Six classics yachts between 90 and 133 feet at Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival

by Tim Flanagan on June 30, 2009

It’s a press release from the Center for Wooden Boats:

SEATTLE – The 101-foot oak-hulled sailing schooner W.N. Ragland, symptoms owned for over 35 years by rock-n-roll artist Neil Young, ed will make her first Northwest public appearance over the July Fourth weekend at the annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats.  The annual Fourth of July maritime festival, dosage now in its 33rd year, is a favorite for families visiting Lake Union for the Fourth of July fireworks. 

Built in 1913 as granite hauler and later converted to an immaculate live-aboard named for Young’s grandfather,  the W.N. Ragland is one of six classic Northwest vessels over 90 feet and 16 over 50 feet among the 150 wooden boats that festival attendees can climb aboard over the weekend. 

“Your kids will complain when you ask them to get off the couch and turn off the Nintendo – but that fades.  There’s nothing compared to introducing kids to the 100-year-old classics on the water.  It’s a life experience.  It’s a very special moment that you never forget,”  said Walter Wallace of Port Townsend, Wash. who purchased the W.N. Ragland from Young last summer and brought her to Puget Sound.

“Neil Young can take a jet wherever he wants to go.  Why in the world would he choose to go 7-knots when he doesn’t have to,” said Wallace who is seeing more and more historic yachts coming to Puget Sound.  “As soon as you step on Ragland you get it.  You take your shoes off and feel the 3 inches of warn teak under your feet.  You can absolutely feel free to be yourself on board.”

Among the festival’s most notable vessels open to the public are the 133-foot topsail Gaff Schooner Adventuress, the festival’s largest, built in 1913 as a pleasure yacht for the founder of the Yellow Cab Company and used at the time to hunt bowhead whales in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Others include the 127-foot two-masted Gaff Schooner Zodiac, built in 1928 for the heirs to the Johnson & Johnson Band Aid fortune; 125-foot classic “Mosquito Fleet” steamship Virginia V, built in 1922 to carry freight and passengers from the communities on Vashon Island to Seattle and Tacoma; 92-foot classic steamship Lotus, built in 1909 for a former publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, along with the 92-foot Cape Naden¸ a Canadian fish-packing ship built in 1918 and the 80-foot schooner Barlovento.

The annual festival, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 4 and Sunday, July 5, features hands-on exhibits of some 150 classic sail, steam and human-powered wood boats of all sizes, free boat rides, toy boat building for the kids and maritime skills demonstrations from some of the Northwest’s most experienced boat builders and maritime experts.

Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5 per person, $10 for families.  Admission donations benefit The Center for Wooden Boats hands-on public programs including the “pay what you can” youth sailing program and free public programs to work on and restore some 50 classic wooden boats each year.

Festival attendees can explore the many styles of boatbuilding in the Northwest, ranging from modern skiffs and cedar strip kayaks to traditional Native-American cedar canoes by Haida carver and CWB artist in residence Saaduuts and the 4,000-year-old art of Aleutian skin-on-frame boatbuilding by local expert Corey Freedman.

Activities for the kids include toy boat building, treasure hunts, pond boat racing along with nautical coloring contests and sidewalk chalk art and Pirate Storytime featuring the nautical yarns of Pirate Lou.

Dates:              Saturday, July 4 / Sunday, July 5 

Times:              10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Location:          The Center for Wooden Boats at Lake Union Park  1010 Valley St, Seattle, WA‎  98109

Cost:                FREE (suggested donation to The Center for Wooden Boats:  $5 per person / $10 per family)

Getting There: From Interstate 5, take the Mercer Street exit, turn right onto Fairview Ave N., left onto Valley Street. Metered-street parking and several parking lots in the area. Or park in downtown Seattle and take the Seattle Streetcar to the Lake Union Park stop.  Metro Transit information on bus service, 206-553-3000 or

More Info:        Log on to or call 206-382-2628

Daily Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival Activities

Free Boat Rides

Enjoy free boat rides on the 100-year-old, 21-foot steamboat Puffin, the 28-foot sharpie sailboat Colleen Wagner, a replica of a late 19thcentury Florida mail-carrier built by students of Seattle Central Community College’s Marine Carpentry School, and two Native American canoes, including the 20-foot Steve Phillips, a traditional Haida canoe carved from local cedar by CWB artist in residence Sāādūūts.

Maritime Skills Demonstrations

Learn the traditions and skills of the Native American canoe building journey from CWB artist in residents Sāādūūts and the art of cedar strip kayak building from Northwest expert Joe Greenley. Other onshore demonstration include knot tying bronze casting, rig tuning and varnishing.

Kids Activities

While building their own toy boat, kids learn boatbuilding skills from CWB experts as they build their own toy boats.  Other activities for the kids include a treasure hunt, coloring contest, sidewalk chalk art, pirate story time and racing miniature sailboats in the model boat pond.

Competitions and Contests

Watch teams build a boat in 24 hours and cheer them on as they attempt to keep it afloat through the sail, paddle and anything goes course on Lake Union.  This hilarious regatta on Sunday stretches a boatbuilder’s creativity, planning and construction skills.

Leave a Comment