The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) is a hands-on maritime museum that allows visitors to participate with their hands and minds. The CWB offers a museum, sailing lessons, workshops, hands-on knot tying tutorials, boat rentals, and more! Whereas most museums require the visitor to enjoy the displays from a safe distance—and often from the other side of a glass window—the CWB gives people a chance to really interact with the pieces in their museum. You can hop aboard docked boats, and even take some out on Lake Union.
The best opportunity for this is through their weekly Sunday Public Sail. During Sunday Public Sail volunteer skippers and crews take visitors out on 45–60 minute boat rides on Lake Union…all for FREE!
Did you notice I said it’s FREE?! Amazing. Truly amazing.
Yes, it’s true: you can enjoy a relaxing outing on Lake Union on one of the museums historic boats, steamboats, electric boats, schooners, ketches, yawls, and yachts at no cost (of course donations are welcome).
How does it work?
Sunday Public Sail happens each Sunday rain or shine from 11am-3pm. The number of boats setting sail, the capacity of each boat, and the number of outings each boat will do varies—with total spots for a maximum of 200 visitors. Sign ups begin in person, Sundays at 10am on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have a larger group—or have your eyes set on a particular boat—it’s recommended that you show up early as the line starts forming early! (My group arrived at 9:20am and there were already around 20 people in line.) Each person can reserve spots for a total of four people.
If you want to skip the line and ensure your spot early through online reservations, be sure to sign up to be a member of the CWB. If you’re a student or a senior it’s only $25! Otherwise it’s $50 for individuals or $75 for a household. Of course, membership comes with other benefits such as discounts on boat rentals and workshops.
We ended up on a 116 year-old boat (built in 1900) named Admirable—truly a piece of the museum at work!
While you’re in the area. Stop next door where the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) has a few more boats (docked behind the museum) you can tour for free!
The Center for Wooden Boats
Location: South Lake Union, 1010 Valley Street
Sunday Public Sail: Sundays, 11am–3pm with sign-ups at 10am
Contact: (206) 382-2628, firstname.lastname@example.org