Sailor's tattoo, must be married too long, Wooden Boat Festival
Had to "work" last Saturday. The onerous chore was to attend the Wooden Boat
Festival and bring back 1000 words and photos. (Report at end of post)
The Mrs. stayed home. While at the Festival, I thought up the most amazing
prank! There was a booth selling temporary tattoos. The Mrs. has lobbied
against tattoos on several occassions over the years, she'd just prefer that I
not mark up my fine physical specimen of a body.....(hey, it wouldn't be too
bad for a sea lion!)....with colorful ink.
I picked out a huge red and black First Nations totem of a sea monster. Quite
the handsome design, really. I shelled out the princely sum of less than a
buck, and a sweet young thing with a warm sponge.......(hey hey! Maybe I need
a few more tattoos!)......applied it to my bicep. It was a bit out of scale,
being a "huge" design
on a bicep that few people would confuse with Conan the Barbarian's.
I called the wife on my cell phone. "Well, I though I'd call and give you a
little advance warning so you're not too shocked. While I was in Port Townsend
today I got this most amazing tatoo, and........."
"Oh, bull****!" she responded. "Knowing you, it's probably some temporary thing
and you're just trying to get my goat!"
Talk about the air getting let out of the balloon. :-( She knows me so well.
Probably been married too long. In another 50 or sixty years I swear, I'm gonna
leave that woman!
Anyway, here's a recap of the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend,
Washington. It's one of the largest events of its kind in the country.
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival
The Wooden Boat Foundation in Port Townsend can be justifiably proud of the
27th Annual Wooden Boat Festival. We attended the event on Saturday, September
6, and from a spectator's perspective the festival was an unqualified success!
There is something that just "feels right" about an event celebrating wooden
boats in Port Townsend. The main streets of this picturesque seaport appear
much as they did during the few short "boom" years in the 1890's, (when most
of the commercial buildings were erected). The Northwest School of Wooden
Boatbuilding attracts students from around the world to learn skills peculiar
to the wood boat craft, and sustain centuries-old techniques. Members of the
Port Townsend Shipwright's Co-op routinely refit and repair wooden boats. In
some port towns, wood is considered an old-fashioned substance, and very few
younger boatwrights are adept in working with it. In Port Townsend, wood is
still the material that most people assume you will be using if you plan to
build a boat. The old classics and the late model masterpieces show to good
advantage in the antique environment of Port Townsend, generally, and Point
Hudson Marina specifically.
The Port Townsend festival is among the largest annual wooden boat events in
the United States. Unlike a typical "boat show," (where the sales efforts often
begin a few inches from the ticket window and continue non-stop throughout the
venue), people attending a wooden boat festival are gathered to celebrate the
intrinsic beauty and glorious heritage of wooden boats. Most of the boats on
display aren't for sale, and those that might be are promoted tastefully and
subtly. Friendly representatives from Mahina Yachts and Dock Street Yachts
greeted people from small tents, but both firms maintain year around offices
in Port Townsend and are legitimate portions of the local maritime scene.
The 2003 edition of the show brought enough people to Port Townsend to
seemingly treble the normal population on Saturday afternoon. The Park and Ride
lots south of town near Safeway were turning cars away by late morning. Uptown
streets were lined with cars parked parallel to every available inch of curb
space, and the impatient or unlucky arriving by car were renting parking spaces
on the community football field a block from Pt. Hudson. (Holy high-priced
parking, Batman! Twenty bucks!)
The monster crowds did not spoil the show. Like any good party or celebration,
up to a certain saturation point the more is the merrier. With hundreds of
sail, power, and human powered boats on display in the Pt. Hudson basin, with
dozens of food and vendor booths, with several working displays and hands-on
activity areas, and with a beer garden and musical entertainment big top, the
enormous herd of show goers was well dispersed throughout the area.
Almost everybody seemed to be having a spectacular time. Even the weather,
(sunny and warm for most of the day), was participating. The narrow, sometimes
tippy, floats at Point Hudson were rarely overwhelmed with traffic, and in
those few instances where foot traffic snarled on the docks the crowds would
good-naturedly give way and unwind the snags without forcing anybody overboard.
Large crowds of perfect strangers mixing politely and cooperatively can
reliably indicate a high level of general satisfaction with an event, as well
as some experienced and strategic planning.
Personal favorites at this year's show included a couple of working steam
launches. Curious crowds gathered around for informative explanations about
compound cylinder steam engines and boiler operations. While steam powered
vessels with wood fired boilers might seem like a good solution to dependence
on petroleum products for marine power, widespread use of steam engines could
create another sort of shortage. One of the steam launch operators mentioned
that the vessel consumes a "bundle" of firewood per nautical mile. Sam Devlin's
salty stitch-and-glue boats were on display, as were a number of vessels
associated with the Classic Yacht Association. It's always a pleasure to view
the little trawler "Torsk" fully dressed out.
Sailboats dominate the event, and there were some spectacularly beautiful boats
in attendance. Northwest favorites such as "Adventuress,", "Alcyone", "Lynx",
"Martha" and "Lady Washington" were gathered for the show, along with at least
100 smaller sailing vessels. Vessel conditions ranged from knock-about daily
sailors to carefully preserved bristol showboats.
A handy information booklet, "The Guide to Wooden Boats" was available for
purchase this year. The price was $3, and well worth it. Not all the boats at
the festival were listed in the program, but most were and could be located by
vessel name in alphabetical order.
A few paragraphs detailing the design, construction, history, and current
ownership of each boat enhanced the browsing experience. Most of the boats had
representatives aboard, but the booklet relived some of them from answering as
many of the basic, repetitive questions that would ordinarily arise.
So, hurray for the Wooden Boat Foundation! The non-profit organization is doing
a heroic job of sustaining wood boat craft and culture in the Pacific
Northwest. The Wooden Boat Festival is the organization's annual opportunity to
"show off" and based on the thousands of hours of effort involved in creating
such an event, the success of 2003 is well deserved. The organization is
looking for additional members, as well as some tax-deductible financial
support. (Perhaps they could use a few more "stinkpotters". While the
organization's program informed "landlubbers" that there are five basic
sailboat types, and listed four varieties of rowing and paddleboats, all the
powerboats in the world were reduced to two categories, "Cruisers" and "Working
Nit picking about the program aside, the entire boating community in the
Pacific Northwest can be grateful for the efforts of the Wooden Boat
Foundation. Our region is a better and more interesting place to boat because
of their efforts. If you missed the 2003 Wooden Boat Festival, make a point to
attend next year's event. It will be tough to top the success of 2003, but the
Wooden Boat Foundation will surely be working to try.