At the Port Hadlock campus of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Executive Director Betsy Davis and Kevin Ritz, lead marine systems instructor, discuss ideas for a pumpout vessel. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

At the Port Hadlock campus of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Executive Director Betsy Davis and Kevin Ritz, lead marine systems instructor, discuss ideas for a pumpout vessel. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Port of Port Townsend, boat school to work together on pumpout grant

PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend commissioners have agreed to collaborate with the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding and the University of Washington/Washington Sea Grant on a grant proposal to design, construct and operate a pumpout vessel for Port Townsend’s Boat Haven and Point Hudson, and the Port Hadlock marina.

Commissioners took action on Wednesday.

The vessel would be constructed by the school’s students as part of its curriculum, and the finished boat would be operated by the port.

The grant program is part of the Clean Vessel Act passed by Congress in 1992 to reduce pollution from vessel discharge. The act established a federal pumpout grant program. It’s administered locally by Washington State Parks which funds up to 75 percent of operating costs for private pumpout companies, with local communities or marinas responsible for the remaining 25 percent.

To qualify for a grant, the pumpout must be available to recreational boaters during the facility’s normal business hours and of a boat size that the marina normally serves.

Grants are often given to boat sewage disposal facilities. However the idea of a pump-out vessel sparked an idea for the school’s executive director.

Betsy Davis, executive director of The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, sees great potential in this project for the school as well as the maritime trades.

“This project will highlight the innovation and quality work done in the marine trades community here,” Davis said.

“The area is known for quality workmanship and is often referenced as preserving traditional skills. But equally important, the marine trades community is pushing the envelope for future innovation and this project might be able to communicate that message.”

She said her team is working on the grant proposal. If funded, they’ ll start working with a designer this fall, and construction on the hull and deck house would begin in January, 2019.

“In September, it would move to our contemporary program and, finally, the vessel would go to our six-month marine systems program, lasting ‘til March. It would be given to the port in late spring, 2020.

“The boat will be locally designed, locally engineered, locally built, and locally used. It will be stewarding the local waters.”

She said the project is a perfect fit with the governor’s Washington Maritime Blue Initiative of Department of Commerce.

“They want to accelerate maritime technology innovation and best practices, with the idea that promoting economic development and preserving the environment can happen hand-in-hand,” she said.

The grant is structured to reimburse the school for up to 75 percent of the cost to design and build the boat. The school’s 25 percent match can include in-kind work such as the instructor’s time overseeing the project.

State Parks would reimburse the port for up to 75 percent of the costs of operating the boat for the pumpout purposes. The port could consider moorage and maintenance as a portion of their 25 percent portion. The port’s commitment would be to operate the boat for it’s usable life, which is typically ten years.

It is estimated that the total operating expenses would range between $20,000 and $30,000 per year. The state would cover 75 percent and the port would cover the reaming 25 percent.

As an additional benefit, Davis said because this is a pilot project that will build a boat incorporating the latest innovations, it could become a long term product for the school,

“Maybe other communities will say, ‘that’s a cool boat and we want one of those, too’, she said.

A decision about the grant is expected before September.


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

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