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Old 03-03-2017, 07:54 AM   #1
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Default Seattle area boating questions

Hi folks! My family may be moving from the east coast to the Seattle area, working near the airport. Haven't figured out where we might live but will looking for great elementary schools but still reasonably affordable.

We're avid boaters and I was really exciting about the boating in the area. But I spent a couple of hours looking for a good marina to call home and it looks like nearly all of them in East or South Lake Washington or in the Lake Union area have horribly long waiting lists - many a year or more for a ~30' boat and none seem to be less than 6 months.

Is it that hard to find a slip in the area? We'd do a combination of fishing, cruising, and sometimes just overnighting on the boat at the marina. Can anyone make a recommendation for a family-friendly marina in a decent area (and within ~30 min or so drive from the kent/renton area) that we'd be able to get into more or less right away if we move out there this summer?

The world class boating is one of the main attractions about the area to us and it'd be awful to have to wait a year to take advantage of it! Coming from the Annapolis area it just seems unbelievable to me that it'd be so hard to get into a marina. Thanks, and would very much appreciate any tips anyone has on fishing, cruising, and where to live in the area as well - PM me if desired.

Thanks!
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Old 03-03-2017, 03:11 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Pacific NW.

Not as pleasant a boating area as Maryland.

Lakes Union and Washington are the geographic center of all the money in the Seattle area. Meaning things are real expensive.

I grew up on the Georgia coast, things are different and more expensive here.

I live in Port Angeles, 3 hours or so drive west of Seattle. Not too bad here.


"The world class boating is one of the main attractions about the area to us and it'd be awful to have to wait a year to take advantage of it! Coming from the Annapolis area it just seems unbelievable to me that it'd be so hard to get into a marina. Thanks, and would very much appreciate any tips anyone has on fishing, cruising, and where to live in the area as well - PM me if desired."

I would not call it world class. Demand and supply for slips. Too much population, too little slips.

I recommend a trailable boat.


Sometimes the scenery changes.


Last edited by Altamaha; 03-03-2017 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 03-04-2017, 07:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by rose_surfer View Post
Hi folks! My family may be moving from the east coast to the Seattle area, working near the airport. Haven't figured out where we might live but will looking for great elementary schools but still reasonably affordable.

We're avid boaters and I was really exciting about the boating in the area. But I spent a couple of hours looking for a good marina to call home and it looks like nearly all of them in East or South Lake Washington or in the Lake Union area have horribly long waiting lists - many a year or more for a ~30' boat and none seem to be less than 6 months.

Is it that hard to find a slip in the area? We'd do a combination of fishing, cruising, and sometimes just overnighting on the boat at the marina. Can anyone make a recommendation for a family-friendly marina in a decent area (and within ~30 min or so drive from the kent/renton area) that we'd be able to get into more or less right away if we move out there this summer?

The world class boating is one of the main attractions about the area to us and it'd be awful to have to wait a year to take advantage of it! Coming from the Annapolis area it just seems unbelievable to me that it'd be so hard to get into a marina. Thanks, and would very much appreciate any tips anyone has on fishing, cruising, and where to live in the area as well - PM me if desired.

Thanks!
There are slips available, you just need to know where to look. Yes it is expensive, but boating is year round. The cruising opportunities in relatively protected waters are great. Biggest decision to make is do you want to be in salt or fresh water. The locks can be a PIA. But obviously fresh is easier on the boat.

If you are working near "the airport" I take that to mean SeaTac. Des Moines Marina is probably closest and most reasonable. Tacoma is cheaper and probably has better availability. SeaTac to Tacoma is probably the same as SeaTac to Seattle.

We have a 40' slip with private gated parking at the sound end of Lake Union. I am going to sublet it out this summer if you are interested.

Howard
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Old 03-05-2017, 04:35 AM   #4
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If you are working near "the airport" I take that to mean SeaTac. Des Moines Marina is probably closest and most reasonable. Tacoma is cheaper and probably has better availability. SeaTac to Tacoma is probably the same as SeaTac to Seattle.

We have a 40' slip with private gated parking at the sound end of Lake Union. I am going to sublet it out this summer if you are interested.

Howard
I think just east of SeaTac in the Kent area. I looked at the Des Moines city dock and they already have a long waiting list. I also called a couple of places in Tacoma and they are filling up too - only a couple available now and they'll be full in the next couple of weeks. Foss harbor offered to hold one for me for a month with a deposit but I don't think we'll be there until June or July.

Definitely appreciate the year round opportunities. Even in md I roll the dice and don't winterize the engines because it kills me to not have use of the boat all winter when we have the occasional mild weather.

I might take you up on your sublet offer - much appreciated. Could you shoot me a pm when ready? Or I'm happy to pm you my email address.

Also trying to think about how much of a priority to put on trailering. I wouldn't want to be stuck on a lake so if we went fresh water (hoping to do some salmon fishing and explore the sound) I thought I could get through the locks. But if that's an all day affair we probably would need to be able to trailer it. Since we've got two kids that really limits our options to something like an albin 28. I love the jeanneau 895 but there's no used ones so that's likely out of the question.

Another thing I noticed is how relatively few used boats there are over there compared to the east coast. Is there any added complication or expense of buying a (used) boat in Canada - would help if I can include those in my search.
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Old 03-05-2017, 10:34 AM   #5
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I know there are only a few slips left in Gig Harbor (where we are) just across the Narrows from Tacoma. It's getting to be the time that all the slips are booking for the summer -- they'll all be gone pretty soon. It's easier to sign em up before those couple of spring-warning weather days hit as most (all?) of the slips around here are month-to-month and the fact that trailering is incredibly unpleasant between the lines, lack of ramps, and parking issues.

BTW, I find the salt waters here far more enjoyable to boat in than the Chesapeake (where we spent time previously) -- there's a great deal more variety here, especially if you have a relatively high cruising speed and can get place to place easily. There's far better scenery and wildlife, if that's your thing. The lakes here -- Union and Washington I mean -- are very heavily used in the summer and mostly party- and watersports-oriented afaict. I reckon it depends on what you call family-friendly, but for me it's the salty side where we enjoy it most.
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Old 03-05-2017, 01:01 PM   #6
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Poulsbo. Lots of slips. Google it.

Take the ferry out of Seattle and you are in a different world.

Below, my 22 Mako at the Manchester Ramp (Port Orchard area). Not too crowded for July!

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Old 03-05-2017, 01:06 PM   #7
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Sekiu. This is why a trailable boat is the choice, especially if you fish. 30 miles west of me along the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Vancouver Island in the background. Keep the rain gear in the boat at all times!


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Old 03-05-2017, 01:09 PM   #8
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Five of these for sale in Port Angeles. Maybe more. All on trailers. 28 Foot Salty Dogs.







Look around on the local craigs lists and you will find boats. Olympic Peninsula, Seattle, Portland, Bellingham.


https://olympic.craigslist.org/boa/6002667568.html


https://seattle.craigslist.org/skc/boa/6018323725.html


https://bellingham.craigslist.org/boa/5981790853.html

Depends on how much you want to spend.

Last edited by Altamaha; 03-05-2017 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 03-05-2017, 04:00 PM   #9
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You won't find anything in the Freshwater for just the summer. Most people leave their boats in the water year round.

The locks are doable, sometimes it takes 30 minutes, sometimes it takes 4 hours.

I will pm you my information
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Old 03-09-2017, 03:18 PM   #10
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Six to twelve months is not that long to wait for a slip. That's actually down from prior years. Doesn't hurt to get on the list and then you are set when it comes available. If you keep your eyes on Craigslist, you can find some transient moorage available. Some people will move their boat to the San Juan Islands for the summer and sublet their slips, so that's something to consider. A bit of a longshot, but sometimes you can get lucky. Another place to check for moorage is in Winslow/Poulsbo area. It's not as close as you would like but you may get lucky and find some moorage there.

I would agree with O'l Norse, I find saltwater boating much more enjoyable. The lakes are absolutely packed (and rough) during the prime summer months. Puget sound can be downright serene and peaceful and it will take years to discover all the different places. I've boated in the Seattle area for about 20 years now and have moored my boat in Seattle, Everett, Anacortes and the San Juan Islands. We chose to move around a bit just to discover different areas. I'm currently in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. It's about a two plus hour drive from Seattle (with light traffic), then a one hour ferry ride. Not incredibly convenient, but it's a beautiful place to hang out and boat. Good luck!
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:09 AM   #11
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I got a slip at Elliot Bay (36') without waiting. Not cheap around Seattle. Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Browns Point, Everett all have available slips. If you don't get too big you can dry store it in Tacoma, Seattle or Edmonds. It is a great boating area, even if you have been out on Puget Sound for over half century...
There are places like Edmonds and Des Moines where they have long waits, especially for covered moorage.
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Old 03-23-2017, 03:17 PM   #12
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"Welcome to the Pacific NW.

Not as pleasant a boating area as Maryland"

Uh, you're doing it wrong.
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Old 03-23-2017, 04:20 PM   #13
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Rose - google "San Juan islands" and then click "images, enjoy.
I concur that salt water moorage, is the ticket. Trailering is a pain and while the lakes are nice they are more crowded, more expensive, more limited. Dry storage is a good way to go too, depending on what you buy and where you want to keep it. Good luck!
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Old 04-13-2017, 10:29 AM   #14
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Port of Everett. It's North of SeaTac/Kent by about about 45-60 minutes, but that much closer to the San Juans while still keeping the South Sound within easy reach. It's a huge facility, and I believe they almost always have open availability. One neat aspect of POE is that they're in the estuary of a river, and you kind of have the best of fresh water moorage with easy saltwater access.

Another nearby option is Dagmars. This is "dry moorage," just call-ahead, and the boat will be tied to the dock, waiting for you when you arrive at the marina. They can flush engines and even wash your boat before they return it to its cradle at the end of your trip.

My dad keeps his sail boat at Des Moines, I'm surprised they don't have an available slip. I'd expect an open slip to be available while you wait for a covered slip, if that's your preference.

Once you get South of Tacoma, the options become a little more limited. You might consider Swan Town or Fiddlehead Marinas in Olympia. Just-about a 60-minute drive from SeaTac/Kent, unless you're trying to get back North on a Summer Sunday afternoon, then it can take 2+ hours.

To keep a larger, trailerable boat in Kent, to access Salt Water, you're going to tow to Tacoma/Point Defiance, Seattle/Don Armeni Park, Ballard/Shilshole, Everett, Olympia, or Port Orchard/Manchester as mentioned earlier. There is a mediocre ramp in Redondo/Federal Way, but really suited only to boats upto about 22-ft. It's a really tight facility for parking and trailer turn-around.

Popular family cruiser/fishers out here include Bayliner 2452/242, Bayliner 2859/285/258/289, TollyCraft, Uniflight/SaltyDog, SeaRay, Carver, Ranger Tug, SeaSport, Skagit Orca, etc. I'd definitely look for something with a hardtop vs a sunbridge style boat if you hope to enjoy year-round boating. (There can be some pretty spectacular Fall/Winter boating days!) I'm partial to fiberglass, but there are many aluminum options too; including Armstrong, North River, Duckworth, and Kingfisher. The aluminum boats are generally geared more toward fishing that cruising, but can make a great family exploration/cruising/fishing/crab/shrimp platform. (Just ask BadgerS, who posted above.)

There's no added expense to buying a boat out of Canada. You'll pay WA state sales tax when you register the boat, regardless of where you buy it. There are some paperwork items to manage to bring a boat into the US from Canada, but it's not hard and it's done often. With the strength of the US$ vs CAD, Canada is a good place to shop.
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Old 04-13-2017, 09:12 PM   #15
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Bloody Decks.com
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Old 04-28-2017, 09:11 AM   #16
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i really appreciate all the helpful replies. unfortunately, the job fell through and it looks like i'll be staying east for a while. but i'm sure all the info will be really useful to anyone else moving out to the area. thanks again!
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Old 05-06-2017, 02:19 AM   #17
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Hi Rose,
Did you and your family make it too Seattle? I moved here two years ago, and work at the Airport (SeaTac) in the Tower. It's a beautiful area. You will enjoy it. I've also started looking into the boat scene here, as we are looking to buy a cabin cruiser. Short trips to San Juan Islands, Victoria, and just up and down the west coast looks very appealing. If you are looking at freshwater only, you will pay a premium, as the lakes (lake Washington right next to SeaTac) seem to be pretty expensive. $10 - $14 per foot per month. It's more affordable on the salt water side in the port. I'm looking at Tacoma Yacht Club right now. It's a nice marina, and lots of cute bars and shops up and down the coast next to it. If you are a member of the Yacht club, you also can park up and down the coast at affiliated yacht clup locations. For moorage and membership at the Yacht club, you are looking at $400/month. Reasonable considering the added benefits of the club and the area right around it is awesome. There is an initial fee of $2000 to become a member, which is a bummer, and why we have not committed to it yet. You can search for Tacoma yacht club, and check out their website for more information. If you are the type to keep a boat on a trailer, and store it at home, it is hard to find a place here where the HOA allows it, and that there is space for it. The further out from seatac, toward the south (tacoma, fife, puyallup, auburn) the more likely you are to find that space. The best school ratings appear to be around fife/milton. We are in Auburn, and the schools are not that great, or well rated. Fife/Milton area is nicely situated between SeaTac and Tacoma. Auburn is generally affordable for the area, without being too far from SeaTac. A lot of the Air Traffic Controllers here live in Auburn. Auburn is about 25 minutes from SeaTac with normal light traffic, and 45 mins with heavy traffic during 7-9 a.m (northbound toward SeaTac). and 4-6 p.m. (Southbound, toward Auburn). If you made it here, hope you are enjoying it!!
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