Two of Port Townsend’s most influential sailors, Jim Daubenberger and Ed Barcott, were awarded the Wooden Boat Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 WBF. Port Townsend is often described as a sailor’s town but in more recent times it was not always so. Through their efforts, and the efforts of others they inspired, sailing and sailboat racing continue to flourish on our Bay. Here’s a tribute to Jim Daubenberger from the Port Townsend Leader.
Daubenberger helped launch PT’s modern sailing legacy
Jim “Daubie” Daubenberger’s passion for sailing took him to the water for the first time in 1937, when, at the age of 13, he hatched a plan to sail Discovery Bay in a rented rowboat using his dad’s pup tent for a sail.
There was no Internet and barely any information available about sailing. His sail plan came from a picture he found in the dictionary. Jim gathered the parts for his sailing rig in the family’s backyard and garage. He borrowed some line and his dad’s pup tent, but was not allowed to cut or alter either in any way. He found a couple of poles for a mast and boom.
Then, on a weekend trip to a family picnic spot on Adelma Beach on Discovery Bay, he put his boat together. He lashed the two poles together to make the mast and boom, folded the heavy cotton tent into a triangle and tied it to the makeshift rig, rented a rowboat for a dime and start rowing toward Beckett Point.
Jim rowed upwind until he couldn’t wait any longer, turned the boat downwind, shipped the oars, fixed his sailing rig at the forward thwart, held one of the oars at the transom for a rudder and, reminiscent of a Jack London story, was off on his first sailing adventure. He sailed that day, rowing upwind then sailing downwind, until he was forced to return the boat to the rental stable. That was the beginning of his lifelong love of sailing.
Another sailing opportunity arose in Port Townsend a year or two later. The local Sea Scout Troop acquired a 40-foot Navy launch rigged for sailing as a ketch. Jim was not old enough to join the Sea Scouts, so was not allowed to sail with his friends Bobby Jones and Bob Porter. Undeterred, he spent hours hanging around on the dock with his friends while the boat was being fixed up. Soaking up the paint- and pine-tar-filled atmosphere fueled his fire to learn how to sail.