TACOMA -- Next month's Maritime Fest will feature a couple of tall ships, and some noisy boats.
For the first time, the annual Maritime Fest along Tacoma's Thea Foss Waterway will showcase as many as six "unlimited light" hydroplanes, cousins of the unlimited hydroplanes that have run for more than half a century.
The racers will circle a course located between the Temco grain terminal and the head of the Thea Foss Waterway on Aug. 28-29.
Sponsored by the Foss Waterway Seaport, the exhibitions and display of the boats will be free to public viewing.
When not in the water for two daily races, the hydros will be available for photographs and inspection near the Seaport's parking lot at 705 Dock St.
"People can touch and see the boats, and kids can sit inside and have their pictures taken," said Earla Harding, the Seaport's event coordinator, this week.
Currently on display -- and continuing on view during the festival -- is the Miss Bardahl, one of the original "thunderboats" that brought fame to a Seattle fuel additive and pride to the Northwest as it won trophies and a national championship during a career that lasted from 1958 to 1961.
One of three boats to carry the Bardahl name, this is the hull that marked five career victories, including its very first race in the 1958 Apple Cup on Lake Chelan.
According to Northwest hydroplane archivist and expert Jon Osterberg, the boat went on that year to win races on the Niagara and Potomac Rivers, and finally garner the national high-point championship.
After two dismal years, Osterberg said, the boat in 1961 won the World Championship Race on Lake Washington and the Silver Cup in Detroit. The hull was then retired, and did not race again until winning the Pemco Classic on Lake Washington in both 2000 and 2001.
Although two Tacoma-based boats -- the Miss B&I and the Coral Reef, known first as the Miss Rocket -- did race on the unlimited hydroplane circuit, neither raced on Commencement Bay.
The disposition of the two Tacoma boats is cloudy, Osterberg said, with threads of the legend having the hulls variously burned in Bothell, rotting in California or enjoying restoration in Renton.
No unlimited hydroplanes have raced in a sanctioned competition on Commencement Bay, although Osterberg said boats listed in "Z-Class" have competed.
Tom Cashman, head of the Seaport, said it was his idea to bring the new breed of hydros Tacoma for Maritime Fest.
"One of our missions is to create a space that re-links Tacoma to the waterfront," he said. "This is something cool, something where people can watch and do."
Along with the hydros, the festival will feature appearances by the tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, which will be moored in Tacoma from Aug. 24-30.
At the Seaport, children can build toy boats - using hulls made by prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Also, remote-control boats will be on view as they engage in ongoing races in a large pond at the Seaport.
On Aug. 29, the Port of Tacoma will host free tours of its waterside facilities aboard the Argosy Good Time II, which will hoist anchor from Thea's Park.
The festival's website is under construction at www.maritimefest.org.