The Batana Project: full steam ahead towards Port Townsend
Image: the batana takes shape on day 51 of construction.
New to the batana project? Check out Part One of the series to catch up.
It’s all hands on deck at the historic Eddon Boatyard as Mike Vlahovich and his crew of volunteers race against the clock to finish their traditional wooden batana in time for the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival on September 9-11!
Much has been accomplished since the build started on July 4, but several key details still remain. Over the next two weeks, Mike and his crew will work to complete the sails, spars, and rigging. They’ll also construct and install the rudder, tiller, and two 14-foot oars before painting the outside of the hull. “It might be a good sign that the all-volunteer building crew no longer feels it necessary to show up for work at 7:00 am,” says Mike. “10:00 am seems to be sufficient to accomplish the tasks, while still allowing time to share stories about Croatian lifeways here in the States.”
On Monday, August 22, the team got some assistance from the younger members of the community when the Gig Harbor BoatShop hosted a Youth Day. Kids explored the art of wooden boatbuilding with real, hands-on experience—measuring, sawing, drilling, putting in boat nails, and learning from their Croatian peers.
On Saturday, September 3, you can join Mike and his team for a community-wide celebration of Croatian-American maritime heritage and christening of the batana in Gig Harbor. From 11:00 am to 5:00 pm at the historic Eddon Boatyard, learn about the construction of the batana, the effort to form a sister city on the Croatian island of Brač, and the impact of Croatian-American heritage on our region’s maritime culture. Then on to the main event: the christening of the batana and official announcement of the boat’s name. Alongside storytelling, food, demonstrations, and dancing, the event will include music from a local Croatian heritage band—featuring eight-year-old Franka (direct from Croatia!) who will lead the group in the Croatian and American national anthems on her saxophone. It’s an event you won’t want to miss!
After the festivities, the batana ships out to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival from September 9-11. For the uninitiated, this massive gathering is the largest wooden boat festival in North America, featuring three days of festivities, 50 exhibitors, 100 presenters, and 300 wooden boats—including tons of historic ships like the Lady Washington (the official tall ship of Washington State)! Wooden boat experts and enthusiasts from across the world gather in Washington’s Victorian seaport for a weekend of celebration and community. But you don’t need a boat to join in the fun! Tickets are open to the public and can be purchased online or day-of at Point Hudson.
At the festival, the batana will serve as a centerpiece for this year’s theme of Croatian maritime heritage. There will be a batana launch event on Saturday, September 10 at 12:00 pm on the Northwest Maritime Center’s beach. Or you can learn more about Croatian boatbuilding and its influence on the practices of Puget Sound through one of the festival’s presentations and demos:
- Reviving Traditional Croatian Boatbuilding, with Mike
- Sumartin Shipyard: A Day in the Life, also with Mike!
- Icon of Croatian Boat Building and Fishing: The FV Shenandoah, with our good friends at the Harbor History Museum
While you’re immersing yourself in the iconic Wooden Boat Festival, don’t forget to stop by and say hello at the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area table—we’ll be hanging out at the First Fed Commons near the Northwest Maritime Center with special (limited edition!) Maritime Washington stickers. We can’t wait to celebrate Croatian maritime heritage with you in Gig Harbor and Port Townsend in the weeks to come!