Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series about the west end of Port Townsend’s downtown waterfront.
Most boaters visiting Port Townsend tend to stay at Point Hudson Marina, located at the east end of the town’s charming waterfront strip and a short walk from shops and restaurants.
Since the Northwest Maritime Center opened next to the marina a few years ago, Point Hudson has become even more of a destination for boaters. But as we recently discovered, there’s a vastly different and equally interesting maritime scene on the west end of downtown, centered around Boat Haven marina and the adjacent Point Townsend Shipyard.
After buying our 1985 Passport 40 last April, we spent about a dozen weekends at the shipyard working on her. And we discovered that the west end of Port Townsend’s downtown waterfront has a gritty, authentic appeal and a surprising amount to offer. If the Point Hudson area is the star of Port Townsend’s maritime culture, Boat Haven and its environs are a look behind the curtain, a glimpse backstage at the nuts and bolts of the town’s maritime industry.
The shipyard was opened in 1997 by the Port of Port Townsend, which also owns both marinas. It is home to a cluster of marine businesses, including the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op, which offer a broad range of expertise in boatbuilding and repairs. Whether you need routine bottom-painting or want to have an old wooden boat rebuilt, you can get it done there. Do-it-yourself space is also available, and the yard’s 300-ton travelift can haul vessels up to 300 tons.
Spend a little time around the boatyard and you’ll get a sense of the large role the maritime industry plays in the town of about 9,000. You’ll find highly skilled marine craftspeople passionate about their particular areas of the trade. You’ll see boats ranging from small runabouts to vintage motoryachts and hulking fishing vessels.
And when you need a break from all that industry, you’ll even find a few good places to refuel and contemplate the next boat project over a drink or two.
Boat Haven does not take reservations, nor does it have any designated guest moorage. But permanent slips are rented out to visiting boats when they’re available, and getting one usually isn’t a problem.
We’ve shown up on long weekends and during the Wooden Boat Festival and managed to get a slip, usually on the long linear dock. Expect to raft up during busy times.
Moorage is $1 a foot for the boat length or slip length, whichever is more. Slip sizes range from 25 to 50 feet.
Marina amenities include a fuel dock, boat ramp, free parking, laundry and coin-operated showers. The bathrooms and showers are open to the public, and though fairly institutional, are kept reasonably clean.
One of the best surprises to us was the Key City Fish Company, an excellent small market located in the shipyard (307 10th St.) that sells fresh and smoked seafood, meat and a well-chosen selection of cheeses, fresh pastas, crackers and sauces. I’m still thinking about the halibut I bought there in May and ate, grilled, on the dock.
For one-stop shopping there’s a 24-hour Safeway at 442 W. Sims Way, right across the street from the boatyard entrance. The Starbucks inside is a good option for a morning caffeine jolt, since there’s not much in the way of takeout coffee shops within walking distance.
About half a mile east is the Port Townsend Food Co-op at 414 Kearney St., a smallish store with a good selection of organic foods and a particularly well-stocked bulk foods section. There’s also a deli with some tasty, healthy takeout food and a few tables. It’s a good place to shop, though the crunchier-than-thou vibe of the place can be off-putting.
If you need general construction supplies for boat projects, Henery Do It Best Hardware across the street from the boatyard (218 W. Sims Way) has a terrific selection of everything from tools to plumbing supplies.
Admiral Ship Supply is located right in the shipyard, just west of the shipwrights co-op buildings (305 10th St.) and is the place to go for paints, epoxies and varnishes; it also carries tools, fasteners, rope, books and other items.
Additionally, there’s a small West Marine store just east of Boat Haven at 2428 Washington St.
Tomorrow, we take a look at where to eat and drink on the west end of Port Townsend’s downtown waterfront.