I’ve never been much of a sailor. A tendency to get queasy when the footing becomes unsteady has marked me as a landlubber most of my life. But in spite of this, I’ve always been drawn to the romance of boats. That whole John Masefield thing about “a tall ship and a star to steer her by” really sank in somewhere along the line.
In Seattle the tall ships and seas beckon in every direction. The newest place to get up close and personal with boat life is Seattle’s South Lake Union Park, located right next to the Center For Wooden Boats, where all manner of delightful crafts are on display.
There’s a lot to like at the new park. It opens up vistas previously out of bounds. More significantly, it represents an amazing turnaround of a marvelous site which for decades was contaminated with toxic waste from previous industrial uses. Now it’s a showpiece, with wonderful educational touches tucked into an artfully planned 12-acre site that includes a number of delightful artistic focal points, including a playful water-jet lined walkway, a wide basin for sailing toy boats, and “Blanche,” an unusual floating sound sculpture by San Francisco artists Peter and Sue Richards.
“Blanche” was constructed using an actual Blanchard Junior Knockabout boat, donated and restored by the Center for Wooden Boats. The installation is particularly appropriate as a tribute to the Blanchard Boat Company, which operated on the shore of Lake Union from 1900 to 1963. The sculpture is designed to give visitors the feeling of being in a boat, without ever leaving the shore.
Close your eyes. Hear it? That’s the sound of one wave slapping.