July on Lake Union

Summer cruising is coming up later in August….but I’m always in a hurry to get going…even when I know I can’t go quite yet. I do have to work. Sure, working at The Center for Wooden Boats hardly qualifies since it’s so darn fun. But we have Festival to do, then Karin has business trips. I’ve got grants to write, reports back to funders, plans for future events, and then there’s poor little Aphasia with someone’s boot right through her rotten bottom…in need of TLC in the shop.  What’s a boater to do.

Answer, drop the lines at Shilshole where we normally hang our hats, and come inside the locks and bridges to see how things go on the inside.

On the theory that walking, rowing or riding my bike to work would be much more fun that driving or taking a bus, I started looking around back in June for a marina that might have marinamart_1.jpgan open slip for the month.  Sure I could have posted on bulletin boards and PNW Sailors Cruiser Pub, but I thought I’d start just cold calling.  It was tough going for awhile.  No room at the inn, and I was starting to worry.  But then I talked to Pamela at Yates Woods, which does the property management for Marina Mart.  They just happen to have some construction going on, and might have two spots opening up….with a renter for only one. Hot damn, I was in.

So the evening of June 27th, Karin and I slip off the “O” dock in salt water, pulled out the 50-footers (50’ dock lines for non-boaters)

just in case we got crammed in the large lock, and headed in.   Really easy transit. Lucked out getting the small lock, and before we knew it we were heading down the shoot.

Now, I don’t know about you…but I always like getting out of the lock first and running down to the Ballard Bridge ahead of any other sailboats.  I don’t know why, but when I come up to a bridge behind other sailboats I feel cheated somehow because they got to blow their horns….and I didn’t.  I know it doesn’t make sense.  But there it is.  The kid in me still loves to blow the horn, but the adult in me says it’s impolite to come in behind when a boat is already waiting and blow your horn.  That’s like shouting at the other guy, “Hey Jerk, why didn’t you signal the bridge guy?”  And we both know the reason the bridge guy didn’t open for the first boat was that he saw I was coming and didn’t want to open twice.

But I still like to toot the horn.     It’s probably the same part of my brain that veers to the right to drive through a big puddle. (No, not when someone’s on the sidewalk…I check).

imageAnyway, we pulled into Marina Mart, and got a slip on the perpendicular dock coming out from the covered moorage….just 4 slips in from the lake. Which I could not have picked better.  Great views, but being 4 in, you get a little more protection from the wakes on Lake Union.  And that’s the first big impression for my first time staying on the lake, at least near the outside….it’s kind of bouncy.  There’s enough traffic going fast enough that you really notice how much more calm conditions are generally at Shilshole.

Still, Karin, Minnie  and I were very happy

Sailing back to Shilshole 003Sailing back to Shilshole 006Sailing back to Shilshole 004

I have to say that I lucked into this spot. It was only a 7 minute walk to work in the morning, and there is a Starbucks on the way at the AGC building.  Now before you start bashing me for not going with another snooty coffee shop, I want to say that I buy plenty of “Joe” from them.  But Starbucks on your walk to work in the morning is pretty acceptable.  And the folks who run this store are pretty nice folks.  They come down to CWB first Saturday every month to put the pond boats out for kids to play with.  So I’m happy to support them.

It was uber clear right away this was going to be a fun month.  We could stay on the boat as much as possible, and run home for laundry or when or other demands pressed.  But mostly we could be on the boat, and explore the booming South Lake Union hood after hours.  Turns out, there are a lot of really great restaurants and bars there.  Mmmm.  Pasta Freska, excellent. Trago, the new bar at Valley and Westlake, a work in process, but great views and potential.  Rock Salt, sorry…I’m too old.  Dexter and Hayes, awesome neighborhood bar.  Sure, there were others up in SLU….but we ran out of time to test…this year.

We had guests….


Oh, and Karin had a Birthday, so Canlis also got the call. Now those of you not from Seattle may have never heard of this place.  But whatever your trend in food and restaurants, Canlis, since 1950, has been the definition of fine dining in Seattle. There have been trends and food styles; fads in food. We’ve gone local, we’ve tried molecular, we’ve loved ethnic variety.  But Canlis has always been the best restaurant in town.  And it still is.  Both for the food, the wine cellar and the service.  Its is the complete package.  Christian, handsome son, came with. Every once in a while you have to splurge, and Karin is worth every bit of it.


One improvement to s/v Marie while we were inside. Iverson’s came to make a new dodger and full enclosure for the boat.  I know others can do it a little less expensively, but guys Iverson’s team is great. The design fits Marie to a T, and will extend the sailing season tremendously.

Now, like all things, the good times on Lake Union had to come to an end. So our friend from choir at church, Yvette, came down to help us sail back through the locks and back to Shilshole.

Sailing back to Shilshole 007Sailing back to Shilshole 008

This time, after a whole lot of waiting, the large locks called.  I knew it would end up that way. Everyone was queuing at the small locks, but I was listening to “13” and heard them talking to the Argosy Cruise boat coming in behind us, and cleared into the small lock against the red light.  Folks, minor tip, listen to “13” at the locks so you’ll know what they are saying to commercial boats.  It helps to know what’s going on around you. But don’t talk yourself.  It’s for commercial folks only.

So, even after a lovely month on Lake Union, I have to admit that coming out between the “1” and “2” buoys felt liberating.  It’s not that I don’t like inside and city living.  It’s just that when you spend most of your days on the larger Salish Sea, you just get used to the room.  And you feel a little trapped in the lake….with three bridges and a lock to the salt. 

Once outside, we just bobbed and made some lunch.  I love lunch at sea. Everything tastes good.

Sailing back to Shilshole 010Sailing back to Shilshole 011

That’s s/v Marie’s summer so far. And I would highly recommend a stay on Lake Union any time. I may look for something over on Eastlake next July….for variety.

In a week, we’ll move the boat to Anacortes, and then in Two weeks we’ll take off from there until Labor Day Weekend.  I’m looking forward to exploring new areas of the San Juans and I think maybe we’ll poke around in Chuckanut Bay in late August.

Say howdy if you see us.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close