The boathouse at the end of C Dock at the Port of Brownsville sports a colorful mural by local artist Cayla Raymaker. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Brownsville’s ‘Cannery Row’ retains its eccentric charms

BROWNSVILLE—Cannery Row has been gentrified, but you can still find touches of art and character if you look for them.

For many years, the 48 boathouses located on Brownsville Marina’s C Dock weren’t anything pretty to look at. In fact, some of the wood- and aluminum-sided boat houses had gotten so dilapidated that some wag put up a sign that read “Cannery Row.”

Not anymore. Beginning in 2009, Port of Brownsville management started encouraging boathouse owners to come into compliance with new, more stringent codes by Aug. 1, 2015.

“After reviewing the costs involved, the Port extended the structural requirements as long as the boat house was in electrical compliance,” Port Manager Jerry Rowland said.

Today, all but one of the boathouses is in compliance and the last one is nearing completion of its renovations, Rowland said.

Now, the boathouses float on plastic barrels or plastic tub floats. Gone are the old Styrofoam floats that shed pellets that fish ate and served as nests for river otters who liked to burrow in them.

Every tin roof sports plastic burn-out panels. In the event of a boat fire, the burn-out panels melt first, channeling smoke and fire upward and slowing the spread of the fire to neighboring boathouses, explained Matt Appleton, assistant port manager and maintenance supervisor.

Indeed, all of the boathouses have been spruced up. In fact, at least one features siding and an entrance (complete with a “No. 50 Cannery Row” address sign) that would be the envy of many homeowners.

There’s even a huge mural on the boathouse at the end of C Dock, painted by local scenic painter, designer and artist Cayla Raymaker.

But, here and there, touches of the old, more eccentric, Cannery Row still linger. A bronze porthole here. A “Mermaid Lounge” sign there. Hand-painted pictures of salmon on one boathouse, a carved wooden salmon plaque on another.

Today, the ports of Poulsbo and Brownsville are the only two in Kitsap County that still allow boathouses. “But only Brownsville has Cannery Row,” said Sally Hass, whose own boat, “Spirit of Balto,” is moored at the port.

Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.

Sign on the door of one boathouse invites land lovers to use the “side door.” Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

The Port of Brownsville is one of only two public ports in Kitsap County that permits boathouses. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Hand-painted fish adorn another boathouse door. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Welcome mats and welcome signs are everywhere. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

A bronze porthole invites passersby to admire the owner’s boat. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Carved and painted salmon are a favorite theme. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

‘Cannery Row’: C Dock at the Port of Brownsville. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

This fashionable boathouse with siding and shingles even sports the address “No. 50 Cannery Row” above the entrance. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

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