In my old age (hey! I'm not that old) and my long Northwest paddling career (OK, only like 3 years), I've gotten pretty official about my kayak put-ins. The days of quietly inflating my kayak in a dark corner, waiting for some dock staff to turn their shoulders, and then lunging toward the water to launch before I get caught are just about over.
So, we've been working our way down the Lake Washington Ship Canal (Seattle, WA), checking out launch sites (see here, and here!). This one is just northeast-ish of Gas Works Park, next-door to the Puget Sound Yacht Club on Lake Union.
From here, you've got free street parking, great water views of Seattle, and you're close to Gas Works Park, beautiful houseboats in Portage Bay, and if you make a half-day out of it - the Arboretum and the University of Washington are around the corner towards Lake Washington.
Any negatives? Well, this area of Lake Union can get a little busy with boats of all kinds. Our favorite situation during this trip was a huge power yacht with the captain and crew all working to crane up their giant dinghy, all while leaving the boat in forward. As they scratched their heads in the back of the boat they didn't realize they were slowly moving forward toward the bank. They almost hit a kayaker and ran into a University of Washington research vessel before the captain realized it and hit the reverse...v-rooooom!
This busy area leads toward the 'Montlake Cut', the skinny waterway that connects the Seattle lakes. It can be a little choppy depending on boat traffic (a.k.a. SUP's beware!). It's worth it to make it to Seattle's Arboretum - stay close to the edge and you'll do fine.
Speaking of boat traffic, the Seattle Ducks (Land/aquatic tourist vehicles full of tourists with quackers) enter the lake from the Sunnyside boat ramp. They're not that bad wake-wise, and if you spend some time getting ready on the dock you'll get to vote along with the tourists - "Should I enter the lake fast or slow?" Then, 5 minutes later the next duck-boat will arrive..."Should I enter the lake fast or slow?"
Don't have a kayak? Aqua Verde and the UW are close to this area as well, both rent out various boats...Enjoy more pics at the bottom of this post!
~Paul, Amber, Vic ETC
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