Good weather puts wind in show’s sails

POULSBO — An unexpected bout of spring-like weather packed the Port of Poulsbo marina last weekend.

And garnered record crowds for the eighth annual Classic Yacht Association Pacific Fleet September Rendezvous.

Fall temperatures and rain seemed to have arrived to stay in Washington, making organizers wonder how many would come out to see the pre-1940s yachts on display Saturday and Sunday. But when blue skies and sunshine appeared Friday afternoon, Port Manager Ed Erhardt relayed that the port’s phones began nearly ringing off the hook with calls from boaters wanting a spot.

Event organizer John Jacobsen of Indianola said a record number of CYA boats were present over the weekend and he’s heard visitor estimates of between 1,300-1,700. Typically, about 800-1,000 visitors grace the event.

“I think it was fantastic,” Jacobsen commented. “We had more boats than we’d had before and more visitors than ever. We had 31 boats. That’s as many as we have at our June show in Seattle. I think this one is moving into the forefront.”

“I was talking to the first class officer on the Old Man IV and he said they had 350 people come through before noon Saturday,” added Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce executive director Jim Martin.

The event kicked off this year with a special barbecue for the boaters Friday night, sponsored by the chamber, Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association, City of Poulsbo and Port of Poulsbo. Miss Poulsbo Canon Henness was on hand to greet the yacht owners and special “celebrity” chefs whipped up burgers for the guests. Martin also welcomed the boaters in true Little Norway style by giving Jacobsen a special Lutefisk TV dinner from the Marina Market, which evoked riotous laughter from the crowd.

“I think that was really neat,” Martin commented about the gathering. “That’s something I think a lot of the other cities they go to don’t do.”

Saturday morning kicked off the actual rendezvous, where the docks, and some boats, were opened to visitors from far and wide.

Greg Gilbert of Seattle carefully strung nautical banners from his 1926 Lake Union Dreamboat, the Winifred, while greeting visitors with permission to come aboard. Gilbert bought the vessel in 2000 and likened the hobby to the job of painting the Golden Gate Bridge. He estimated that he puts in about three hours of maintenance for every one hour of cruising.

“But I love to show it off,” he commented. “I love to come to these shows and I kind of feed off the people oohing and aahing over it. That keeps me going on those long winter days when I’m working.”

Jacobsen said he felt just as many if not more visitors came from areas outside Poulsbo. He said many people commented that they were impressed with the wide variety of styles and types of yachts present, as opposed to some boat shows that only feature one kind.

“A lot of people were really interested in the boats,” Jacobsen said. “They asked a lot of questions. That was really great to see.”

Visitor Dana Steiner, a recent transplant from the San Francisco Bay area to Woodinville, made her first trip to Poulsbo Saturday. She said she didn’t know the rendezvous was taking place until she and her husband arrived in their catamaran but she was enjoying the additional entertainment in Little Norway.

“The contrast between the old and new with our boat is a big difference,” Steiner said. “These are a lot more work.”

And while still working to clean up and regroup after the event Monday, Martin said he was already thinking of new ideas for next year’s rendezvous. He said he felt this year’s event was a success both for the boaters and for Poulsbo and he’s hoping it will continue to grow.

“I think it went well,” he said. “The chamber is looking for a signature event and I’d like it to be this.”

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