2023 Wooden Boat Festival Video and Favorites

Last weekend I thoroughly enjoyed the Wooden Boat Festival in here in Port Townsend. I have attended for 30 years or so, off and on. The amount of work and effort it takes to put on this event, and how well it is organized, is a real testament to the Northwest Maritime Center and Wooden Boat Foundation. And Port Townsend has to be unique in how many people volunteer to make it a great festival.

Note: This article was written before I became an employee of the Northwest Maritime Center, and it represents my own viewpoints, not those of the NWMC.

When younger, I used to try and take in the entire show. But as my boat interests have evolved, it is the small boats that draw my eye, and the unique characters who own them. I still have a massive appreciation for the beauty of the larger craft, and the labor of love and expertise and money that goes into them. And you can’t beat the sight of all those tall ships cutting swiftly across the bay during the Schooner Race and Sunday Sail By.

If you missed the show, check out the video below. I rowed my Skerry all around the marina. It’s 15 minutes long, so probably not that interesting for folks who attended the show. Each day was unique, from dense fog, to blue skies. I was actually sore for a few days from all the rowing back and forth from the boat launch a number of times.

Show Favorites

There were four sail/oar boats that I particularly enjoyed seeing this year.

The first is the HV-16 designed and built by my friend Eric Hvalsoe. Eric is a very skilled boat builder and designer out of Seattle WA. The boat is traditionally built, with a lug-yawl rig. He has done a lot of camp cruising in this boat. The HV-16 in my eyes is a great compromise between sailing performance and rowing, all wrapped up in beautiful lines. Eric has been very helpful with suggestions on my own boat.

Eric also designed the glued-lap HV-18, built and owned by Tim Yeadon. This is another best in class sail/oar boat, with a lug-yawl rig. Tim has extensively camp cruised this boat. Although I knew of Tim, this was our first time meeting. We had some good chats, and seem to have a few things in common outside of sail/oar boats, like our motor boat desires. He is currently putting together a 19′ Bartender. We both have had ideas of doing a Vancouver Island circumnavigation in our motor boats (see my Lavro Dory). So who knows, maybe we will cruise together.

Hvalsoe HV-18 Boat
Tim Yeadon’s HV-18 Haverchuck

There was also a nice 14′ Vivier designed Alur, again with a lug-yawl rig. Roger Barnes in his popular YouTube videos and dinghy cruising book greatly popularized this design.

14 Foot Alur Dinghy
Vivier designed Alur

The final favorite is a new 14′ sail/oar boat prototype designed by my friend Brandon Davis of Turnpoint Design here in Port Townsend. I had seen the boat in Brandon’s shop being built, but this was the first time in the wild. Duckworks will be offering a kit for it in the future, maybe called the Super Scout. It borrows the same open center layout with offset daggerboard as the Scout, a similar simple sail rig, while adding a bit of length. The beam has been kept narrow, which will make it easy to row. It is a very lightweight and simple boat.

14' Super Scout Sail/Oar Boat
Scout 14 (Super Scout)

I also really enjoyed seeing the four Thunderbird 26′ sailboats all lined up, including the prototype model #1 launched in 1958, and #2 in 1959. These are iconic NW boats, that are still very fast sailers to this day. There are a mess of them in the Boat Haven in Port Townsend. I used to own one and sailed most of the Inside Passage in BC in it, just shy of Alaska. On the way up I explored deep into a number of inlets, including through one of the fastest tidal rapids in the world, Nakwakto Rapids, to access Seymour Inlet. Not an ideal boat for the trip, but it worked.

Four Thunderbird sailboats at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend

I did not take as many pictures during this festival as in the past. I decided to spend more time just rowing around, talking to folks, and enjoying the festival. But here are a few.

Three people eating apples in a peapod dinghy. Port Townsend waterfront.
Appledore peapod? Nope. Apple eaters in a peapod.
Colorful wood boats at the dock in the fog in Port Townsend.
Red Wineglass Wherry rowing into shore.
Kayak and fishing boat in the fog in Port Townsend
Notice the new whale skeleton up on the pier.
Wherry rowing in the fog in the marina at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival
My friend Brice, in his Merry Wherry. He was at the boat ramp at 6 am to row with me!

Learn more about the Wooden Boat Festival.

Learn more about the Northwest Maritime Center.

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