PORT TOWNSEND — Valerie and Arnt Arntzen finally made it to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival this year.
The couple from Vancouver, B.C., applied — and had been accepted — to bring their 23-foot-long pilot cutter Anja to the festival in 2020 and 2021, but because of COVID pandemic precautions, they ended up disappointed for two years in a row.
“It’s been just wonderful to at last be here,” Valerie Arntzen said. “When we were waiting to get into the harbor, we saw an awesome sailboat under full sail and we were just giddy.”
The 45th annual event, which is organized by the Northwest Maritime Center, drew more than 200 vessels this year. Attendance is up from 2019 — the last year it was held — said Maritime Center communications director Molly McCarthy in a text, and more than 1,000 volunteers helped out at the event.
Held at Hudson Point and the Maritime Center from Thursday through Sunday, the festival featured speakers and demonstrations related to woodworking and the maritime trades; live music; boat tours and hands-on activities such as learning how to paddle board and crewing a longboat.
The boats, though, were the main attraction.
Last year’s cancellation came less than a week before the festival was scheduled to start, which helped explain why Anne Thompson and Ray Brown had two official 45th annual event pennants — one from 2021 and one from 2022 — hanging from a line on their boat, Bright Star, a 24-foot-long Tolman Jumbo 24 powerboat.
The pennants were designed, produced and mailed to boat owners before the decision to cancel was made.
“I had to look twice,” Anne Thompson said. “I didn’t notice it until I hung them up.”
The two 45th annual pennants were among 13 others representing the Lake Oswego couple’s participation in the festival.
“Oh, I just love it. I love talking to people,” Anne Thompson said of why they keep returning.
Ann and Tony Magee sailed their 50-foot-long Kettenburg 50 Marionette from their home in Port Ludlow to make it to their 16th festival.
“She was built to race and built for speed,” Ann Magee said of the Marionette, which reached 11 knots on its way to Port Townsend.
The Marionette’s first appearance at the festival came in 2006 when it arrived from Redondo Beach, Calif., after a long and eventful journey — including a possible whale hit. The 60-year-old vessel was a little worse for wear.
“She practically had to be pushed (into the bay),” Ann Magee said. “But once she saw those other wooden boats, she really picked it up.”
Along with boats returning to the festival, members of the Port Townsend High School sailing club returned as well for their floral fundraiser.
“They get donations of flowers from people’s gardens and farms, assemble the bouquets Thursday afternoon, take orders from the boats on Thursday evening and deliver them Friday morning,” said Mary d’Arcy, one of the club’s coaches. “It is really student-driven.”
The idea for selling flowers to boat owners came from a parent about eight years ago, d’Arcy said, and it proved to be so successful that it has continued to help fund the club’s expenses.
This year members are raising money to compete in a regatta near Long Beach, Calif.
Priced at $10 each, the 65 colorful bouquets of dahlias, sunflowers, gladiolus and other late-summer blooms arranged in wide-mouth glass jars “sold out immediately,” d’Arcy said.
Anne Thompson said she appreciated that the students were working to raise money by doing something everyone could enjoy, and she placed her flowers on top of Bright Star’s cabin where everyone could see them.
“I gave them $15 because we were so glad to be here,” she said.