Where Can I Anchor on Lake Washington?
For the last couple weeks, I’ve been cruising Lake Union and Lake Washington. As a boater who prefers anchoring to tying up at marinas, these lakes present a bit of a problem. While several bays look appealing, anchoring is highly restricted.
Apparently anchored boats have caused problems in the past. Lake Washington is surrounded by the area’s most expensive residential real estate, and the wealthy waterfront residents don’t like when someone sets up camp in their front yard. Historically, too many of the boats that set up camp were, shall we say, undesirable. Think derelict boats with squatters living aboard, dumping sewage and other pollutants overboard and periodically sinking. Or boats blasting music late into the night, disrupting the neighborhood.
So where can you anchor?
The Waggoner Cruising Guide, Northwest Boat Travel, Salish Sea Pilot, and ActiveCaptain aren’t very helpful. They describe where anchorage is theoretically possible but don’t clearly state where overnight anchorage is legally permitted. Extensive Google searching revealed little more. A few blogs where people wrote about anchoring overnight in various coves and some inconclusive forum discussions. So I set about finding out the truth…
Several municipalities border the lake, each with its own set of laws. The Seattle side is easy: anchoring, overnight or otherwise, is only permitted in Andrews Bay. The east side is more complex: Renton, Bellevue, and Mercer Island are all patrolled by Mercer Island Marine Patrol, which enforces a no-anchoring policy. The King County Sheriff enforces laws in Kirkland and the northern part of the lake, and they allow overnight anchoring in Juanita Bay and in front of St. Edwards State Park. Below is a more detailed look where you can and cannot anchor on Lake Washington.