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Hot Tub Boats Seattle

Downtown Seattle from a seaworthy tub


If you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for some time, you know it’s not the rain that slowly erodes our sanity. Rather, it’s the cool weather and gray overcast that dominate the weather and effectively block out the sun for an average of 250 days–nearly two-thirds of the year. If you’re not an all-season hiker, aren’t a fan of walking in the cold rain, or haven’t taken up death-defying snowsports, PNW winters can feel pretty limited.

Sure, there are some who enjoy getting up at 5 a.m. in winter to drive for an hour and a half in the dark and spend more than $100 on a day’s snowboard pass just to get injured after going down the first run. For the rest of us, however, we had been left with the choice of being cold or staying indoors. That is until hot tub boats.

Yes, I said hot tub boats.

Legend has it, a wooden boat shipwright got tired of being cold during a particularly wet and miserable winter. The shipwright, Adam Karpenske, couldn’t install a hot tub on his Lake Union houseboat so he decided to develop the world’s first hot tub boat. The 16-foot electric boat set out on its maiden voyage on New Year’s Eve of 2011. A month later, Hot Tub Boats Seattle was born and Karpenske was in business.

So, how is it possible to fill a boat with water and have it not sink? The Hot Tub Boat has been carefully engineered with a sleek design and high load capacity, according to Karpenske. Because the hot tub is positioned on the boat’s center of buoyancy, this allows for remarkable stability even with 2,100 pounds of water and six adult bathers.

Oh and did I mention you drive this boat with a simple joystick?

Hot Tub Boats can be rented year-round, rain or shine. And don’t worry, even if it rains you’ll still stay warm as the boats’ diesel-fired boiler maintains the tub’s cozy temperature of 104 degrees while you enjoy the views of floatplanes, houseboats and the Seattle city skyline. The boats also feature dry storage, cellphone storage boxes, underwater lighting and surround Bluetooth speakers. And if you like them enough you can even buy your own for about $75,000 here.

Our journey began around 10 a.m. with Hot Tub Boats Seattle. Normally, I’d have opted for the evening boat trip to take in the sunset and enjoy the tub’s built-in underwater neon lighting. But as locals know, the window of time for traveling into and out of Seattle is limited to a few hours each day. And so, in our attempt to avoid the regular 4 p.m. rush hour and the 2 p.m. pre-rush rush hour of commuters trying to beat regular rush-hour traffic, along with the 3 p.m. Boeing cluster*&^# in Everett, we opted for an early morning soak.

The air was a brisk 52 degrees and the sky was mostly clear with the drone of I-5 in the distance and occasional jetliner or biplane coming in for a landing. (Hot Tub Boats advises boaters to stay close to the shore as the occasional floatplane will land and take off from the center of the lake).

We headed down the stairs to the left of the green building and rang the doorbell where we were greeted by staff and shown the heated changing rooms and lockers. We also bought some last-minute snacks to take on the boat with us. After a short driving lesson and safety instructions we were off!

After taking off we turned right and forgot the instructions going straight down the center of the lake to the south to catch the best views of Seattle’s downtown skyline. We also immediately made the mistake of opening the hatch and knocking the crackers and other snacks into the hot tub, which slowly disintegrated into the water over the next two hours, forming a sort-of hippie stew. Lucky for the next patron, the boats are emptied, and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each use!

IF YOU GO: You’ll need to arrive 15 minutes before your departure and will be required to watch a short safety video. You’ll also need to bring a signed waiver for each person in your party (you can do this ahead of time online).

Towels, showers, sunscreen, shampoo and conditioner, waterproof containers for your cellphone and other devices, and a heated locker room are available in the boathouse.

Snacks like cheese, crackers, handcrafted chocolates and charcuterie boards are available for purchase. Bottled water is also provided in a cooler that can be stored in a waterproof compartment inside the boat’s bow.

Washington State only requires a boating license for vessels that travel over 15 knots (about 5 mph) and these boats do not. Children are allowed but those under 12 years of age are required to wear a life jacket at all times.    X


NAME: Hot Tub Boats Seattle

LOCATION: 2520 Westlake Avenue North, Seattle

COST: $441 (tax included)

DURATION: 2 hours


AVAILABILITY: Check website for booking dates & times.

WEBSITE: hottubboats.com

PHONE: 206/771-9883

EMAIL: rentals@hottubboats.com