One summer day six years ago, we had a wonderful adventure on a seaplane. We took off from Lake Union in Seattle, Washington, and landed 45 minutes later in Victoria, Canada.
(The fires here in Wine Country rage on, though there is 35% containment, so I am continuing with the water theme started last week. Boat Rides.)
There was a free shuttle that transported us from Seattle’s International Airport to Lake Union, and we had arrived early. A small airport, Kenmore Air was the most relaxing and picturesque U.S. airport I had ever been to.
There was plenty of time to sit around the docks watching the floatplanes land. I sat there trying to grasp how landing in water was going to work, while Athena took photos.
With passports and carry-on bags, we soon walked down the pier and climbed into the floating plane. Other than the two “floats” mounted under the fuselage, it looked like a regular Cessna airplane.
Besides Athena and myself, there were two other passengers, plus the captain and co-captain.
Water takeoff was similar to an earth takeoff, but not as solid or defined…a combination of plane and boat takeoff.
We left Lake Union, a busy commercial and recreational boating hub in Seattle, and soon enjoyed a picturesque bird’s-eye view of Washington State’s largest city.
The plane’s two floats, which make water landings possible, add weight and therefore drag to the plane. This creates a slower rate of climb and cruise speed.
A slow climb and cruise speed resulted in a relaxing environment. The relatively low altitude offered fascinating views of the world below.
We flew over the San Juan Islands. There are 172 named islands, and several hundred smaller islands. Ferries and boats of all kinds cruise through this archipelago, from cargo ships to kayaks. It is a popular tourist destination. Map at end.
Though we saw none of this from the sky that day, there are pods of orca whales, as well as humpbacks and minkes; and other wildlife, too, including the largest concentration of bald eagles in the contiguous U.S.
We saw that some islands were empty of people, while other islands were more established.
Soon– too soon–it was time to land.
We were given an expansive aerial view of Victoria as we descended. Located on Canada’s Vancouver Island, the capital of British Columbia is a sizeable city, population 92,000.
The sparkling harbor came closer and closer.
When we came to the moment of landing, I was pleasantly surprised…even delighted. Because I finally got to know what it must feel like to be a duck.
We landed just like a duck does, with it’s webbed feet extended for landing while the rest of the upper body slowly and seamlessly eased gently onto the water’s surface.
In my mind…I quacked with joy.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.