Here in the upper left-hand corner of the country we’ve got this charming little waterfront city called Port Townsend. Early in its history, the city fathers envisioned grand things for the community located at the corner of Juan de Fuca Strait and Puget Sound. If they had been right, the Jefferson County, Wash., city might have been the home of the suddenly resurgent Mariners, not Seattle.

But Port Townsend has lots of lower-case mariners, especially those who favor wooden boats. The local Wooden Boat Foundation organizes an annual Wooden Boat Festival, one of the largest events of its kind in the country and which will be happening the weekend after Labor Day. And the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, located in nearby Port Hadlock, also holds classes at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

 33' aluminum fire/rescue boat

But although wooden boat enthusiasts are in abundance, the town’s two marinas have plenty of plastic boats and even some metal ones, too. One of the newest of the latter is a 33'x10' aluminum fire/rescue boat built by a former Port Townsend boatbuilder, Lee Shore Boats. The company relocated to nearby Port Angeles a few years ago, but the connections are still strong. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office also operates a Lee Shore patrol boat.

The newest aluminum fire/rescue boat belongs to East Jefferson (County) Fire Rescue and is used primarily for rescue work. In fact, the first call was in response to a pleasure craft that lost power and was drifting out into the strait’s shipping lanes with two women and two children on board.

Named the Guardian, the new boat also features a Kodiak inboard engine that powers a waterjet and a fire pump capable of 1,250 gpm at 125 psi or 3,000 gpm at 50 psi. The waterjet is primarily for in-water rescues with the twin Yamaha 250s shut down. A starboard side dive door hinged just above the waterline folds down into the water for easier retrieval of in-water casualties.

My thanks to Brian Tracer and Bill Beezley of East Jefferson Fire Rescue for taking me out for a ride along the Port Townsend waterfront last Thursday. The new boat looks well built and should serve both residents and visitors for many years. And thanks to the Department of Homeland Security for providing the $455,000 grant that paid for it.

The new fire/rescue boat will also be featured in WorkBoat magazine’s October issue as part of our fireboat vessel report.

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).