“Opening Day” of boating season is a decades-old Seattle tradition that many people don’t know about, and I think it is one of the most fun events in the city! The concept behind Opening Day is that you are officially kicking off the boating season with a big celebration on Lake Washington. The official Opening Day event is always the first Saturday in May, but the parties and fun last almost a full week.
If you have ever driven over the University Bridge this week in May, you may have looked east out towards Lake Washington and seen the log booms assembled, lining the cut all the way through Union Bay and out to the 520 bridge. The log booms are sponsored by the Seattle Yacht Club and University of Washington, and are assembled as early as the Tuesday before opening day. Large yachts will go anchor up early in the week to get prime real estate on the boom so they have the best seats in the house for Saturday’s festivities. One year I was lucky enough to take King 5 News out early on a Wednesday morning, and they interviewed a gentleman who is one of the early birds to the boom and commutes to work on Lake Union via his dinghy. There are many other die-hards out there who spend a good portion of the week on the log boom too!
By Friday, the log boom is packed to the brim from start to finish, and many local boaters will go out and parade the cut and check out all the yachts anchored up. I work for a local boating company and we will always take some of our boats in inventory out with friends and coworkers and cruise up and down, occasionally nosing up to the log boom to join a group of friendly yachters for a little bit of fun before we move on to the next.
Saturday is when the official festivities get rolling, including the Seattle-famous crew race, the Windermere Cup! The crew race happens right down the middle of the cut with the yachts anchored up on either side, so all the boaters who were hardcore and stayed out the whole week have front-row seats. The other big part of the day is the Seattle Yacht Club’s Opening Day Parade, which runs up and down the cut. Boaters have to register to participate, and there is a different theme annually, so you will see people and yachts all decorated up to take part.
Obviously, you need to have a boat to participate, so it is either time to get one or time to at least convince a friend to take their boat out and participate!
Here is a great link to some additional info on the event: NW Boat Info Opening Day Events