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Spring is here and the Lakewood Boathouse is waiting for you

Whether learning to sail or just enjoying the sun, Lakewood has something for almost everybody

Caleb Barville preparing to sail out on Lake Whatcom on April 12, 2024, at the Lakewood Boathouse near Bellingham, Wash. Lakewood has a fleet of new, beginner-friendly sailboats ready to be used.  // Photo by Meladie Young

Seven miles east of Western Washington University's campus, nestled on the shore of Lake Whatcom, lies the Lakewood Boathouse. Lakewood is Western's water sports facility. 

Lakewood is available to all Western students as well as students from Northwest Indian College, Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College. The boathouse is an extension of the Viking Union’s Outdoor Center and is open in spring, summer and fall quarters.

“My favorite thing about Lakewood is how accessible it is for students and people who are involved with the Western community to get out and enjoy outdoor sports, water sports specifically,” Western student Caleb Barville said.

Barville started his time at Lakewood by taking a sea kayaking class. Barville said that without Lakewood, he doesn't think that he ever would have pursued a career as a sea kayaking guide. He started this in the summer of 2022 on the San Juan Islands.


Kayaks and canoes waiting to be rented out by Western students on April 12, 2024, at the Lakewood Boathouse on Lake Whatcom, Wash. Students can rent equipment for free and community members can utilize the equipment for a fee. // Photo by Meladie Young

“People don't know that this is even here and they don't know how to get here. I think it's really important to get the word out to people that there's a bus that runs once an hour,” Lakewood instructor Peter Hall said.

Anyone can hop on the 512 bus at the downtown bus station and catch a ride all the way to Lakewood in fewer than 30 minutes. Western students can take the bus for free with their student ID card. There are also shuttles that will run when the boathouse is holding events. They can usually be located outside the VU.

“I think it's very easy to spend time in your college career on campus … academics are why students are in college but another reason folks are in college is to meet other people, to pick up new interests and hobbies, and to build connections and community,” Lakewood manager Nino Johnson said. “We not only have a community of students that enjoy water sports but just enjoy being outside.”  

Lakewood’s main program is boat rentals. They offer anything from kayaks to sailboats.

“Another big thing is it's free. Outside of our large sailboats, everything is free for the first two hours. So I think it's something that people should take advantage of more,” Lakewood instructor Addison Parrish said. 


Lakewood’s new beginner-friendly sailboats ready for someone to rent them out to explore on April 12, 2024, at Lake Whatcom, Wash. Enjoy the warm sun and views while you sail.  // Photo by Meladie Young

Lakewood is free to students but is available to others in the community for a fee. 

Another program that Lakewood offers is sailing lessons. They still have openings for 101 sessions throughout the quarter. 

“They will give you an overview of how to use the sailboats so that you can come down here and take them out whenever you want,” Hall said.

Lakewood is a great place to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. It’s open Monday, Wednesday, Fridays from 2-7:30 p.m. and weekends from noon to 7:30. Lakewood will also be hosting an event through the Outdoor Center and the Counseling and Wellness Center on May 18 called the Outdoor Wellness Extravaganza, said Johnson. 

“Our Instagram is kind of the best way to keep in touch with what's going on here. We have a webpage as well and we use WIN, which is an event platform for letting folks know about events that are going on,” Johnson said.

Meladie Young

Meladie Young is in her second year at Western majoring in Visual Journalism. She is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front this quarter. In her free time you can find her with her camera or watching hockey. You can reach her at

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