Arts and Entertainment

Heave-ho! To the Baltic the Shifties will go

The Shifty Sailors tune up during practice at the Coupeville Wharf for their trip to the Baltic Sea Aug. 5-25. - Cynthia Woolbright / staff photo
The Shifty Sailors tune up during practice at the Coupeville Wharf for their trip to the Baltic Sea Aug. 5-25.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright / staff photo


Staff reporter

Beginning Aug. 5, the Baltic Sea better watch out for some pretty shifty characters. Whidbey’s own sea chantey singing group the Shifty Sailors will be the official entertainment for the Cutty Sark Tall Ship Races on the Baltic Sea.

Two years ago, six of the Shifties attended a tall ship event in Bergen, Norway. They fell in love with the experience and this summer the whole Shifty Sailor roster, along with friends and wives, will return to Europe for a Shifty good time.

“We know it’s the rowdy seafaring songs that gets people to come back for another beer,” Olsen said of the Shifty’s selection as entertainers for the event.

Their three week tour will take them through six countries, beginning in Estonia and ending in Denmark.

The Cutty Sark Tall Ship Races will make stops in four Baltic cities: G’dynia, Poland; Turku, Finland; Riga, Latvia and Luebeck, Germany. While the boats are busy racing on the water, the Shifty Sailors will tour the land and perform in 10 cities, including five national capitals. The two major stops for the racers will be Riga and Luebeck, so you can bet Whidbey’s sailors will be making those a little more shifty with their presence.

The Shifties formed in 1993 with nine members. Their sea-faring ranks have grown to 20-plus. Members hail from Clinton to Oak Harbor and are young and old alike. Even Kaj Olsen, 6, and Andy Walker, 8, have been known to don the Shifty stripes.

Shifty songs are fun, feisty numbers that will run the salt breeze through your hair and lend nautical appreciation to your heart.

“What makes them fun is that they are yards from any attempt at perfection. It’s just a group of guys who have a lot of fun,” said Mike Thelen of Oak Harbor.

It all starts out as a three-week tour. But like the folks on the S.S. Minnow the Shifties know to expect the unexpected. After all, they bring the party with them.

Check for their schedule as well as a sailor’s log that will offer regular updates while they are sailing the Baltic.

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