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Old 06-12-2019, 02:59 PM   #1
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Lake Union Fireworks - Only A Fool Would Go

I'm planning on bringing my boat to Lake Union for the fireworks this year.

Yes, I know that this is a terrible idea. There will be drunks. There will be idiots. There will be police. And since this is Seattle the weather might be terrible.

However, I have some family coming into town so I figures this is the year to give it a try.

I thought I'd tap the vast experience of this forum to try and make the experience as painless as possible. Here are a few questions I had around logistics:

- Are dinghys allowed in the lake before the fireworks? Ideally I'd want to get a spot early and set anchor, but I'd need to go grab people. Is this allowed?

- Assuming I could use a dinghy, what's the best spot to rendezvous with people? I was thinking the public docks near MOHAI would be best.

- After the fireworks I was thinking I could pull the anchor and take the boat over to the same MOHAI docks to drop people off. Is this possible? Or are all of the docks full for the 4th?

- What do you think the best strategy is for anchoring? I looked at some pictures and it looks like the north end of the lake closest to the fireworks barge gets very packed. I was thinking it might make sense to anchor further south where there's a little more space. This would also put me closer to MOHAI for picking people up.

Any opinions are appreciated.

Thank you,

Louis
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:06 PM   #2
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No clue about lake union but my standard fireworks anchoring includes a float on a 3 ft line and a large shackle. Slide it down the anchor line so it is parked 3 feet above the line. This keeps all but the worst of the worst from driving over and damaging your anchor line.
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:19 PM   #3
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No mater how early you get there or how close to the exclusion zone you anchor, some one will drop anchor in front of you and drift back on you. Also, the wind will blow out of the north all day and 10 min before the show wind will switch directions and it will be a real cluster muck. Dropping as far south early in the day will keep you out of most the trouble. You can always squeeze a dingy into a dock to load and unload but you won’t find a spot for your boat to unload. Finding parking will also be extraordinary difficult.
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:33 PM   #4
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Lake Union for the 4th is a zoo. But it can be a lot of fun too. Get there real early. Before noon. Then be prepared to fend off and make sure folks don't anchor right next to you. We had people wanting to tie up to us. Here is a post I wrote about it a few years ago.

Lake Union for the the 4th of July | M/V Archimedes – An Old Grand Banks 42
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:27 PM   #5
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Another part of the puzzle to think about is ground transportation for your guests you plan to pick up / drop off. The shore side traffic and parking anywhere near the lake is mind boggling. I've not tried to drive and park in that circus. For a few years I was within walking distance and pitied the drivers trying to deal with it.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:33 PM   #6
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That was a nice read, thanks. Sounds like a lot of fun.

I have never watched the fireworks from the water, only the shore; never anchored in Lake Union. I have been told by those well-experienced with the lake (staff at the CWB) to not use your best bower if at all possible if you are anchoring in the lake. The amount of jetsam on the bottom sometimes results in lost anchors and rode. Curious if others have heard the same.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:04 PM   #7
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From my experience with the local fireworks (Fort Vancouver on Columbia river), DO NOT plan on leaving right after the fire works. Turn on all the lights on your boat, get ready to fend off leaving boats. Wait at least an hour. By then things should have calmed down a bit. Rigging up an anchor trip line and buoy is a good idea if you are concerned about junk on the lake floor.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:13 PM   #8
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We lived onboard Lake Union for 7 years at 2400 Westlake Ave N. - this put us about 100 yards from the barge. Always had a great time, but never took the big boat out- only the dinghy.

We would host, and always had our guests arrive by noon on the 4th and spend the night.

Perhaps you can find a slip for the night and make things earlier...
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:59 PM   #9
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Rusty, we're going to be doing this "midnight mayhem" in the future and would like to know where the barge is anchored.


We do the fireworks here every year and know what you're talking about when you suggest hanging around for a while after the fireworks are done to let the drunks and crazies leave.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:04 PM   #10
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- Are dinghys allowed in the lake before the fireworks? Ideally I'd want to get a spot early and set anchor, but I'd need to go grab people. Is this allowed?

To my knowledge, there are no restrictions on dinghies or any boats buzzing around the lake. There is a 7 knot (I think) speed limit.

- Assuming I could use a dinghy, what's the best spot to rendezvous with people? I was thinking the public docks near MOHAI would be best.

The docks around the MOHAI are good. There is also a small dock in front of the Marriot. It doesn't have cleats, though. Getting folks in and out of the dinghy can be a challenge when there is nothing to tie off to.

- After the fireworks I was thinking I could pull the anchor and take the boat over to the same MOHAI docks to drop people off. Is this possible? Or are all of the docks full for the 4th?

I would just relax on the boat for an hour or so. Many of the larger boats stay overnight. The smaller boats leave right away. I would not want to be in the middle of the exodus in a dinghy at night. Maneuvering the big boat around may not be all that easy. The lake will be plenty crowded.

- What do you think the best strategy is for anchoring? I looked at some pictures and it looks like the north end of the lake closest to the fireworks barge gets very packed. I was thinking it might make sense to anchor further south where there's a little more space. This would also put me closer to MOHAI for picking people up.

We anchored on the west side near the no anchor zone. Our slip was only about 100 yards away. We decided if we were going to join the mob, we would get closer the the show. The later arrivals were seeking space farther back toward the south end of the lake.

Overall, I think the best approach is to get there early, claim your spot, defend against interlopers as best you can, and enjoy the pre-fireworks show. It can be almost as entertaining and the fireworks.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:05 PM   #11
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Rusty, we're going to be doing this "midnight mayhem" in the future and would like to know where the barge is anchored.
The barge is anchored toward the north end of the lake near Gas Works Park.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:58 PM   #12
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That was a nice read, thanks. Sounds like a lot of fun.

I have never watched the fireworks from the water, only the shore; never anchored in Lake Union. I have been told by those well-experienced with the lake (staff at the CWB) to not use your best bower if at all possible if you are anchoring in the lake. The amount of jetsam on the bottom sometimes results in lost anchors and rode. Curious if others have heard the same.
I've done some survey work on Lake Union, yes there is a lot of stuff down there. Below are some interesting links.

Shipwreck video Lake Union
Shipwreck map Lake Union
Ghosts of Seattle’s maritime past lie at bottom of Lake Union (Seattle times article)
What's On The Bottom Of Lake Washington? Planes, Trains And … (KUOW piece)
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:05 PM   #13
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I have never been on Lake Union for fireworks but in general best practices for fireworks include making sure your nav lights are legal and working before it gets dark. I second the idea of turning on a lot of lights right after the show is over and absolutely wait for a while before departing the area, let the crazies leave first. After dark everyone on board wears a PFD anytime they are on deck. A one second misstep and you could be overboard.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:09 AM   #14
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I can't speak to Lake Union, but we've anchored at many fireworks. I would make the assumption that if you got them to the boat by dinghy, you are getting them back to the dock by dinghy. If there is a dinghy dock, you're not getting a big boat in there.

(Think about, you're not the only platform hosting guests. If there is a dinghy dock, they will want to use it too).

There are typically a large number of intoxicated boaters, many who don't normally travel at night. We plan on staying anchored and sleeping wherever there are fireworks or evening concerts.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:32 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone! This is all great information! It's gonna be a fun night. I'll make sure to post a follow up.
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:25 AM   #16
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Thanks everyone! This is all great information! It's gonna be a fun night. I'll make sure to post a follow up.
Pack your patience- you'll need it!
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Old 06-13-2019, 12:06 PM   #17
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I always have a hand held 1 million candle power light at the helm. I make sure it's all charged up and have it handy when the fireworks show ends.


Rusty, thanks for that information.
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:12 PM   #18
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If you MUST leave that night. Fireworks on the water is no different than going by car and parking. Once it's over every tries to leave at the same time. Settle in, wait about 2 hours. The first 30 minutes after the finale is people packing up. From roughly 15 minutes to 60 minutes after the finale, boats start pulling anchor. That is when it is really a zoo. It's also when LEO's are on highest alert.
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:32 PM   #19
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No way I would drop anchor in Lake Union. Too many snags. During a normal day, no boats ever anchor. Instead all of them just drift. Good way to lose some anchors and chain. BTW, not sure you can recover an anchor because diving in Lake Union might require a permit from Harbor Patrol. Take a hack saw or bolt cutters.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:53 PM   #20
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Wifey B: Fireworks anywhere on the water, arrive early, leave late. Make that extremely lovely and extremely late. Avoid those in a mad frantic hurry, especially after the fireworks and heavy drinking all day and night.
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