This was the front page of the Seattle Times a few decades ago and unlike everything else in Seattle, it is unchanged. Opening Day is what makes Seattle special. It touches every walk of life, every generation, every region, every kid who every commanded sailing dinghy or rowboat and every person of Northwest heritage. It has done this unchanged for nearly 100 years.
The week’s festivities started as the hundreds of boats from all over the Salish Sea gathered at Seattle Yacht Club. Rugged boaters bravely faced the down pours and cool weather to celebrate the ninety second Opening Day in Seattle. This is the largest,open to the public, free boating event in the world. It is what defines the boating world in the Pacific Northwest and as said in the last blog, this is a day that brings forth great emotion and gratitude for me. On this day more than any I appreciate how wonderful my life has been and what a miracle it is.
This is all the result of a massive amount of work and planning by many people. SYC does a phenomenal job and many work year around to make sure it does. The Admiral, Read Admiral and Admiralette campaign all year recruiting participants.
Pomp and circumstance,big parties, costumes and gala celebrations fill the week leading up to the big day. Each night had dancing, big dinners,Margarita Dock Parties international dock parties, and every other kind of party imaginable. Costumes fill the dock and the decorations are amazing and this is before the parade even starts. The weather was bitter cold and the rain kept coming but not a soul retreated.Bundled up and under umbrellas the boaters gathered for every party, north westerners are tough!!!
The big day starts with a formal opening ceremony attended by the officers of the 57 yacht clubs participating as each club burgee is raised on the massive flag pole. Our club, the Seattle Singles Yacht Club, is always well represented and the first of days gigantic lumps in my throat formed as our burgee was raised. The Canadians are well represented by colorful full dress Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Oh Canada and the Star Spangled Banner filled the cool morning air as the second lump formed and my eyes misted over.
The formalities done, it was on to the parade. As tradition dictates the first event is the rowing races. Thousands of spectators line the “cut” as the sleek four’s and eight’s race class by class. This year guest boats came from as far as New Zealand and Argentina. Not daunted by the international challengers, the Huskies dominated the races. There are classes for all ages, even on for those above sixty. Seventy five boats races on the sunny Seattle morning.
Racers away and the fun starts; Over two hundred boats entered the parade lead by the spectacular fire boats and the UW marching band playing from the bows of three large yachts. The parade is divided into many categories as the theme,Portholes to Paradise, is presented.
From the formal bridge boats to the theme boats to an array of classic boats the procession headed down the cut. I always like the antique amphibious cars, now down to two it seems. This is a relic from the 60’s when the car/boat hit the market.
Smartly dressed and regimented crews from the Sea Scouts and other youth groups crewed classic sail boats and work boats. The Seattle Yacht Club Youth group showed great spirit in their decorated boat. One day they will be watching, grey haired and through bifocals and know they kept the traditions alive.
One of my favorite entries is the Spinnaker flying sailboats. This is not easy task as the flukey winds and narrow passage can make it hard. The wind worked well as the three boats negotiated the passage.
Our club has carved a well-known knitch amongst the more formal and larger yacht clubs, we party more, dance more and win more than any other club, this year no exception. SSYC won awards in every division entered and all the awards in some.
Following tradition again we all headed for the dance floor and danced the night away.Another gala opening day done and another season of boating in the Salish Sea begins. I want to thank all who helped me attend, all who put the event on and wish all my boating friends a happy and safe boating season.