Culture Dose: Lake Union Boats Afloat Show

Free sailboat rides, a floating beer garden and demos of the zany Flyboard.

If you’re anything like me, you’re clinging bare-knuckled to these delicious, blue-skied days, racing down to the water’s edge at every chance. Though we’re optimistic the seasons aren’t ready to change quite yet, it seems prudent to soak up every drop…just in case. Thankfully, there are countless reasons to remain outdoors this week, one being the Lake Union Boats Afloat Show that launches today at 11 a.m.

Courtesy Boats Afloat Show

The 34th annual show, which continues through Sunday, September 16, features family-friendly entertainment like boat-building and free 45-minute sailboat rides, a floating beer garden and daily demos of Flyboard, touted as an attraction “where Aquaman meets Iron Man.”

Courtesy Boats Afloat Show

Recognized as the West Coast’s largest floating show, the Lake Union display highlights 180-plus  vessels (new and old) ranging from sport boats and cabin cruisers to mega-yachts. Saturday and Sunday, kids (ages 8 to 16) enjoy free, 90-minute sailing lessons on 13-foot Hobie Cat Waves.

Courtesy Boats Afloat Show

Visitors see the Guinness World Record-holding rowboat the James Robert Hanssen and meet some of the crew that rowed the winning race from New York to England in 2006 and the recent circumnavigation of Vancouver Island (they will be rowing from Liberia to Venezuela this December). Aboard a 68-foot authentic Paddle Wheeler, a floating beer garden satisfies thirsty guests with Redhook Wit and Widmer Drifter as well as Stonebridge wine.

But the attraction we’re most curious about? Daily demonstrations (at 1 and 3 p.m.) of the Flyboard, unique apparatus invented by jet ski racing champion Franky Zapata. It lets users shoot up to 35 feet in the air or swim like Aquaman underwater. Foot straps are attached to powerful water jets, providing lift, while hand-guided nozzles stabilize flight. The gear also allows for  aerial tricks like 360-degree spins and backward somersaults.

Courtesy Flyboard

Show hours are weekdays 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; weekends 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for adults; $5 for kids 12-17 (kids under 11 are free) and $18 for a multi-day pass. Boater’s Happy Hour takes place weekdays from 5-7 p.m: $6. Purchase e-tickets here