Wooden Boat Festival / Port Townsend

This past weekend, Susan and I, along with two friends, Fernando and Cristina, visiting from Brazil, set sail (sorry) for the 2015 Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, WA.




Susan and I have previously attended Wooden Boat festivals on Bainbridge Island and, of course, at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union. So, we decided to head over to Port Townsend, a city we had already explored and loved, to take in this end-of-summer treat.




This festival is the largest of its kind, with over 300 boats on land and water,120 presentations including speakers, forums and book signings.

Artists lined the streets, live music echoed throughout and the smell of great food greeted us at every turn.

We arrived and quickly found parking at the local football field. Hungry and in need of energy prior to the big day, we headed over to the Silverwater Cafe, a place Susan and I had been to before and really liked. Again, it did not disappoint.

We wanted to share a variety of things, so, as a group, we shared a massive ruben, a new experience for Fernando. We also enjoyed the Salmon fillet, cooked perfectly, the Shrimp and Scampi, and the Grilled Mediterranean Polenta, which had a complex and tasty preparation. Sauteed mushrooms, red bell peppers, artichoke hearts, fresh tomato and Italian and Greek olives all tossed with capers, fresh basil and spinach was poured on top. Finished off with some shaved Parmesan cheese, it’s a great prep for those people not big polenta fans. A few glasses of Old Vine Zin from California rounded out the meal.

The festival begins at the Northwest Maritime Center located in a beautiful building next to the marina. The Wooden Boat Foundation, founded in 1978, is the driver of this event and they do an amazing job.



In the Maritime Center we watched people building boats and learned about the tools they use to do so.


Above it all was a large wine bar where spectators could take a break and enjoy a glass of Washington wine while looking out at the various tall ships giving rides and displaying their grand sails in Port Townsend Bay.





Most of the boats being exhibited were docked at the Point Hudson Marina. We walked up and down the docks where we discovered small single sail boats

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and grand wooden yachts which we could tour.



Intense envy eating away at us, we made our way to get a cold drink in one of the many food areas.




We grabbed an iced coffee, walked past huge bowls of paella being cooked



and then rested on a piece of driftwood looking out into the Puget Sound, reflecting a bit on our day so far and hoping for an orca breach.


After some much needed beach side R&R, we made our way back to the docks to take in the last of the boats. About halfway down we met a family that had just returned from a 11 year sailing voyage around the world.


Bruce and Tiffany Halabisky left their lives in 2002, two years after buying a mostly restored 34 foot wooden sailboat. For the first two years, they worked and saved their money and become more familiar with Vixen. In 2002, they left Victoria, Canada bound for Hawaii.

Eleven years later, they have returned to Canada, now with two girls: their oldest daughter Solianna, born during a year and half stop in New Zealand, and little sister Seffa Jane, born in Brazil. During their journey, Bruce continued to work as a wooden boat builder and Tiffany taught yoga classes. Meeting them and learning from their time at sea was so inspiring. Learn more about their journey here


We wandered about more, passing a makeshift pond where visitors could test handcrafted wood kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.


Nearby, a boat building competition was in full swing with four teams vying for top position.




We continued to look at the varying exhibits, poking our head into a rather raucous bar, full of people who had their fill and now just wanted to sit back, look out over the water, listen to live music and have a drink.




We will be back next year and the plan is to stay the night and do two days at the festival. There is simply too much to see for one day. I would highly recommend this festival to anyone who wants to see the craftsmanship that a wooden boat offers. It’s a truly unique experience filled with great exhibits, lots of learning, and really great people.

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