Here’s what we wrote back in 2017, about the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival:
Back in 1977, the northwest corner of the United States was a fertile stamping ground for many veterans of the counter culture that had flowered in the 60s and early 70s in the US. Communes, farms, experimental communities and festivals flourished in a score of rainbow colours. One group of self-described ‘salt water hippies’ gathered in the town of Port Townsend northwest of Seattle with a vision of a community and lifestyle based on the sea and wooden boats. The most visible result, at first, was a festival of wooden boats held at the end of the Northern summer. More than 2,000 people attended the first Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in 1997 and the event is largely credited for launching the renaissance of wooden boat culture in the United States. The event has been presented annually ever since.
What we didn’t grasp back then was that the bonds of friendship between the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and the AWBF would grow even stronger. In 2019, more than 35 visitors from Port Townsend (and the East Coast of the US, too) came to Tasmania, many of them for the first time. They were delighted with what they found – a lively, exciting wooden boat event and an island full of new-found friends and enthusiasts.
Central to this happy delegation were Kaci Cronkhite, celebrated sailor, circumnavigator and author – and the director of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival for ten years, from 2002 to 2011; Barb Trailer, current director of the Port Townsend festival; Betsy Davis, Executive Director of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding and Sean Koomen, Chief Instructor at the School and leader of the boat-building team that built the lovely Haven 12.5 in Franklin, Tasmania in 2019.
The whole engagement with our North American cousins was a delight, a celebration of shared values and traditional skills, wonderful boats and the personalities that came along with them. Brand Tasmania made a lovely video about this story and you can see it HERE.
Well, it’s time for another Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and we take our hats off to an organisation that has been producing the largest wooden boat festival in North America, every year, for the past 43 years. While our American friends were with us earlier this year, it was necessary to teach them some essential bits of Australian slang (Strine) so that they could function properly in their day-to-day dealings with Tasmania boat lovers:
There’s just one more we’d like to share: in the world of events, festivals and show business, there’s a unique Australian slang word that avoids wishing a show good luck (because that would be bad luck). No-one is quite sure where it came from, but it’s been around for decades:
CHOOKAS, Port Townsend!