2015 Pocket Yacht Palooza!




The fourth annual Pocket Yacht Palooza, July 18 at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, will have several exciting twists, all making this a "must-attend" event.

As most of you know, the Palooza is a celebration of small-boat design, showcasing the widest variety of watercraft--wood, fiberglass, rowing, paddling, sailing and even a few small, traditional motorboats. There is some emphasis on boats suitable for camp cruising, but all interesting designs are welcome and equally appreciated.

The "must-attend" events:

Appearances By Roger Mann

And Other Race to Alaska Survivors

And Their R2AK Boats

The first-ever Race to Alaska, from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, was full of uncertainty: What would the weather be like; would winds favor the multihulls, or would light winds work to the advantage of rowing/paddling boats? Would everybody survive, or might the whole thing turn into a fiasco?

As it developed, racers faced incredibly high winds, substantial wave conditions and ferocious currents during the first week of action. The Race Tracker went viral worldwide as countless thousands of fans almost crashed the system in search of updates, Facebook postings and other information on how the entrants were doing. There was genuine high drama as teams crawled north against strong winds, especially in Johnstone Strait. Team Elsie Piddock was flawless and fearless, finishing in just over 5 remarkable days on the leg from Victoria to Ketchikan, but some of the racers who followed gained greater notoriety, including the Soggy Beavers and of course R2AK “Ironman” Roger Mann, the first solo team to finish (by a wide margin), and a guy who was described by race fans in Son of Superman terms. (Roger was aboard what seemed like a tiny Hobie 16’-7” trimaran. He was tossed completely out of the boat in the wild waters of Seymour Narrows, in total darkness. He lost “most everything” in the grueling ride up Johnstone Strait, against 30-knot winds, and became hypothermic after pitchpoling his Hobie onto a hard beach just north of Cape Caution...losing his anchor and other gear in the process. His arrival in Ketchikan, just behind the much bigger trimarans and catamarans, was pretty epic stuff, so we’re thrilled that Roger and his wife are flying back to the Northwest from South Carolina to make an appearance at the Pocket Yacht Palooza, meeting with fellow boaters and the general public at about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 18.

Roger’s Hobie Adventure Island and some of the other smaller R2AK boats will be at centerstage on the Commons during the Palooza, where Roger and other racers will meet with us to describe their Race to Alaska experiences, answer your questions and enjoy seeing the Palooza itself.

July 6 Update: Other Race to Alaska veterans who will make appearances at the Palooza include Mike Higgins (TEAM MIKE’S KAYAK), the second and final solo finisher of the R2AK; John Strathman (TEAM JOHN), with his Easy Rider outrigger-and-sail-equipped kayak; and Simeon Baldwin (TEAM NODDY’S NOGGINS), who completed Stage One to Victoria aboard his 11’-11” SCAMP. Photos of Mike, John and Simeon are at left, below the shots of Roger Mann.

John Welsford

Keynote Presentation

We've known for awhile that John Welsford, master small-boat designer, was going to be Saturday evening's speaker, but we can now announce the topic of his presentation--and, again, you won't want to miss it. For the past four years, designer Welsford has been consulting with his good friend Howard Rice, regarding construction of an expedition-worthy SCAMP Howard has been building, in preparation for a voyage to some unnamed, distant and wild place. As John aptly describes the voyage, "It's a jaw dropper" and we couldn't agree more. The soon-to-be-embarked-upon voyage is not only a sobering challenge for the sailor but will be the subject of a documentary feature film. (The documentary will be a unique opportunity for all small boat sailors, since the final product may be a first true depiction of how capable small boats can be in the most challenging conditions).

Inside the SCAMP community, the wider small-boat and sailing communities, and especially within the Small Craft Advisor-run SCAMP Forum and the Woodenboat Forum, fans of the small boats have been following Howard's conversion of a standard 11'-11" kit sailboat into a bulletproof expedition machine capable of taking on big, nasty waters in some hostile corner of the world.

For a number of reasons both practical and personal, Howard has been mum about his expedition's goal, destination or other details, until now, but during the 7 p.m. presentation, John Welsford will reveal full details about Howard's incredibly challenging voyage. The Port Townsend Pocket Yachters and organizers of the Pocket Yacht Palooza are honored to have been selected to announce details of the voyage and the documentary!

In addition to describing Howard's small-boat voyage, John will detail why Howard selected the SCAMP for his voyage. He will describe the modifications Howard has designed and made to the standard-model SCAMP #2 during construction, and how he has carefully matched safety and performance to where he will sail, thus creating an intriguing, purpose-built small boat. 

John will go into detail about the challenges Howard will face each day, Howard's ethic of not seeking sponsorship, the planned route, provisioning and other aspects of his preparation. John will then introduce a few others--including the film’s producer, director and some boaters from the Port Townsend area--who will be involved in production of the feature film documentary covering Howard's build, preparation, upcoming voyage, and launch of the documentary website (which will go "live" immediately following John’s Palooza talk). 

The floor will then be open to questions, with the hope of engaging John and others in an informative and engaging discussion about the voyage, the boat and the strategy Howard will employ. This should prove to be a great learning opportunity for everyone.

The Palooza Crooza -

July 19-22

The other "don't miss" aspect of this year's Pocket Yacht Palooza will be what happens starting the next day--the first annual Palooza Crooza, a small-boat micro-adventure that departs the Northwest Maritime Center at 9 a.m. July 19, with boaters cruising together for one, two, three or all four days (with an easy return to Port Townsend possible at any point during the loop cruise around Indian Island and Marrowstone Island).

The plan will be to head south, riding the current through Port Townsend Canal, and continue rowing, paddling and/or sailing south to Mats Mats Bay, our overnight stop the first night. (Those who are only able to join us for one day, can return to Port Townsend in the late afternoon.)

On Day Two, we'll ride the ebb current north in Admiralty Inlet along the east shore of Marrowstone Island, ending the day at Fort Flagler State Park. (Again, those who need to can return to Port Townsend, rather than overnighting aboard their boats or ashore at the state park.)

The following day, those continuing the cruise will row, paddle and/or sail south in Kilisut Harbor, overnighting in Mystery Bay. The cruise will officially end the next day with a return to Port Townsend.

Each evening during the Palooza Crooza we’ll have informal ‘round-the-campfire conversations about different small-boat cruising subjects, ranging from Favorite Anchoring Techniques to Gunkhole Gourmet, to Taking Advantage of Tides & Currents, and more. (There may or may not be actual campfires, depending on location...but it’ll be fun to share small-boat cruising tips in any case.)

So, we hope to see many of you with your boats at the July 18 Pocket Yacht Palooza…and also as we enjoy the ensuing Palooza Crooza.

Other Details: The Palooza will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 18, at the Northwest Maritime Center's First Federal Commons plaza, and also along the adjoining waterfront beach. After the show closes for the day, we'll share a potluck at the edge of the Commons, and then adjourn for the 7 p.m. presentation by John Welsford, upstairs in the large Maritime Meeting Room.

Registration: If you'd like to bring your boat to the Pocket Yacht Palooza, get in touch with registration chief Bob Miller by email: rmiller43@gmail.com  To sign up for the Palooza Crooza (which you can join whether or not your boat is in the Saturday Palooza) contact Marty Loken at Norseboater22@gmail.com

- Marty Loken, PT Pocket Yachters    www.pocketyachters.com

Photos of Last Year’s

Pocket Yacht Palooza...(below)

The third annual Pocket Yacht Palooza, held over the July 19-20, 2014 weekend, drew the largest-ever crowd of spectators...and the nastiest weather we’ve experienced in three years. (A number of boat owners who’d planned to row or sail directly to the Palooza cancelled at the last minute due to small-craft warnings...but we still had a huge collection of boats on hand, and everyone seemed undaunted by the weather.) Sunday’s cruise to Ratt Island--in dramatic contrast to Friday and Saturday--featured almost zero wind, calm seas and mild temperatures...a big relief after the gusty conditions we witnessed earlier.