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The boats are back in town | Kitsap Week
By RICHARD D. OXLEY
Going through page after page of sailboats, tugs, canoes and more, Bob Schoonmaker is like a kid in a candy store.
“We have a spitzgatter named Bout,” Schoonmaker said. “It’s one of the most beautiful 26-foot boats that you’ll ever find. And Teal is a tugboat that belongs to Bob Ruch, and he has kept up the boat beautifully.”
Another page, and another unique boat. Schoonmaker’s excitement grows at each turn through his binder.
“We have Saga which is a 6-meter sailboat. It just went through a big refit and is in incredible shape,” Schoonmaker said. “Scott Sprague, a local naval architect, is bringing Tumble Home, which is a very unusual sailboat that he designed and has sailed for many years.”
There is Heritage, designed by islander Ed Monk on Bainbridge. Its hull was built on the island. Then there is a skiff built by Paul Bieker. The list goes on.
The range of seafaring vessels is diverse, but they all bear three things in common: They’re all wooden, they all bear a Bainbridge connection, and they will all be at the 2013 Bainbridge Island Wooden Boat Festival.
The festival is June 15 and 16, 10 a.m to 4 p.m. each day, at the Harbour Marina off Parfitt Way on Bainbridge Island. The marina is accessible by the waterfront trail.
These days, when Schoonmaker isn’t tending to The Chandlery at Winslow Wharf, he is organizing the festival with a handful of other wooden boat enthusiasts. They’ve put together an impressive portfolio of local vessels.
It’s the second time an event of its kind has been held at Bainbridge Island. The first, in 2011, drew boatloads of wooden vessel enthusiasts, and Schoonmaker is certain that the follow up this June will be even more successful.
“I managed to put 50 boats into 18 slips,” he laughed. “Just being able to watch how I do that is an entertaining experience in itself.”
A bevy of boats will be on hand — including canoes and tug boats — along with aficionados eager to trade stories of the sea.
The event aims to be unlike similar festivals and be more interactive. Instead of speakers, there will be roundtable presentations on the boats themselves. Owners and builders will share stories of their boats’ journeys.
“One guy built a boat and then sold it, and 25 years later he managed to buy it back,” Schoonmaker said. “They are going to sit and tell their stories.”
The festival is ultimately a community event, a place for wooden-boat fans to gather and get to know each other.
“The community that puts this on had long discussions on whether to call this is a ‘festival’ or a ‘party,’ ” Schoonmaker said. “And it really is a party for people that like wooden boats.”
He added, “What we really wanted to do was bring the people that are interested in wooden boats together.”
An added attraction for Schoonmaker this time around is a visit from the Sea Scouts. Like their Boy Scout counterparts, the Sea Scouts learn outdoor and survival skills while on the water.
“We invited the Sea Scouts to bring their 82-foot Sparkman and Stephens ketch from Tacoma,” Schoonmaker said. “They are coming up with 22 scouts to talk about their program and show us their fabulous boat that they continue to keep up.”
Schoonmaker hopes that the festival will serve to bring wooden boaters together and become a catalyst for enriching the local community.
“The whole point is to see your friends and neighbors,” he said. “We had some folks that participated in the first event that had lived in this community together for more than 25 years, are interested in wooden boats, but yet they never met.”
He added, “There aren’t a lot of opportunities for boaters to interact around here. Mostly, we have our boats here and then we go other places, but this in an opportunity for people to get together and talk about the things they are passionate about.”
Information about the 2013 wooden boat festival, as well as photos and videos from the 2011 festival, can be found at www.biwbf.info.