Seattle Maritime Festival

The annual tugboat races that highlight the Seattle Maritime Festival would seem to be a contradiction in terms. Tugboats racing? And yet they do, in all their smoke-belching, snub-nosed glory. Freed from the dull responsibility of nudging container ships and cruise liners into port, unmoored from barges and log rafts, this is their day to shine. Vessels range in size, and compete in classes, from the giant to the tiny. And the lumbering craft from Foss Maritime, the Fremont Tugboat Co., and other local fleets can actually be quite peppy when all their torque is applied to a two-mile course running along the Seattle waterfront. Past winners have reached speeds over 16 knots! (That’s nearly 20 mph for you landlubbers.) Also on the maritime menu: The all-day Waterfront Chowder Cook-Off pits various waterfront eateries against one another, and your $5 “chowder passport” allows you to sample them all. BRIAN MILLER

Sat., May 8, 2 p.m., 2010

 
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