Port Townsend is a notable maritime hub in the Puget Sound. Its bustling, historic waterfront is a perfect home base for Haven Boatworks, a boat building and repair company sought after by maritime companies and sailing enthusiasts up and down the coast. Blaise Holly worked as a shipwright at Haven for 16 years before acquiring the company when founder Stephen Gale retired in 2022. Holly was grateful for the opportunity and honored to continue the company’s legacy of excellence.
“Haven Boatworks built its reputation by approaching each project with the same level of quality, care, and craftmanship, no matter the size of the boat or repair,” said Holly. “We are committed to honoring that heritage as we grow.”
The team of shipwrights at Haven work on all types of boats, from upkeep on commercial fishing boats to repairs on yachts and wooden sail boats. At any given time, they may have more than a dozen boats in the yard. They stay busy from mostly word-of-mouth referrals from delighted customers.
One recent project, a major deck and bulwark restoration on a ‘96 classic yacht featured in the Wooden Boat Festival, presented an opportunity to make a great boat even better with the design and installation of an integral gangway and boarding ladder.
“We spent a lot of time making sure we wouldn’t spoil the lines of the boat,” recalled Holly. “When the boarding ladder folds back up, it’s seamless. It’s really satisfying to see the excitement of an owner when we can design and implement an elegant custom solution for their boat.”
Holly says that whether commercial or private, captains have a relationship with their vessels. For commercial owners a boat is their livelihood where they spend the bulk of their time. Every year or two most boats need some type of routine maintenance, like cleaning off buildup of seaweed and barnacles from the hull.
“We want bringing your boat in to Haven to be a pleasant experience with the opportunity to connect with our team,” noted Holly. “We have a diverse team that makes for great conversation.”
Many at Haven, including Holly, didn’t originally plan to end up a shipwright. Holly was working as a carpenter on an island in Alaska, when he started taking small jobs fixing up local boats.
“It was very satisfying learning to hang wood like fabric around a hull and then see that boat set sail,” said Holly. “It’s a tangible creation that involves a lot of trust. I fell in love with that process.”
Holly’s passion for ship craft led him to Port Townsend, one of the top locations for wooden boat repair in the country. Twenty years later he was ready to take the helm at Haven.
The company has been steadily growing since Haven Boatworks was founded in 2004 with a staff of just six people. Now leading a team of 36, Holly wanted to support their growth by expanding their shipyard with the purchase of a waterfront property. To accomplish this significant move, he needed a loan to fund the purchase of the new building.
Holly was introduced to First Fed when he sat on the board of the Northwest Maritime Center.
“It was great to see how First Fed supports the Northwest Maritime Center and other organizations in our community,” said Holly. “When I was looking for advice and guidance in securing a loan for a new building for Haven, I was confident First Fed would steer me right.”
The expansion would take Haven 200 feet closer to the water and provide a 7000-square-foot heated-systems shop for metal fabrication, hydraulics, electrical and mechanical work, and painting.
“We were happy to support Haven Boatworks with an SBA loan,” said Susan Whitmire, a senior commercial relationship manager at First Fed. “The maritime industry is essential to Port Townsend, and Haven Boatworks is part of that tradition.”
Holly invites anyone curious about the industry to stop by and see their new facilities.
“We love to show people the shop and what we do, even if they are not experienced with boats,” said Holly. “Port Townsend is a beautiful part of the world. We feel lucky to be a part of this community.”
First Fed is a member FDIC and equal housing lender. Learn more about SBA loans and other commercial lending options from First Fed at: https://www.ourfirstfed.com/business/loans/sba-loans