Celebrate start of boating season with free Sunday rides at CWB

If you want to celebrate opening weekend of the boating season but don’t have a way to get out on the water, consider heading down to The Center for Wooden Boats.

Every Sunday throughout the year, the center’s CastOFF! Program offers free boat rides on Lake Union.

The program uses classic CWB boats that are too large or complex to be part of the museum’s regular boat rental program. The boats used vary from week to week but may include; Admirable, a restored 112-year-old Bristol Bay Gillnetter (also the boat in the CWB logo); Amie, a Friendship sloop, Dora, the electric-powered lake explorer; the long boat Discovery; Puffin, a 106-year-old steam-powered launch; the New Haven Sharpie Betsy D, a 35-foot oyster boat; or the visiting schooner Lavengro.

Additional information about the boats and the program is available here.

Sign-ups are accepted day-of-sail only and start at 10 a.m. Phone reservations aren’t accepted, but you can call to check weather conditions; the rides go on rain or shine, but wind conditions sometimes prevent boats from going out. The rides are free, though donations are accepted.

The rides are popular, so CWB advises arriving early to reserve a spot. When you arrive, check in at the front desk, read the release form and sign up for the boat you want to go out on. At the appointed time, gather in the gallery and you will be directed to your boat.

Free rides are just one reason to come down to CWB on weekends. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can try out “Pirate Pond Boats” on the boat pond in Lake Union Park. CWB rents the boats on weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a suggested donation of $5 an hour.

The R-Class Pirate model is a 39-inch free-sailing pond boat designed in 1927 by famed Seattle yacht designer Ted Geary. The design was given to Seattle high school students to build in shop class starting in the late 1920s. Since 1999, CWB has built more than 30 of the model boats in the city’s public schools.

The full-sized R-Boat Pirate, launched in 1926 on Lake Union, has been restored and is owned by CWB. She can be seen at CWB’s docks.

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