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Discover the Elegance of Maritime Heritage: The Bell Harbor Rendezvous

June 12, 2024

The Bell Harbor Rendezvous is more than just an event — it's a celebration of maritime history and craftsmanship. The Port of Seattle and the Classic Yacht Association are pleased to announce the 27th Annual Bell Harbor Rendezvous to be held at Bell Harbor Marina on June 15-16, 2024 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public to attend. 

The Bell Harbor Rendezvous is known for showcasing an extraordinary fleet of classic yachts, each meticulously preserved and maintained by their passionate owners. Walking along the docks, visitors can admire the beauty of these vessels up close, with many owners on hand to share stories of their yachts' history and the restoration processes they've undergone.

The marque class: boats with a mission

Each year there is a “marquee” or featured type or class of boats. This year, the marquee class is “boats with a mission,” which are boats used to perform a job. Here are their stores:

The Steamer Virginia V: Around the turn of the 20th century, outlying communities all over Puget Sound, particularly those on the many islands, were dependent on small boats and ships for delivering goods and providing basic transportation. The primary shipping lane from Seattle to Tacoma was along the east side of Vashon Island, where it remains to this day. On June 11, 1922, Virginia V made her maiden voyage from Elliott Bay in Seattle to Tacoma down the West Pass. She continued to make this voyage nearly every day until 1938.


The TEAL: Originally a U.S. government fisheries enforcement vessel, the TEAL was built at Kruse and Banks Shipbuilding in North Bend, Oregon in 1927. As a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) patrol boat, the TEAL was stationed at Juneau, Alaska, during the late 1950s. In March 1957, she was on temporary loan to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She was then used, along with the FWS boat MV Brown Bear, in oceanographic surveys as part of a five-vessel operation conducted in 1956-57. 


Sea Witch: Sea Witch was originally built in 1906 from British lifeboat plans. She was the first motor-powered lifeboat in San Francisco in 1907. She was retired from the Coast Guard in 1913, and the house was added in 1937.


Owl: Owl was named Louise Idaho when she was originally launched by the McKenzie Barge and Derrick Company in North Vancouver, BC in 1942. She worked as an inland tug until 1964.


Halycyon: Halcyon was purpose designed as a working salmon troller by Naval Architect Bill Garden and built for a member of the Prothero family. She fished the Northwest coast from Alaska to Oregon for over 20 years. Halcyon was generously donated to The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) in 2021 by her longtime owner and caretaker, Ned Johnson. She is now used by CWB as a teaching platform for maritime education programs involving participants of all ages.


Messenger III: From 1947 to 1968, Messenger III served as a missionary vessel for the Shantymen’s Christian Association, a non-denominational Christian society, bringing medical and spiritual comfort to the British Columbia coast. Messenger supported one of the first hospitals on Vancouver Island's West Coast. She is featured in the books "Splendor from the Sea" by R. Keller, and "Looking Astern" by Earl Johnson. 


Gyrfalcon: Although the Gyrfalcon was launched in 1941, her history began long before that. In 1918, E. Lester Jones, Superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS), wrote a treatise that included an impassioned plea for small boats to make better harbor surveys in Alaskan waters. In 1919, Lee & Brinton, Seattle naval architects, drew plans for two 88-foot gas-powered Coast Survey vessels. With the end of WWI, these boats were never built, and the plans were relegated to a shelf somewhere in Washington, DC. By the mid-1930s, experts in the U.S. War Department became convinced that a war with Japan was inevitable. The need for accurate charting of the coast of Alaska once again became important. This time, the government funded the building of both ships. One, the E. Lester Jones, was built in Astoria, Oregon, while Gyrfalcon, previously named The Patton (for Raymond Stanton Patton) was built by Sagstad Marine of Ballard. For the remainder of the war, both ships continued surveys in the Aleutians from April through October. After the war, until their decommissioning in 1967, both vessels continued to survey for the C&GS in the Aleutians, Southeast Alaska, and along the BC coast.

Mark your calendars for this long-standing Father’s Day Weekend tradition and prepare to be inspired by the beauty and craftsmanship of the classic yachts at  Bell Harbor Marina. For more details and to plan your visit, check out the official event page

Photos courtesy of the Classic Yacht Association 

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