An oasis of calm and tranquility in the center of a bustling city. That is how a friend of mine describes the Center For Wooden Boats (CWB). I couldn’t agree more. It’s located about a mile from the main downtown retail core on the shore of Lake Union.
When I moved to Seattle twenty plus years ago, I needed a place to go sailing. I was lucky. My new neighbor told me that he and his girlfriend had just returned from a Sunday afternoon sail. That immediately got my attention. They told me they had gone sailing at the CWB which was right below where I was living. I could scarcely conceal my excitement. Yikes! Within blocks of my house was the opportunity I was seeking. Not even a week went by before I walked across the rickety wooden bridge and in to the Center. Once I’d crossed the bridge, I was transported in to this other world of calm and peace. I’m not sure it was the great people I met there, the history of the place or the warmth radiating from the wooden boats themselves. They all seem to have their own soul. It’s as if they invite you to share in their calm as they surround you with their warmth. And if you’re a sailor and qualify, you can experience the excitement of an hour or two on the water under sail. If you are not a sailor, you can rent a row boat or if you visit on a Sunday, you can ride along on one of their free afternoon sails. If you’ve always wanted to learn to sail, you can learn in their “Sail Now” program. Throughout the year, classes in boat building and repair are also offered. They will even teach you to speak like a pirate. Hint: Say “Argh!”
The Center was started in the 1970’s by Dick and Colleen Wagner. They wanted a museum dedicated to preserving the maritime history of this area. Currently, there are around 170 vessels distributed over 3 sites. Two in Seattle and one at Camano Island. The mainstay of the fleet is the 20 ft. Blanchard Jr. Knockabout. This is a living museum at which the entire family will enjoy spending time. If you are lucky enough to be here in the summer, for one weekend in July they host the Wooden Boat Festival. One of the really exciting activities I’ve participated in twice during that festival is the Quick and Daring Race. Competing teams build boats as fast as they can and then race them. There are a certain small percentage of them that…sink. Fortunately, ours didn’t.
Recently, the Center has gone through some really dynamic changes. There has been an infusion of funds. The rickety bridge has been replaced and there is a new building under construction. But the improvements have not caused the Center to lose its soul. Here is another great thing about the Center. There is no entry fee.
We’re entertainers with years of tour guide experience who love Seattle and want to show it to you. We offer unforgettable1.5 hour sightseeing tours of Seattle by minibus with highlights like Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Lake Union, and the Space Needle.