Opening Day Boat Parade bathed in gold

The Båten, will lead the Opening Day Boat Parade, with Grand Marshals Barbara and Sam Buck,presiding.    - Contributed photo / Mark Gaggis
The Båten, will lead the Opening Day Boat Parade, with Grand Marshals Barbara and Sam Buck,presiding.
— image credit: Contributed photo / Mark Gaggis

Come rain or come shine, grey skies or fog, the waters of Friday Harbor are destined to sparkle and shine as the San Juan Island Yacht Club celebrates its Golden Anniversary in conjunction with its ever-popular Opening Day Boat Parade, Sunday, May 4.

In keeping with the spirit of that special anniversary, the powers that be inside the wheelhouse of the Yacht Club have aptly designated the theme of this year’s Boat Parade… drumroll… “Fifty Years Ago Today.”

Longtime San Juan islanders and Yacht Club members Sam and Barbara Buck will serve as co-Grand Marshals of the event and preside over the parade from the decks of the “Båten,” a classic island-built boat constructed at Jensen’s Shipyard by shipwright Bill Ryerson, and first launched April 5, 1978.

And while many skippers and crew will no doubt chose to decorate their vessels with parade theme in mind, it is by no means a must, for any or all that wish to participate in the celebration of opening day of boating season are welcome. Boats can be entered in any one of the parade’s other four categories: traditional, classic, commercial or human-powered. (Registration is required and available online at,, or by contacting Yacht Club Fleet Captain, Bill Feyerherm,

Sam Barbara BuckBeginning at 2:30 p.m., Dr. Joe Bettridge will bestow the traditional blessing upon the fleet and the parade of boats will then shift into gear, set sail on a leisurely, albeit spirited, tour of the harbor, passing in review and judgement of the Yacht Club’s top brass for selection of the event’s coveted array of prizes and awards. For the best view of the parade, spectators should stake out a slice of real estate at Spring Street Landing or along the breakwater near the Port of Friday Harbor’s float-plane landing.

Here’s a little historical tidbit in prelude to the event: The Båten was designed by naval architect Jay Benford as a supply boat for Marilyn Anderson and Rachel Adams, who requested that it be fashioned to carry two women and a cow. While Adams and Anderson piloted the boat to and from their farm on Crane Island and home on Orcas over the years, folklore has it that the cow never got on board.

The Båten returned to home of its birth, Jensen’s Shipyard, in 2008, where she has been moored by owners Krissy Soltman and Carolyn Haugen ever since.

Of note: Those wishing to participate in the parade whose homeport is not Friday Harbor may receive a free night of moorage from the Port of Friday Harbor. Call 360-378-2688 to make arrangements.


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