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A Boat Museum That Draws Painters….One In Particular

March 24, 2014

The Center for Wooden Boats draws boaters….as you would expect. But there’s something about the museum’s collection of historic boats lined up on the docks in the fading golden summer light or sailing in close formation during a lesson on Lake Union that has always drawn another crowd. The crowd that comes with easels, with oils and acrylics, pads of paper and charcoal. CWB is a magnet for artists.

“Artists have been coming down to CWB as long as it’s been in existence,” said Dick Wagner, the museum’s Founding Director. “They come to capture the sights of boats on the water, the light and the feeling that really says I’m in Seattle, and this is what it’s like here.”

Of all the artists inspired by the views at or near The Center for Wooden Boats there is one who comes back over and over: Bellevue’s Charles Fawcett.

Lake Union Lesson Sunday Sail

Fawcett’s love affair with boats goes back to his childhood. He was raised living on a Thames river sailing barge in his native England. He went to sea in the Merchant Marine at 16 and by 24 he had his unlimited Captain’s license. He rose to be a manager of a major shipping line, finally retiring in 2005. But since the mid-‘90s, Fawcett, among many things, has been painting – and images of the seas, boats, rocky shores that he might have once approached have been a constant theme in his work.

Another constant theme in his work is the boats and scenes around CWB. It’s hard to say how many of CWB’s boats Fawcett has painted, but the total is probably nearing two dozen, and growing. For Wagner, having so many of CWB’s boats captured in oils is an honor. “Charles’ paintings are bright and adventurous. He has a great vision of what’s happening on the boats and is able to capture the weather, the sense of movement and activity.”

Fawcett does many other kinds of paintings, but it is the quality in Fawcett’s maritime works that caught the editors’ eyes at 48oNorth, the Seattle area’s local sailing publication. Many of Fawcett’s paintings inspired by the boats around CWB have ended up as cover art on the magazine in the past decade. “We probably use three of Charles’ paintings as cover art every year,” said Karen Higginson Associate Editor of 48North. “His work captures the essence of sailing, particularly in the Northwest.” Famed Annapolis Yacht Racer, Olympian, Americas Cup winning tactician and ESPN Sailing Commentator Gary Jobson on receiving his copy of a recent 48North sent the editors a note saying how amazing Fawcett’s cover was.

So how does a retired captain and shipping line manager with a penchant for painting end up at CWB? As with most people, it has to do with people. More than a decade ago, Fawcett was racing Snipe sailboats at the Corinthian Yacht Club at Shilshole when he went up against Mindy Ross, CWB’s Sailing Education Manager. She suggested a fleet party at CWB and, once there, suggested Fawcett might like to instruct on some of the museum’s fleet of historic wooden boats.

“I felt that I would like to give something back and so started teaching and have loved it ever since,” said Fawcett. “Eleven years later, I’m maybe a bit slower but I feel the same enjoyment. CWB provides a sense of friendship and partnership.”

Fawcett doesn’t just volunteer at CWB on the water. He also lends a hand in the office, setting up bank deposits to make sure that the money from lessons or from cash donations gets into the correct piles and bundles.

Fawcett continues to be recognized for his paintings. Today some of them are on display at The Sixgill, the maritime pub and restaurant at 35th and Evanston in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood (in the building right across the street from the Rocket).

If you’re interested in seeing more of Charles’ work, you’ll find it online at But if you want to find Charles in the element he paints so often, sign up for a one-on-one lesson online at You’ll find Charles Fawcett among the instructors you can choose from. Unless he’s off again on his annual sailing charter somewhere warm, wet, and wonderful.


Tasty Pasta and an Exhibit Opening Mark The 3nd Annual Spaghetti Social at The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach State Park

March 17, 2014

Pasta and fun on the Beach Saturday, April 19, 2013 – 3-7 the Cama Center, Cama Beach State Park

Come one, come all, come hungry to the 3rd annual Spaghetti Social at The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island. What better way to shake off the cobwebs, and the rain, from winter than with a big heaping serving of spaghetti by the beach with your friends and neighbors.

And if that’s not enough, how about coming to the opening of the award winning CWB Exhibit “FishOn!”  “FishOn!” explores the history of boathouses and fishing resorts of Puget Sound, including the Cama Beach Resort that has become Cama Beach State Park. FishON! was named the best new exhibit 2013 by the Association of King County Historical Organizations when it opened at CWB’s Seattle location. It is now part of the permanent collection at CWB’s Cama Beach location.


So mark Saturday, April 19th on your calendars. From 3pm to 7pm the crew at the CWB Cama Beach boatshop is putting down their tools for fixing boats, and instead fixing you a plate of spaghetti and a new museum exhibit.

 What:              3rd annual CWB at Cama Beach Spaghetti Social

Where:            Cama Center and The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach State Park
1880 South, West Camano Drive, Camano Island, WA

When:             Saturday, April 19,  3-7pm

Cost:                $8 Adults, $6 Kids under 12. (Tickets at the door, includes food and non-alcoholic drinks. Beer and Wine for sale)


The Stanwood/Camano community is invited and so are YOU!  In addition to a spaghetti and all the trimmings, there will be games and coloring for kids, tours of the Boat House, a door prize and all day down on the Beach we’ll be building Toy Boats.  Bring the whole family.

Special thanks to the event sponsors, including Cama Beach & Camano Island State Parks, The Cama Beach Foundation and Cama Beach Café and the Friends of Camano Island Parks.

For more information contact CWB at Cama Beach Manager Shane Bishop, or call  (360) 387-9361.


CWB works with other Museums on a big new event called “Museum Week Northwest”

March 13, 2014


The Center for Wooden Boats is working with museums from around the region to welcome a big gathering of museum professionals from around the world to Seattle. This will be happening in May, and as part of it all the participants are gearing up for a new event we’re calling Museum Week Northwest.   We want to highlight all the cool collections and innovative research these museums are doing.   Details are in the news release below which was just put out by the planning team.

Look for more information next month when the Museum Week NW website goes live at with the list of all the offerings.  Also, if you have a smartphone,  you can get ahead of the game by downloading the free app STQRY from your phone store.  All the museums will be using that app to get the word out about what they are doing.

–         CWB Staff



Thursday, March 13, 2014

 Puget Sound Museums That Normally Compete for Visitors Are Cooperating to Create Inaugural “Museum Week Northwest” May 16th to 23rd

Museum Week Northwest, May 16-23, to include two-for-one admission, special events highlighting museum innovation in Washington State and new mobile app.

Seattle, WA – In conjunction with the American Alliance of Museums Conference taking place in Seattle in May, Puget Sound museums large and small are banding together to create a weeklong celebration in May called “Museum Week Northwest.”  Running May 16 -23, Museum Week Northwest highlights the amazing diversity, excellence, and innovation that can be found in museums from Bellingham and Port Townsend, through Seattle and Tacoma, to Olympia and in the many smaller communities in between.

“One reason the American Alliance of Museums chose Seattle for its 2014 annual meeting this May was so members could come see how Northwest museums are finding their innovation edge by harnessing the same kind of creativity and new thinking driving the local tech industry,” said Doug King, President and CEO of the Museum of Flight in Seattle and chair of the local host committee for the AAM Annual Meeting. “As we started putting together presentations cataloguing the innovative work being done in Northwest museums to share with AAM at its meetings, we realized this was a wonderful opportunity to reach out to people in our own community, and encourage them to explore and attend our museums.”

Innovations by Northwest museums that will be noted during the AAM Conference range from new research by The Center for Wooden Boats to help other museums use low-cost computers and a camera to track the shape of large artifacts over time to a new Pacific Science Center initiative connecting our community, and communities across the country, with cutting-edge local research.  The Henry Art Gallery has transformed their former gift shop into a living lab for performances, interactive workshops, micro-residencies, and other experiments designed to test new thinking in art education and engagement. The Tacoma Museum of Glass highlights a new program to help returning vets learn glass blowing as a way to focus and decompress from the stress of battle.  The Museum of Flight will highlight work it is doing with computer game companies to develop gradually more difficult flight simulation challenges as students get older, and new ways to bring those challenges to kids who are too far away to visit the museum in person.

“And these are just a few examples of great museum work being done here in the Northwest,” said King.


During Museum Week Northwest more than 50 of Western Washington’s museums will have special 2-for-1 admission or other special offers for guests. Many local museums presenting to their colleagues at the AAM conference will be repeating those presentations and discussions for the general public in special lectures and presentations at their institutions.


Producing partner Visit Seattle is creating the Museum Week Northwest website, which will launch in mid-April at   This is where the full list of events, offer and discounts will be posted.


With so many special offers, museum lectures, and presentations it would be easy to lose track of events. All the museums will be posting information on their web sites and the main event site, but in true Northwest fashion many are also turning to technology created by a Seattle software startup to make it easier for anyone with a smartphone to find out what’s going on at all the different museums.

Many of the organizations participating in Museum Week Northwest will use a free mobile phone application called STQRY (pronounced: ”story”) to assist attendees in finding out where and when events and offers are happening. STQRY will not only guide attendees to the museums participating in Museum Week Northwest, it will also relay information about special offers and exhibits.  The STQRY app is free and available on iPhones, Android, and Windows phones, and translates information into 60 languages, helping make museums even more accessible.

“I grew up in Seattle, going to many of these museums as a kid,” said Chris Smith, founder and CEO of STQRY. “Now to have them using my company’s software to tell their stories….it’s just an honor.”


This is the first time in 20 years that the American Alliance of Museums has been in Seattle for its annual meeting. The AAM Annual meeting May 18-21 is the largest gathering of museum professionals in the world, bringing together 5,000 museum professionals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. It will run concurrently with Museum Week Northwest at the Washington State Convention and Visitors Center.

“We know that Washington’s museums are a driver for tourism from inside and outside the state and that nationally museums rank among the top family vacation destinations,” said Tom Norwalk, President & CEO of Visit Seattle.  “It’s clear that our museums are not just preserving our history, our stories, our sense of place and who we are, but they’re also creating jobs and bringing millions of visitor dollars into our local economies every year.”

The state of Washington has 425 museums, science centers, zoos, aquariums, and other similar organizations and employees 3,620 people. “They are sustaining us as a community, helping educate our children, building the ties between those who were born here and those who choose to live here, and creating jobs at the same time,” said Norwalk.

About Museum Week Northwest:

Museums around Puget Sound have come together to create Museum Week Northwest the week of May 16th to the 23rd, 2014.  For eight days participating museums will celebrate the diversity, quality, and innovations of local collections with special admission offers and a range of events and presentations. Museum Week Northwest coincides with the annual conference in Seattle of the American Alliance of Museums. Attended by more than 5,000 attendees from 50+ countries, AAM’s annual meeting gathers museum professionals to learn about the latest innovations in museum design, operations, outreach, programs and collection management. Find out more about public events at and more about the AAM Conference at


100 Years of Longline Fishing in Historic Power Schooners Celebrated in New Exhibit at The Center for Wooden Boats

February 13, 2014

Discover the Story of the Families and Boats of Seattle’s Historic Halibut Fleet and Celebrate the 100-year Anniversary of the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association

Highliners CWB


A boat parade is not all that unusual in Seattle.  We do it for Opening Day in May. We do it for Christmas Ships in December.  But Thursday February 13th’s boat parade is a little different.  It’s not a line of pleasure boats.  This is a parade of some of Seattle’s oldest commercial wooden fishing boats moving down the ship canal to take up positions at the Historic Ships Wharf near The Center for Wooden Boats to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Fishing Vessel Owners Association, and to mark the opening of CWB’s new exhibit that details the history of the longline schooners and the local crews who continue to take these boats to the North Pacific to bring halibut and Black Cod to your table.

The exhibit “Highliners: Boats of the Century” was designed to make sure Seattle understand the importance of these wooden boats that are still in service after 100 years. The new exhibit also highlights the advances in technology and fisheries management that members of the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association helped implement on these boats during the organization’s long history. Based at the Port of Seattle’s Fisherman’s Terminal, the fleet’s efforts over the past century have helped ensure the North Pacific halibut fishery is safe, efficient and sustainably managed.

“The sustainable fishing techniques this fleet developed are a key reason that Pacific Fisheries have not been over fished, and why they continue to bring thousands of jobs to Seattle’s economy,” said Betsy Davis, Executive Director of The Center for Wooden Boats. “We want to tell this story to highlight the connection Seattle has always had to the water, but also to make sure the community knows how this fleet’s history has led to its present success and will lead to its future…sometimes aboard boats FVOA member’s grandfathers had built.”


“When we contacted CWB about helping with our anniversary we were surprised, and pleased, that they already knew about our boats and wanted to do a full blown exhibit about the fleet and our members, “said Bob Alverson, Manager of the Fishing Vessel Owner’s Association. “The Space Needle, high tech campuses, stadiums and Boeing plants are a constant reminder to the community of those industries, but when Seattle’s fishing fleet is out over the horizon folks tend to forget about us.”

“Our local commercial fishing industry anchored at Fishermen’s Terminal, pours about $5 billion dollars into our economy every year through its fish catch and the thousands of jobs it sustains both on land and at sea,” said Port of Seattle Commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman. “We want to congratulate the members of FVOA on their 100 years of service to the community, and as we celebrate our own centennial at Fishermen’s Terminal this year, we’re proud to work with The Center for Wooden Boats to ensure Seattle has the chance to learn more about this still vibrant industry that calls this region home.”

The new exhibit features a timeline of Seattle based commercial fishing in the NW and information about the development of the FVOA Schooners and the characteristics that make them uniquely suited to northwest waters. The exhibit has photos of the boats still fishing today and maps marking important shipyards. Video oral histories of select FVOA members are part of the exhibit, as is a reconnaissance survey of the FVOA fleet that includes histories of the boats, current and those long gone, with longer highlights about selected boats; including some boat plans from the collection of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. As part of the project, CWB is also working with the International Pacific Halibut Commission to digitize many of the photos they have stored on unstable nitrate negatives which are in danger of deteriorating. Some of those images are being used in the exhibit.

“Highliners: Boats of the Century” was conceived by former CWB Historic Projects Manager Andrew Washburn and designed by curator Abby Inpanbutr. Their last exhibit collaboration at CWB, “FishON!”, won an award as the best new historical museum exhibit in King County in 2013. “A lot of times when you’re putting together a history exhibit, the thing you are talking about is long gone,” said Inpanbutr. “But in this case it’s a living history, with families to talk to, and boats that in some cases have run aground, burned, been damaged. But in this story these men and women patch the holes, refloat the boats, and go fishing again.”

As part of the work, The University of Washington History Professor Bruce Hevly led a team of students who catalogued the innovations in technology, economics and vessel design that were happening in the Seattle-based fleet as the FVOA developed. “This project gave my students the unique chance to scour documents and periodicals from the last 100 years to do research about the fleet and then visit the boats themselves in Ballard to see if what they were learning in the library matched what the found on the actual boats they were reading about, said Hevly. “The project also allowed students an uncommon opportunity to see their research immediately turned into a public facing exhibit that they’ll be able to see in a museum before they all graduate.”

CWB thanks the many partners and sponsors who have worked together to fund and create this new exhibit, including: 4Culture, the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association, Whole Foods Markets, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, Fishermen’s News, published by Philips Publishing Group, the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, The Port of Seattle and The University of Washington Department of History.

The representative boats from the fleet such as the f/v Seymore, f/v Vansee, f/v Kristiana, f/v Polaris and others will be at the Wharf in Lake Union Park for the opening of the exhibit February 15th, 2014…but can only stay for a few weeks. They may be historic boats built during World War 1 but they still have a job to do. Many will be heading out to the North Pacific where the halibut season opens on March 8th.

Bill to Create A “Maritime Washington: State Heritage Area” Praised in Olympia

January 29, 2014

Bills that would designate Washington’s saltwater shorelines a State Heritage Area to promote tourism were praised during their first hearings in separate House and Senate committee meetings in Olympia Tuesday.

The bills (HB 2386, SB 6246), which do not create any new regulations or require new state spending, are designed to make it easier for Washington’s various maritime museums, lighthouses, historic ships, tribes and historic districts to tell a unified story about how the waters of Puget Sound and the coast were integral to the development of Washington State.

The Bills also call on congress to take a similar action and recognize a Maritime Washington: National Heritage Area. Non-regulatory National Heritage Areas are promoted throughout the National Park System to drive tourism.  There are 49 National Heritage Areas, but none on the West Coasts, and none that focuses on Maritime history.  The importance of Washington’s maritime history as a nationally significant story has been acknowledged by the National Park Service, but the legislation that would allow that designation is stalled in congress.

Tuesday representatives from local governments, historic organizations such as Greys Harbor Seaport, Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, tourism groups and the National Historic Trust praised the legislation and thanked lawmakers for supporting it.  Businesses such as Holland American Lines and Pope and Talbot Timber Company also went on the record in support of the legislation at the hearings.  A representative of Pope & Talbot testified at both hearings, telling lawmakers that his company has projects inside the area covered by the Historic Designation, but supports the legislation as the company understands the need to promote the state’s heritage and that these bills do not add new regulations or state spending.

Even the Washington Farm Bureau, whose parent organization has opposed Heritage Areas nationally over concern about regulations, made a point of telling the Senate committee that it was “strongly neutral” on this proposal.

“This designation will raise the profile of Washington’s maritime heritage, which is still being written every day on our waterfronts,” said Les Bolton, Executive Director of the Greys Harbor Historic Seaport in Aberdeen in his testimony. “It will help our young people know where we’ve come from and that great jobs are still available to them in the maritime industries.”

The next step for the parallel bills will be decisions by the House Environment Committee and the Senate Parks and Natural Resources Committees on whether to send the measures on so votes in the full House and Senate can be scheduled.

More information on the Bills can be found on the Washington Legislature’s website at:

Other Links:

The Center for Wooden Boats Complete Newsletter Archive is Now Online for Free

December 21, 2013

For 37 years The Center for Wooden Boats has published a newsletter for members and fans of wooden boats called “Shavings.”  Thanks to a grant from 4Culture, the cultural services agency for King County, the entire archive of “Shavings” is now being made available again for free to CWB Members and to anyone that wants to know more about how Seattle came together to build a new kind of community based hands-on museum.

The links to the CWB “Shavings” archive can be found in the “About Us” tab right at the top of  The Center for Wooden Boats Website,   When you click that tab you’ll find a section called “Building a Community Museum” where the Shavings archive information can be found.

View album

Access to the complete back catalogue of Shavings is incredibly valuable to anyone thinking about creating a similar boat museum in their city.  CWB is asked for that kind of advice all the time.  Founding Director Dick Wagner has consulted with communities close by; in Oregon, Montana, and California. And he’s helped cities far away; in Virginia, Newfoundland, and even St. Petersburg in Russia.  It’s not uncommon to meet visitors from around the world walking the docks at CWB looking at the collection of historic boats, watching as children laugh and learn to sail and watch as adults take historic row boats and sailboats out onto Lake Union by themselves.  They see the fun, the bustling activity,  and eventually they climb the stairs in the boathouse to find Dick and ask, “ “How did you do it? And more importantly, how can we do it too.”

“Dick and Colleen Wagner have been a model and inspiration to all lovers of wooden boats around the nation who are  trying to impart to today’s youth that love.  The Center for Wooden Boats is THE model for program across the nation, especially fledgling programs like ours in Norfolk/Virginia Beach.”

-Tom Brandl, Virginia Beach, VA

Answering that question is what prompted 4Culture to approve a grant so that CWB could collect materials from it’s founding, growth, organizational structure and more and make that information freely available to all who are interested.  The “Building a Community Museum” project is an effort to explain what CWB has learned about how people can come together to build a museum from the water up, with thousands of volunteers helping along the way.  Those techniques and experiences can be just as useful to someone interested in creating a community museum focused on another subject.

“I just had this background of what happens when you give people a chance to go to a museum where you can play with the exhibits,” said Wagner. “And I want to share that information.”

When I started the Wind and Oar Boat School I looked for models that made sense and CWB was top of my list. The Wagner Education Center is the perfect completion of a vision I share with CWB and feel it is important addition to an already stellar facility and program. “

-Peter Crim, Director Wind and Oar Boat School, Portland, OR.

The Shavings archive is an important foundation for the “Building a Community Museum” project because it gives a quarterly window into the operations of CWB.  In addition to covering interesting boat renovations, community festivals and events, Shavings has articles about how CWB handled growth, its collection, and how it built programs that serve the community.  Dick wrote many of the articles in Shavings, and in some he spells out details of how CWB grew and has been funded even though it does not charge admission.

The Shavings archive is not the only piece of the CWB puzzle that will be available.  The museum is also in the process of adding video and audio interviews with CWB founders to the “Building a Community Museum” website so they can share in their own words what was going on in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood before all the restaurants, hotels, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the Museum of History & Industry decided to join us here.  In the early 1980’s Dick Wagner did a “Wooden Boat Show” on KRAB-FM, the local community radio station run by the Jack Straw Foundation.   CWB is in the process of sorting and posting digital copies of those radio shows to the Community Museum site as another source of information and inspiration for people who want to build their own CWB.

More about CWB’s “Building a Community Museum” project can be found at


Improvement Coming to the CWB Boatshop thanks to Generous Donations by AGC Members

December 5, 2013

If you’ve wandered by The Center for Wooden Boats South Lake Union Boatshop this sunny and crisp week, you may have noted a little work being done to CWB’s floating boatshop. Volunteers from OAC Services and BNB Builders are taking advantage of a traditional slow time in the shop to install a new boat lift system for us.


When it’s done, the new lift will make it much easier to get boats that need some love from boatshop volunteers up out of the water and into the shop.

For years we’ve been using a tired old seaplane dry dock float, the one with the crazy PVC pipes all over it to control air in 4 old septic tanks under the float. We’ve been using that to lift boats up. Then we round up volunteers to manhandle the boat into the doors of the shop. But that float will soon be retired.


With the new system, a strong rail will extend out of the new dormer on the Northside of the building. When we need to pick up a boat, we’ll maneuver it into slings under the rail, lift the boat up, and then just slide it along the rail into the shop.

WP_20131206_08_09_05_Pro“This will make is so much easier to move the boats in an out of the water”, said Kyle Hunter, CWB Facilities manager.

OAC Services Seattle office has designed a retrofit of the Boatshop, making sure the engineering works and that the athletics match Dick Wagner’s original design for CWB first building. OAC donated all the design time through the permit stage and work on the steel I-beam construction. Yakima Steel donated and fabricated the beam. Scott Galvanizing in Ballard has galvanized the beam to protect it from the elements, and Ballard Hardware donated the trolley that will allow boats to Glide in an out of the shop. And BNB is donating the time of its crew to install the new system.

The work is part of a larger effort to restore and upgrade The Center for Wooden Boats facilities at South Lake Union, a large part of which has been spearheaded by the Seattle District of AGC, The Association of General Contractors of Washington, whose headquarters is just across Lake Union Park from the museum.

AGC volunteers made improvements at CWB their year-long community service project. Earlier this year ACG crews completed a list of projects:

  • Lennon Crane brought in a mobile crane to lift CWB docks in and out of water for repair.
  • Cal Portland provided a dump truck to remove debris.
  • NCM Group provided a dumpster for construction debris.
  • KBA Construction Management Company coordinated services.
  • Garner Construction provided the operator and riggers for the crane
  • Snyder roofing has committed to fixing up the roofing on the CWB Floating boatshop and boathouse.
  • McKinstry Inc. provided the materials and labor to install a new stove pipe for wood stove in boat shop.
  • Gray Lumber provided the materials at a discount and also the manpower for construction and repair of wood storage cabinets for life jackets, foul weather gear and other CWB supplies.
  • Lease, Crutcher, Lewis provided teams for construction and repair of storage cabinets.
  • NECA, Holmes Electric and IBEW worked together to improve electrical connections on CWB’s docks.

There is no way we could have completed all these improvements this year without the generous support of AGC and all its members”, said Betsy Davis, CWB Executive Director. “When the value of various improvement grants, donations and in-kind donations of good and services is added up the total value of all the improvement at The Center for Wooden Boats this year ads up to more than $120,000.”

As I said when all this work started this spring, “The amazing generosity of our supporter and hundreds of volunteers who come down to clean and repair boats, repair the docks, stich new sails, teach sailing lessons, give free rides on our fleet of boats or just sit at the front desk with a welcome smile is what makes The Center for Wooden Boats what it is,” said Davis.

Previous Coverage of CWB Improvements