As summer lingers, September might be the best month of all to be out on the water, and 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 (see glossary below). If you’ve got sailing experience, you just have to pass a simple test to take command of a boat; if you’re a career landlubber and have never captained a sailboat, get your sea legs first by taking one of a multitude of local classes in which you learn the basics of reading the weather, harnessing wind power and steering.

Consider starting at Lake Union’s venerable Center for Wooden Boats (CWB; cwb.org), a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating our region’s small-craft heritage by preserving and sharing older wooden boats and maritime skills. An annual membership to CWB ($40/individual or $55/household) gets you discounted rates on skills classes and access to the center’s rental fleet of 15 small sailboats—most of which were built between 1920 and 1950, and serve double duty as museum artifacts. Keelboat sloops such as the 20-foot Blanchard Junior Knockabout—built in Seattle by Lake Union’s Blanchard Boat Company during the Depression—rent for $35/hour for members ($50 for nonmembers). Smaller boats, such as the 12-foot Beetle Cat, designed in the 1920s by Massachusetts fishermen as a weekend pleasure sailer, go for $25/hour ($30 for nonmembers). Prospective CWB sailboat renters need to demonstrate competence in sailing away from the dock and out into Lake Union, executing rapid windward tacks, completing a circle and trimming the sail accordingly through various tacks and jibes, and maintaining control back to the dock with sails up and luffing.

To read more from our friends at Seattle Magazine and to learn where you can learn to sail, click here for the full story.

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