Homeport Bound

on January 11, 2017
Ship Canal, Elliot Bay Marina

Jim closed the deal on CDS and secured a spot for her at Elliot Bay Marina late last year. Until her recent adoption, she’s been moored on Lake Union off Westlake, so her first voyage with her new and first owner wasn’t a sail at all, but a motor to Elliot Bay Marina. I opted to ride as passenger because I’ve never boated the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and just being on the sailboat is exciting as I dream of learning to sail.

It was mostly clear and quite cold as the broker, Kirk, steered the boat from the dock on Lake Union. Jim took the helm shortly, and I sat on the bow deck because I thought I would be most helpful out of the way.

Bridges opened for us. We parted traffic! First, the Fremont Bridge, then the Ballard Bridge, then the Salmon Bay Bridge after the Ballard Locks. Working boats were docked between the bridges: tug boats named some variation of Arctic Titan and big fishing vessels lined the coast on both sides. Some were pulled out of the water for welding maintenance, others’ decks were completely covered in white plastic. These ships were colossal, Alaskan, masculine.

I’d never been through the Ballard Locks, only seen it from the cement bridges as an onlooker. As we approached, a large brown sea lion swam laps between the moving locks and us as we waited for a tugboat coming through the locks heading east. When we were between the gates of the locks, we tied to starboard to the metal wall. The gates closed and water poured out slowly as the metal wall we were tied to moved down. Asian tourists waved and took pictures of us from the cement walkways above.

Soon enough we were motoring through Salmon Bay where nice homes on shore replaced the working boats undergoing maintenance of the Fremont Cut. This is where the cold started to become a bit unbearable despite that I was wearing a base layer and two down layers. The choppiest part of the trip was when we entered Shilshole Bay. Kirk took the helm as Jim tried the kettle and stove for the first time to make hot coffee for the three of us. I warmed up in cabin for a minute, and caught a first glimpse of the spinnaker from the folds of its bag.


As we rounded Discovery Park sipping hot coffee and chomping croissants, we could see the Olympics snowcapped to the west, and Mt. Baker bright, white, and lonesome to the north. The Seattle skyline came into view as we turned east approaching the marina. Grey snow clouds covered the Cascades farther east and Tacoma to the south.

We stopped to get gas at the marina before heading to CDS’ moorage. Heron perched among the quiet boats, their feathers long and bristly, their gazes wise. As we were sitting there fueling up, I saw a stuffed coyote on the adjacent dock. Kirk told me it’s there to scare away the sea otters. We passed some real big, and real fancy boats to get to CDS’ new home between Seaduction and Fjern.

Up until this point, the only thing that’s made the boat feel like Jim’s was the name inscribed on the stern and the stereo he had installed in the cabin. We dropped Kirk back off at Lake Union and brought a few boxes of things back to CDS. Jim and I put down sheep skin rugs, found places for the kitchenware, tried to stereo, put bedding on beds, and did some other tinkering.

What I learned:

  • How the Ballard Locks work in a basic sense, just having sat through them as a passenger.
  • Wear more clothes for January boating.
  • Sailboats require diesel fuel. At least CDS does, and she can hold about 36 gallons of it. You also have to add anti-algae to the tank because apparently algae can will grow in the fuel. I didn’t think anything could grow on diesel fuel but I guess I was wrong.
  • How to park a boat, in a theoretical sense (don’t gas through the whole turn into the mooring spot).
  • Stuffed coyotes scare away sea otters, which is apparently a good thing.
  • There are water 4 valves that need to be turned off when you’re done on the boat. One at the engine, two under the floorboards, and one under the head sink.
  • How to use the head, kind of. I know I have to pump water in, pee, and then pump water out again.

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