Tugboat celebrations are ready to launch

Ready for some end-of-summer tugboat entertainment?

Whether you’re on the West or East coasts, there’s a party waiting for you.

Out West, the action will be happening in Olympia, Wash., for the 46th annual Olympia Harbor Days Vintage Tugboat Show and Races. It’s a free maritime festival on the waterfront that runs over the Labor Day weekend, from Friday, Aug. 30- Sunday, Sept 1, and celebrates the return of vintage tugboats of Puget Sound to Olympia.

Historic tugs, retired and working, will be moored at Olympia’s Percival Landing for free tours throughout the weekend. On Sunday, Spet. 1, the world’s largest vintage tugboat race gets underway in the deep channel of Budd Bay.  Also on hand will be a Bering Sea fishing vessel and a World War II history museum aboard the Tug Comanche.

In between tug tours and the race, there will be plenty of food, crafts from the Squaxin Island tribe and music. Both Friday and Saturday nights, there will be free, live performances of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Also planned is a 90-minute class geared toward teens aged 12-18 called “Working on the Water,” that offers insights into maritime careers — a timely initiative given the maritime worker shortage and the need to attract young people into the profession.

On the East Coast, check out the 20th Tugboat Roundup in Waterford, N.Y. Located at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers and a gateway to the Erie and Champlain rivers, Waterford annually celebrates New York’s maritime history and the state’s waterways. This year’s event runs the weekend of Sept 6-8.

On Friday, a tugboat parade arrives from Albany, and Saturday’s activities include tug tours, food and craft vendors and boat rides. On Sunday, the Tug Chug 5K race challenges runners.

The roundup brings together some 30 tugs and other other vessels including working tugs, historic tugs, mini-tugs and barges. Visitors will have the chance to climb aboard tugs, see the engine rooms, talk to the crews and understand what life is like on a working towboat.

About the author

Pamela Glass

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.

1 Comment

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    As Director of Olympia Harbor Days, I want to thank you Pamela for a great article linking the tugs and maritime celebrations of the west coast and east coast. This has even more meaning for me as I am from the east coast! Hopefully, someday I can make it to Waterford for their festival. Maybe we can create an east coast west coast virtual tugboat race! Hmmm — I will think about that. Best of luck to all the racing skippers.

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