A 501©(3) non-profit since 1978, The Center for Wooden Boats has its origins in architect Dick Wagner’s fascination with wooden boats. Dick, and his wife Colleen, began a traditional boat rental out of their own houseboat in 1968. By 1976 the idea of a small craft museum was born and 1977 saw the first Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival. In 1981 the Center was formally established. Boat livery (rentals) began in 1983, and the SailNOW! sailing instruction program began in 1989. CWB now has approximately 65,000 visitors per year, 2,500 members, 450 active volunteers who collectively log over 25,000 hours a year, around a dozen paid staff and a fleet of over 120 historic small craft which are displayed along a maze of floating docks and houseboats on the south shore of Lake Union, in the heart of Seattle. Admission has always been free.
Our educational programs are a major part of CWB’s mission to “to provide a gathering place where maritime history comes alive through direct experience and our small craft heritage is enjoyed, preserved, and passed along to future generations.” We now have 175 SailNOW! students and more than 200 people taking part in other workshops and classes annually. Over 2000 kids got on the water through our field trip programs and dinghy sailing classes between April 2006 and April 2007. Community members participate in our Family Boatbuilding program, our volunteer program, our free public sails on Sunday afternoons, and other events. Over 15,000 people join us for the Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival over 4th of July weekend.
As South Lake Union neighborhood expands and develops around us, CWB expects to continue to grow, and is planning expanded infrastructure, and construction of a new education center. We are also collaborating with both the City of Seattle and the State of Washington on providing maritime programming in two new parks. For more information on our programs, visit www.cwb.org