The summer may be ending, but it's not too late to step the mast, rig the sail, and head out on the open water of Lake Washington. This Groupon gets you an adult unlimited sailing pass for the rest of the year to Sail Sand Point, located along the western shore of Lake Washington just five miles north of the University of Washington. A membership gets you and up to three friends out on the water with access to Sail Sand's range of boats. The adult pass is normally $175 for the whole summer, whether you buy it in May or September (though they do offer an early bird special of $150 if you purchase before April 1). With this Groupon, just $50 will get you in on the action for the rest of the 2009 sailing season. Note: Sail Sand Point closes on October 15—that's two months of sailing and access to Sail Sand Point boats.
Classes run year-round at various times of day during the midweek and weekend, depending on availability (it's busiest on weekends, naturally). The first three hours are spent in the classroom, covering basic knots, safety precautions, and terminology. Once you've sorted out port from starboard and clarified where the bunny goes after emerging from the hole, you and two or three other students will hop into one of the club's boats for some hands-on practice. The small class size ensures plenty of time sailing, mastering the rigs of rigging and the sportsmanship of seamanship, while receiving personal attention and critique from a worthy seastructor who is United States Coast Guard certified.
The Electric Boat Company sets customers loose on Lake Union in trusty, battery-powered Duffy boats. Set-sailors steer their own 21-foot craft while traditional lake chanteys spill from the sound system, which includes a CD player and an iPod jack. Other passengers can lounge on leather seats in the cabin area, whose windows can be kept open to invite in the breeze or fully closed to avoid being poked by a marlin. Before a trip, guests can pack a cooler with snacks, pick up forgotten ice and drinks at the on-site snack shop, or satisfy appetites at lakeside restaurants.
From the south end of Lake Union, kayakers and paddle boarders can head north toward Gas Works Park to see the century-old former Seattle Gas Light Company plant. From there, they can head east and wind through Portage Bay on the way through Montlake, then cut over to the Washington Park Arboretum and Lake Washington. If they turn west instead, they can cut through a canyon of city buildings until reaching Ballard Locks and Puget Sound, where they may arrive in time to see the sun hang just above the Olympic Mountains. Moss Bay Rowing, Kayaking, Sailing and Paddle Board Center's team facilitates adventures like these by renting man-powered water vessels by the hour, day, or week. Rentals afford paddlers and sailors the chance to explore Seattle's sheltered waterways, which are held to a 7-knot speed limit. Moss Bay's staff also leads small-group and private lessons in rowing, kayaking, and sailing, and coordinates guided tours including excursions designed for kids and adults.