PORT TOWNSEND — The 40th annual Wooden Boat Festival kicks off this weekend in Port Townsend with activities for everyone, from the most dedicated sailor to the casual festival-goer.
“From the moment the festival opens to the moment it closes, there’s always something happening,” said Jake Beattie, the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center.
“There’s something here for really hardcore boat nerds like myself and for people who are just looking to have a good festival.”
The festival will open today at 9 a.m. will run until 6 p.m. On Saturday the festivities start early at 8 a.m. and go until 6 p.m. and Sunday events will be going on from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, music and fun will continue until midnight.
All festival activities are centered around the Northwest Maritime Center at 431 Water St. Parking is limited so people are encouraged to walk, ride their bikes or take shuttles from the Haines Place Park & Ride or Port Ludlow Marina or walk two blocks from Memorial Field.
Tickets will be sold at the main gate. Northwest Martine members get free entry, children 12 and younger also will be admitted free. Adult tickets are $17 for the day or $35 for all three days and senior, active military and teens are all priced at $12 for one day or $25 for all three days. Dogs will not be allowed at the festival.
For the dedicated boat fans, free seminars and presentations throughout the weekend will explain aspects of boatbuilding, boat design and restoration, history, adventure and cruising. Festival attendees can learn about everything from Norse boatbuilding techniques to sailing the coast of Vancouver Island.
“It’s a bunch of really well-known and respected people who all come out to our Peninsula for this,” said Beattie. “A lot of times, they’re people I know of only because they’ve wrote books I’ve read.”
Presentations will include the Northwest Maritime Center’s pilothouse simulator tour, scheduled throughout the weekend, and the University of Washington’s presentation of a human-powered submarine, which will be today and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on the boatbuilding stage.
The 120 seminars and presentations start at 9:30 a.m. this morning and will run until 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon. A list of seminars, as well as times and locations, can be found online at nwmaritime.org.
There will also be ticketed events, most notably the R2AK Blazer Party tonight at 6 in the Northwest Maritime Center.
Awards and records from this year’s race will be handed out and announcements for next year’s race will be revealed. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online.
Beattie said the festival will offer plenty of entertainment for those visitors just looking to have a fun weekend.
Children can build their own boats to take home or get their faces painted at the Kids’ Cove.
From the shore, spectators can watch as boats race through the bay in the afternoons.
Today at 2 p.m., a race for boats 26 feet and under will begin.
On Saturday at 3 p.m. will be the Northwest Schooner Cup Race, featuring some locally famous boats such as the 103-year-old Adventuress.
Visitors will have plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. Free rides will be offered on the Martha J, a 1984 motor launch from Maine, as well as the opportunity to paddle a longboat or sail aboard the Adventuress.
People can also try their hand at standup paddleboarding at a pool next to Point Hudson Marina.
“Really, the main attraction is the boats that are in and out of the water,” Beattie said.
The festival is expecting to bring in roughly 300 boats this year — from small private vessels to the historic boats such as the Virginia V, a steamboat that used to ferry people across the Puget Sound before Washington State Ferries, according to Beattie.
“I think one of the best things is the sail-by on Sunday,” said Beattie. “It’s all these classic boats under sail, and if you squint, it looks like it could be 100 years ago.”
The sail-by starts at 3 p.m. Sunday and can be viewed just about anywhere on the waterfront.
Beattie said another popular event, which will kick off this morning, is the Edensaw boatbuilding challenge.
This year, three teams will compete to build a seaworthy boat in just three days.
Spectators can watch the boats sail Sunday from the beach to the northeast of the marina to the harbor starting at 12:30 p.m.
Festivities kicked off Thursday night with the lifetime achievement awards and the festival’s 40th anniversary party.
Every night of the festival will end with a party complete with live music, food and beer, Beattie said.
More than 20 bands will be in town performing throughout the weekend, with performances starting in the afternoon and running late into the night.
“It’s always a party at the end of the day,” Beattie said. “We’ll go to midnight pretty much every night.”
A full schedule is available online at https://2016wbf.sched.org.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at [email protected].