Words from the waterfront

Words from the waterfront

  • Friday, March 16, 2018 1:37pm
  • Opinion

Two little girls wearing life-jackets, heading down C-Dock with their Mom and Dad: a familiar sight in the Port of Poulsbo Marina.

The girls’ father, BJ Benson, recently shared a memory: “I visited the port by boat for nearly 40 years before moving here to raise a family four years ago. I have a great childhood memory of losing a fishing pole off the back of my grandfathers’ boat, I got so excited seeing a seaplane land, I totally forgot I was holding the pole! Since that childhood time before moving here, my wife and I spent countless weekends aboard our various boats in Poulsbo, enjoying the town and the wonderful businesses.

Another great memory from nearly 20 years ago was being anchored out in the bay with my wife and heading ashore to the Dancing Brush to paint pottery. Those pieces can be found on the wall in my mother’s kitchen today.”

There are many stories within the community of boaters who moor their boats at the Port, but all have a common thread: They chose to be here. A few live aboard their boats and are considered by many to be the sentinels for Liberty Bay, others have homes in our community, some live outside of Kitsap County. One or two may be readying to leave to cruise the world, following those who have already left. Some have arrived here to rest.

Knowing that Peter Horner, another boater in the Port marina, is a North Carolina transplant, I was curious as to how he came to be in Poulsbo. You may have seen Peter at any number of Port Commissioner meetings over the last few years, and more recently at the Poulsbo Planning and Economic Development meetings, or better yet sailing out in the Bay on his boat “Proud Mary.” Horner has an interesting tale about his and his wife’s three-year search for a place to settle. They wanted mountains and water. They researched and ruled out the Northeast; then decided to visit the Pacific Northwest. On their second trip to the PNW, they explored the Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend areas, but after a disappointing reconnaissance, they were feeling frustrated and ready to quit.

Peter goes on to tell the most important part of their story: “Riding down 305 ten years ago, past Liberty Bay, a little north of Lemolo, we got just a brief glimpse through the trees to the water below, boats, the sparkle of sun reflections. Without thinking, I said “I could live here” and Mary responded instantly, ‘So could I!’ We were just driving through on our way to the airport and had not even seen the downtown Poulsbo streets, the stores and parks, or the waterfront park and docks and marinas. And yet we both knew we had just seen a bit of someplace very special, and both knew we wanted to come back. This feeling only grew stronger as we explored the Poulsbo community in more detail and led us just a few months later to another visit, and finally to the decision to move here for good. Now, nine years later, Poulsbo has become for us what we had deeply hoped it could — both our hometown and our home port. Sailing Liberty Bay (or further), walking the docks, visiting friends on both water and land, often meeting new people, and regularly exploring our own surrounding communities, all have become parts of why we’re now so grateful to be so at home here.”

When was the last time you strolled along the waterfront in Poulsbo? We have a gem of an historic downtown, with fabulous restaurants, coffee shops, a world-famous bakery, a variety of shops, a wonderful waterfront park, and a vibrant Port Marina — a small town with caring people.

Next time you are downtown, take a walk on the docks, strike up a conversation with a boater or two, you might be meeting your new neighbor.

Pamela Benson, SV Spirit of Freedom, C-Dock.