No boat? No friends with yachts? You can still sail, paddle or party on the water in the great Northwest.
By some estimates, about one in every 20 people in Washington state owns some kind of watercraft. If you’re one of the other 19, though, you’re not condemned to a landlubbing lifestyle. Here are six ways to get out on the water, without buying a boat of your own.
Use an app, find a rental
Delaware resident Mike Keough was visiting Seattle in May with his wife and wanted to go sailing for the day. But with many professional charter companies, he said, “You can’t go out for a day sail. That’s kind of a problem. So if you wanted to take a bigger boat, a mainstream charter company, they want at least three to five or seven days to charter it.”
He turned to two apps, Boatbound and Get My Boat, to fill his needs. The services are like Airbnb for boats, tapping into peer-to-peer economy to connect boat owners who want a little extra cash with boat renters who don’t want to spend a mint.
An experienced sailor, with his own sailboat back home, Keough had used Boatbound on a trip last fall to rent a boat from a private owner in Galesville, Md. In Seattle, he turned to Get My Boat and was paired with Windworks Sailing Charter, a charter company, renting a Catalina 25, a 25-foot sailboat, for $150 for the day.
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Of course, there are challenges that come with renting through the Web’s Wild West. Whereas many companies feature the newest models, said Keough, in the peer-to-peer economy, boats tend to be a bit older, but were still well-maintained. But he said, “There were some strange listings on there; you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. But I think I found some good ones.”
He enjoyed the experience so much, this year when he returns to Galesville, Md., he’ll be renting from the same owner he found on Boatbound last year. “It’s a good opportunity to go places and see other areas of a world and get out on the water in different areas.” getmyboat.com and boatbound.co.
Of course, there are many other options for getting out on the water this summer, some other choices:
Center For Wooden Boats
Less experienced types can rent a pedal boat, a classic canoe or a rowboat by the hour and float around Lake Union, with starting rates at $30 an hour for nonmembers. Upgrade to sailboats (sailing test required) for between $35 to $60 an hour for nonmembers. Check the website for info on weekly free public sails led by volunteer skippers. Summer hours: 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1010 Valley St., Seattle, 206-382-2628 or cwb.org.
The Electric Boat Company
Party on the water for less than you’d pay to rent the backroom at a bar. The 21-foot Duffy Electric Boat comes ready for your drinks and food; has a sound system ready to be connected to your music, and you can be your own captain. The rental costs $99 an hour (two-hour minimum), and each boat fits 10 people. If you need a cooler with ice, it’s an extra $5. Summer hours: noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. 2046 Westlake Ave. N., Suite 102, Seattle, 206-223-7476 or theelectricboatco.com.
Waterfront Activities Center
Rent a canoe or rowboat from the University of Washington’s Waterfront Activities Center. The rates are far less expensive than other options— $10 an hour for the general public on weekdays and $12 an hour on weekends. UW students, faculty and alumni get a discount (from $6 to $11.50 an hour comparatively). Take a leisurely route through Union Bay and Lake Washington. No reservations, first come first serve. 3710 Montlake Blvd., N.E., Seattle, 206-543-9433 or washington.edu/ima/wac/canoe-boat-rentals.
Let’s Go Sailing
If you’ve got no sailing skills and want a captain and a crew (or if you’ve got just enough to get by, you get a crew, too), Let’s Go Sailing will take you on a 2.5-hour sunset cruise or a 1.5-hour morning and midafternoon sail, launching from the north side of Pier 56 in downtown Seattle. For the daytime sail aboard a 70-foot sailboat, it’s $35 per adult, and you can bring beer and wine on board to enjoy (plus tip money for the crew). Sunset sails are $51 per person. Make a reservation in advance or call for same-day reservations. Pier 56, 1001 Alaskan Way, Seattle, 206-624-3931 or sailingseattle.com.
Northwest Outdoor Center
For more adventurous outings, you can rent a kayak (single, double or triple) or a stand-up paddleboard and paddle around Lake Union to Lake Washington. Prices range from $15 to $24 for the first hour, with every hour after prorated; weekdays, kayakers get the third and fourth hour free (weekends and holidays are limited to the fourth free hour). You can even rent a drysuit. Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call to reserve in advance. 2100 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle, 206-281-9694 or nwoc.com.