Port of Friday Harbor plans a memorable 60th birthday; Jensen's Shipyard celebrates its 100th

The Port of Friday Harbor celebrates its 60th anniversary this spring and summer with tall ship visits, a fly-in, and a beach party. - File photo
The Port of Friday Harbor celebrates its 60th anniversary this spring and summer with tall ship visits, a fly-in, and a beach party.
— image credit: File photo

The Port of Friday Harbor celebrates its 60th anniversary this spring and summer with tall ship visits, a fly-in, and a beach party.

The celebration is significant because it comes on the heels of the town's centennial and on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the state legislation that allowed voters to create port districts.

"It's an important tie-in," Friday Harbor Port Executive Director Marilyn O'Connor said. "We want people to understand what ports are and what they do in their communities. At the port and at the airport, we are planning our next set of capital improvements for the next 10 years, so this year marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another."

The celebration begins the last week of April, timed with the beginning of boating season. The San Juan Island Yacht Club's Rear Commodore's Cruise is April 23-25; the Friday Harbor Sailing Club's Spring Series Races take place in Mitchell Bay April 24-25. The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will tie up at the breakwater dock and Spring Street Landing April 26-30. Harbormaster Tami Hayes said the tall ships will offer interpretive events, evening cruises and tours.

Opening Day ceremonies for boating season follow on May 2. The San Juan Island Yacht Club hosts the Opening Day Boat Parade that day at 2 p.m., in Friday Harbor.

Planning is under way on other events to celebrate the port's 60th. Friday Harbor Airport will host a fly-in in late June. The port will host a community picnic at Jackson's Beach, possibly in July.

Coincidentally, this year is the 100th anniversary of Jensen's Shipyard; the late Nourdine Jensen (1914-2009) was one of the port district's first — and longest-serving — port commissioners. The shipyard is planning a public celebration Sept. 18, noon to 4 p.m.

"We're hoping to invite back Jensen-built boats," said granddaughter Alisa Schoultz, the shipyard's operations manager.

Jensen's son-in-law, Mike Ahrenius, is now a port commissioner. He is also president of the Washington Public Ports Association.

The Journal and will publish a special section devoted to 60 years of port district history, April 28. The section will include a calendar of celebration-related events.

The Friday Harbor Port District was created by voters in 1950. The district owns and operates Friday Harbor Airport, Friday Harbor Marina, Jackson's Beach, Jack Fairweather Park (commonly referred to as the marina park), and Spring Street Landing. The port district has 26 business tenants at the marina and 19 business tenants on airport property. Airport-property tenants include Skagit Valley College San Juan Center.

The marina has 500 slips with 1,500 feet of floating breakwater, an international seaplane base and U.S. Customs Port of Entry. The marina hosts 15,000 guest boats annually, lands 4,500 seaplanes and clears 4,500 vessels through U.S. Customs. During the 2008 season, the port accommodated 52,000 passengers from cruise ships, local excursion operators, and transportation vessels.

Friday Harbor Airport is the sixth-busiest airport in Washington state. It has a 3,400-foot runway and handles more than 58,000 operations annually. Carriers offer daily service to other islands, Anacortes, Bay View, Bellingham and Boeing Field.

Marilyn O'Connor is port district executive director. The three elected port commissioners are Ahrenius, Greg Hertel, and Barbara Marrett.


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