It’s rare that you won’t find Bill Noon on the water.
With a lifelong passion for history and boats, the Victoria native will return as a judge for the Classic Boat Festival this weekend in the Inner Harbour.
And with 36 years of Coast Guard experience, Noon knows what he’s talking about.
The ship captain will sail his own schooner, the Messenger III, inherited from his father-in-law, down to the docks of the Empress Hotel to join 76 other wooden vessels on display. “There’s always a different mix of boats,” Noon says.
“Some years we see more sailboats than power boats. This year there will be a few converted commercial fishing boats.”
As the festival celebrates 40 years, it has seen steady growth and this year, the Maritime Museum is on board.
Along with the two-day showcase along the Inner Harbour, the museum at 634 Humboldt St. near the event will host some new events for kids, including pirate school and boat building workshops.
New to the festival this year is a showcase of retired boats from the Ex-Forest Service Vessel Squadron. “They used to patrol the coast for all the forestry work,” Noon explains. “Now it’s all done by helicopters and airplanes. They had quite the fleet that they lived and worked aboard.”
The boats will open for public viewing Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, at 11 a.m. sharp, the boats will weigh anchor and embark on the annual Sailpast. More than 70 vessels will leave the Inner Harbour to cruise along the water to Ogden Point, quite the sight to see according to Noon.
The weekend culminates in an awards ceremony recognizing everything from the Master Disaster, for the most embarrassing event of the weekend, to an award for the boat that travels the greatest distance. Past winners have come from as far away as Europe and Asia.
“Every boat’s got an amazing story,” Noon says.
“They’re all fairly old vessels, so there’s always lots of interesting stories there.”