Saturday event spotlights Northwest workboats

WorkboatsFrom tugs to fishing vessels, ferries to lightships, an event tomorrow is focused on celebrating the boats that work the Northwest’s waters.

Northwest Seaport is hosting the Classic Workboat Show 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on South Lake Union, which will include about 20 boats open for tours. Those include the 1931 tugboat Henrietta Foss; the 1909 fireboat Duwamish, built to protect the Seattle waterfront; and Lightship No. 83 “Swiftsure,” a 1904 ship that is reportedly the last lightship in the country with its original steam engines.

The Seaport hosted a workboat show previously about five years ago, and Executive Director Otto Loggers said the organization decided to revive the event this year as a way to connect the public with vessels they would likely not see otherwise.

“These boats are usually out at sea,” he said. “Rare is the opportunity that you actually get a chance for the crews to talk with the public or the public has the chance to talk with people in the maritime industry.”

“The show is a place for bridge-building, a place for mariners and the public to shake hands and get to know each other,” he said. “These ships are not only museums vessels, but they’re also incredible learning and teaching platforms.”

While the show will primarily include historic vessels, Loggers said there will likely also be some current workboats on display. Crews will be onboard to provide tours and talk about the vessels, and the day will also include workboat stories for kids and a talk by local shipwright and surveyor Lee Ehrheart about what is involved in surveying large vessels.

The event is supported by sponsors and there’s no admission, though donations to Northwest Seaport, a nonprofit organization focused on preserving the region’s maritime heritage, will be accepted.

Loggers said he hopes the day will provide an opportunity for people to learn about the role workboats continue to play in the region’s economy and culture.

“They’re not only museum vessels, but they’re also incredible learning and teaching platforms,” he said. “The show is a place for bridge-building, a place for mariners and the public to shake hands and get to know each other.”

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