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Thanks to my sister Alysa and her boyfriend Richard, I had an opportunity to join the Bower Family on their sailboat, the Amoretto, for Opening Day of Boating Season. This is an annual event on the Ship Canal between Lake Union and Lake Washington that features a parade of boats along side the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle. Every year, hundreds of boaters, many from various yacht clubs, come out for the festivities, whether to tie-down to the log chain and watch the parade, or to participate in the parade itself. With the sun out, it was a beautiful day to kick off boating season in the Pacific Northwest.
The Bower clan was on hand as a representative of the Edmonds Yacht Club. Richard’s dad, Marty, had his boat docked at the Queen City Yacht Club, sitting right on Portage Bay which is to the East of Lake Washington, a 23-mile long lake that makes the Eastern boundary of Seattle. To the West is Lake Union, known for being the location of the floating homes that were featured in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Lake Union is also connected by the ship canal to the Puget Sound, which would require use of the Ballard Locks if you were to go by boat.
The yacht club was also serving as storage for the U-18 Bucketlist Racing unlimited hydroplane. They are part of the annual Seafair festival that is held in Seattle, with the Hydroplane racing taking place on Lake Washington. For anyone who has never seen one of these in action, they can fly across the water like nothing else as they essentially glide on the surface of the water, and their turbine engines give them the ability to hit top speeds of 220 miles per hour!
As we head down the docks to the Amoretto, you can tell that boating is quite popular in the Seattle area based on the number of boats that are docked in at Queen City. One of the more interesting aspects of this yacht club was the covered docks, a feature I had not seen often, if at all, at a yacht club. Granted, this could very easily be thanks in part to the notorious rainy weather of Seattle, which would make sense.
Upon arrival to the Amoretto, we find that it is no longer the Amoretto, rather, it has become the Flying Dutchman!
Each year, the Boating Season Opening Day Parade has a different theme, and those on board the different boats decorate their boats and wear costumes to match that theme. This years theme was in the category of fantasy and monsters. For the Bowers, they chose to go with the theme of Davey Jones and his crew aboard the Flying Dutchman. Jones would be played by the owner of the vessel, Richard's dad Marty.
Add some green cloth "seaweed" along with the black sails and a few additional decorations, the Amoretto was ready to play the part of the Flying Dutchman.
Of course no pirate ship is complete without a crew, and that's where Alysa, Richard and his sister Katie would come in.
The crew also featured Tobey, the real life seadog!
Of course, if I was going to join them on board, it seemed only fitting to get in on the act as well!
After a few final touches to the vessel (including the hoisting of the colors), final costume touches and finding a good spot to lay in the sun, we were all but ready to set sail!
And away we go, off to the ship canal to join the Opening Day Boat Parade!
While there is a bit of waiting around for your group to be called over the on board radio to go down the parade route, this gives those who are in the parade the opportunity to float around Portage Bay and see the other boats and their themes.
To go with the Fantasy on Monsters theme for this year's parade, there was a great variety, including kraken, giant octopuses, Monsters Inc. and Lord of the Rings.
Some of the other boats in the parade were not in theme, but still featured for promotional purposes, such as the Rainier Beer Boat. There also were some unique boats such as car boats.
After a little bit of a wait, drifting around the other parade participants, it was our group's turn to head down the parade route through Montlake Cut. This canal where the parade is held is the same canal the University of Washington hosts rowing competitions. The UW Rowing team has won multiple national titles, and members of the team in the past were featured in the book The Boys in the Boat, which tells of the American rowing team that won over in Germany during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Today, however, the canal had boats lined up on the sides, and people sitting on the shore to enjoy a beautiful day for a boat parade.
At the other end of the parade route inside of Lake Washington, there is another period of drifting around as you wait for the rest of the parade to go through the route before returning. While some might see this as an inconvenience, it was a stunningly glorious day to be out on the water. As we waited, we had the opportunity to see one of the seaplanes of Kenmore Air take off, and in the distance you could even see the peak of Mt. Rainier thanks to the awesome weather!
Now, if I had to pick a favorite boat from the parade (besides the Flying Dutchman, of course!), I would say that it was the boat who was towing the Loch Ness Monster behind it. I thought that they were really cleaver the way that had the multiple mini rafts behind it to allow Nessie to bend and flex as the boat traveled, and I enjoyed the illusion that it "could" be one single piece.
Once all the other boats had gone through, we would be given the okay to return, which led to a whole swarm of boats going back through the ship canal, bringing today’s adventure to an end.
And that concludes our experience at Opening Day of Boating Season. A special thank you to Alysa and Richard for the invitation to join for a fun day of boating, and thank you all for checking it out this trip report, I hope you enjoyed it!
Take Care and Safe Travels!