Boating on Lake Union

Captain Nemo, Captain Ahab, Captain Stubing…ah to be like them and master the high seas aboard a boat skippered by you….As Sir Francis Drake (a sea captain, himself) once said, “It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.”

You can live this dream, if but for a short while, on the much calmer seas of Lake Union in Seattle.


Your craft:  a 21-foot long Duffy Electric Boat rented to you by The Electric Boat Company on the west side of Lake Union.


Powered solely by electricity, the ride embodies the words “smooth sailing. “ Top cruising speed is 7 knots (which equates to about 8 miles per hour). The boat is so easy to captain that The Electric Boat Company assures “no experience is needed” provided the captain is 18 years old or older.

The electric boats are fitted with canopies, which provide good coverage from the sun (and possible rain – it being Seattle, after all). These vessels also have tables with cup holders (perfect for a sailing picnic!), comfortable cushioned seats facing every direction, and an i-iPod jack, radio and CD player included for your musical pleasure.

Your crew:  whomever you want to bring with you (maximum capacity is 10 people).

We recently embarked on a 2-hour tour of Lake Union with Greer, her captain, William,

Captain William (life vest not required)

Captain William (life vest not required)

and other friends to celebrate Greer’s birthday. I joked that since it was only a 2-hour tour and not a 3-hour tour, I left my fine china and my many fur coats at home.

The weather was perfect for our outing. The Electric Boat company finished polishing up our vessel, gave Captain William a brief tutorial on how to operate the boat, and then we set sail.

On board, we broke out some bites – fruits, cheeses, salads

Electric Boat food

– and some beverages, plugged in an i-Pod for music, and settled in to enjoy the glorious evening weather.

William steered us to the south end of Lake Union, passing many boaters, kayakers and stand-up paddlers. We approached the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)

The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) on the shores of south Lake Union

The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) on the shores of south Lake Union

and then circled up north along the eastern side of the lake. There are many lovely floating homes and houseboats on the east side and there were likewise many kayakers cruising by the homes to take a closer peek at this “Sleepless in Seattle” existence.

The floating homes along west Lake Union

The floating homes along west Lake Union

Up at the north end of Lake Union, we motored past Ivar’s Salmon House and Westward restaurant – both overflowing with outdoor seating. Then we sailed by Gasworks Park.


Gasworks is a public park set on what was once the Seattle Public Utilities gasification plant. Converted to a park by the city of Seattle in 1975, Gasworks includes remnants of the sole remaining gasification plant in the United States. This industrial preservation creates a unique park and marks a stark contrast against the floating homes and pleasure boats which now populate the lake.

There are many types of vessels on Lake Union, from yachts to kayaks to tug boats and old ships being repaired.


People will find any method to get out on the lake – as evidenced by this group who cleverly took their dining table to the water.

Lake Union2

We actually saw two such crafts on the lake that evening – perhaps a new rental company?

We concluded our journey with birthday cake and good cheer.


We pulled in to return our boat. We were happy to be back on land, but happier when we were at sea…

'Til we boat again...

‘Til we boat again…

For those of you wanting to rent an Electric Boat, you can contact them at  ; 2046 Westlake Avenue N., Suite #102 or by phone at (206)223-7476. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended. Come aboard – they’re expecting you (well, provided you made a reservation).

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