Monday, July 6, 2009

Free Sailing on the Wooden Boats

We made plans to sail on the wooden boat with our visitors from Phoenix. It was listed as a free activity and sounded like a nice opportunity to get out on Lake Union for a truly unique experience. I figured we would be asked to row or rig the jib and then I would be clueless and try to cover my ignorance by tying a loose half hitch in the nearest rope I could find. My ignorance and weak attempts at guarding my ego were spared, at least in the context of sailing.

We started the week with a walk on the beach giving our visitors time to enjoy the Puget Sound and familiarize themselves with the area. Immediately they were smitten with the beauty of the place.The water, mountains, tall trees, jellyfish, and beaches all drew them in with perfect 70 degree sunshine through cloud pocked skies. The waterfront in Edmonds was beautiful making our friends from Phoenix envious of our luck in finding a great place to live.

We explained to them living in the area was difficult. We had to choose what scenery best fit our desires each day. Would it be rocky beaches, sandy beaches, glacier riddled mountains, clear cold waterfalls, moss laden rain forests, sail boat crowded lakes, city skyline or a stroll across the marina eight blocks from our home? The reasons driving our choice of destination for the day were derived from the current economic situation. Our friends from Phoenix were feeling the tight binds of thin monetary resources just as much as we were. We were trying to find activities with lower costs and Traci found the Center for Wooden Boats. Every weekend they take people out on wooden boats on Lake Union. The only requirement was to be there early to sign up. We wrangled children and adults until we could leave in time to get our names on the list.

After placing our names on the register for the latest sailing of the day we decided to wander around Seattle and take in some of the sites. We hopped on the street car from the Center for Wooden Boats parking lot and made our way to the Pacific Place station. As we exited the streetcar we heard people asking for directions to Pike Place Market. The streetcar operator gave directions and warned us the parade would be starting soon. I thought great we can watch the parade, the kids love parades. I asked him what occasion the parade was celebrating, it was June 28th and I couldn't remember the holiday or observation associated with that date. He took me aside and said it was the 'Pride Parade'. Oh. So the kids and adults would have been entertained by the parade but we chose to skip it and made our way to the market.

We ambled through the vendors at the market. We watched the Slimpickins play in front of the original Starbucks coffee house. We watched the fish throwers entertain the crowds. We visited the Wall of Gum. We listened to a young man strum his guitar and sing a song about how we were all a little hippy he guessed except when he heard an old hippy say she was more for the war than peace. His final refrain was we were all also a little established he guessed. The market was an carnival of sights, sounds and smells. We left just after the kids were delighted with a man and his parrot. The parrot laid in the kids' hands and flipped himself over from his back.

We walked back to the Pacific Place center to catch the monorail to the Seattle Center. We walked straight into the center of the parade. The costumes and personalities were flamboyant at the least. The excited crowds spread in all directions. On one corner a protesting group of religious zealots were swallowed up by men and women holding hands, laughing and cheering, wearing vibrant colorful costumes. The parade was jubilant. We scurried across the street with our kids in tow heading for the Pacific Place center.

We took the monorail to Seattle Center to see the Space Needle. This was where the low cost plans went right into thin air. It was 75 dollars for all of our family to go up the Space Needle. We rationalized this by the money we were saving with the free boat ride. A ride on Lake Union in any other vessel usually ran 40-75 dollars a person. We figured it would have been more than twice as costly to do both activities and we were getting one free. We went up the Space Needle and ogled the city from about 600 feet in the air. I felt cheated, the Gateway Arch was 630 feet in the air and only cost about 7 dollars a person. The difference was the Arch offered views of downtown St. Louis opposed by views of the less than attractive east side of the Mississippi. The Space Needle looked over Seattle, the Puget Sound, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and Mt. Rainier. I figured I got what I paid for each time.

We went back to the Pacific Place center on the monorail, caught the streetcar back to the center for wooden boats and prepared ourselves for the boat ride on Lake Union. We were instructed to wait in front of the museum. We watched as sea planes landed in the lake and the earlier scheduled sailings returned to the docks. The wind had been gaining strength throughout the day creating small white caps on the surface of the lake. Member of the center for wooden boats staff were running back and forth bringing boats in, helping people disembark and preparing for the next trip. A man stood before us making an announcement. I couldn't hear him well and I moved closer, the wind was whipping in my ears. He stated due to the strong winds the last trips had been postponed for fifteen minutes to see if the winds would die down. It was too windy to sail safely.

We waited.

Another man came across the deck and yelled to the first man that the Admirable, the boat we signed up to ride on, was broken. A ring had broken off somewhere and the boat would not be sailing. I watched as the first man announced the last sailings for the day were cancelled. We went home, tired and a little disappointed from a long day in Seattle.

I never had to rig the jib.

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