Frequently Asked Questions

South Lake Union Livery

What is a Livery?

At the turn of the 20th century, liveries were boathouses where the working class could rent a boat for leisure.  Our Livery continues that tradition.  Learn more HERE.

What are the CWB Livery rules?

The rules can be found HERE.

 Do I have to be a member to rent boats?

No – anyone can rent our boats. CWB Members get discounts on rental prices, though, as well as many other benefits. Learn more about membership HERE.

What kind of boats do you have for rent?

In general, we rent rowboats, canoes, double kayaks (no singles), sailboats, and pedal boats. All of the boats in our rental fleet are wood – even the pedal boat!  Our boats are regularly cycled through the shop for maintenance, so the boats on the dock may be slightly different each time you visit. For an overview of our fleet, click HERE.

Do you rent motorboats?

Our South Lake Union (Seattle) location does not offer motorboats for rent. We do rent motorboats at our Cama Beach location on Camano Island.  Take a look at their Livery hours HERE.

I don’t know how to sail, row, Kayak, or canoe.  What can I do?

We will happily teach you how to row!  Our rowboats are stable and comfortable, even for first-time rowers.  You can also rent the pedal boat, which two people pedal like a bicycle.  We ask that renters of kayaks and canoes have some experience in those vessels.

I don’t know how to sail.  Do you have someone who can take me sailing?

On Sundays only, our Sunday Public Sail program offers free sailing on Lake Union for those who have no sailing experience.  On other days of the week, you can rent a rowboat or the pedal boat, which requires no prior experience.  We’ll teach you how to row if you don’t know how!

I know how to sail!  Do I have to pass a test before renting a sailboat?

Yes, we require all of our sailors to pass a CWB “checkout” sailing test before renting, and those checkouts must be scheduled in advance.  We do not accept proof of sailing experience from other organizations or associations in lieu of a CWB checkout.  Please note that separate checkouts are required for the SLU and Cama Beach locations, because of the difference in facilities.  For more information, click HERE.

Has my CWB sailing checkout expired?

CWB sailing checkouts are valid for one year from the most recent date of sailboat use.  After a one-year lapse in boat use, we require you to complete a checkout again, which can be scheduled HERE.  If you’re not sure if your checkout is valid, give us a call or come down and we will look it up.

Can I rent a boat and race it?  I love Duck Dodge!

Sorry, but no.  Our boats are not allowed in any race that is not sanctioned by CWB.  Although we do operate rentals during the summer Tuesday night “Duck Dodge” on Lake Union, our boats are not allowed to take part in the race.

Can I bring other people with me when I rent a boat? How many?

Yes, bring friends and family!

  • Rowboats can accommodate up to four adults.
  • Canoes can accommodate up to two adults.
  • The pedal boat can take two to six adults.
  • Our sailboats can take up to six people, depending on the boat and weather conditions.  One person in the group must pass a CWB “checkout” sailing test before renting, and those checkouts must be scheduled in advance.  For more information, click HERE.

Is there a minimum age limit for passengers?

Nope!  We have PFDs for passengers of all ages (even babies).

Is the hourly rate for the boat in total, or is it per person?

The rate is hourly per boat – bring a friend and split the cost!

Do you have to set a specific return time before leaving?

No, you can stay out as long as you like.  We charge a 1-hour minimum, and by 15-minute increments after that.  Keep in mind that all boats are due back 15 minutes before closing, and that our boats are not allowed to tie up to any docks other than ours.

Are Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) included in the rental?

Yes!  We have PFDs for everyone (even babies) at no charge.

Can I make a reservation?

We rent on a first-come, first-served basis, and do not take reservations.  If all of the boats are rented when you arrive, we will happily add you to a waitlist.  However, since customers are allowed to keep boats for as long as they like, it may be difficult to predict your waiting time.

Where can I take the boat?

Our boats must stay on Lake Union, between the Fremont and University Bridges (no Lake Washington).  Additionally, our boats may not tie up or dock anywhere other than CWB.

How can I check the weather on your docks?

We have a weather station on our boathouse.  Check it out!

Can I bring food and drinks on the boat with me?

You are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy during your rental, but we do not allow alcohol on any of our boats.  Please be mindful of the fact that our rental boats are museum pieces, and clean up crumbs and trash.

Can I bring my dog?

Your dog is welcome on your boating adventure!  We don’t have doggie PFDs, however, and we do ask that your dog be on-leash while on CWB’s docks.

Do you have lockers or cubbies where I can leave my stuff?

Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere for you to leave personal belongings while you’re on the water – you’ll need to take everything with you on the boat. For this reason, we encourage you to leave valuables and electronics at home.

Is fishing allowed from your boats? What about swimming? What about smoking?

Fishing, swimming, and smoking are not allowed on any of CWB boats or docks, for legal, insurance, and liability reasons.