PORT TOWNSEND — The forecast for Saturday: light-ish wind and scores of boats, from the Murrelet and the Blewbird to the Owl and the Lady Jane.
This is the 2021 Shipwrights’ Regatta, underway at noon on Port Townsend Bay, free for the watching from the beaches and bluffs of town.
The race, hosted this year by the Port Townsend Sailing Association, has “some dinghies, some dory-type things with sails, on up to the beautiful ones like Bertram Levy’s Murrelet, in the classic wooden boat tradition we have here,” said association president Roland Nikles, who’d registered 40 entrants as of Wednesday. “We’re just really trying to get back in the spirit.”
The deadline to sign up? Just about noon Saturday, he said.
“We’ll allow anybody who’s out on the water to start … there’s no fee involved,” whether or not boaters register in advance at PTSail.org.
Those who do officially sign up will be entered in a drawing for a free haul-out, Nikles added.
The February regatta, begun in 1991, was invented by “a bunch of shipwrights to have an event in the wintertime,” he said.
Their tack is “all in for fun and participation,” Nikles said. “It’s not about ratings or who’s the best. It’s putting your boat through its paces and having fun doing it,” while providing fine entertainment for the people on shore.
Good vantage points for spectating include the Pourhouse beach off Washington Street and the finger of land adjacent the Tides Motel off Water Street, which Nikles said are just about opposite the race course. Downtown is north of the action, while the bluffs uptown are also good viewing.
In recent years the Northwest Maritime Center has run the Shipwrights’ Regatta; 2020’s race, held Feb. 22, got in under the wire before the pandemic was known to have begun.
The traditional parties aren’t possible now, but the waterborne activity is, with short-handed sailing and family-unit crews.
“Due to COVID, we aren’t able to run the shoreside part of the event this year,” said maritime center spokesperson Hallie Glynn, so “PTSA agreed to carry on running the race … and are perfectly poised to take over the Shipwrights’ Regatta this year.”
The Port Townsend Sailing Association races most Saturdays, from January through March, Nikles added.
Information can be found on the website about those events and about the formal series to start in April.
Winter’s winds prove brisk, but “really the sailing weather has been pretty good,” Nikles said. “The mountains are spectacular when they’re snow-covered.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]