A historic fleet sails to town

POULSBO— An armada began invading the waters of Liberty Bay Friday, but instead of Viking longboats, classic yachts from across the Northwest took their leave on the shores of Little Norway.

The 33 expected boats are part of the ninth annual Poulsbo Classic Yacht Rendezvous, which features a myriad of vessels representing the region’s maritime history.

“Most of the boats are old wooden boats that were built in the 1930s and 1940s,” said event coordinator John Jacobsen.

The event, which is sponsored by the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association, has been a consistently successful event, Jacobsen said.

“We’ve always been well-received by the community and it’s got the perfect combination of the marina and shops downtown,” he said.

During the three-day event, the public will have an opportunity to tour some of the vessels and see them up close, he added.

“It’s open to the public and from time to time, people will be able to board some of the boats,” he said.

Chamber Executive Director Stuart Leidner said the event presents a unique opportunity for the community.

“There aren’t many times you get the chance to look at these boats, especially when they’re all in one place,” Leidner said.

The oldest boat expected to participate in the event was built in the 1920s, he said.

“The boats come from all over the Northwest and are representative of the different types of classic yachts,” he said.

The Old Man IV, which was built in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and served as command cutter, will also be part of the event. While most of the boats at the event range between 20 and 50 feet long, the 85-foot MV Deerleap will reign as one of the oldest boats in addition to being the longest. The vessel was originally built for hunting excursions in Alaska, but was conscripted and equipped with deck artillery during World War II.

During the 1940s and ‘50s, celebrities including Bing Crosby and Bob Hope graced her deck as she was part of a charter fleet owned by a Seattle mining engineer.

Other boats, including the Argonaut II, are scheduled to appear and each has a rich history of its own, Leidner said.

“We feel fortunate that they like to come to Poulsbo and we are happy to part of the event this year,” he said.

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