Port leaders see Chris Craft Rendezvous as successful, in spite of fewer boaters

Chris Craft Rendezvous, 2010 - courtesy photo
Chris Craft Rendezvous, 2010
— image credit: courtesy photo

Sixty-three boats docked in Port Orchard for the twenty-second Chris Craft Rendezvous, held annually on the second weekend in July at the Port Orchard Marina.

That’s about half the number that visited a few years ago.

“In the last few years, the numbers have gone down a little bit, but it’s not horrible, either,” said Brian Sauer the Port Orchard Marina’s Operations Manager. “It’s not like we’re getting 30 boats, which wouldn’t be a bad number for a yacht club rendezvous.”

As many as 120 boats “typically attend the event,” according to a website describing the Rendezvous, linked to the Port of Bremerton’s Website.

Sauers says he’s seen as many as 139 in attendance, about 12 years ago.

“They were inside, they were outside, they were stacked,” meaning that boats moored onto other boats, because there wasn’t dock space for all of them,  he said.

It wasn’t as packed this year, but it was still the largest gathering of this type of boat in the world.

And it drew visitors from around the world to Port Orchard.

One group brought a boat from Vancouver Canada. Another flew to the area from Florida to spend time with the boat owners at the Chris Craft Rendezvous.

Many boaters attend the festival each year, said Sauer, adding that it’s not surprising.

“We spoil them properly,” he said. “We make sure that they want to be here again.”

The port’s amenities include outdoor heaters, barbecues, a space for an auction, clean bathrooms and free, hot showers.

Besides, Sauer said, the group does a good job making new attenders feel welcome.

“In the begining of their awards ceremony, they ask who’s here for the first time, and half dozen hands go up,” he said. “Then they start clapping for them.”

When they ask who’s been here for all 22, only “one or two hands go up,” he said.

“There has been a transition between those who started it and now, but it keeps going because it’s a great event.”

Many of the boaters see it as a good chance to meet each other and discuss their hobby, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for the boaters to get together and glean information from each other, have camaraderie, enjoy the boats and find out some little trick, on this particular brand of vessel,” said Sauer.

They also often get to be friends.

They, “get to know the individuals that own the boats and find out that they have common ground somewhere else in the world, too,” Sauer said.

The event's attendance also has financial significance for the port.

This year, it generated between about $6,500 in revenue, assuming that there were about 60 boats, paying an average of $32 per day for an average of 3.5 days.

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