Seafarer’s Festival raises funds for Community Boat Project

Posted 10/23/19

When Polly Nole, 18, graduated from Chimacum High School, she was not enticed by the draw of a four-year college.

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Seafarer’s Festival raises funds for Community Boat Project

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When Polly Nole, 18, graduated from Chimacum High School, she was not enticed by the draw of a four-year college.

Growing up, she had found inspiration from her parents, Sheriff Joe Nole and Teri Nole, who are avid backpackers and had both been backcountry rangers.

“I remember thinking that it was so cool they had done that,” she said. “I wanted to do something that, later in life, my kids would look up to.”

She pondered living in Seattle, but the high cost of rent and the distance from home weren’t ideal. Working part time at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, Nole wanted her post-grad life to be local, environmental and to teach her some new skills.

That is how she ended up at the Community Boat Project, an inter-generational maritime education program based in Port Hadlock, where she got a job as a paid intern, despite having no experience in building, boating, or woodworking.

“Why train people who already know something?” said Wayne Chimenti, founder and director of the Community Boat Project.

The program is the perfect place for Nole: she’s learning building skills, participating in their voyager’s sailing program, and working with other team members to build herself a tiny home.

Nole is part of the Community Boat Project’s “Shelter from the Storm,” project, where they are hiring interns to learn hands-on skills, while trying to build affordable housing.

This program, as well as the many other programs offered at the nonprofit Community Boat Project, is community funded. To raise money for building supplies and programs, the Old Alcohol Plant and the Community Boat Project are teaming up to host a Seafarer’s Festival from 3 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 2.

The festival will feature sea tales from adventurers like Olivier Huin, who just returned from sailing the Northwest Passage, as well as sea shanties, a clambake, live music, poetry reading, and an open mic for people to tell their own stories of being at sea.

Money raised will go toward funding projects like Nole’s tiny home, which Chimenti sees as a way to battle the county’s affordable housing crisis.

“Polly’s been in town her whole life,” Chimenti said. “She’s working three jobs right now and she’s going to be a keeper for the workforce. But where is she going to live?”

For Nole, the prospect of moving out of her parents’ house, searching for a place to live and then being burdened with monthly rent was uninviting. But she still wanted independence.

“I didn’t want a normal house,” she said. “I wanted to live differently.”

Now, she gets to build her own home however she wants it, and the cost will only end up being around $3,000.

“The American Dream is changing,” Chimenti said. “It used to be 2,000 to 5,000 square feet all for yourself. Now there’s a whole new mentality. People want to be more free, they don’t want to be in debt.”

Watching the walls to her home go up one by one, Nole said she feels very connected to it. Not only that, but she’s getting to learn everything it takes to build a tiny home.

“It’s really confusing, but I’ve been learning a lot,” she said. “It’s still hard to believe that this right now will one day be finished and be my home. Each day we do more on it, the more it feels like mine.”

This is the fifth tiny home the Community Boat Project has built from the beginning, but they have also helped complete several others, Chimenti said.

Building tiny homes is just one of the many programs the Community Boat Project offers.

They also host high school students in their Puget Sound Voyagers class, which meets once a week to learn maritime culture and go sailing. Once a year, this class heads out for a spring journey and sails around the Puget Sound for a week.

In their boat shop, Chimenti and his team teach high schoolers and interns boat building skills. Every year, a team of students builds a community boat and take turns learning the art of sailmaking at Chimenti’s sail loft.

The Community Boat Project is also stewarding the Felicity Ann, the historic 23-foot sloop Ann Davison sailed into history as the first woman to sail the Atlantic solo in 1953. This boat will be used to host sailing classes to empower women, girls and transgender individuals who want to learn how to sail.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS LOCAL STORIES

As a nonprofit, all of these programs are community and grant funded.

“We do entirely free programs,” said Nahja Chimenti, who runs the Puget Sound Voyagers class. “We need funding to provide this.”

Many of the students, volunteers and team members from the Community Boat Project plan to share stories and poems of their time out at sea at the Seafarer’s Festival.

Roz Delaney, who began volunteering with the Community Boat Project at the age of 14, will be sharing stories of a summer spent at Bristol Bay and the experience of driving a fishing boat back home through the Inside Passage.

Nahja Chimenti will tell stories of growing up on a tall ship with her parents, while boatbuilder Eric Schow will be reading his poetry about sailing.

“This is going to be a totally local event,” Wayne Chimenti said. “It will highlight just how many interesting people we have here in our community.”

The event kicks off at 3 p.m. with stories from Olivier Huin about his journey, followed by the open mic, live music from the Unexpected Brass Band, and more poetry and storytelling until late in the evening. There is a suggested $10 donation.

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