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Opening Day for May

by Eva Seelye

boats on montlake cut, opening day

Boating Season Kicks off
on the Montlake Cut, and
At Your Local Club

It’s time to get your boat off the hard, dust her off, shoo the resident gulls away, cast off, and cruise over to Lake Washington to ring in boating season with Seattle’s Opening Day! The Seattle Yacht Club (SYC) sponsored event will begin this legendary day anchored in Pacific Northwest boating culture with the commissioning ceremony on the Seattle Yacht Club’s lawn on Saturday, May 4. With the blast of the cannon, the Montlake Bridge will open, and the festivities will begin!

Opening Day attendees can cheer on their favorite crew team during the Windermere Cup, lay out a blanket to watch a sailboat race, and take in the Grand Opening Day Parade as each decorated vessel takes you back in time with this year’s theme, “Boating Through the Decades.” The theme, as the Opening Day 2019 Trio (SYC’s Admiral, Vice Admiral, and Admiralette) explains, was inspired by “our beautiful Northwest boats, our perfect waters, striking topography, and today’s technology.” What that means to participating boaters, well, we’ll just have to see!

boats on montlake cut, opening day

Top: Vessels in this year’s Opening Day of Boating Parade will deck out their crafts according to the theme, “Boating Through the Decades.”(photo: Alex Kwanten)
Above: Good weather, great friends, and a whole lot of boating. What more could you want? Celebrate this century-old tradition at the Montlake Cut on Saturday, May 4.(Photo: Eva Seelye)

Opening Day is thought to have made its first splash as early as May of 1913, and if my math is correct, that means this tried and true, boat-loving, on-water celebration is at least 105 years old this month. The level of dedication, the simple joy of our nautical community, and the sheer attendance that allows this event to continue year after year is something to be proud of on its own.

Claim your spot along the Montlake Cut to vessel-watch, waving at the hundreds of boats passing by, or try your luck on the log boom for a front row seat to the festivities and an afternoon of on-water shenanigans with fellow boat lovers. The log boom, provided by Seattle Yacht Club and the University of Washington, will be installed on May 1 on the northern boundary of the parade route available on a first-come first-served basis, but those who donate in advance are assured a spot given they arrive prior to 0800 hours Saturday morning. It’s advised to put your captain skills to good use when maneuvering and mooring. Keep an eye on weather conditions and lend a helping hand to fellow boaters. Additional moorage is available on the south side of the parade route near Foster Island.

If you’re out in the San Juan’s and a trip to the Cut might not be feasible or crowds aren’t your thing, hang around for the San Juan Island Yacht Club Opening Day Boat Parade to celebrate this glorious season island style.

A Community Afloat will launch at 1415 hours on May 5, featuring the entire San Juan Island boating community from power and sail to human-powered vessels of all sizes and builds as well as the first public showing of two Lummi traveling canoes built by Spring Street students under the supervision of a Lummi elder. Each participating vessel will compete to win various “best of” awards that will be presented at the San Juan Yacht Club following the parade at 1630 hours.

Whether you’re a boater, a water fiend, love a little competition, or you simply have nothing better to do that first Saturday in May, head to the Montlake Cut for a solid dose of all things nautical and to celebrate a tradition deeply rooted in our local culture. Catch you at the Cut!

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