Seafair weekend

Last weekend, for the first time ever, we took in some Seafair events up-close. Normally we’re on vacation in August, since that works best with both of our work schedules, and are leaving the area just as Seafair is starting up.  The unlimited class hydroplane races for the Albert Lee Cup anchor Seafair Weekend. The race and many of the supporting events take place inside the Ballard Locks on Lake Washington, but one is located right at Bell Harbor Marina where we moor: the Boeing Maritime Celebration. Two of the participating vessels, the destroyer USS Halsey and the HMCS Oriole, had been moored at pier 66 much of the week.

Rather than leave for a weekend anchorage as we usually do Friday night, we opted to stay at Bell Harbor Marina to tour the ships Saturday morning. The pictures below are looking across Dirona to the Halsey from shore, and looking back the other way from the pier 66 breakwater just before we boarded the destroyer. The breakwater is a secure area and, even though we’d live at pier 66 for over three years, this was the first time we’d actually been up there.

The 509′ Halsey was launched in 2005 and is capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots. The firepower on board is formidable. The 5-inch gun below is accurate to 13 miles. At right is a close-up view of the gun’s remote-operated guidance system, above the bridge on the ship’s stack.

The ship can launch a variety of missiles, including Tomahawks, from the bay at left below, and also has two tubes for launching torpedoes. And it carries two MK III Helicopters that are moved on and off deck on the tracks shown below right.

Up to 11 50-caliber machine guns can be mounted on deck, with an additional 2 40-caliber machine bugs on the bridge.


The bridge is packed with navigation and control equipment. It also has the only windows on the ship, but they aren’t very large.


After touring the Halsey, we returned the marina to board the HMCS Oriole, moored inside the marina. The wooden sailing ship was built in 1921, originally as a pleasure craft, and was later donated to the Canadian Navy. The Oriole is both the oldest vessel in the Canadian Naval fleet, and the longest serving. The vessel is used for training purposes and for public relations. As you would expect from a navy vessel, the boat was maintained beautifully.


We left Bell Harbor after our tours to anchor for the night. To provide security for the destroyer, all vessels required a Coast Guard escort to enter or leave the marina.


Sunday morning, we locked through to freshwater en route to Canal Boatyard for anti-fouling paint. The locks were packed with small boats, presumably heading to Seafair on Lake Washington. At bottom right we are moored along the wall at the boatyard.


We’ve never had any desire to take our main boat to the events at Seafair–it’s a bit of madhouse–but we figured it would be fun to take the dinghy to see the US Navy Blue Angels performance. We’ve not before seen so much traffic in the waterway en route to Lake Washington–even with a 7-knot speed limit, the water was pretty chopped up from wakes. And when we left the speed-limit area, the wakes from all the boat traffic were huge. At first we thought it was wind waves, but the water calmed once we reached the area where most of the boats were stopped.


Literally thousands of boats were there for the Blue Angels show.


And what a show it was. The jets fly incredibly close to each other, and so close to us sometimes we could clearly see the pilots inside.



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One comment on “Seafair weekend
  1. Mark says:

    Wow this looks like a great day out. the air show looks wicked!

    Thanks for sharing the pictures

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