Wooden boat festival at Balboa Yacht Club kicks off with a cannon blast and crowds – OCRegister

Under an overcast sky at the Balboa Yacht Club, Alan Baron poured oil onto a rag and began polishing Drambuie.

The 36-foot sportfisher boat, purchased from a warehouse two years ago, often can be spotted heading to Catalina Island or off the coast searching for marlin.


But on Saturday, June 10, Baron invited guests aboard his restored 1956 vessel and showed them all of its upgrades.

“I hope they appreciate the older boat for what it is,” Baron said. “It’s kind of like owning a classic car.”

The Drambuie was one of about 50 boats on display at the fourth annual Wooden Boat Festival.

The free event drew hundreds of guests who took turns photographing and touring boats of all sizes and ages, including the Dorade, a yacht designed in 1929 that has won the most ocean races in history.

The Baron family returned to the festival as part of a celebration of sportfishing boats.

“The attention that it’s gotten is 10 times than what I expected,” Baron said.

The event kicked off with a traditional cannon blast from Daniel Barnes, a Newport Beach resident and owner of an 1876 replica 10-gauge cannon.

Barnes, who wore earplugs, said he uses the hand-sized cannon for a lot of different occasions, including weddings and funerals.

“It kind of breaks the ice,” he said. “People get to talking. It’s an added piece of excitement.”

The two-day festival started as a way to display wooden boats and salute their owners.

Dirk Eastman, a Newport Beach resident, said the popularity of wooden boats has changed over time. Unlike fiberglass boats, wooden boats require a lot of maintenance and time investment.

“It’s probably the end of a generation that appreciates them,” he said.

Bob Mechikoff knows all about the work needed to own a wooden boat.

He said his 19-foot 1949 racing boat, named Wicked, required 10 coats of varnish.

“It truly is a labor of love,” he said.

He was drawn to his boat of 11 years because of the way it looks.

“I’m not saying it’s a Da Vinci or Michelangelo,” he said, “but in my heart, it’s pretty close.”

The festival concludes with a champagne brunch and boat parade on Sunday, June 11.