Migrating my adventure blog here to this website. Originally posted on September 6, 2019
This past weekend was the long Labor Day weekend, and we had a semi-busy few days planned. Saturday was Olympia Harbor Days at Olympia’s Percival Landing, Sunday we had tickets to PAX West gaming convention in Seattle and Monday was going to be a morning of skateboarding and time spent on the shore of Puget Sound in the evening.
Since we just moved to the area a handful of months ago, we had never been to Olympia Harbor Days before. We read on the official website that there were tugboat races, craft vendors, live music and food trucks. All of this along with the usual weekend Farmer’s Market in the same general area.
We tossed around the idea of riding the bus into downtown Olympia, so we wouldn’t have to deal with downtown parking. We also wondered if we should even go because we would be also walking a long distance the next day at a convention. In the end, we decided to ride the bus into town and have a look around. Great decision!
The trip into downtown Olympia on our city’s public transportation was smooth as usual. Clean busses and a wide mix of people riding the bus makes for a nice trip. Even though the trip takes almost an hour by bus, it’s nice knowing there won’t be any parking issues when getting to the destination!
We decided to check out the festival at the southern end of the marina near 4th Street. A handful of tugboats were tied off on a dock there. As we walked down the steep (low tide) walkway to the boats, we instantly fell in love with these powerful little boats. Talk about character, wow! From their squatty and stout little bodies, to their paint jobs and funny names, these boats were really cool.
Tugboats seem to come in every size imaginable. One thing that’s common between all of them though, their big powerful engines. And along with those engines, the smell of oil, gas and grease. It smelled good, you could smell the years of stories they could tell. One tugboat captain gave us a little bit of information about his boat’s engine, which was cool to hear about.
Another thing we noticed while out on this dock was just how much the tide varies. There has to be about 8 feet difference in height between high and low tide. This photo below shows a lot of detail of just a small but large amount of life living just in one small area of this salt water marina, wow.
We continued down the dock and went aboard the tugboat Sandman. This tug is always tied off there at the marina and offers tours. We signed the guest book and walked around the boat, trying to take in every little detail. The volunteers that maintain this boat do a great job, if you’re in the Olympia area, please check out this little gem of local history.
From nothing but a wheelhouse and engine, to full-on kitchens and living areas, these boats seem to be able to accommodate their crews for any amount of time needed. As we moved quickly through a few rows of craft vendors, we came to another dock entrance which had the remaining tugboats tied off to it. This is where the US Coast Guard rescue tug Comanche was tied off. This was a great example of a tugboat being able to accommodate it’s crew for any amount of time.
This boat is a monster of a tugboat, it’s huge. There were multiple levels to explore, most of which were open to the public to do just that. So after signing the guestbook, we were off to explore and read! The boat was also a bit of a museum to itself and a sister ship. Lot’s of great information on display. The bridge, kitchen, sleeping area, engine room, all of it so interesting.
Continuing down the dock, we were invited on to a few more tugboats and just kept enjoying what each one had to offer. Some were gritty and weathered while others were in some stage of restoration. No matter what, they all had so much character and stories to tell.
There were even some micro tugboats, very small in scale. Kind of a go-kart size scale. We’d never seen such a thing before, they were kinda cute.
By now, our stomachs were grumbling for some food. We tried out the food truck area, but it was all kind of state-fair type stuff, so we made our way to the Farmer’s Market and had a couple gyros for lunch, yummy. My wife did find a nice handmade ceramic coffee mug, great color and shape. It was created by a local artist couple HoJo Clay Arts, they have cool designs and are very talented.
Towards the northern end of the festival, there was a tall ship and a steamer type ship giving tours of the sound. So all-in-all a festival with a bunch of interesting things to see and do. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of stuff right now, so I may edit this post a few times in the future when I remember something, haha. Having never been up close to a tugboat before, there really is just so much to take in and absorb. They really are special little (but powerful) boats that play an important role in every port around the world.
The bus ride home was just as the ride there, casual. The rest of the weekend was still ahead of us. Thanks Olympia Harbor Days, your awesome parade of tugboats was something we won’t ever forget.
All photos made with a iPhone 5s