There is a rich history of maritime pursuits in the foggy inlets and jagged shorelines of Washington State. From the hand-carved canoes of the Pacific Northwest’s original settlers to the welded aluminum hulls of modern fishermen, the shipbuilders and sailors of this region are known for resiliency at sea. Nowadays, many of the boatyards along Washington's coast have become specialized in traditional wooden boat building and repairs, unlike many East Coast counterparts. Areas like Port Townsend are well-known for this unique skill set, drawing more wooden boats there for repairs, and creating jobs for talented shipwrights in the region. Many of these skilled shipwrights work at Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend, which was featured in the March Filson Catalog. During our time at Haven Boatworks we had a chance to talk with Julia Maynard, one of the owners and operators of this legendary boatyard, and find out what separates their operation from others.
How long has Haven Boatworks been in operation in Port Townsend?
We've been here in Port Townsend for twelve years. At the moment we have thirty employees, the most that we've ever had. We hire shipwrights, cabinet makers, metal workers, engine mechanics, systems workers, yacht painters and finishers. The idea is to be capable to do everything that is needed on a boat as it comes out of the water.
What types of boats do you work on?
Well, that's all over the place. We get very tiny boats and very big ones, sometimes it will be a 14-foot wooden sail boat. Primarily, we like to work on wooden boats. That’s our speciality. We do some work on fiber glass, and a little work on metal boats.
Describe a typical day at Haven Boatworks?
There’s no typical day. We may be hauling or launching boats with the help of the Port of Port Townsend, framing and planking a wooden boat may be going on, engine work could be going on. The woodworking shop is usually humming with activity.
In your opinion, what has been one of the best projects to work on at Haven Boatworks?
We’re currently working on Malibu, a Yacht that was designed by Ted Geary and built in the Pacific Northwest by a company called Blanchard. It was owned by Foss Tug for a while, and now by Windermere Real Estate. The boat is used for family get-together’s. It's just a beautiful boat that they have the ability to take care of. We've done a considerable amount of work on it, and It’s going to go out looking incredible when it leaves the shop.
The Hecate Ranger has been another one. It’s a former British Columbia Forest Service vessel, used in the Hecate Strait between Queen Charlotte Island and the Canadian mainland.
Haven Boatworks has become an icon in the Northwest, what is unique about this particular boatyard?
Primarily, that we specialize on working on wooden boats. It’s an unusual thing if you look at the rest of the United States, more and more wooden boats are attracted to Port Townsend because they can get work done here. That draws the great shipwrights and shipbuilders. We’ve been able to employ a lot of very talented people that love doing with they do, which is creating outstanding wood working projects.