Letters to the Editor

Nautical history kept alive | LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

When the Whidbey Island ShantyFest at the Greenbank Farm had to be canceled due to snow, wind and cold, we had to decide what to do next. The Shifty Sailors chose to reschedule for Feb. 18 because this concert/fundraiser was our gift to our island community.

I’m sure many on the island do not know the history of the Shifty Sailors.  The Island County Historical Society in Coupeville asked me in 1993 to form a group of singers to help promote the sales of a new book called “Sails, Steamships & Sea Captains.” It turned out to be a very successful and enjoyable experience, and the group (now 23 in number) has been together ever since.

For nearly 19 years, we have practiced continually learning songs of the sea, performing in the U.S., Canada and Europe, creating five CDs, and, when possible, fulfilling our mission as stated on our website:  “ . . . making sure the surrounding maritime communities understand their own nautical history.” This is why we created the ShantyFest. It is an opportunity for us and other like-minded groups to highlight our nautical heritage through song and demonstration.

We also strive to sing at festivals which do the same — Coupeville’s upcoming Penn Cove Water Festival; Anacortes’ Waterfront Festival and Workboat Festival; Port Townsend’s Wooden Boat Festival; Seattle’s Folklife Festival, and Ballard’s Fishermen’s Fall Festival.

We know our mission and are proud of our 19 years of sharing that with all of you.

Vern Olsen
Shifty Sailors


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