkhite, former director of the foundation.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. at the historical society, 540 Water St. There is a $5 suggested donation.

At the time of the first festival in 1977, Point Hudson was “a lot sleepier, funkier and populated by idealistic young boatmakers and craftsmen,” according to a press release.

“Point Hudson had been discovered just a few years earlier by boat-dwelling members of the counter-culture who, rather than going back to the land like many of their generation, had gone to sea, where they found freedom and a connection to nature.”

Some had learned the skills necessary to build and repair their boats and set up shop, helped by the low rents at Point Hudson.

Hasse, who had learned sailmaking from traditional master Franz Schattauer, was working for Ron Harrow in his sail loft on the second floor of the old Armory Building. Sam Connor operated a boatbuilding shop on the ground floor.

When Connor heard rumors that Wooden Boat Magazine writer Tim Snider was scouting West Coast locations for a new type of boat show that focused on learning wooden boat crafts, he contacted Snider and encouraged him to consider Port Townsend.

In September of 1977, it became a “roaring success,” according to the press release.

For more information, contact Jenny Westdal at 360-437-0508 or jennifer westdal@yahoo.com.