PORT TOWNSEND — Romance. Schooners. Passion. Kayaks. Sun, wind, sea chanteys and danceable blues.
The Wooden Boat Festival, wrapped around the Point Hudson Marina near the end of Water Street, is enjoying a burst of new energy this year.
Of some 300 vessels coming in, 69 are making their first festival appearance, said director Kaci Cronkhite. They come in all sizes, from John Wayne’s 76-foot Norwester yacht to pygmy kayaks, and from the schooner Adventuress to Miss Lakewood, a 1940 Ed Monk motor launch from Seattle.
This 35th annual festival’s three full days of revelry start today, with tours of sailboats, demonstrations, talks, movies and myriad other activities, from 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. today and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
At the gate, single-day tickets are $15, or $10 for Wooden Boat Foundation members, seniors and students. Multi-day passes go for $30, or $20 for seniors, students and foundation members.
Live music goes all day and into the night, and it’s free to see the bands after 7 p.m. Tonight, the Delta Rays will start at 7:30; Saturday it’s Tim Halpin and the Better Half, also at 7:30 p.m. For complete information, visit www.WoodenBoat.org or just come downtown to the festival, where printed schedules are plentiful.
This party is for everybody, regardless of boating experience, says Cronkhite.
“Wooden boats have a beauty,” she muses, “that anyone can see and feel. There’s an aesthetic that comes with boats and sailing that especially comes with wood. You don’t have to know anything about boats . . . but there are thousands of things you can learn,” about sailing jargon, physics and history.
Some 220 boats are in the marina for the weekend, while another 70 are displayed on land, Cronkhite added. Then there are the woodworking and hand-tool demonstrations, the kids’ boatbuilding area, the Northwest Schooner Cup races at 3 p.m. Saturday and the Festival Sail-by of up to 300 vessels at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
There are talks such as “Captaincy for Couples” (11:30 a.m. today and Saturday), “Building Your Own Kayak” (10:30 a.m. today and 3:30 p.m. Saturday), “Cedar Strip Canoe and Kayak Building” (1:30 p.m. Saturday), “Green Toilets” (2:30 p.m. today, 3:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday) and Leif Terdal’s “Our Escape from Nazi-Occupied Norway” (10:30 a.m. Sunday).
Presentations about sailing the Virgin Islands, Southern California, Alaska and British Columbia are on the schedule, as are films such as “Schooner or Later” (1:30 p.m. today and 11:30 a.m. Saturday) and “Running the Colorado the Way It Was” (4:30 p.m. today and 2:30 p.m. Saturday).
On the water, the festival’s experiences include three-hour sails on the restored 98-year-old schooner Adventuress, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets, available through the nonprofit Sound Experience of Port Townsend, are $55 for adults or $25 for sailors 17 and younger, or $45 and $20 for Sound Experience members. The organization is selling tickets at its festival booth and at 206-353-6119.
Adventuress, along with being magnificent, is “a great introduction,” said Sound Experience spokesman Zach Simonson-Bond.
“We have a very knowledgeable crew, a very welcoming community,” to help guests learn to raise the sails, sing sea chanteys and unite as a team.
“The afternoon sails on Saturday and Sunday will prove to be very exciting,” Simonson-Bond said.
That’s because Adventuress will be out among the Schooner Cup racers Saturday and the grand sail-by Sunday.
This festival is a convergence of wooden-boat lovers from all seven seas, added Cronkhite.
“Just to be in the company of the boats, and the people . . . there’s a romance.
“It just makes people smile . . . There’s an amazing reunion feeling. But even if you don’t know the people, you can feel the energy. It’s a happy energy.”