Monday, January 4, 2010

Seattle Maritime Museum

I'm not sure whether this is the official name as the main building is known as the South Lake Union Historic Ships Wharf, as evidenced by the brass plaque on the side of the building


There is a large white building by the water which is used for various functions. We have been inside a few years ago when it was rented for a wedding we attended. It is a grand building with a mezzanine level on the 2nd floor which runs along the perimeter of the building.


It appears that someone (the city of Seattle, the Navy ?) are spending serious funds during this economic downturn to refurbish the area. The building appears to have been freshly painted and the asphalt roadway in front has been removed and ready for a new surface. The grass field was previously a gravel parking lot


The boats moored along these docks are part of the Seattle Maritime Museum. We arrived early one Sunday morning having driven down from Vancouver. I would imagine that during warmer weather you would be able to walk on board these heritage vessels and poke above and below the decks to see what life was like aboard when they were in service.


Some of these boats have magnificent woodwork


While others are in various states of repair and renovation


If you were skillful you could commandeer this small boat


I'm not sure what this manacing round thing at the front of the bow is used for but imagine it is for ramming other ships, or for breaking ice in the north


It belongs to the Swiftsure


It was an interesting place to spend some time and photograph. The museum is located on the south shore of Lake Union and you are able to see the I-5 bridge in the background


While it was a cool December day I thought it unusual to see this sandwich board advertising a Sunday Ice Cream Cruise which ends up at Fremont eventually returning you back here (to your car).


On board, what else, but the Fremont Avenue


If you are free on a Sunday and have nothing to do consider having an ice cream cone while you cruise over to the Fremont District. It's not hard to find as you are only a stone's throw from the Seattle Space Needle, in the background



  1. Gorgeous photos. I really like boats and used to sail a lot 30 years ago. Ice is broken by driving the hull up on the surface and the weight breaks the ice. The round thing looks like it's for an anchor.

    Thanks for the tour...

  2. bob, the building is the former U.S. Naval Reserve Center, which was declared surplus by the Navy several years ago and turned over to the city of Seattle. The area is being turned into a city park, and as you noted, the building is available for large gatherings (like Amerivespa 2007, to name one example). There is much development going on in the South Lake Union neighborhood, mostly by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's company, Vulcan...

  3. Bob, the Naval Reserve Center Orin identified is the building where I won the '64 Vespa GL back in 2007 -:))) And yes, I was shocked! I'd never won anything before in my life!

  4. I never won anything in Seattle, ever. The city hates me. I quite like the city and the lakes in summer (generally two weeks of August or Septemeber, but not both).

  5. Hi Bob,

    guess What*...I never won anything in Seattle either, it must be rigged!!

    Nice photos as always Bob, I would guess the large round portal was for a sea anchor, perhaps one forward and one aft.



  6. Dear Bob Skoot:

    The unusual hull design of the ship with the three round openings in the bow is immediately known to those of us with an interest in maritime history. The red hull, with the name of the ship in huge letters, is a dead giveaway.

    It is an old "Lightship."

    The "Swiftsure" was built in 1904 and launched from Camden, NJ (now one of the most lawless cities on earth). Initially commissioned as "Lightship 83," it was built to specification by the US Lighthouse Service as the "Blunts Reef California Lightship."

    The three round openings in the bow are to accommodate anchors. Typically, the bow anchor is a huge "mushroom" variety used to root the ship in sand. The "Swiftsure" was decommissioned in 1960. It is the oldest existing example of this ship's type with the original marine engine.

    I have been on the Lightship "Ambrose" in New York City's South Street Museum many times.

    I have been to Seattle once, but never went up in the "Space Needle." I never got laid there either so it is unlikely the city will get much coverage in my memoirs.

    However, the fact that the city apparently hates Conch speaks well of it. He would feel out of place in a metropolis where chickens were absent from the steps of city hall.

    Next to trains, I like pictures of boats best.

    Nicely done.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  7. Richard:

    I still think that round thing is what you say, a device for smashing the ice as the bow comes down. Sorry to hear about your stale air


    I somehow knew it had something to do with the Navy, as I have been inside that building it is full of naval stuff.


    You are so lucky. I never win anything either. Even the lotto tickets I used to buy just say "try again". I'm still salivating over that candied apple I never got

    Mr Conchscooter:

    We can start the "never won anything club" . We used to go down to Seattle all the time. Once you know where to go there is lots to do. I like the Broadway area as there are lots of restaurants.


    another candidate for the "never won anything club", we are going to have a lot of members. Thanks for the comment about the photos. I purchased a new camera and I think the images seem to have more punch. I started using it since the post on Granville Street, about 6 posts back. I also changed the color setting to "vivid" which helps.

    Jack "r":

    Jack, you are a wealth of information, either that or google is your good friend. I know you are a stickler for detail and I know you never make up stories, everything you write is TRUE, cause Stiffie said so.

    If You like trains go to Nikos World

    he recently went to Hamburg and posted some photos of the Reeperbahn. Go to his gallery and you will see a huge digital model railway. He also has a washroom photo with a window in the wall where you can look inside at the occupants.

    I know you like trains

  8. Dear Bobskoot:

    Google "Lightship Ambrose" and compare the two. These ships maintained semi-permanent positions at the mouthes of famous channels. The only ice they saw was in their drinks.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  9. I toured the Golden Hind in Astoria, once. The ship belonged to Sir Francis Drake. When they told me how many crew members served onboard, I was mighty glad to have not been one.

    This is a real intellectual second half of the comment. The balloons look like jelly beans. Must be near lunch time!

  10. Great pics...what was the weather like? The pic of the Seattle Space Needle really gave me a great idea, geographically, where you're referring to. Thanks.

  11. Gentlemen (Bob and/or Jack (?))

    If you trouble to visit my archives you will find a fine sprinkling of maritime and railway related material. Although my first love is piston engined airliners (especially flying boats made by Shorts}.

    I just flashed back to 2007 where I found rubbish relating to 2 stroke motorcycles and boat engines too!

    I wonder if Jack knows about historic submarines too?

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