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Washington State - Sailing? Living?

I am entertaining a move to Washington State... Coastal area for sure...

Curious about sailing conditions there year round...

Hear all this stuff about endless rainy days too...

Want some general input about living there too... Friendly people??? Local Marinas you like??? High taxes???? Unemployment??? Whatever...

Value your input... Wikipedia can only go so far on the topic!!!

Finally tired of the brutal summer heat and hurricanes here in the south...

Look forward to some good information here. Thanks. Bruce
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post #2 of 35 Old 12-14-2013
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

This ought to be interesting. Moving from Miss to Wash? That's like two opposite ends of the universe.
I don't know enough about Washington State to give you an appropriate/accurate picture. Just have my own biased opinions.
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post #3 of 35 Old 12-14-2013
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?


I will send you a PM. I have lived here for 24 years. Can tell you anything you want to know.


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post #4 of 35 Old 12-14-2013
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

Originally Posted by Bruce_L View Post
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.

Originally Posted by Bruce_L View Post
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.

Originally Posted by Bruce_L View Post
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.
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post #5 of 35 Old 12-14-2013
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

Alex's post generally sums it up. I'll add my two cents worth. I've lived here since 1953 (not a native, I was two at the time). Western WA isn't for everyone, you can get wet spells that last 90 days straight, but that is highly unusual (that doesn't make it any more fun when you are living through it). You can also get summers that never seem to warm up, with frequent rains. We also get at least a couple of major blows in the fall/winter season that can topple trees and disrupt power for several days. When we get snow it is usually wet and sloppy, and often disappears by noon, but once in awhile we get a blast of Arctic cold that sends the temps into the teens and the snow and ice stick around for a couple of weeks. With practically no level ground anywhere, and most people unfamiliar and unprepared, every snow event results in total chaos on the roads.
The good news is that on average the weather is mild year round and most people use their boats year round. The summer winds are flukey, with spring and fall the most consistent. The cruising possibilities are endless, literally a lifetimes worth of exploring available, and almost all of it is in protected waters (Olympia, WA to Glacier Bay, AK).
The politics here can only be described as BLUE. I won't say any more.
WA usually seems to get through recessions better than most places in the country, even more so now that Boeing isn't the only game in town.
There are large variations in micro climates in western WA. Seattle gets around 35" of precip per year while Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula only gets about 10" and the San Juan Islands are also pretty dry, so you can almost pick your climate (depending of course on where you need to locate for work).
I'm a lifer, I've traveled around and haven't seen anywhere else I'd rather be (although the Bahamas at this time of year has a definite appeal:-))

SV Laurie Anne

1988 Brewer 40 Pilothouse

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post #6 of 35 Old 12-14-2013
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

well Alex and jrd have pretty much said it all. I have spent most of my life in the pacific northwest. I am in the south sound Olympia and the wind tends to be kind of light. we have a lot of days in the 4 to 6 knt range. but there is almost always enought to get out relax with some friends and let the gusts blow you around a little. In olympia there is a lot of good food oportunities but the live music is seriously lacking seattle is pretty close hour and a bit drive so I get up there.

I have done some travel in my life and you can not beat the pacific norhtwest for people. you meet someone and the next day they are inviting you up to look at their boat because they have something installed you were wondering aobut(thank you alex) or they invite you to a family bbq because they know you dont know anyone.

all in all I love it I will leave again and I will come back afterwards.

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post #7 of 35 Old 12-14-2013
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

Lived out here for about 24 years. From the northeast originally. Unlie back east we have a maritime climate meaning our weather comes off the ocean so it doesn't get too hot or cold. We have grey winters but mostly in the 40s. Rare to have suatained hard freezes so people keep boats mostly in water. In the spring and fall we have unsettled weather. Sorta' squally not hurricane. This is because the jet stream is moving either south or north and we're in the transition zone. It can set up in late spring so we have a California like summer. Clear skies warm 70s weather no humidity. The latter's mostly due to the weather coming over mountains getting the moisture squeezed out. Last summer was clear spring till fall. We can get cool grey summers if the jet stream doesn't set up far enough north. Strong summer winds come mostly from the sub tropical Pacific air... Pineapple express which brings rain with the warmer winds. We can have flat wind clear summers with lots of motoring. The fall is a good boating time. Lee Chesneau says that because of the mountains and maritime influence we have the best weather in the country. He usually gives seminars at the major boat shows and you could ask his opinion.
Water here is deep and cold, 40s to 50s year round., with 9 ft tides. I live across Puget sound from Seattle, semi rural lotsa hiking and the like nearby. We take ferries to get across. Housing and marina fees are lots less here. I pay $165 per month for a 29 ft boat. Most marinas outside the cities are run by publicly operated Port Districts. These tend to have less amenities that the bigger east coast marinas. Port Townsend is a center for classic boats and wood boat culture. Their annual Wood Boat festival i think is as good as any in the nation including Mystic. Their Port has a lot of marine trades with experts in thier field e.g. Brian Toss for rigging. Wood boat magazine would articles on this.
We have micro climates and weather depends a lot on how close to the water you live and how high up. People are friendly. In the cities probably less so than in rural areas. Locals say there's Seattle and the rest of Washington. The Seattle/Snohimish counties are a mix of people who moved here whereas elsewhere there's more of the normal Washing culture and more western attitudes.
Employment depends on what you do. Boeing is the biggest employer then there's outfits like Microsoft and Amazon.
No income tax. Sales and property taxes make up the revenue. This results in a number of taxes for specific purposes rather than one tax and a big general fund. WA politics are no different than elsewhere.
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

I sailed away from Seattle in 99 and it would be about the only place I'd consider returning too.

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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

I lived in Bellingham for 3 years and my wife's family is all there. If we weren't tied to the east right now for various reasons I'd live there in a heartbeat. The water and mountains are just incredible. Seattle is too big for me with way too much traffic, but it is nice to visit, as is Vancouver BC just to the north.
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Re: Washington State - Sailing? Living?

One of the nicer things about Washington state is its close proximity to British Columbia.
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