It’s January in the Pacific Northwest, and Ken Kesey’s forecast in Sometimes a Great Notion of “dark smeary shiny night full of rain” translates to conservative cruising options for most boaters. Who really wants to take on the Straits of I-Wanna-Puke-a (Juan de Fuca) this time of year for a quick, no-fuss boat trip?
The comparatively sheltered Pacific Northwest inland waters are at their most inviting right now while the coast gets pounded by winter storms. If you’re within easy striking distance of Lake Washington, the main drag of Kirkland is a suburban playground with plenty to offer for a winter day trip.
Kirkland does not offer the darling-Puget-Sound-hamlet experience of a place like Coupeville on Whidbey Island, nor does it provide a window into the gritty, salt-crusted underbelly of the maritime industry like Bremerton, Washington. The Kirkland waterfront is about as posh a destination as you’re likely to find with big open parks, more restaurants and bars than you could possibly visit, and beauty spas galore. For the kids, the stuffed animals in the toy stores are jumbo and the candy shops loaded. For couples, wine tasting lounges and anniversary-caliber restaurants abound. Perhaps it is appropriate that Kirkland is synonymous with the Kirkland Signature label prominent within Costcos around the world. Costco was born here, after all.
For a visiting boater, Kirkland’s goods are readily accessible via the Kirkland Marina Park Dock that is situated off the public beach of Marina Park, located in the center of the action. If you choose to dock at the Marina Park Dock, you’ll be sharing the space with the iconic Argosy Seattle-area cruise ships that take trips out from there. There’s usually plenty of space in the winter with your name on it. The Kirkland Homeport Marina is a more long-term moorage choice located a stone’s throw south of the Marina Park.
As always, make prudent decisions with regards to weather. It is said that if you can swim in it, you can drown in it. For the Pacific Northwest boater, it’s always wise to have foulies on hand just in case.