The 22nd annual San Diego Wooden Boat Festival, featuring more than 70 classic crafts, seminars on traditional maritime skills and activities for kids, will be held June 16-17 at the Koehler Kraft boatyard on Shelter Island. 

The San Diego Wooden Boat festival is the premier annual event for Southern California traditional wooden boat enthusiasts and provides a rare opportunity for the general public to view these crafts up close.  From small rowing, sailing, and power boats to regal schooners and rugged workboats, all are open to the public.

This year’s Wooden Boat Festival attractions and seminars will include:

  • Visit some of San Diego Bay’s classic beauties: several large classic vessels will be in attendance and available for viewing, both above and below decks. Owners will be on hand to give the history of the boats. Some of the craft available for viewing at the festival this year include FAME, a 40’6” Schooner that was built in 1910. This vessel was completely restored at Koehler Kraft in three months time and was re-launched July 12th of 2010,  her 100th birthday.  Akamai a 1962, Kettenburg 50,  that just went through a full restoration at Koehler Kraft this past year and  Dauntless, a 71’  1930 Alden Schooner, that raced in the 1930 Newport to Bermuda race and is featured on this years poster and commemorativet-shirt.  As well as the Dickie Walker , a 63’ Nova Scotia Trawler, this vessel has 4000 mile range and still has the original Caterpillar single screw engine #D13000 from 1951 and charming custom furnishings that is always a crowd favorite.
  • Free Steamboat Rides: Ride an authentic steam-driven boat for a short tour of the yacht basin.
    Custommade small boats: handcrafted kayaks, canoes, dories and other small craft will be on display and their owners will be on-hand to discuss what it takes to build a small wooden boat.
    Vendor Booths: an array of booths featuring everything from sailing societies to marine chandlery.  Additionally, Challenged America will be having their annual rummage sale featuring a large array of quality, gently used sports equipment.
    Activities for children: there will be a children’s area where they can create a treasure chest frame or make a small boat and collect fun temporary tattoos and an eye patch!
  • Live music: The ever popular group “Heritage”, featuring Larry “Friar” Edwards on fiddle and Chuck “Strummer” Preble on guitar, will perform seafaring songs and dance tunes from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Daytime activities at the 22nd Annual San Diego Wooden Boat Festival run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

All proceeds from the event go to benefit Challenged America. Urban Miyares, co-founder of the charitable, San Diego-based, Challenged America, a recreational rehabilitation, adaptive-sailing program which was launched by disabled veterans in 1978, is available for interviews prior to and during the event. 

Breakfast and lunch will be available at the festival for a nominal additional charge. On Saturday evening after the festival a special dinner will be offered for an additional charge and will include screenings of classic sailing movies.

For a complete schedule of events and for more information about the festival call the Koehler Kraft yard office at 619 222-9051.  Koehler Kraft is located at 2302 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92106.

Photos from the 2011 edition courtesy Philippe Gadeyne

Why we sail

“In this picture, Doug just finished rigging the sail boat with a joystick system so that I could steer the boat and trim the sails independently. What a sense of freedom and independence! We are a great team. He calmly gives me instruction and I execute. It’s a great sport for me, since I cannot speak (and it’s not necessary)! The only time I was slightly nervous was when we returned, under full sail, within feet of the famous race boat Stars & Stripes and pulled up to the pier with a perfect “hockey stop!” Good times.”
– Ellen

“It is always a humbling, inspirational and tremendously fun experience to sail with Ellen. Using the Power Assist system that we set up on the Martin 16, she has total control, steering the boat and trimming the sails.”
– Doug

Editor’s Note: Ellen is a veteran who served as a nurse while on active duty, and now has ALS — aka Lou Gehrig’s disease. This was Ellen’s second time at the VA National Summer Sports Clinic for recently injured veterans, and sailing with Challenged America.

Why should I consider donating my vessel to Challenged America?

Why should I donate my vessel to Challenged America?” This is a question often asked when we or others suggest donating their vessel (or vehicle) to the Challenged America program, of the charitable Disabled Businesspersons Association.

There are two basic reasons why someone will donate their vessel.

1. It makes sound financial sense.
2. They can’t afford or do not want to continue spending money to maintain and keep their vessel, even if its currently listed for sale.

Those who pay taxes each year and/or are in the upper income-tax brackets often will donate their vessel to an IRS-qualified 501(c)3 “user” charity, to maximize their possible return on their vessel investment.

And many professional yacht brokers have discovered that, asking if their client has discussed – with their accountant/CPA, legal counsel or financial advisor — the many financial advantages of donating their vessel, versus trying to sell it on the open market, makes better financial sense.

As one yacht broker who works with Challenged America said:

In some cases, a customer may be serious about purchasing another, larger vessel, if they can sell their existing boat. And if they donate today, they can not only move up quickly, but probably also get more in financial gain, due to tax savings or even refunds. It’s my professional obligation to help the client market their vessel as quickly as possible, and at the highest possible financial return. And, in some instances, donating to a qualified charity like the DBA’s Challenged America program is the best option, and offers the highest return possible.

Note: In the above scenario, the client received a 100% tax-deduction of their (donated) vessel’s full appraised price, versus waiting months for the eventual sale of their offered yacht at a drastically reduced price, if donated to Challenged America and the vessel is used in the program.

If you are now thinking of selling or purchasing a new or used vessel, we strongly suggest that you contact one of the following professional yacht brokers, friends and supporters of Challenged America.

Steve Rock, Stephen Rock Brokerage – (619) 857-9297 cell
Don Ross, Heritage Yachts – (949) 274-6595 cell
Paul Daubner, Northrop & Johnson – (619) 228-1942 cell
Barrett Canfield, South Coast Yachts San Diego – (619) 517-4736
Gary Stevens, McKinna Yachts, (949) 673-4879 cell

For the name of a yacht broker, nationwide, who has worked with Challenged America, contact Urban Miyares or Dave Hopkins at Challenged America.

Note: Challenged America is currently seeking (donated) sail and power vessels, especially an offshore race or race-cruiser sailboat, newer or older vintage, able to accommodate a crew of 10 or more for extended periods of time at sea.

TAXABLE AND NONTAXABLE – In 2009, Americans filed 140.5 million individual tax returns. 58% of those returns (81.9 million returns) paid 100% of the federal income tax paid by all taxpayers ($866 billion of tax was paid). 42% of those returns (58.6 million returns) legally paid zero federal income tax (source: IRS).

IRS Publication 526, Charitable Donations (see exemptions: p8, column 2)

Recently injured veterans heal at Summer Sports Clinic

San Diego’s Challenged America therapeutic sailing program has a long history of healing veterans, both recently injured from combat and those acquiring a disability from other causes. And at this year’s 4th National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, September 18 to 23, from San Diego’s Marriott Marquis Hotel & Marina, 130 recently injured veterans will experience the healing powers of the ocean as they sail with Challenged America in San Diego’s Big Bay.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) newest national program, the Summer Sports Clinic (SSC) promotes rehabilitation of body and spirit by teaching summer sporting activities to veterans with significant physical or psychological impairments. The Clinic offers such sports as sailing, surfing, kayaking, track and field and cycling to these veterans who are newly injured from amputation, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), blindness, spinal cord injuries or disease, and other neurological disorders, all benefiting from the therapeutic environment offered at the Clinic.

“When we first proposed a Summer Sports Clinic to the VA in 1996, those involved with VA sports therapy excitedly endorsed it. But I knew we then needed to convince those in Washington, DC, that it was a valuable asset, and complimented the already successful Winter Sports Clinic held each year in Colorado,” says Urban Miyares, blinded Vietnam veteran and co-founder of the Challenged America program. “It took years before Washington, DC, agreed. After all, Challenged America has been providing successful water-sports activities for therapeutic purposes to severely and catastrophically disabled veterans for more than 30 years , and today’s VA Summer Sports Clinic is but an extension of an already successful San Diego-based charitable program matching the VA’s goals.”

The week-long event, based from the Marriott Marquis, will attract more than 400 people, to include 130 recently injured veterans, their families, personnel and officials from the VA,, political figures and others from local and federal agencies, celebrities, sponsors, and volunteers, most coming from around the nation. All with be participating in or watching the many sporting venues, such as sailing on San Diego’s Big Bay in Challenged America’s fleet of two-person, 16-foot (adaptive) sailboats, and aboard Sail USA-11’s America’s Cup yacht; kayaking on Mission Bay; surfing at La Jolla Shores; cycling and rock climbing (wall) on Coronado; and experience track and field at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

“It’s going to be a busy week of introducing these veterans and their loved ones to sporting activities they should be able to participate in, when they return home. After all, sports is a tremendous rehabilitative activity that has proven to be key to heal one’s body and mind. Challenged America was started in 1978 by disabled veterans as a self-directed therapeutic program. And today, most of Challenged America’s participants and volunteers are veterans, many having combat-experience and disabilities. The VA’s Summer Sports Clinic and Challenged America is a prime example of ‘veterans helping and healing with fellow veterans’,” says Miyares.

Founded in 1978 by San Diego disabled veterans, Challenged America is a year-round, therapeutic (adaptive) sailing program for disabled veterans, youth and adults with disabilities, based at Shelter Island, San Diego. Hundreds from around the nation and the world sail with the volunteer-driven, charitable, program.

For additional information, contact

Urban Miyares, Challenged America
2240 Shelter Island Drive, Suite 108
San Diego, CA 92106
phone 619-523-9318
email Port@ChallengedAmerica.org
or visit ChallengedAmerica.org.