Hope springs eternal on boating season's opening day

SEATTLE - A ritual unfolded Saturday that, as always, sparked eternal hope in the hearts of Puget Sounders.

It was opening day of boating season, when boaters and non-boaters celebrate the possibility that better weather has arrived - and might stay a while.

The ceremony has become a part of Puget Sound's cultural identity.

Many say we are blessed to live in a place with so much natural beauty - much of it on or near water. And while you certainly don't need a boat to appreciate it, those who own them banded together on Saturday - and invited everybody along for the ride.

The opening day parade on Seattle's Montlake Cut is an excuse to be a little wacky.

But more than anything, the launch of boating season is a symbol of hope, for boaters and non-boaters, that bluer skies are coming our way.

"I think it is a sign of spring, a sign of the beginning of warmer weather and flowers and trees," said one participant, Brenda Bartlett.

We are known as a city with one of the highest number of boats per capita in the country.

But before you go out and buy one, consider this: some boaters like to say BOAT stands for "break out another thousand," as in dollars.

"It's the time that you have to get the boat out of the garage and serviced, and everybody makes a lot of money off of you," says boat owner Larry Wong.

While Wong has enjoyed more than 40 years on the water, he says he just spent more than $2,000 fixing his motor. And Saturday he spent a fortune just on a tank of gas - $262.32 for 57 gallons.

But whether it's motoring or sailing, rowing or paddling, you have to have some form of water transportation or you're kind of missing out on 90 percent of the experience here.

It's almost impossible to avoid the sea, lakes and rivers of Western Washington. So why resist?