Arts and Entertainment

Wooden boat festival returns to Bainbridge Island

Wooden boats sourced from Bainbridge Island will take over Eagle Harbor on June 15-16. It will be the second festival of its kind on the island. The gathering is an infrequent celebration of local wooden boats and the people who love them. - Neil Rabinowitz photo
Wooden boats sourced from Bainbridge Island will take over Eagle Harbor on June 15-16. It will be the second festival of its kind on the island. The gathering is an infrequent celebration of local wooden boats and the people who love them.
— image credit: Neil Rabinowitz photo

When it comes to boats, they don’t make them like they used to.

Boats have historically been forged from wood, crafted largely by hand. But modern boats come in varieties ranging from fiberglass to steel.

There are those, however, who maintain a love for the wooden works of art, large and small. This year, the local collection of wooden boat aficionados will showcase a line up of local boats from canoes to yachts, and more.

Bainbridge’s own wooden boat festival will return to the island June 15-16 at the Harbour Marina, just below the Harbour Pub.

Bob Schoonmaker, owner of The Chandlery at the Winslow Wharf, organized the first wooden boat festival in 2011. He’s at it once again.

Schoonmaker, and a collection of enthusiasts, felt that Bainbridge needed a gathering of its own to celebrate the local cult of wooden boats.

“A few years ago a couple of guys and I were in here talking, as we do in the wintertime when not much is going on, and we realized that there are a whole bunch of wooden boats here on Bainbridge that a lot of people don’t know about and don’t get to see,” Schoonmaker said.

A Bainbridge festival is a bit unique to the island culture, Schoonmaker said.

“They’re not people that would necessarily go to a boat show like in Port Townsend, they are a little more low-key,” he said. “We decided to get them all together and have a party.”

It doesn’t happen every year, but rather, when the local wooden boat crowd decides to assemble. All are welcome to come and admire the craft of wooden boats that will be featured in Eagle Harbor.

Schoonmaker, however, does note that taking strollers and dogs down on a dock crowded with onlookers probably isn’t the safest idea.

The first festival drew a throng of approximately 1,500 admirers.

“We had people come from all over the world,” Schoonmaker said. “We had a guestbook people signed from the Midwest, New England and a couple people from Europe.”

He hopes that the next festival will be just as successful.

To be featured in the festival, the boat or the owner has to be from Bainbridge Island. Boats can come in all varieties.

“It’s power and sail everything from a wooden canoe built here on Bainbridge to 50-plus-foot boats that were built here on the island for commercial fishing or sailing yachts,” Schoonmaker said. “It’s everything you can imagine.”

The diverse collection of boats from the first festival can be seen at www.biwbf.info, along with more information for those interested in bringing a wooden boat to the event.

“If anyone knows of anyone who has a wooden boat from Bainbridge that would be appropriate to share with other people, or a good story about a wooden boat on Bainbridge Island, we’d love to talk with them,” Schoonmaker said.

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