To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.~
For those of you that have been following my blog since its inception, you might recognize that this post’s theme is similar to my 2016 Let’s Go Cruising! and last year’s Homeward Bound. And, well, that’s because it is. Unlike the Space Needle which we took 17 years to do, a cruise on Lake Union and its surrounds seems to be something we have done each year since our RV travels began. But, come on, who doesn’t enjoy a nice boat ride on a gloriously sunny day seeing interesting sites and beautiful places?
In an attempt to avoid redundancy, however, I will try to offer some pertinent info and pictures that provide a different perspective than my aforementioned posts. But again, I beg your patience in the views of the city – you just cannot sail into the skyline of Seattle without taking one, two, or a dozen pictures!
First things first, we chose to do the Locks Cruise offered by Argosy Cruises that starts at their Lake Union marina, cruises through the Fremont Cut, traverses the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, enters the Puget Sound and comes into Elliott Bay to dock at Pier 55 located at Seattle’s waterfront. Its about 2.5 hours long and on a mild sunny Fall day the time just sails by. (Pun intended)
Leaving the dock located on the south end of Lake Union we cruise northwest to enter the Fremont Cut which serves as the western part of the manmade Lake Washington Ship Canal and completes the connection between the two freshwater lakes (Washington and Union) with the Puget Sound. It is a little over a mile long, 270 feet wide and 30 feet deep in its center channel. Along the way we pass under bridges and through office complexes housing tech industries like Google. We also see floating homes intermingled with dry docks, shipyards housing fishing boats and tugboats, and in general, just about anything you would expect to see in a busy harbor.
As we approach the locks we wait for clearance and enjoy gulls dipping into the water for tasty treats and practicing aeronautics over our heads.
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (aka the Ballard Locks) were completed in 1917 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Their obvious purpose is to move boats from the lakes to the sound and vice versa, but they must do so by preventing saltwater intrusion into the freshwater lakes. There are 3 locks operating here – two that are considered small and one that is large and they operate 24/7 except when closed for maintenance. They handle both pleasure craft and commercial boats and are the busiest operating set of locks in the nation. In conjunction with the locks, a fish ladder was built alongside them to provide a means for salmon to make their migration. The grounds surrounding them include a beautiful botanical garden with visitor’s center and the entire operation is considered one of Seattle’s top attractions.
Once through the locks we travel into Puget Sound and turn south and east toward Seattle. We pass some of Seattle’s prime real estate and Discovery Park to our east with views of the Olympics to the west. We are excited that Mt. Rainier has chosen to show herself today and try to capture the moment with our cameras. I’ve always loved the skyline of this city and today is no exception! But as promised, I am only posting a couple of pictures.
After docking we walk through the city back to our port of origin feeling sated with the day albeit a bit tired after the sea air and sunshine. Thanks for tagging along!