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By Jeanny Rhee
Petersen on his sailboat, Yashure, docked at Ballard Mill Marina.

Seattle’s sailor back in Ballard, discusses one God and the Bahá’í faith

Back on land and in civilization, Norman Petersen talks faith, humanity, and the luxury of being alone in the waters of Puget Sound

By Jeanny Rhee

There are locals that merely make up Seattle and there are long-time locals that epitomize Seattle’s bohemian culture and spirit. Seattle native and Roosevelt High School alum Norman Petersen would be the latter.

Born in 1944, Petersen is an aficionado of sailboats, a social activist, father of three sons and an adherent of the Bahá’í Faith.

The men in his family has resided in Ballard since the 1920s when his father, Joakim Petersen, and his uncle, Jacob Petersen, worked as fishermen out of Fisherman’s Terminal after immigrating from Norway.

But what separates him from your average coffee-drinking and beard-sporting Seattleite is that he spends most of the year docked at the Ballard Mill Marina and in the northwestern coast of the Puget Sound on his sailboat.

“I see Norman as a bit of a gypsy,” said Zabine Van Ness, director and curator of the Washington Bahá’í History Museum in the University District, and Petersen’s long-time friend. “He flows from one happening to another happening in his life; he’s never in one place.”

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