Curious about sailing conditions there year round...
Year round sailing is possible, but there are a couple of months that are chilly. I've gone sailing at least once per week in all of 2013, and it looks like I'll finish out the year the same way.
Today is a very typical winter weather forecast:
"A 30 percent chance of rain after 10am. Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, cloudy, with a high near 48. South wind 10 to 14 mph."
Looks like great sailing weather to me.
Hear all this stuff about endless rainy days too...
Endless grey is more accurate than endless rain. There can be long periods without seeing much blue sky. It rarely rains all day or rains heavily, but the winter is quite damp.
Want some general input about living there too... Friendly people??? Local Marinas you like??? High taxes???? Unemployment??? Whatever...
I've lived in Seattle for almost 20 years.
I love it out here. I don't think there is anywhere else in the country that has the mix of a good/urban/modern city (Seattle), mountains, ocean, and tons of protected waters. In my profession (software engineering) there is basically negative unemployment, but that can vary a lot depending on your job. If you are a machinist you would want to read about the current going ons with Boeing (not looking good) before moving here.
I've found it pretty easy to make friends. There is a good culture here of DIY which makes it either to find partners in my hobbies of sailing, working on boats, building bicycle frames and riding bikes, fixing up my house, dabbling in electronics, sewing and photography. There are probably less than 100 hobbyist bicycle frame builders in the US, but I know of more than 10 in Seattle.
There is great food culture here, but it's all very casual. In the best restaurants in the city or even at the symphony you'll see people wearing jeans and a nice sweater instead of a suit. That also works for me.
You asked about taxes. It's hard to answer without having this banished to the politics forum, but I can answer with the facts. There is no state income tax, there is fairly high sales tax and fairly low property tax. Vehicle registration taxes are tiny, almost a joke. Without getting into politics I will say that our tax system is not one that works well for the state in a down economy.
I keep my boat at Shilshole Marina in Seattle. This is a huge marina (somewhere around 1000 slips), and most of it is sailboats. Even in the middle of winter there are almost always boats out or people working on boats. There are 4 or 5 liveaboards on my dock (90 slips) and that keeps it active too. The marina is very clean and generally well maintained. I like it there. Moorage fees seem to be about average for the country, a 30' slip is about $300/mo.
There are much cheaper slips to be found on the inland lakes. I used to pay $175/mo for a 25' space on a linear dock. However you have to go through the locks to get anywhere, and that gets really old. On the other hand the Duck Dodge race on Lake Union is a huge amount of fun.
Moorage prices go down as you get farther from Seattle and you can probably find $200/mo 30' slips elsewhere on the sound.
The sound is full of wildlife. We see porpoises at least 50% of the time that we sail, seals and sea lions every time, and orca whales a few times a year. Herons, sea stars, salmon are all common sights. This is directly out of Shilshole marina, going north to the San Juans makes it even better.
Seattle is a great city, I've spent a lot of time traveling and there is no where else in the US that I'd prefer to live.
There are some downsides to this area.
The culture here is very car centric and the suburbs are deep (especially to the east, north, and south). If you are into hiking, mountain biking, or skiing plan on an hours drive from Seattle to the trails. If you live closer to the trails then count on a drive to do anything basic like buying groceries.
The road infrastructure depends heavily on bridges (look at the quantity of water) and bridges typically don't get replaced until they are about to fail. The infrastructure of the state is generally in bad condition and there aren't a lot of resources to make things better.
Housing is relatively expensive compared to most of the country.
The grey days do get annoying by the end of the winter. On the other hand the summers here are amazing, with highs that rarely break 80 and clear blue sky for months at a time. I took this last summer off of work and had a 9 week period with only one day of rain in the middle of it.
At this time of year it gets dark around 4:15. I find that harder than the grey.