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Emerald Landing, located on Lake Union in the heart of Seattle

How to make the most of your time in and around Seattle “the gateway to Alaska”

21 January 2022• Written by Laura Nicholls for Superyacht Northwest

Seattle is an eclectic city made up of crisp forests, innovative start-ups, wildly experimental cuisine and an expansive maritime community. With all that on land, this corner of the United States is given even more character thanks to its complex layout of naturally scattered waterways and glaciated peaks of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. The jagged coastlines and serene islands here create plenty of nooks and crannies for yachts of all sizes to explore, with all northward cruising paths leading to British Columbia and the awe-inspiring State that is, Alaska.

Float plane on the way to the San Juan Islands
Kenmore Air

Alaska may seem like a world away and a place to expect remoteness and limited supplies. In some ways this is true, however, there is a thriving yachting community in the region – one that is dedicated to providing anything a visiting superyacht might need while in the area. Superyacht Northwest (SYNW) was rebranded in 2019 after being established in 1994 as the very concierge network that an average of 30 to 40 visiting yachts utilise annually. Made up of 28 partner companies* in the greater Pacific Northwest, the network can provide anything from repair and refit services, mechanical improvements, chef services, yacht provisions, fuelling and mooring to local travel guides and advisors.

Flying over Friday Harbor toward Olympic Mts
Photo by Robin Jacobson provided by Visit San Juan Islands

“Puget Sound, British Columbia, and Alaska are amazing cruising grounds,” says Jake Sorosky of Salmon Bay Marine Center and acting chairman of SYNW. “But visitors can enjoy their time here even more knowing that everything on their pre-journey to-do list can be completed by a close-knit community of friendly partners.” For one 38-metre superyacht, this included an extensive refit after a cruise of a lifetime in the area. “This yacht came out of the yard looking brilliant,” adds Sorosky. “She looked like a brand new boat and so, needless to say, the owner was very happy. If a yard period is in your future, the Northwest is a great option because the craftsmanship is world class, and the service rates are extremely competitive. And once your yacht is back in the water again, you could be cruising in Alaska a week later.”

Superyachts Lonian and Hodor docked at Port of Port Angeles for maintenance and repairs – Platypus Marine

Owners and guests also enjoy the area’s remote coastline and its deep fjords, beautiful valleys, 900-metre-high waterfalls, 40,000+ pristine islands and endless mountain views. “One 50-metre superyacht based in the area has an owner who has cruised the region for over 30 years,” says Sorosky. “The family loves it, as the area is so expansive you could cruise every season for a decade and not have explored it all.” This abundant scenery and wildlife such as humpback and Orca whales, moose, brown bears and wolves are what keep visitors coming back again and again. “And those who enjoy fishing can expect to land enormous halibut in a bay, spend an afternoon fly fishing on a river, or haul in a pot full of fresh crab,” Sorosky describes.

Bigg's killer whales in the San Juan Islands
Sofia Prado and provided by Visit San Jaun Islands

More recently, the change in tax regulations in the area is another appealing lure and has opened up the once tightly regulated region. The new legislation passed in 2021 gives non-resident vessels more days to travel in the region without paying use taxes. Plus, it gives these vessels the ability to return year after year, including crewed charters which have formed a brand-new market for Washington. 

"Charters in the area now have access to the San Juan Islands and the Gulf Islands, both of which are brimming with wildlife, beautiful anchorages, destination marinas, nature trails and fantastic local food," explains Sorosky.

Salmon Bay Marine Center located on Lake Union near the heart of Seattle

Once the season winds down and the tropics begin to call, the Puget Sound region and Superyacht Northwest offer a haven for pre-planned repair projects. Those needing some well-needed TLC after a long mission through these wild waters can visit the likes of Delta, Nordlund, Pacific Fisherman Shipyard, Platypus Marine and Westport for services. “There are many historical shipyards that originated here. In more recent years there were at least eight big yacht producers, who now concentrate on servicing,” Sorosky explains. 

With the majority of the maritime companies in the area also tending to the very demanding commercial fishing industry and the Pacific fishing fleet (one of the largest in the world), the level of care and attention to detail given to a superyacht customer is second to none. “The many fishing boats in the area are serviced to by highly-skilled people as they can’t afford to break down – the same goes for a superyacht,” he adds.

35m Nordlund yacht Cazador cruising Puget Sound with Mt Rainier in the background
Nordlund Boat Company

“The vessels that come this way get treated with the highest level of care, and many return because they know they can count on our partners to do a fantastic job. We are always ready to consult any yacht owner looking for their next destination for an adventure or service,” he adds.

Yachts in 330T and 500T lifts at the Port of Port Angeles which include Platypus Marine and Westport. – Platypus Marine

For help with planning a trip to Seattle “the gateway to Alaska” and beyond, or to find out more about Superyacht Northwest and what services are available to any passing by superyacht, visit the network’s website directly here.

36m Silverado built by Willard in 1974 in the lift at Platypus Marine, with a 50m Westport in the background
Platypus Marine

*For more information on the partners that make up SYNW, please visit the member section of the website here.

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