A day after Gov. Jay Inslee announced that public boat ramps and other recreational sites will open next week, Everett’s Jack and Marilyn Courrier were launching their 17-foot Boston Whaler.
By putting their craft in at the Port of Everett’s 10th Street Boat Launch Tuesday, they weren’t jumping the gun or defying any coronavirus-related order. The port’s public boat ramp — an entryway to Port Gardner, the Snohomish River and beyond — has been partly open throughout the pandemic.
Lisa Lefeber, the port’s CEO and executive director, said during a virtual meeting Tuesday that some boat launch lanes at the 10th Street facility were kept open for life safety, essential commercial uses, tribal access and transportation to Hat Island. About half of the facility’s 13 lanes have been closed in recent weeks.
Enacted in March and later extended to May 4, Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order banned all gatherings and temporarily shuttered businesses that were deemed non-essential. On Monday, Inslee said boat ramps, trailheads, golf courses and other public lands can open May 5, with social distancing in place. He is also allowing fishing and hunting seasons to go ahead.
His Monday announcement only goes so far. Boaters, fishing enthusiasts, golfers and hunters are asked to only go out with people from their own households.
That was the case at the 10th Street ramp Tuesday. The Courriers were taking their motorboat to a boat house in the Everett Marina, where they keep a larger cruising vessel. They’re hoping restrictions won’t keep them from boating into Canadian waters this summer, as they’ve done for 27 years.
Another pair, a father and his 4-year-old son, were also at the ramp Tuesday, ready for an outing on calm waters. With life jackets on, they were about to row around the marina in an inflatable dinghy.
The 10th Street Boat Launch isn’t the only one that’s been open over the past few weeks.
In Marysville, “the Ebey Waterfront Boat Launch has been open as usual the whole time,” Connie Mennie, the city’s communications administrator, said by email Tuesday.
The Lake Stevens public boat launch south of City Hall has also been open, said Lake Stevens City Administrator Gene Brazel. The only time it closes is during Aquafest, he said.
Other boat ramps will open next week.
In Everett, the boat launches at Langus Riverfront Park and Rotary Park, both on the Snohomish River, will open May 5, said Kimberley Cline, the city’s communications director.
Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said by email Tuesday that Lighthouse Park, including the boat launch, will also open May 5. And the city planned to announce Wednesday that Edgewater Beach, the 92nd Street Park, and the Tails and Trails Dog Park will also open May 5.
The boat launch and fishing pier at Ballinger Park in Mountlake Terrace is also set to open May 5.
“The reopening of fishing activities is conditional upon social distancing,” Jeff Betz, Mountlake Terrace’s recreation and parks director, said in a press release Tuesday. Playgrounds, restrooms, playfields and a dog park there will remain closed.
As for Snohomish County parks, county communications director Kent Patton said Tuesday that an announcement about boat launches and other amenities will come in the next day or two.
When boaters get back out there, Annette Ferguson hopes they’ll keep safety in mind — and not only in ways related to COVID-19. She is commander of District 16 of the United States Power Squadrons, and a past commander of the Everett Sail and Power Squadron, one of the nonprofit’s units.
Since 1914, she said, the group “has been educating recreational boaters so they will be safer on the water.”
“We’re missing Opening Day,” said Ferguson.
Boating season festivities traditionally held the first weekend in May have included vessel safety checks as well as boat parades. As the stay-home order is lifted, Ferguson wants boaters to be smart — have their boats checked and wear life preservers.
In March, the Seattle Yacht Club announced “with profound sadness” the cancellation of its 2020 Opening Day Boating Parade. For decades, the celebration has been a seasonal joy to boaters and spectators following the University of Washington rowing teams’ competitions in the Opening Day Crew Regatta and Windermere Cup Races.
The Courriers have seen very few boaters off of Everett lately.
“There’s been no fishing allowed,” said Marilyn Courrier, and once cruisers reach a destination “there’s no place to go.”
Lefeber, the port’s chief, sees it differently. She quipped Tuesday that boating “may emerge as America’s pastime again because it’s one of the only things left.”
Herald writer Ben Watanabe contributed to this story.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.