The Puget Sound is one of the nation’s best areas for sailing. Spanning 100 miles from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington in the south, and averaging 450 feet in depth, the Sound provides prime sailing conditions.
The Sound is easily accessible through one of the many cities on its coasts, including Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Port Townsend, and Everett.
Seattle has become one of the prime launch points for a variety of watersports in the Puget Sound–from swimming and scuba diving to boating and waterskiing. In fact, one experienced sailor described the conditions here:
You can sail in Elliot Bay and explore the Seattle from the water. There is a great marina conveniently located right near the Pike Place Market. The sound is strewn with islands for exploring, quiet harbors, and services always close at hand. The conditions in the Sound are almost always mild, with some 1 to 2 foot waves building in the longest, open stretches. It’s almost like exploring a large lake.
Seattle Magazine, in fact, defends the city as a major sailing capital: “nowhere is better than Seattle for beginner sailors to get under way. Around here, there are so many sailboat rental options, it’s easy to hoist a mainsail, heel out and head up into the wind.” Another Seattle-based publication agrees:
The Seattle area boasts some of the best sailing in the US, with stunning scenery and ample wildlife like seals and whales. Combine this with variety of interesting destinations, plus the relatively protected waters of the Puget Sound, and you’ve got a perfect place to get out on the water and learn to navigate your way around a sailboat.
Sailing in the Puget Sound
South Sound Talk recommends five of the best Puget Sound locations to explore by boat:
- Day Island and Narrows Marina: “Visitors of this island won’t find much in the way of recreation, dining or shopping, but rather a tiny island boasting sweeping views of the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and the Narrows Bridges. While touring this small island, don’t be surprised if you find your favorite new view or future dream home – the island is lined with charming houses.”
- Blake Island: “Because Blake Island is only reachable by boat, and because it has been preserved as a Washington State Park, it is a quiet retreat for kicking back and enjoying the great outdoors with friends and family. If the wind is good you can sail from Tacoma to Blake Island and back again in a day. A motor boat will make the trip in no time at all.”
- Anderson Island: “Anderson Island is the South Puget Sound’s southernmost island and one of the area’s best kept secrets. With a population of just more than 1,000 people, Anderson Island is a sleepy, hidden gem that offers visitors everything from stunning beaches and lake swimming, to a rich local history and more.”
- Vashon Island: “There is lots to see and do in the “Heart of the Sound,” or what is more commonly known as Vashon Island. An artsy island boasting tasty fare, eclectic shopping and an abundance of outdoor recreation, Vashon Island is reachable to visitors only by boat.”
- Dead Man’s Island: “If you’ve ever been to Kopachuck State Park in Gig Harbor, Wash., chances are you’ve peered out upon the small, wooded and sandy land mass known as Dead Man’s Island. A favorite summer spot for locals, Dead Man’s Island boasts epic views of the Puget Sound and is surrounded by sandy shores perfect for summer sun bathing.Because the island’s shoreline is so sandy, boaters can anchor right on the beach. Or, if you’d prefer to travel by kayak, Dead Man’s island is just a short paddle away from the mainland.”
How to get started
As one Seattle-based publication suggests, sailing classes are a must for anyone without experience:
Sailing isn’t difficult, but all of the jargon and equipment on board requires some learning for the uninitiated. One of the best ways to learn to sail is to find a friend or experienced sailors looking for crew. It takes more than one person to navigate a larger boat, and being a crew member is a great way to learn the ropes, or the sheets, as a proper sailor would call them!
The nice thing about sailing in a place like Seattle is the easy access to incredibly high quality of sailing classes within the city. There are charter services and training classes for every level of sailor or power boater, so you’ll be able to find what you need whether you want to strengthen your skills or gain new ones.