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Northwest Maritime Center

Port Townsend, WA |
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The mission of the Northwest Maritime Center is to engage and educate people of all generations in traditional and contemporary maritime life, in a spirit of adventure and discovery.

Organizational background

The headwaters of the Northwest Maritime Center stem back to the wooden boat renaissance that took place in Port Townsend, Washington in the 1970s. Drawn in by the charm of the town and its location as a jumping off spot for open ocean or inland cruising, a group of traditional craft revivalists sailed into town and created a mecca for wooden boat enthusiasts. Nationally known maritime legends are among the shipwrights and riggers, sail makers and sailors that came to call Port Townsend home. The first Wooden Boat Festival was started as a party amongst this group of romantics.

Forty-four Festivals later (and counting) our focus has grown to encompass both the traditional and contemporary. Built in 2009, our 27,000 square-foot waterfront campus marries the romance of the sea with state-of-the-art technology.

Since humans first ventured onto the water, maritime experiences have been tied to exploration. Today, the NMWC uses maritime experiences to propel people of all ages into explorations of their own. 

Our theory of change: Through powerful maritime experiences people gain competency and, as a result, become more confident in their own abilities. That confidence leads to greater engagement in the world around them, and that ability to engage coupled with their increased confidence leads to increased ability and willingness to explore, try new things, embrace the unknown, and be of service to their communities and the world.

Our world needs explorers and innovators; the answers to the problems of tomorrow won’t be on a standardized test. There are many ways to instill the confidence needed for exploration; the sea is simply the best teacher we know.

For both its own related clusters of programs and as an incubator and support organization for partner organizations, the NWMC is a hub of marine-related activity designed to create positive change through powerful, value-forming experiences on and around the water. Its organizational backbone supports a number of distinct business units:

  • Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival—in its 45th year, it is the largest Wooden Boat Festival in North America. We also think it’s the most fun.
  • Wooden Boat Chandlery—Selling gifts, apparel, and outdoor gear across the country.
  • Marine Thrift—Providing used gear and materials to boating’s scrappy side since 2016. 
  • Maritime Programs—Youth and adult, vocational, avocational, in-school, summer programs, boat share programs, learning symposiums, navigation lessons, sailing lesson, etc.
  • Facility Rentals—long term tenants, event rentals, Boatshop use, boat storage, and ship simulator
  • Race to Alaska—Started in 2015, this is a new and nationally recognized engineless boat race up the Inside Passage to Alaska. (
  • SEVENTY48—Our newest event to get people on the water, this is a human-powered boat race between Tacoma and Port Townsend. Seventy miles, 48 hours to complete it. 
  • 48° North—The Pacific Northwest’s sailing magazine of record since the early 1980s (, the NWMC has owned and operated the magazine since 2018. 
  • Salish Sea Expeditions—Since its inception in 1994, Salish Sea Expeditions has engaged over 12,000 middle and high school students in hands-on, vessel-based marine science learning. Salish joined the NWMC family of programs in 2019. (

In addition to our own programs, there are several key external programs that we support:

  • Port Townsend School District's Maritime Discovery Schools initiative–We worked with the Port Townsend Schools to create the nation’s first place-based school district aligned around a central maritime theme. 
  • Bremerton School District/West Sound Tech’s Port Townsend based skills center located on the NWMC campus: (Port Townsend Maritime Academy)
  • Highline School District and the Port of Seattle’s initiative to create a new, standalone, Maritime focused high school in the South Park Neighborhood of Seattle. (
  • Youth clubs (Port Townsend Sailing Team, etc.)
  • Maritime training schools offering training onsite for professional mariners
  • Lesser support and/or facility use for numerous maritime non-profit organizations (Port Townsend Marine Trades, Sound Experience, Rat Island Rowing Club, US Power Squadron, etc.)

The mission of the Northwest Maritime Center is to engage and educate people of all generations in traditional and contemporary maritime life, in a spirit of adventure and discovery.

Organizational background

The headwaters of the…

Temáticas Incluídas


  • 431 Water St, Port Townsend, WA 98368, USA

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