Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival
by Derek Waters
“Fish boats to Folkboats”
(click to enlarge)
Built on the delta of the mighty Fraser river, Vancouver, British
Columbia is Canada’s main west coast port. For nearly
two decades Vancouver has hosted a wooden
boat festival, organised by the Vancouver Wooden Boat Society.
The dates for the 2004 Festival are August 26-29. Attractions
and boats vary from year to year; Taken at last years show,
these snapshots give a flavor of what you might encounter if
you drop by.
Once a derelict maritime industrial area, Granville Island
(where the Festival is located) has been renovated and now
houses a bustling market, a craft brewery, a kids market
and many other things to keep the less 'nautically minded'
amused. Little 'Aquabus'
ferries carry foot passengers across False Creek towards
the downtown core and along to the 155 foot high geodesic
sphere which houses Science
(click images to enlarge)
Under the gangway, the stripper
looked as though it had come some distance, with serious bailing
provision and camping gear. Pool noodle fenders seemed a little
makeshift. The skiff in the background may well have been built
at a previous festival; each year the Festival organisers run
a Family Boatbuilding event.
Over the days the show is running,
families and youth organisations (chosen by an essay writing
contest) build themselves skiffs, which are launched before
the Festival closes.
SS Master is the last functioning steam tug on the Pacific
Northwest Coast. Now maintained locally by a small army
of dedicated volunteers, the boat is an impressive presence,
and the steam whistle certainly turns heads.
Vikings built their own ship, the Munin, named for one
of the Ravens perched on Odin's shoulder. Volunteers can
join the crew for a row or sail. A half length replica of
the famous Gokstad ship, Munin is of traditional construction.
Up in the market squares a variety of organisations have
stalls and displays, like these examples of local building
and repair work. Other dry land activities including live
music and entertainment take place throughout the days of
don't seem to be very well represented at wooden boat shows
in general, so this 'canoemaran' caught my eye. As with
the building and repair display seen above, the 'canoemaran'
appeared to be associated with a local small boat club.
'Snowdrop' was locally built, lapstrake cedar on oak, half
a century ago. That's her original motor, a 1930s Briggs
and Stratton. Note the side wheel steering - no room to
swing a tiller with four people aboard.
Today, there are still a few local
boatbuilders; David Bradford at Alder Bay Boat Company on Granville
Island builds small craft, teaches and encourages.
the 2003 festival Robert Morris (seen here on the right)
could be found under the dappled shade helping folk to build
the skin on frame boats described in his book.
Under that fabric is an elegant skeletal frame, drawing
its dimensions from the body of its owner instead of tapes
Not all of the boats seen at the show are locals; A visitor
from south of the border, the elegant Lawana was built in
1911. Her current owners were graciously allowing gawking
members of the public such as me to step aboard and soak
up the atmosphere.
Yellowfin was built sixty years ago by the US Army,
in Maine. Previously a troop carrier and a research ship
she has been renovated and is available locally for charter.
Afloat and ashore, Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival is full
of variety, far more than shown here. From the ship scale
of boats like Master and Yellowfin to elegant jewels like
this lapstrake canoe, the boats cover a wide range, while
the show is still small enough to feel friendly.
Visitors to the festival planning
to make a vacation of it might also be interested in the Maritime
Museum which is with in walking distance of the festival
site. Vancouver's Trolley Bus tours connect the Granville Island
festival location with historic Chinatown, the Aquarium, museums
Sail and steam, seafood to sea
shanties, fish boats to Folkboats; Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival:
August 26-29, 2004.