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by Marty Loken - Nordland, Washington - USA

June 11-15 in Port Townsend

The West Coast's largest gathering of small boats, coupled with one of the West's more adventurous small-craft cruises, will once again take place in northern Puget Sound with the fifth annual Pocket Yacht Palooza
(June 11), and ensuing Palooza Crooza (June 12-15), cosponsored by the Port Townsend Pocket Yachters and Puget Sound chapter of TSCA, the Traditional Small Craft Association.

Boaters come from all over the western U. S. and adjoining British Columbia to take part in the one-day Pocket Yacht Palooza, a colorful celebration of just-plain-interesting small-boat designs (wood, fiberglass, skin-on-frame), and since last year they've also flocked to Port Townsend for the four-day cruise that begins the day after the Palooza boat show.

The Pocket Yacht Palooza attracts 60-80 small craft - generally boats in the 10- to 24-foot range, with some emphasis on camp-cruising watercraft. Many boats are displayed on trailers at the Northwest Maritime Center, while others are hauled up on the adjoining saltwater beach or anchored just offshore (in the case of some full-keel designs). The Palooza usually also includes a few presentations (last year's main speaker was designer John Welsford), along with a potluck and lots of talk about small boats by those on hand.

This year's Palooza Crooza will involve a 60-mile, four-day adventure cruise from Port Townsend out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where small-boat skipper will head west after rounding Point Wilson and row, sail and/or motor to the first night's destination, Discovery Bay. Some boaters will anchor out, overnighting aboard their pocket cruisers, while others go ashore to tent-camp on a Discovery Bay beach.

A portion of the Pocket Yacht Palooza, at the Northwest Maritime Center
in Port Townsend, WA.
Aerial view showing a portion of the Palooza Crooza route; Port Townsend Bay on the right, Discovery Bay in the center and Sequim Bay on the left, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the background. Photo by Johann Klaassen of Klaas Images.
Palooza Crooza boats at an overnight stop.
Palooza Crooza boats get ready to start last year's cruise.

The entrance to Sequim Bay, one of several overnight stops during the June 12-15 Palooza Crooza.

The second day will feature a voyage out of Discovery Bay, past the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge and into Sequim Bay to the west. (Protection Island is an amazing 364-acre island just outside of Discovery Bay, the home of nesting birds including bald eagles, black oystercatchers, tufted puffins, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, cornorants and numerous gull species.) Once in Sequim Bay, participants will have a choice of anchoring out, tent-camping at Sequim Bay State Park, or seeking overnight moorage in John Wayne Marina, near the entrance to Sequim Bay. (Those who need to cut short their cruise will have an opportunity to haul boats out here, using the excellent launch ramp inside the John Wayne Marina breakwater.)

On Day Three, Palooza Croozers will row, sail and/or motor out of Sequim Bay and head for the shallow bay inside of 5.5-mile-long Dungeness Spit, a National Wildlife Refuge that arcs out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca - the longest natural sandspit in North America. Once again, many boaters will sleep aboard anchored small boats, while others seek beach-camping spots along the shore inside Dungeness Spit.

The Palooza Crooza will end on Wednesday, June 15, with the longest leg - a 15-mile run from Dungeness Spit back to Port Townsend. (Prevailing winds should be at our backs, and we'll ride the flood current all the way toward Port Townsend, hopefully making the distance achievable for all boats in the fleet. Those who might not want to deal with a 15-mile-long leg on Wednesday may choose to stay an extra day in Sequim Bay, shortening length of their last day on the water.)

As always, safety of those in the Palooza Crooza will be a major focus of organizers. The small-boat skippers will be accompanied by 4-5 "motherships" (larger sailboats, mostly) that will keep track of the smaller boats and offer assistance if anyone needs a tow or some other form of help.

Participants in the Palooza Crooza will be given a checklist of safety equipment to bring, and boats will be inspected during the Pocket Yacht Palooza, so that folks have time to pick up any missing items before start of the Crooza.

Participation in the Pocket Yacht Palooza and Palooza Crooza is free, and the registration process is simple: Just let organizers know you’d like to take part in one or both events, and describe the boat you plan to bring. (The only costs will be launch-ramp fees, campground fees for those who choose to sleep ashore at Sequim Bay State Park, and possibly overnight moorage charges for boaters who wish to stay at John Wayne Marina.) To register for the Pocket Yacht Palooza or Palooza Crooza, or to ask questions, email organizer Marty Loken at  (You can also see photos and details on the Pocket Yachters website,

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