- Posted July 5, 2014 by
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Seattle's Lake Union Wooden Boat Fest Buoyed by Tradition
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
A floating antique show, the 38th Annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival showcases historic watercraft. The event was percolating north of downtown Seattle this 4th of July weekend. Kenmore Air's yellow seaplanes create quite a buzz as they eagerly take off and land on Lake Union while their quieter counterparts moore proudly along gently-bobbing docks that stop shy of the liquid runway.
The free event celebrates the maritime heritage of the Pacific Northwest, and offers a closer look to landlubbers, rubberneckers, other boat owners, and those who have the itch, but not enough scratch, to own an old boat of their own.
Most participants allow, and encourage, the public to board, have a look around, and ask them about their boat's history, engines, (diesel or gas) and what it takes to maintain a wooden boat built in the early 1900's.
It takes a lot. Some captains are professional furniture-builders, electricians, and Boeing engineers with skills that translate on a boat. Even the experts say it is a full-time labor of love and that such boats are never completely repaired. There is always something to sand, polish, rewire, or reconfigure, an on-going hobby.
The Seattle area is rich with, and takes great pride in, its nautical history, held together in large part by the Center for Wooden Boats, a maritime museum offering boating and boat-building instruction.
In addition to privately-owned boats, community-owned and operated boats as well as those maintained and operated by foundations are also featured.
One of the stars of the show is the Virginia V which now offers rides. Built 30 miles west of Seattle from local old-growth fir, she was launched March 9, 1922, and towed to downtown Seattle for the installation of her engine and steam plant. In Seattle the engine was removed from the Virginia IV and installed in the Virginia V. In 2002, the Steamer Virginia V Foundation was able to put the Virginia V back in service after a six-year, $6.5 million stem-to-stern restoration project.
Also an eye-catcher is the Lotus, permanently moored on Lake Union. Launched during the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909, the Lotus was built in the Sloan Yard in Seattle. Length 92 feet, Beam 18 feet, Draft 5.5 feet, 102 tons. Now it is like a bed and breakfast, with quaint quarters and lots of curves. You can spend the night, or enjoy Sunday tea on board while it remains docked.
The schooner Adventuress was built at the Rice Brothers Yard in East Boothbay, Maine. Designed by B.B. Crowninshield, the two-masted, gaff-rigged schooner was launched in 1913. She landed in Seattle in 1952, and serves as the flagship of Sound Experience, a non-profit dedicated to the protection of Puget Sound. It carries over 3,500 passengers a year on educational expeditions. Its colorful flags and masts are pictured in this slide show.
The enormous red steamship picturd is the 136-foot Swiftsure. Built in 1904 in Camden, New Jersey, then named the "Lightship No. 83", she was one of hundreds of floating lighthouses that guided ships and boats safely along American coasts. After making the journey around South America to California, she took her position at the Blunts Reef lightship station off Cape Mendicino for many years.
Story & Photos by Steve Shay, Seattle.