One of the greatest ideas ever, in my opinion, is a summer-long event in Seattle called “The Downtown Sailing Series.” It happens every Thursday evening, and it’s been going on for over a decade out of Elliott Bay Marina.

Seattle skyline during Downtown Sailing Series

The Seattle skyline glows in the evening sun during a Thursday Downtown Sailing Series race.

Now, let me tell you about Elliott Bay Marina. It’s adjacent to the beautiful, Seattle downtown skyline. On a clear day (yes, we do have them), you can see the Olympic Mountains to the west, the Cascade Mountains to the east, and Mt. Rainier to the south. All this beautiful scenery frames the sun reflecting off the beautiful Seattle skyline. Elliott Bay is full of activity: ferries going back and forth, Alaska cruise ships leaving and returning each week, tugs pulling barges, and more. There is always interesting stuff happening in this amphitheater of natural beauty.


Chip Hanauer and Sam the cameraman joined a group of family and friends on Tre Gatti.

Sam “the damn camera man” and I were invited to sail on the beautiful boat Tre Gatti, a Centurion 47,  for a recent Thursday evening of sailboat racing, food, wine, beer, and wonderful fellowship. Well, perhaps I should explain what I mean by “sailboat racing.” You see, the Downtown Sailing Series is not a competitive, knock-down, drag-out race. In fact the “winner” is picked out of a hat at the party after the race. There is a proper start, there are buoys to round, and there's a finish line to cross. But it’s really just about sailing together, celebrating the Northwest summer, and having fun. As a guy who made his living as a competitive boat racer, I have to say that competition can take the fun clean out of something that we originally did just for the love of it.

You may know the saying, “A boat is a hole in the water where you pour your money.” Well, at TheBoatGuy, we say, “A boat is a hole in the water where you pour your friends and family and make great memories that you’ll cherish forever.” Tre Gatti is set up perfectly for pouring on friends. The owners live aboard with their three cats, and the big cockpit is great for passing party hors d’oeuvres. (Oops, did I say party? I meant race hors d’oeuvres, sorry.)

One of the three cats that lives on Tre Gatti.

One of the three cats that lives on Tre Gatti.

Other great features of Tre Gatti are the wide decks and generous foredeck, which made it possible for the young couples to get away from us “older folks" and watch the sunset with their arms around each other. Talk about making great memories.

And in case you think this is "just" a weekly party, each and every Thursday Dwight Jones, manager of Elliott Bay Marina, does something that I think is really great. We have a large VA hospital here in Seattle, so he invites patients down for a beautiful evening on the water. He puts them on a participating boat, so new friends are made every week. Now that's the kind of party, I mean race, that makes everyone a winner.

Race winners are drawn out of a hat at the party after sailing.

Race winners are drawn out of a hat at the party after sailing.