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Bring your boat to Poulsbo cruise-in | Kitsap Week

Chip Hanauer, aka “The Boat Guy,” is hailing all boat enthusiasts to get out on the water this winter. To help boaters brave the season, he is hosting a Winter Rendezvous in Poulsbo, a three-day event from  Feb. 7-9, and including a whiskey night, a marine swap meet, brewery tours and poker run, an art walk, a pancake breakfast, and more.                         - Photo courtesy of The Boat Guy
Chip Hanauer, aka “The Boat Guy,” is hailing all boat enthusiasts to get out on the water this winter. To help boaters brave the season, he is hosting a Winter Rendezvous in Poulsbo, a three-day event from Feb. 7-9, and including a whiskey night, a marine swap meet, brewery tours and poker run, an art walk, a pancake breakfast, and more.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of The Boat Guy

One of the most successful hydroplane racers in that sport’s history has organized a winter boat rendezvous that will fill all guest-moorage slips at Port of Poulsbo Marina and bring a summer-like festival atmosphere to downtown, Feb. 7-9.

“This is the biggest event of its kind since I’ve worked here,” Port of Poulsbo executive director Brad Miller said.

Chip Hanauer, a Motorsports Hall of Famer who promotes recreational boating with his “The Boat Guy” online show (TheBoatGuy.com), organized the Winter Rendezvous to promote boating and cool places to visit in Puget Sound. The rendezvous has spawned a weekend of events that include a Whiskey Night at Hare & Hounds Pub, a marine swap meet, a Poker Run, Gloggfest, Art Walk, downtown historical tours, a Brewery Run, and a pancake breakfast at the Sons of Norway.

The Poulsbo Vikings and the Seafair Pirates will help kick off the weekend with an opening ceremony and bonfire in Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park. The Vikings will escort Hanauer to the bonfire and visitors will have an opportunity to visit with him and get autographs.

If those aren’t good enough reasons to visit for the rendezvous, consider this: If you don’t, a Viking tells Hanauer in a video, “trolls will come to your house, pull you out, drag you over here, and once you’re here, if you don’t have fun, it’s your own fault.”

’Nuff said.

(By the way, events will not include hydroplane races on Liberty Bay. “Not in February, at least,” quipped Sam Bisset, a Hanauer associate.)

The rendezvous will be a boon for downtown Poulsbo, a tourism-oriented downtown with a Norwegian theme that acknowledges the city’s early immigrants.

Early signs are that this is going to be big. All 250 tickets to the  opening night party are sold. All guest moorage slips in Poulsbo Marina are taken, and a water taxi will provide shuttle service to and from anchorages.

“For Poulsbo in February, it’s a huge injection [of tourist dollars],” said downtown pub owner Tammy Mattson, a member of the board of the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association. “It’s quality, fun entertainment that will be big for businesses.”

Since October, the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association, or HDPA, has planned activities to host in concert with the rendezvous. The Art Walk will draw visitors into downtown art galleries, Gloggfest will promote the area’s wineries, and a bus will take visitors on a “Beermuda” Triangle Beer Tour, visiting Poulsbo’s Slippery Pig Brewery, Sound Brewery, and Valholl Brewing. Marina Market will host pickled herring tasting.

Meanwhile, visitors can enjoy the diversity of downtown, where Italian, Mexican, Spanish, and Tibetan restaurants can be found among the rosemaled storefronts.

“The fact that we have that diversity speaks to our brand: We’re minutes away but a world apart,” Mattson said. “We’re only 12 miles from Seattle. That’s key for people to understand — we’re closer than they think and very accessible.”

That’s exactly what The Boat Guy is all about. “It doesn’t matter what kind of boat you have,” Bisset said. “Our big thing is, we live in The Spot for boating. So, use your boat. Get out on the water. Boating is not seasonal — in some ways it is, but if you have a boat, try to use it all year round. The great things about this area — like Poulsbo — don’t go away.”

Port of Poulsbo executive director Brad Miller said Poulsbo is convenient for boaters as well. “People can hop into their boats without loading up a weekend of provisions, and go to Poulsbo. Everything’s there,” he said.

Miller, who has worked for the Port of Poulsbo for six years, said he’s a fan of downtown’s restaurants. “It’s amazing how many good — really good — restaurants we have for a small town. I love bringing people here. No matter what kind of food you want, you’re going to find it here and it’s going to be good.”

Bisset said the February rendezvous started “as a joke”; during a conversation, someone joked that there should be a big rendezvous in the winter. “We thought about it and said, ‘Actually, we should do that.’ Poulsbo is the first town that came to mind. It’s close to Seattle, it has all the amenities, the restaurants and shops, the guest docks, the fun.”

Bisset said he likes Poulsbo’s marina and waterfront area, the downtown shops, “the guest docks screaming out for this event to fill ’em up.” Plus, “everyone is really friendly.”

Winter Rendezvous schedule

FEB. 7 Opening Boaters Party (sold out)

Whiskey Night in P’Bo, Hare & Hounds Pub: $30

FEB. 8 Marine Swap & Shop: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pickled Herring at Marina Market: Free, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Poulsbo Brewery Tour: Noon to 5 p.m.

Marine Resource Tent: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Poulsbo Poker Run: Free, 2-4 p.m.

Gloggfest: Free, 3-5 p.m.

Downtown Art Walk: Free, 3-8 p.m.

30-minute Downtown Historical Tours

FEB. 9 Poulsbo Brewery Run: 8 a.m.

Sons of Norway Pancake Breakfast: $8, 8-11 a.m.

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