Kayaking through the Ballard Locks

2021 Apr 24

I did a kayak trip today from Ballard through the locks to the Puget Sound. The locks are always an interesting experience. Normally there are a lot of people walking through the park that are watching us from above, but with COVID, the lock gardens have been closed to the public. This has been the only way to go into that space at this time.

Going out, I shared the lock with a single sailboat.

Out on the Sound, I went by Golden Gardens park and Shilshole Marina.

On the way back I noticed a couple of gals at a beach getting into the water to swim. One of them was only wearing a conventional swim suit! I went over and asked how she avoided hypothermia. She said she acclimatized herself and limited her time in the water to 20 minutes.

Immediately after I went by some sea lions. I had heard them on the way out and had forgotten they were on this side. They are huge - much bigger and heavier than my boat and my oh my, they are loud! I gave them berth.

The flow of water coming out of Lake Washington was surprisingly strong. This time I did not need to wait to go into the lock. Unfortunately, I was right behind a boat with a smelly diesel exhaust. Once I got in, one of the lock hands suggested I go to the front, away from the smell. :-)

A bit later, he leaned over the rail and asked me about opening the gate: Did I want to wait until the level was even, or did I want him to open it early? I told him to “make it interesting”! When it did start opening, the water outside was about a foot higher than our level and it swirled pretty strongly at first. I went through it easily when it was about 5 feet wide and yelled a “thank you”. That was fun!