2015-07-07

Sailing to Lake Union

We went for our longest day of sailing yet. We set sail at about 12:30 with our normal crew of Conner, Taylor, Greg, and Sandi. The wind was coming from the south, and we headed in that direction, tacking down the lake. It was the wrong direction, however, for flying our spinnaker again.

Headed south in Lake Union. The Space Needle just
off the port bow.
After an couple of hours heading toward 520, we dropped sail and motored our way through the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Montlake cut, Portage Bay, and into Lake Union. We passed under drawbridges that have enough clearance that they do not have to opened for us. We landed on the south end of Lake Union, and tied up to the dock there. Dinner was at Duke's Chowder House at Chandler's Cove.

Our route. The red line was our approximate path.
Map © OpenStreetMap contributors
The Lake Washington Ship Canal was a huge construction project completed between 1911 and 1934, creating a water passage between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, by way of Lake Union. Nothing like it would be allowed now because of the environmental impact, including dropping the water level in Lake Washington by almost nine feet. The Montlake Cut is a 110 foot wide man-made passage between Portage Bay and Lake Washington.

The crew. Fantasia tied up at Chandler's Cove.
After dinner, we reversed direction. While we were having dinner, the winds had shifted and were now coming from the north. We briefly put up the sails in Lake Union, then dropped them again. The Montlake Cut is too narrow to be sailing in, with many boats making their way from Lake Union and Puget Sound to Lake Washington. There were sailing classes with Lasers from Seattle Yacht Club in Portage Bay. There were sail boats from the University of Washington boat house. There were really inexperienced sailors trying their hardest to capsize a small sail boat and failing.

After we got back into Lake Washington, we raised sail and tacked our way north. The winds were just about perfect: strong, but not overwhelming. The sun had a slight haze over it, apparently from forest fires in British Columbia, which kept it a little cooler. There were lots of sailboats out, and only a few powerboats. The seas were too heavy for the power boats to pull shark bait behind them (what Greg calls kids on inflatables). For a while, we played with another Catalina 22. We nicknamed the captain Crazy Ivan, as he did things like take his boat in tight circles, or pull his boat ahead of ours on the same tack.

We pulled into the dock as the sun was headed near the horizon after 8 p.m. A long day, but one of the most enjoyable we have had sailing.

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