The Northwest Maritime Center. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

The Northwest Maritime Center. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

COVID-19 impacts maritime training

Wooden Boat Building School and Maritime Center restricting operations until at least April 27

PORT TOWNSEND — Officials at the Northwest Maritime Center and the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building have closed their facilities to the public and canceled classes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The School of Wooden Boat Building has its campus closed until April 27 or until Gov. Jay Inslee announces it’s safe to reopen and Maritime Center has canceled all events at least through April.

“Things are uncertain and moving faster than any of us can calibrate,” said Jake Beattie, executive director of the Maritime Center in an letter released Wednesday afternoon.

“In short, it’s our perfect storm.”

Beattie said in a letter issued Wednesday afternoon that the maritime center has a diverse offering of programs and experiences, “but our organization is still highly seasonal, and this pandemic hit at the end of our ‘bleeding months.’

“We have now canceled two fundraising events, and school closures have led us to cancel at least half of our spring season of programming.”

The 52 staff members of the maritime center have been either furloughed on temporary unpaid leave or are working drastically reduced hours — including Beattie — and will have to have to apply for unemployment benefits from the state, Beattie said.

“We are not doing a “Save the NWMC” type of fundraiser. This is what it is and there are bigger issues in the world than us right now,” Beattie said in the letter. “We are giving people the opportunity to help raise the $70,000 needed to provide 90 days of health benefits for our furloughed staff.”

To be a part of that effort, follow this link: nwmaritime.org/give.

Summer events such as the Race to Alaska and the Wooden Boat Show are still being planned at this point, but it is unknown if they will proceed at this time, Beattie said.

Another concern of the maritime center is that the struggling stock market will restrict available philanthropic resources, with bulk of the resources rightly going towards the needed health and human services needs, he said.

The Maritime Center will be in a hibernation period until things are stabilized, but will continue to manage essential services such as processing payments and registrations, filing taxes, planing the Wooden Boat Festival and races and producing the 480 North Magazine, Beattie said.

The School of Wooden Boat Building’s campus is closed to the public and all classes have been on hold since Tuesday in line with the other school districts in the county, said Betsy Davis, executive director.

Administrative staff are working in isolated offices or remotely for the time being and the teams are doing what they can to be ready to resume classes and normal operations as soon as it is safe to do so, Davis added.

“We are extremely focused on ensuring a strong start right out of the gate when the school’s doors are allowed to re-open,” Davis said.

“The skill sets and confidence that students develop as they learn trades at the Boat School are timeless in value and may become even more valuable for people trying to navigate the uncertain future that lies ahead.”

The Boat School is still accepting and reviewing applications for programs beginning in October, Davis said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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