2014-10-03

Lake Washington Water Level

We went out for a short sail for about an hour out on the lake. We hadn't been on the water or visited the boat for almost two weeks, having been out of town. As we got to the boat, we noticed that it was riding much lower in the water, with the fenders almost too low to protect the boat from the dock. This is due to the annual lowering of the lake level.

Lake Washington is fresh water, but has two locks that exit into Puget Sound. Some time next season, we expect to venture out through those locks in the boat. The Army Corps of Engineers controls the locks and flood gate, which also controls the water level in the lake. During the winter, they normally lower the water level about two feet from the level they keep it at during the summer.

Lake Washington Water Levels
Lake Washington Water Levels
The extra water during the summer serves several purposes. The lake drains about 8 million gallons of fresh water every time they use the large lock. The water also serves the fish ladder that allows salmon to traverse the locks. During the winter, the lower level keeps down erosion on the shores, as well as allowing repairs to docks and other lakeside fixtures. We had a choice of another docking space, but when we took into account the lower water level in October, it was just too shallow.

In just the last three days, the Corps has let water through the flood gate to lower the lake level by about three inches. That is a huge amount of fresh water from a 26 mile long lake. I'll bet the people experiencing the drought in California wish they could acquire some of that!

Round turn and two half-hitches.
Round turn and two half-hitches.
After pulling back in, we adjusted all of the fenders to ride a few inches higher to put them between the boat and the dock.

Tip: To tie a fender to a life-line, you will want to use a "round turn and two half-hitches.". The picture shows this knot. This is one of the essential knots to know.


We will be pulling the boat out for the winter soon, but we still have a few good days of sailing left.

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