Motorsports Hall of Famer may bring webisode, and 100 boats, to Poulsbo

Motorsports Hall of Famer Chip Hanauer filmed a winter boating segment for his web program,
Motorsports Hall of Famer Chip Hanauer filmed a winter boating segment for his web program, 'The Boat Guy,' in March. Hanauer is proposing a winter boat rendezvous in Poulsbo, which would be filmed for the web.
— image credit: Courtesy of The Boat Guy

POULSBO — One of the most successful hydroplane racers in that sport’s history is organizing a boat rendezvous that is expected to bring more than 100 boats to Poulsbo Feb. 7-9.

Motorsports Hall of Famer Chip Hanauer of Seattle, who hosts a web series on marine-related activities, proposes the rendezvous to promote getting out on the water. “It doesn’t matter what kind of boat you have,” Hanauer associate Sam Bisset said. “Our big thing is, we live in The Spot for boating. So, use your boat. Get out on the water. Boating is not seasonal — in some ways it is, but if you have a boat, try to use it all year round. The great things about this area — like Poulsbo — don’t go away.”

The event — the date is still tentative, Bisset said Tuesday — could give a big off-season boost to Little Norway. Members of the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association, comprised of downtown business owners, were to meet Tuesday night to talk about activities to host while guests are in town, such as artist receptions, live music, and/or sidewalk sales. The first day of the rendezvous would coincide with downtown’s First Friday Art Walk. (Um, by the way, events will not include hydroplane races on Liberty Bay. “Not in February, at least,” Bisset quipped.) The Port of Poulsbo is offering two-for-one moorage. A water taxi may be recruited to transport boaters who anchor out.

The rendezvous would come at the thinnest month of the year for moorage, Port Manager Brad Miller said.

“Typically, the only thing we have are a few boats for winter moorage,” Miller said. February usually generates 130-180 boat nights — an average of one night per slip for the month.

“We stand to boost patronage big time. We have 130 guest slips, 10 or 15 are currently used for winter moorage, so we’ll have in excess of 100 slips available for this event. If the weather is remotely decent, we’ll still fill ’em all and have some people anchoring out.”

At its lowest rate of $27 a night, the port expects to generate  at least $2,700 in moorage fees for the weekend. “It will be a pretty good shot in the arm,” Miller said. “Plus the publicity — they’re going to be filming a webisode on the event. It’s a lot of attention for the town at a time of year when we need it.”

Poulsbo Port Commissioner Steve Swann is an advocate of involving the port in economy-boosting activities, and sees Hanauer’s winter rendezvous as an example of what the port can do.

“We’re looking for any way to get people to come to Poulsbo,” Swann said. “We could do some really neat things here — kayak races, sailboat races, a lot of things to get more people and more families down to the waterfront. A boat show would be great. We could do as much as our imagination permits.”

Bisset said the February rendezvous started “as a joke” — during a conversation, someone joked that there should be a big rendezvous in the winter. “We thought about it and said, ‘Actually, we should do that.’ Poulsbo is the first town that came to mind. It’s close to Seattle, it has all the amenities, the restaurants and shops, the guest docks, the fun.”

Bisset said he likes Poulsbo’s marina and waterfront area, the downtown shops, “the guest docks screaming out for this event to fill ’em up.” Plus, “everyone is really friendly.”

Miller said Poulsbo offers a convenience factor as well. “People can hop into their boats without loading up a weekend of provisions, and go to Poulsbo. Everything’s there,” he said.

Miller, who has worked for the Port of Poulsbo for six years, said he’s a fan of downtown’s restaurants. “It’s amazing how many good — really good — restaurants we have for a small town. I love bringing people here. No matter what kind of food you want, you’re going to find it here and it’s going to be good.”



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