Penn Cove Water Festival and Canoe Races,
Coupeville, Washington 2005

While vacationing on Whidbey Island in early May 2005, Kathy saw mention in a local paper of
canoe race in Coupeville. We showed up to see as many as 50 canoes of a variety of shapes
and sizes being unloaded at the local boat-ramp. These canoes came from all over the Puget
Sound and coastal British Columbia. Most of them were dugouts-- hand-carved from large cedar
trees. Some were specifically designed for racing, while others were referred to as "family" canoes,
being much larger and used for hunting or transportation.

A family canoe about 35 feet in length, carved from a cedar.

This racing canoe was perhaps only 20" wide, but as long as 50 feet. It is a marvel
of wood carving as well as a marvel of car-topping prowess.

A Suquamish family canoe-- 42' in length.

Two very different canoe types-- both dugouts, though. The canoe on the left
is a single racing canoe.

The Canoe "Blue Heron" with crewman (or as they say "puller") Gary. I was admiring
this 34 foot cedar canoe when Gary asked if I would help pull in the race. I was very
honored, and gladly accepted-- what a thrill to crew on a large cedar canoe!!!

Blue Heron launching, with the builder Mike as stersman and captain. Mike
is Snohomish; he and his father built this canoe together. Mike was short a full crew
so he drafted three white guys to help.

Blue Heron Racing

The family canoe on the right is a fiberglass canoe made by Clipper of Canada.

The Suquamish canoe placing second, after the 'Clipper.'

Captain Mike and crew after the race. We placed third out of five. That was the
hardest paddling I've ever done-- absolutely brutal. I thought I was going to die.
Our course was perhaps two miles, but it seemed like forever. Despite the pain, it
was extremely thrilling being in this canoe-- it leapt formward with each stroke; it
felt very alive and comfortable on the water.

Getting ready for the men's single canoe race.

A selection of photographs of the single racing canoes.

Men's Singles racing-- a close finish. The fellow in the photo above won; he is in the
foreground in this photo.

Mixed crews of six in the racing style canoes. These canoes are so much faster and lighter than the
family-style canoes. Likewise, they are much tippier.

An older and much-repaired dugout racing canoe.

The museum at Coupeville has a number of racing canoes from the early 1900s
on display. Canoe racing in the Pacific NorthWest is very much alive and happens
almost every week-end at some place or another. They are very much family
reunions and just 'good-times' among friends.


Travels & Adventures