PORT TOWNSEND — With more than 150 boats packed tightly into Point Hudson Harbor and 50 more on the grounds of the Northwest Maritime Center, deciding how to go about seeing as many of them as possible at the 45th Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival that runs through Sunday presents a challenge.
There are the boats that had jobs (Halcyon, a salmon troller).
Boats built for pleasure (Seven Bells, a cruiser).
Old boats (Martha, built in 1907) and new boats (Rebecca, finished in 2022 — just in time for the festival).
There are big boats (the 131-foot schooner Adventuress) and small boats (the 10-foot paddle canoe Hiyu).
But it’s not the type of boat or the size that necessarily matters, said Daniel Evans of the Northwest Maritime Center, which organizes the festival at the Point Hudson Marina; it’s the stories behind the boats and the people who own them that make each one special.
“You come across the big boats first, but don’t overlook the smaller ones,” said Evans, who, as the event’s harbormaster, was responsible for figuring out how to fit so many boats into a limited space.
The festival is from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. today; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Single-day tickets are $25 for general admission, with discounted tickets of $20 for seniors 65 and older, students 13 to 18 and active military personnel with ID. Three-day tickets are $50 and $40 for seniors, students and military personnel. Children 12 and younger are admitted free.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.woodenboat.org and picked up at will call at the main festival gate. Tickets also are available for purchase at the main gate.
Tickets provide access to all festival boats, most presentations and demonstrations, live music, children’s activities and food vendors.
Evans recommended five boats to check out because they represented different aspects of maritime history, innovations in technology and kinds of design.
• The Lady Washington, 112-foot-long replica of a Revolutionary War-era tall ship: This is an iconic ship and it’s the flagship of Washington state.
The ship is normally out for sailings and it’s really rare for it to be available for people to just visit, Evans said. The Lady Washington will be on the center dock with a full crew to answer questions.
• The Clean Bay, 25-foot, 8-inch pumpout boat: The Clean Bay is a zero-emissions boat built at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. It provides pumpouts to boats so waste won’t get into waterways.
• SL Puffin, 21-foot launch built in 1906: “I love this boat,” Evans said. “It has a steam engine and it was used to carry passengers at a hotel.”
• Wayward Sun, 29-foot, 1-inch solar boat: “This is a completely solar-powered boat — you can’t plug it in like you do a Tesla,” Evans said.
It was the first boat to go up the inside passage from Bellingham to Alaska entirely powered by solar.
• Veteran, 59-foot, 5-inch purse seiner: This is a classic example of the local fishing fleet that was such important part of Puget Sound history, Evans said.
The boats are listed in the program and each is identified with a placard. Tents throughout the harbor area with staff and volunteers also are available to answer questions.
Evans encouraged visitors to do more than look at boats by taking advantage of the many opportunities to get on the water.
There will be free paddle wheeler rides for children 12 and younger; paddleboard rides for all ages; tours on the catamaran Admiral Jack ($5 for adults and free for children 5 and younger); and free rowing and sailing longboats for those 12 and older.
Evans strongly encouraged visitors to engage with boat owners, get on their vessels, take photographs and get as much out of the experience as they can.
“We want you to talk to people about their boats,” Evans said. “That’s the fun part — learning about their history and having people share their stories.”
Free parking is available at the Haines Place Park & Ride with overflow parking available at Boat Haven.
A free Jefferson Transit bus shuttle runs today through Sunday between Haines Place Park & Ride and the Northwest Maritime Center (a distance of about 2 miles) with a stop at Boat Haven.
Jefferson Transit’s regular shuttle also will provide service between Haines Place Park & Ride and the Northwest Maritime Center (but not Boat Haven) today and Saturday. For information, go to jeffersontransit.com/2021-wooden-boat-festival.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.