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You'd think that mooring a boat in Western Washington could happen just about anywhere. After all, there are some 3,000 miles of shoreline'you should be able to just put a dock or a buoy out almost anywhere. Right? Wrong! But never fear, there are options available to you!

Your Own Private Dock on Your Waterfront: This is rare, I'm sorry to say. Because of prevailing winds and strong currents, most areas would not work. Winter winds will blow your dock down. The areas where you CAN moor a boat are such places at mats Mats Bay near Port Ludlow, Kilisut harbor on Marrowstone island, parts of Sequim Bay, Quartermaster harbor on Vashon island, Holmes Harbor on Whidbey island, Madison Bay on Bainbridge island, parts of Fox island near Gig harbor, Gig harbor itself, Pleasant Harbor near Brinnon on Hood Canal and a few spots near Olympia. You should look for a lot with a dock in place; you may be able to repair; if you want a new dock, plan to go together with several property owners for a chance at a permit.

Placing Your own Mooring Buoy: The next option is to buoy out. Again, the areas I mentioned above are the best places, but you often can buoy out pretty much all over, but you would bring your buoy in for the winter.

Having a Dock Next to Your 'Canal' Lot: Washington has 9 so-called 'canal' communities where canals were dredged to create moorage right next to each lot. There are three on Whidbey island, two in Skagit County, one near Port Ludlow, one in the north Kitsap area, and two in Whatcom County.

A Marina That is Part of Your Neighborhood: Increasingly popular, these include such places as Semiahmoo near Bellingham Port Ludlow, Birch Bay Village, Port Ludlow, Cape George Colony near Port Townsend; each of the 'canal' communities.

Public and Private Marinas: Most waterfront communities have marinas available both public and private. Some private marinas have boat slips that are owned by the boat owner, instead of the usual slip fees. Unfortunately, most marinas in Washington were designed for boats 42 feet long and smaller. Some of the newer marinas, like Elliott Bay in Seattle and Anacortes Marina (private) purposely created some slips for longer boats. There are also a few in-water marinas that are covered, as in Everett. The other option is to 'moor' your boat out of the water in a boatyard; or to take your boat out of the water and put it in your backyard.

Before you decide where to locate your boat, think about your life with your boat. For example, if you want to spend time in the San Juans and do so frequently, Anacortes is the best place to moor. If you like boating around Puget Sound, then mooring in Seattle or in Kingston would work well for you. Sailors like to moor in Port Townsend or Port Hadlock, just because of the frequent wind conditions are good for sailing.

For more information about mooring a boat or for a list of all properties with docks, please call the author, Barbara Blowers, WAVES Waterfront Properties, Inc. at 1-800-346-9236 or visit her web site at