PORT TOWNSEND — Among those who gathered for the 40th annual Wooden Boat Festival were more than 100 students from Port Townsend High School, who explored the boats, listened to guest speakers and competed in their own boatbuilding challenge.
Most were freshmen and Maritime Discovery Schools curriculum students participating in the school district’s place-based learning program.
At the standup paddleboard pool next to the Point Hudson Marina, teams of students competed in a cardboard boatbuilding contest Friday. The goal was to transport one student across the pool without sinking.
“Our boat didn’t last long,” said Gabe Montoya, a senior at the high school who was serving as a mentor for a group of freshmen.
“Our paddle held up pretty well, though.”
Many of the teams struggled to get their quickly assembled boat across the pool.
“Ours sank pretty quickly, and I had to drag it across the pool,” said freshman Reece Kjeldgaard.
“I wish I’d just built a raft or just started dragging it from the beginning.”
However, Gabe and Reece said that despite their sinking boats, it was fun.
“Everyone was excited about it,” Gabe said. “It was just a good teambuilding kind of exercise.”
This was the first year the high school took a field trip to the Wooden Boat Festival. According to Kelley Watson, maritime career and technical education teacher, it was pulled off thanks to the Northwest Maritime Center, which is sponsoring the festival.
The students also explored some of the tall ships — the Adventuress, Lady Washington and Virginia V — participated in a maritime career fair and were treated to a private presentation by Colin Angus, Watson said.
Angus and his wife, Julie Angus, were named National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year in 2007 after successfully circumnavigating the globe using only human-powered crafts.
They also participated in this summer’s Race to Alaska, a 750-mile race in boats without motors.
“I really enjoyed being on the Adventuress,” Reece said. “I’ve been on overnights with the school before, so it’s always good to meet the new crew.”
For some students, such as Gabe, the festival was nothing new, since he has often attended outside of school.
“I’ve been to almost all of them [the festivals] since I’ve been alive,” Gabe said. “My grandparents love to go, so they take me.”
For Reece and some of the other students, this was only one of a handful of times they’ve experienced the festival.
“I’ve lived here for 11 years and only been here twice,” Reece said.
“I know this is a school trip, but I wish I would’ve had more time to see more.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at cmcfarland@peninsula dailynews.com.