Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Warrenton Boat Yard Advertisement

Shatoosh and Pashmina make the October Issue of The Freshwater News, a publication about boating on the Columbia River since 1984.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shatoosh and Pashmina's Santa Letter

8 December 2009: Tuesday

Hira told us goodbye the other day, as she was leaving for her Christmas holidays with her twin sister Jean in El Paso, Texas. This is the beach/desert where they were born 66 years ago. We are going to miss her, so Pash and I decided that instead of being lonely down here in Scappoose that we'd write a letter to Santa with hopes that we can have our own Christmas party.

Dear Santa,

Pashmina and I have been such great companions this year to Hira and her gang of friends that we thought we'd like to tell you what we would like for Christmas.
1. Voltmeter
2. A book for our library: Bijaboji by Betty Loman Carey; used at Amazon
3. Donations for "cruising kitty" for diesel fuel/Alcohol fuel/spare parts for engine/LED aft cabin light and anchor light.
4. LED table lamp-Target

To make it easy for you, Santa, you could go online to and purchase a gift card in whatever amount you can afford. We will enjoy whatever you send.

With love,
Shatoosh and Pashmina
Santa, don't tell Hira that we have done this!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Merry Christmas Newletter

4 December 2009: Saturday
These were my 2 favorite photos taken of me this cruising season. The tree hugging picture was taken on Martin Island, near Kalama, Wa. and the supine picture was taken on a wing dam structure near channel marker "72". Both were unusual "finds" along the river. I have never been hugged by a tree before and it was an unique experience. Also, as unique, was lying on old timbers that the river had attacked year after year. It was a great way to stretch my spine, as the angle of the timbers were quite extreme.
This cruising season has been a great one. I had lots of hours docked working on Shatoosh on many projects; redoing inside and outside wood, painting the cabins/head, installing LED lights in the cabins, going mobile with my Verizon packed mini netbook, and creating the chart plotter. I hauled out at the Warrenton Boatyard in Warrenton, OR and had the bottom painted and new zincs put on. This trip extended my cruising grounds toward the Graveyard of the Pacific(the Columbia River Bar) and gave me a taste of the ocean's pull at the mouth of the Columbia River. I met so many new, wonderful people and even had new folks join my fleet of crew. Speaking of the ocean's pull, the fall highlight cruise was on board the Lady Washington, Washington's State Official Tallship. Ann and I helped take the Lady from Port Townsend to Aberdeen to her home port. Getting to sail aboard a tallship was truly memorable and rounding Cape Flattery in the dark of night, heading down the coast with a galaxy of stars overhead was spectacular.
Blogging took on several new aspects:
1. With my mini HP I could slog and blog in real time which made each day joyous. Every evening I would curl up in my bunk or on the bench seat and blog to my heart's content.
2. More and more people were exposed to the blog through the Albineers and the Albin Yahoo Group websites. In addition to these linkages, the Lady Washington linked this site to their blog and gave me an incredible endorsement for my blog on the Lady Washington Sail from Port Townsend to Aberdeen, WA. People have run into me on the river, asking me if I was the person who writes the blog. People email me from all over the country now and to top it all off, I have readers in Sweden, and even India. Who would have thought? With so many encouraging comments by readers, I wouldn't think of not blogging now.
I am so grateful for being able to have such a wonderful Albin, lots of incredible friends, and lots of wonderful adventures. Thank you all for being in my life and making it such a joyous one. Even if we have only spent a few hours together on some remote dock, or shared an experience by email, or have crewed for me for years, please know that you all are very important people in my life. We are all brothers and sisters to each other, helping each other along the way, as we journey with our boats along the coastal river/ocean systems. The year 2009 has been a most joyous ride. I can't wait to see what adventures will take place in 2010.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Hawaiian Island Cafe

3 December 2009: Friday
I awoke to icy windows and docks with the cockpit temp at 32. I got up, started the heater, but feel warm in my fleece pants and pullover and cap, which I slept in. The sun was coming up and the sturgeon fishermen had been making loud talk for 30 minutes.

The Hawaiian Island Cafe waitress greeted me with,"Aloha", the Christmas decorations were up and "Mele Kalikimaka" was painted on the windows. IZ was playing on the cd changer. Gosh, I already feel warm and cozy. I'm off to a great start with hot coffee and bacon and eggs. While I'm immersed in Hawaiiana, I can never find myself eating a local favorite of spam and eggs with 2 scoops of rice. Just like the dinner menu had multiple choices of dishes, the breakfast menu was filled with goodies. All the prices are very reasonable and the Aloha spirit is dripping off the walls. If you have never eaten at the Hawaiian Island Cafe, it is well worth the cruise or car ride. Help keep our family resturants alive.
I depart St. Helens at 1040 hrs and pass several tugs loading up with barges at the entrance to the multnomah channel. I am able to hold 6knots against the current and ebbing tide which suits me fine. I see only one eagle, but many flocks of geese and cranes.

I stop at Coon Island to make me some coffee and enjoy the sun starting to emerge from the clouds.

I make a very nice docking into my slip at 1330 hrs. Check all the fluids, and bildge, as this will be my last trip this year.
I went 20.6 nm
Total for 2009: 677.8 nm
Total nm on the Columbia/Willamette Rivers from 2003-2009: 2811nm.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chart Plotter Up And Running

3 December 2009: Thursday

I awoke this morning to a cold cabin. The temperature was 40, but outside it was 30. The docks were icy, but there was no rain, the skies clear, and the sun shinning. I've been waiting for this weather break for weeks. As I walked along the dock, I noticed a familiar friend, one that I thought lost, but my shadow was there, weaving in between those horrid remains of Fred, the resident Great Blue Heron. I always have to hopscotch down the docks.

Up on the top of the Dike, you could see clearly Mt. Hood to the east and north to St Helens and Mt. Adams. The skies were filled with migrating Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese.
Sauvie Island is a wildlife refuge which lies to the east of my moorage. I love hearing the cackling cranes and the honking geese. The trees are barren, and last years nests are beginning to fall by the wayside. The cormorants are busy fishing up and down the Multnomah Channel. I take my time with morning chores, drive into Scappoose for breakfast, read a few boating magazines and finally get off at noon. I have no food on board, except for some box soups, I have no plan except to run the boat and see how my newly configured chart plotter works.

This chart plotter thing has been months in the making, thanks to the prodding of Whiskyjack's owner, Dan. From the moment he met me he informed me that if I wasn't using SeaClear and NOAA charts for free that I would be really missing out on the latest free bees. At first, I didn't think I would like navigating with a computer, but then he told me about small computers or netbooks. I had seen Verizon's Netbooks and liked the idea of having broadband at your finger tips cruising the backwaters of the Columbia. So, why not take advantage of it all? I jumped in and as I cruised down river today, I watched with great anticipation of the red curser showing up on the chart noting my position. Hurray, it is working. I email Dan and let him know of my progress. He returns a note, sounding happy as a clam, that I'm out on the water and the chart plotter is working.

The day was so beautiful, that I made a quick decision to head all the way down the Multnomah Channel to the small town of St Helens about 9nm. It is on the Columbia river. They have a large free City Dock and then across the river is a small island with 2 large docks that are also free. I have to hand it to the Oregon Marine Board, as they have abundant numbers of free docks all over the state. It is so wonderful to pull in for free all the time. I've become quite spoiled.

The sun went down over the City Courthouse early and the chill started infiltrating the cockpit, so I turned on the diesel heater and got things warmed up. After looking through the barren pantry, I decided to walk up into town to see if any eating places were open. Lately, it has been slim pickings as the economy isn' t ithat great in these neck of the woods. The newly established Hawaiian Island Cafe was open and the food was onolicious. The owners are from the north shore of Oahu. They are open for breakfast. What a lucky break for me! I'll be first in line when the doors open.

What a joyful, spontaneous day. I just finished a wonderful guided meditation by Sally Kempton from my recent teleconference class with her. Time to wrap myself up in my down bedroll, so good night from St Helens, OR onboard Shatoosh.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Vashon Pocket Cruiser: Shakti

27 November 2009: Friday
The other day an Albin Boater on the Yahoo Group asked about my Vashon Pocket Cruiser and how did it compare to our Albin 25?
Well, the answer is, "it doesn't compare....nothing can compare with an Albin 25, in my eyes. However, the Vashon Tug is a very sweet pocket cruiser.

The year was probably 1985-6, I had retired, was living on Orcas Island, Wa and knowing I would have a long ferry wait to return to Orcas, I drove over to the marina in Anacortes to check out boats. There she was, sitting on a trailer, an adorable little power cruiser. I went inside the brokerage office and asked about the details. She has 7 ft beam, 23 ft in length, a Yanmar, 2 cylinder diesel engine. The owner had finished out the layout of the boat. Vashon tugs as they are often called were made on Vashon Island, Wa( a small island near Tacoma). They made fishing versions and cruising versions. Recently on the internet, I saw one that was for sale with a hefty price tag of over $40,000. I believe that I paid about $15,000 for mine. I put an offer on her, had her surveyed, and cruised her to Orcas Island, while the broker brought the trailer to the island for me.
I had a wonderful time cruising all the San Juan Islands with her and gunk holing easily with her 2 ft draft. There was a porta potty, a small galley. There was a cockpit steering tiller but no controls. She was easy to handle and I loved having her in my fleet of vessels. I had my Swan 36 sloop, and 3 dinghies. I kept her berthed not far from my house on the north shore of Orcas in what is called,"the ditch". A small marina which was dug into the island many years ago. It is still there.
It was wonderful to run down to Shakti and go for a sunset cruise to Sucia Island, or Matia Island. Often I would run over to Sucia with some firewood, a big piece of salmon and veggies and cook on the beach, watch the sunset and then head back home after dark. Oh, I remember the joys of being retired at a very young age. I had lots of fun.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Question of the Day: Where Have I Been?

15 November: Sunday
I've heard from numerous people; Albin Boaters, friends and family, all wanting to know why the blog has been empty for one month. There is lots going on, winter rains have set in, the snow levels are descending on the mountains, I had a sinus problem and many dreams are being manifested.

Remember last month I placed a note in the cockpit of Harmony, the Albin I had known in the Delta, which now is berthed in Deer Harbor. The owner responded and states," yes, he bought the trailer along with the boat and he would be happy to let me rent it for the summer 2010." Talk about a fast reply from putting out my dream.

This response began a domino effect in my planning:
I need a tow vehicle compatible with the triple axel trailer to haul me to Idaho. A columbia river boater responds. Its Larry, the captain of the Starship.
I need to get the empty trailer on and off the island of Orcas. A local friend responds. Its my crew member, Linda who I am Fortunate to have as a friend..
As of today, my dream is becoming a summer reality. Combined with a fortunate friend, a Captain of the Starship, Harmony is sweet music to my ears and the stars are the limit. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I met with Dan, the skipper of the Whiskyjack, who has been patiently guiding me through the process of converting my HP mini computer into a chart plotter, using the free program called, SeaClearII and free NOAA charts. With all the newly acquired cables to connect my computer to my GPS/Radar I temporally wire the connections. I had some problems, and with the rainy weather, I didn't want to head out of the slip to get a GPS signal. I have a covered slip and don't get a signal under the shed. Dan, meets me on board and asks if my ole handheld Garmin 48, had a simulator mode. I said,"yes". We shifted over to that mode and bingo, the cursor was cruising down the river. I spent less than $20 and saved several thousands. Thank you, several thousands times over, Dan. I'm so happy I took the extra time to meander down to his boat that one sunny afternoon and meet him. He is such an incredible resource.

Back home, after taking care of my health, I set out to fabricate the final version of my navigational tray for my HP mini. I decided on using Plexiglas with wood corners to stabilize the computer.

My make shift work bench.

The wood has been painted black to match my mini.

When the weather permits, I will head back down to Shatoosh, take her out and play with my new setup.

The Albin Yahoo Group funnels in all the emails, so I get a good look at pulse of the Albin happenings worldwide, especially on the east coast. I have conversed with John many times, who owns Ms.Bettencourt in Augusta GA. The other day he posted a noted stating he was planning on transforming a used swim platform that he had acquired and did anyone have any info on designs, styles, measurement. I responded immediately, telling him of my designed platform. I mailed him a paper template so he now has data to help him with his project.
This is a final version of the swim plaltform we put on Lit'l Bit, Jo's Albin.

He shared with me there is a company in Vancouver Wa who has templates for sliding side windows for the Albin 25. Good luck, John. It is so nice to share with you.

I've gotten to do some non-boating things; have lunches with many wonderful friends, see some movies, work on winterizing my front door and meditation room, send distant Reiki treatments to many ill friends and take a computer course, The Transformational Journey, The Upward Shift, by Sally Kempton. It has been a wonderful month, filled with inner and outer adventures. that I cherish, even in the rain.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Full Filling One's Dream

In the beginning there wasn't a dream. It has evolved over the years, as a result of meeting influential people, reading books and contemplating my journey. One day driving across California, I find myself on a bridge over a waterway, with lots of large boats docked at big marinas. I say, "what is all this"? A friend replies,"oh, this is the Delta". I had heard of the Sacramento Delta before, but this was my first glimpse.

Before there was Shatoosh and Pashmina, I read, The River Horse, by William Least Heat Moon. His dream was to take a bottle of water from the Atlantic Ocean, cruise across the United States and deposit it in the Pacific Ocean, in one spring run off. His journey captured my attention. I remember standing on a dock in the bay eyeing a C-Dory tied below me. I meandered down and the owner stated the book was in the bookstore upstairs. He escorted me to the display section and I purchased the book. Moon had performed this feat in a C-dory and had always wondered, as a child, where did the water go when it went down a drain. He was champing at the bit to get into the partially frozen Hudson River and Erie Canal. He was driven each day, for fear that on the other end, he might run out of water, if he dallied too long in one place.

Soon after reading the book I bought Shatoosh in December 1999. My initial dream was to get a boat and get back into boating and go discover this famous Delta. My dream begins to take shape, as I cruise one river, after another. I'm taking my time, as I dally through the elaborate network of waterways, sloughs, rivers, and cuts. Maybe I could cruise all the Navigable River Systems on the West Coast? After all, many years earlier, I cruised hundreds of miles along the Intracoastal Waterway, from Mississippi to the east coast of Florida via Lake Okeechobee, and The Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis. I've cruised the Hawaiian Islands, sailed from Hawaii to Washington, cruised the Queen Charlotte Islands, the Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, some of the Gulf Islands, and the Dry Tortugas. How difficult could it be? I've got a black belt in cruising!

I had the great fortune to meet Conrad and Juanita who influenced and enriched my Delta life immensely. Conrad, is a Triston Jones type of guy. He built his boat, Cheryl Lee, in his Idaho backyard with his wife, Juanita, his first mate and number one supporter. They had cruised the Columbia River numerous times and had made the Snake-Columbia run twice. It is because of them I moved Shatoosh to the Columbia River. My good buddy, Too Tall Tom, owned an Albin 25 and berthed his boat near Shatoosh at Oxbow Marina. Between Conrad, Juanita, and Too Tall, we had a grand time messing with our boats, working on projects and joining together for some delicious striper dinners. One day I asked Too Tall, would he consider hauling Shatoosh to the Columbia River on his trailer? He agreed, and in 2003, we departed Oxbow Marina in the dark of morning, and headed north up I-5. The next afternoon, Shatoosh was floating in her new slip in Oregon.

Someone asked me the other day, how many rivers are navigable on the west coast? I didn't know the number. So, I got all my chart books and started making my list of all of the ones I have cruised, thus far, in Shatoosh.

Navigable Rivers, Sloughs and Channels on the West Coast

San Rafael Creek
Petaluma River
Napa River
Montezuma Slough
Middle River
Whiskey Slough
Turner Cut
Old River
San Joaquin River
Dutch Slough
Taylor Slough
False River
3 Mile Slough
7 Mile Slough
14 Mile Slough
Horseshoe Bend
Mokelumne River
South Fork of the Mokelumne River
North Mokelumne River
Connection Slough
Little Potato Slough
Potato Slough
Columbia Cut
Disappointment Slough
White Slough
Bishop Cut
Cache Slough
Steamboat Slough
Sacramento River to mouth of the American and Feather Rivers
Georgiana Slough
Snodgrass Slough
Beaver Slough
Hog Slough
Sycamore Slough
Lindsay Slough
Shag Slough
Prospect Slough
Miner Slough
Meadow Slough
Lost Slough
Delta Cross Channel
Cosumnes River Frank's Tract
Total: 43

Washington and Oregon
Columbia River To Bonneville Dam
Willamette River to Ash Island
Lake River
Steamboat Slough
Carrol's Channel
Westport Slough
Blind Slough
Echloman Slough
North Channel
Prairie Channel
Warren Slough
Knappa Slough
Martin Slough
Burke Slough
Wallace Slough
Clakskanie River
Beaver Slough
Bradbury Slough
Cathlamet Channel
Clifton Slough
Calender Slough
Skipanon River

Total: 22
Grand Total: 65

As 2009 is winding down, I look optimistically at 2010, in which, I will have Shatoosh trailered/trucked over to Idaho and we will ride down the final leg of my dream: the Snake River and the upper Columbia River back to her home port of Scappoose. At which point the dream will be full filled. What an incredible ride it has been. It is said that there are over a 1,000 miles of waterways in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. When I bought Shatoosh, she had 50 hrs on a new engine and now I have 1522 hrs. That's a lot of cruising on lots of rivers. I wonder what the next decade will reveal to me and how the dreams will manifest. But one thing is certain, there are more Adventures of Shatoosh and Pashmina to come.

Thank you, Conrad, Juanita, Too Tall, and Mr. Moon for planting seeds that I have nurtured for a decade. My serenity tank is over flowing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Albin Genealogy

When I bought Shatoosh, her name was Rayanna, for her owners Ray and Anna, however there was lots of evidence on board that that she had other names, other owners and other places she docked. An old cushion said High Life, a brass plaque saying Stockton Yacht Club Opening Day Regatta and papers with names of haul out yards listing different names.

Years ago a man named Mickey called me. He used to own Albin boats of various vintages and was one of the first buyers of an Albin in the Bay area. He had an old membership list from one of the Albin clubs in the bay area. This is what he shared with me. The Albin25 was being sold by the dealers, Bauman Brothers and Dick Miller of Sausalito.

In Feb, 1975, Hull Number 1124, built in 1972, was owned by Robert Vallerga of Los Gatos, CA and was named Sea Horse. In 1993, her name was High Life and she was owned by a fireman by the name of Hill who lived in Stockton. In 1993, she was bought by Ray Sarlin of Sausalito and he named her Rayanna and in Dec 1999, I bought HN 1124 and changed her name to Shatoosh. I berthed her at the Napa Valley Marina, then, Oxbow Marina on the Georgiana Slough, near Isleton,CA, and after trailering her to Oregon she started at McCuddy's Marina, Scappoose OR and is currently berthed at Scappoose Moorage in Scappoose, OR.

The names of Shatoosh and Pashmina are unusual and I am often asked the meanings of their names. Shatoosh and Pashmina are the finest wools in the world. The wool has been gathered for hundreds, if not thousands of years off the bushes in the Tibetan Highlands. In the late 90's the Chinese started killing all the goats and skinning the animals for their precious wool. The goats became endangered, so I wanted to honor the goats and their beautiful wool. I own many beautiful shawls and scarves made of these wools and they, along with my Albin are very precious to me. I love being wrapped in my Shatoosh shawl, just as I love being rocked by the gentle wave action of an Albin anchored in some protected cove or lagoon, as I lay in the v-berth reading a wonderful nautical novel. Both whisper soothing vibrations to my soul.

Do you know your Albin genealogy?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Anacortes WA and More Albins

I depart Orcas Island, WA before dawn on the first ferry to Anacortes. I took this photo yesterday while my long time friend Carol shows my house guest, Pene and I around the Theosophical Camp, Indralaya. It is situated along East Sound going into the Village of Eastsound. Carol's grandparents were among the first members. It is a magical place and this picture gives you a glimpse into the beauty of the San Juan Islands. If you have never been there, it is worth the while to go.

Upon arriving on the mainland, as it is called. Actually this is a misnomer, as Anacaortes is on Fidalgo Island, but is connected to the mainland via a bridge over a very small river. I head to the marina area to explore. This is something I have never done as I am always making a bee line to catch a ferry or to hurry home. Not today, I am taking my time and I am going to wander around for as long, as my heart desires.

Right off the bat I see another Albin 25. I do have a magnetic attraction to them. This one has no name and is docked in the Port of Anacortes. It is also slightly in disrepair. There is a huge stainless steel boarding ladder in the cockpit, which would be handy to have, but storage would be a problem.

I go to another area and find some covered slips which I did not know existed. I venture into the marina office to check it out. The smallest slips are 32 ft and are, state of the art. The marina is located on the east side of the city and has a substantial breakwater for protection. This could be a very nice possibility for Shatoosh's next home. I'm finding covered slips in Washington are much more expensive than where Shatoosh is berthed. I am finding, also, the range of marina conditions vary considerably, within the same price range. I looked at some real run down places in Tacoma that cost as much as these do and they have fuses with knob and post wiring. Can you believe that?

I am amazed at the number of boats that are for sale in these huge storage areas. I drive around and see many nice vessels. Whoops, another storage area and another Albin. This one is in derelict condition as is the trailer. The tires are flat, and the trailer is rusted. This baby hasn't be in water or on asphalt in probably a decade. The vinyl name is almost gone, but the glue is readable: BOS 2. Such a shame to leave a boat to rot in some overgrown storage yard. It is the only boat there and the only other resident is a derelict RV. They probably wail at night, like the spirits of the lepers on Molokai. Misery loves company, so it is good they are together. I don't even think this one is possible to rehab.
My trip to Orcas has been wonderful. I have had a wonderful time being with old friends, meeting new ones and tracking down all these Albins.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More on the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain

I looked at the updated schedules of the Washington Tallships.

The Lady Washington is beginning to work her way up(Pasco) and down the Columbia River. You can join each daily leg, as little as $78.

The Hawaiian Chieftain departs soon heading south to the Bay Area and will return this spring.

If you are interested, check out their website listed below on this blog.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Friday Harbor Another Albin

I catch the small ferry, as a walk-on, at 1045 hrs. The morning is beautiful and blues skies. I can't ask for a better day. My mission today is check my friend's Albin Lit'l Bit. As I am walking down the dock and have her in my sights, my cell phone rings and it is Jo from the Big Island of Hawaii. I give her a quick assessment; it is still floating, not listing, and the dinghy is on the stern and the kayaks on top. It needs a good scrubbing inside and out. The bilge is dry. It turns out Jo is coming later this week to go cruising. She'll have her work cut out for her.

I walk the docks and see several interesting boats:

This is a standard design that I like;
flush deck, tumble home stern, pilot house. Nice and clean lines.

Similar lines. I like this.

From a distance I thought this was Baten, a Jay Benford design, which my friends Andy and Rae had built in the 70's. But it turned out to be a Devilan design which is very similar. Also a flush deck with a pilot house. This is about 18 feet long.

What fun! Just hanging around the docks.

Monday, October 5, 2009

West Sound Marina and Albins

I went back to Harmony and left a note in the cabin for the new owner. Perhaps I will hear from him before I depart the island. Next I go to West Sound Marina as I know of another Albin there. It is Midgard, once owned by Leslie. I made a trip with her to Rolf's Cove on Matia Island, which is north of Orcas, several years ago. It is a basic old design. I know the current owners are members of the Albineers. I'll have to write them when I return. I can't recall their last names.
As I look at all the Albins I can see how good Shatoosh has been maintained. It is also clear how helpful it is to keep your boat in a covered slip or boat house. Shatoosh has been under cover since 2000 and it really pays off. My friend Jo lives in Hawaii but has her Albin over in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Maybe I will go over tomorrow on the ferry and check her out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Walking The Docks

After filling the bird feeders and watching the raccoon climb the tree and get spread eagle on all the branches so that he can eat one half of the bird feed, I decide its time to get back down to the waters edge. Yesterday Captain Dan tells me there is an Albin at his marina and they also have a new boat, an old Navy launch that they are re-doing.
I head over to Deer Harbor and walk out on the docks at Cayou Quay Marina. The first boat you come to is an Albin named Harmony. I'm surprised to see her in WA, as I know this boat very well from the Sacramento delta. It belonged to John Hughes. He fabricated his hard top and folding bench seat after mine. He had moved to Oregon and had his boat on the market for some time. Walah!! Its here in WA and in Deer Harbor, of all places. Dan, didn't know the owner and I don't recall the boat being in the Albineers with this new owner. I notice that it not registered in WA, as of yet, and it is needing a lot of maintenance.

I see the Orca Express and the new boat on the outer docks, so amble over there, seeing a nice little Flicka 20 and Pacific Seacraft 25 along the way. There is also a Nauticat which would be a great live-aboard vessel. Captain Dan is onboard the new boat the Pelican. Wow, they have done lots of work and she is looking primo with the green hull and tan and black accent colors. I climb up on Orcas Express to get a good shot.
Later I head back to the ferry landing and check in with Denise again to spend some time with her. She updates me on all her work with restoring the Patos Island Lighthouse and that she has just received the new applications for Washington Lighthouses special license plates. The Orca Express also does a Lighthouse Cruise taking you to 4 different lighthouse in San Juan County.
You can read about it on their website.
For information on the Lighthouse Plates go to

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Orcas Island Eclipse Charters

I decide rather quickly to run back down the mountain and pick up a few items at the Orcas Ferry Landing Store. I see my old friend, the Orca Express ready to take off for a whale watching cruise. Suddenly, Denise, the owner asks if I want to go and I say, yes without one second of hesitation. She tells me to get my car and park in on the docking area and I can pay later. She lets her husband, Captain Dan know and he holds the departure for me.

I have gone on their whale watching boat numerous times, maybe about 8 times now They always remember me and Dan asks, "where have you been"? I was wondering if you were going to show this year. He is an Albin fan, to boot, so that makes him special in my eyes.

This is one very well equipped boat. It doesn't matter that I don't have gloves, hat, coat, or binoculars. They have them for all their guests. I don gloves and hat, while my pullover will be fine. The wind is crisp and the sun is out in all her glory. He heads out east around Shaw Island and then points the bow towards Cattle Point Light House and into the Straits of Juan de Fuca we go. I'm back in the straits again, thinking of the Lady Washington, as it was just 3 weeks ago that we set sail from Port Townsend. This time we are on the north side of the straits heading northwest and hopeful the whales will still be in the area.

It is slow sighting in the beginning, but the show begins to pick up with J-pod, the local pod, displaying they are still around and having fun. Deb is the naturalist on board and can recognize even the littlest--J45 being born this past February. She is with her mother, her 2 brothers and they all descend from Granny who is 98 years old this year.There is tail slapping, spy hopping, breaching and a new sight for me. A young, male surfaces very close swimming on his back revealing his generative organ to us all. A flashing orca whale.The whales swim towards us surfacing numerous times and then swim barely underwater so we can see where they are located and rise to the surface right in front of us. This happens numerous times. What a privilege to get to see these magnificent creatures. After a great afternoon we begin our journey back to Orcas Island.

We stop at Whale Rocks, inside of Cattle Point, to see all the Stellar Sea Lions stacked on top of each other. I make the run home in the pilot house talking with Captain Dan until we arrive back at Orcas at 1600hrs. What a great opportunity, as I thought yesterday they were probably shut down for the season.

If you ever visit Orcas Island you must take a trip on the Orca Express. See link below.

Total run 35nm

Blogging From Mt Woolard, Orcas Island, WA

I'm perched high atop Mt. Woolard over looking the many islands of the San Juans, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island. A golden eagle flew over the deck and its reflection on the patio sliding doors forced me to bolt from my easy chair to get a glimpse. I'm house sitting for my octogenarian friends who are off traveling. This is a tough job and I'm always up to the challenge.

After my military career, I retired to Orcas Island and have been coming to the islands for over 25 years. I owned Sabra, my wonderful Swan 36 and also bought a cute little 23 foot Vashon Island Pocket Cruiser, named Shakti, so I could go gunkholing. I have many wonderful cruising memories of these islands. I always have such a wonderful time when I am here.

My recent crew, Constance or Con just wrote me a nice email which she has agreed to share with everyone. She states, "many thoughts and memories continue to emerge from my time spent on the river. It helped to be focused and one-pointed as required by the duty\ies and tasks of our boat experience. Each new learning/instruction helped to claim the insight I'd care to share:

As I opened myself to even taking the trip with Hira, I intellectually knew that I'd be leaving the confines of what I find comfortable and secure. Each day brought a continued event involving learning/teaching/expanding into unknown territory. As a result of going with the flow literally and figuratively, I experienced a "crack", an "opening" into the creative process that I had been blanketed by my career activities in the school district. I felt the possibility and yes, the urge, to paint again, to write again. It was at once, a healing of the spiritual and creative within. Thanks to the pull of so much nature's ebb and flow, I became one with our environment, our daily lives and the self within. What a fine-tuning Hira provided with the help of Shatoosh, Pashmina and several elements of nature all at once!!!"

Thanks Con for the sharing and taking the step to move out of your comfort zone. It is always so liberating to be in a new place. Always changing, always expanding, always grateful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 6: Coon Island to Scappoose Moorage

28 September 2009: Monday

The morning is chilly, so we start up the heater to warm the cockpit and main cabin. Do some prep chores before we depart. Carol, while stating she does not do mornings, was standing by with her coffee at 0830 when we cast off the lines.

We make one more pump out stop and then back to the marina. We pull the boat together, check the engine, Con takes a shower and then we are off to Portland. We stop and have a very luxurious lunch at Saltys on the Columbia River near the Airport. It was the fitting end to a great cruise. Con is moved to tears when she speaks of what this trip has meant to her and how it has changed her. Carol, also states that with my encouragement she ventured out of her boating box to become a single hander cruiser. So, Shatoosh, Pashmina and Hira have impacted a couple of lives this week. It is so rewarding when I see this happen. Another of Carol's friends has decided to purchase a boat just since my making contact with her. I love seeing women becoming independent owners of boats and cruising the waters. This has been a wonderful cruise of firsts for everyone and it was delightful to have a budding crew member onboard Shatoosh. Con, come again and maybe next time Joyce can make it, as well.

day's run 3.7nm
Total: 88.2nm

Day 5: First Time Albineers Rendezvous in Oregon

Sunday: 17 September 2009

This will be the first time that Albineers will rendezvous in Oregon. As I have mentioned before, I belong to the Albineers of BC and also am an Albin yahoo group member. When the 2009 membership came out I noticed that there was a member in Portland. Last week in preparation of this trip I decided to email Carol and Ed. Within minutes she replied, "Yes, they own an Albin 27 sport fisher and they have it up in BC for fishing." These are the American made boats and are not the classic Swedish ones that I love. I personally think they should have their own clubs, as they are entirely different vessels. But at any rate, Carol tells me she has a 20 ft Shamrock docked near her condo in Portland. She been wanting to cruise it, but hasn't been out much in except for day adventures. I say, "well join us on Coon Island on Sunday." We email back and forth and several days later she decides on joining us. Hurray.

We untie the dock lines early 0740 hrs and with an extremely low tide we precede slowly out of the narrow and shallow inlet to the lagoon. There is 5 feet of water. The sun is shinning directly on the water and into our eyes making it difficult to see. I make my turn to port and I hit a deadhead off the lower side of Burke island. This is another first for me in this area. I never saw it and I hit on the starboard side and we glance off of it to port. I do not hit it on the deeper end of the boat. Con's phone is ringing, I see a coyote trotting down the mainland shore towards us. It is a very busy morning and we have just begun our day. Three otters are playing and fishing on the beach of Martin island. Mergansers take off in front of us at the entrance. I see lots of white caps, so tell Con that it is going to be a little rough but the seas will be on our stern.

It is always so good to see the terrain at a very low tide. The entrance sandbar is high and dry.

We enter the river and slowly move the boat across the river to the Oregon side to get out of the wind, current and tide. We begin to see lots of bird activity up ahead and I spot a bald eagle on a channel marker. Con has him in her sights with the binoculars and I steer close to the marker. He takes flight so she gets to see and appreciate the wing span of these magnificent creatures.
A bit farther on a piling is another eagle which doesn't fly off, so we get a very sustained and good look.

At St Helens we stop to fuel up and I am preparing Con that this will be a very rough docking with the wind and waves. She has to be quick and focused, and be safe. We make a successful docking and Tony greets us to help tie up. Tony works for Mayday Marine and is filling in this morning. Steve on Knot Enuf has seen us and motors over in the dink. He is spending the weekend at Sandy Island. His wife is Carol who we stopped by to see in Kalama the other day. We all have a nice chat, we fuel up and get some more coffee and shove off to make our Albineer's rendezvous.

The Multnomah Channel is flat and calm, the sun is coming out and we change out of our morning clothes. As we approach Coon Island I can see the docks look full on the east side. I see a few boats that I recognize. I'm called by Carol on the VHF and discover she is already here and docked on the west side. This is the beginning of our first meeting. Even though Shatoosh is the only Albin, for the first time I'm with another Albineer member. This is Carol's first big outing on her Shamrock, "Fish Dish" and her first overnighter. So we have a great time meeting, talking and getting to know one another. By late afternoon we are alone. We have nice pupus of Carol's smoked BC salmon and a nice meal. At 2030 hrs we get to hear the coyotes on the mainland make their kill. I love to hear that call of the wild.

Day's run: 12nm
Total: 81nm

Speaking of Albin Boat owners: A nice note from the Albin Yahoo Group just came in:

I read some parts of your blog and can't wait until I have a couple hours free to read it all.
PLEASE keep it up. It's all that keeps us working stiffs going through the New England winter as we admire our snow-bound Albins.
John Stewart"Driftless" (A25-737) Dighton, Massachusetts, USA

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 4 Walker Island to Martin Slough via Cottonwood Island

Saturday 26 September 2009

Today, is another first. Constance didn't fall in or out or off of the boat. She is making progress with her boating and docking skills. Transforming those hiking legs to sea legs. Way to go girl!

We depart at 0930 hrs and head downriver to show Con the beautiful Chartreuse flora that grows on some of the granite cliffs. The coloring today is beautiful, with the dark green evergreens, the reds and the yellows. There is one particular place I like as it is 40-50 ft of water and is a partially separated piece of cliff with trees growing atop it.

Our next stop is to visit the signage about the Lewis and Clark Expedition on Lord Island. It is a lovely area with grass and deep water to shore. I have often thought about anchoring for lunch here or just to take an afternoon break. The sign states that Lewis and Clarke camped here and it is referred to it as Dibblee Island, but does not state the dates. I finger through several references on board, but can not pin point the date. I turn the helm back to Con and I go online to my blog. Don't you just love it. Thank you Verizon. I click on the Images of the Columbia River and hit Lord Island in the Image Index. Bingo...Lewis and Clark were on the island on their way back home on 26 March 1806.

The US Naval Ship T-AO- 202 Yukon is outbound and cuts a smart bow wake through the Flat Columbia River. She is 677 ft long, 97 ft beam, and 35 ft draft. Wikipedia states she is a fleet replenishment oiler. In early 2000 she had 2 collisions at sea; one of which she incurred severe damage above the waterline and had to make way to Pearl Harbor for repairs. Her crew is mixed civilian and naval personnel. We cross the river after taking her stern and follow upriver taking a look at the empty docks of Longview. Con continues to steer Shatoosh up river and learns to throttle down as we take several outbound tug wakes.

We enter Carroll's channel 1215 hrs and motor back to my old anchorage, but decide to anchor slightly downriver of my usual spot. We anchored today with my lunch anchor from the cockpit. The first time for me to use this small anchor and chain. It was perfect for a short time anchorage. I will certainly use it again in the future. Why I have never used it before is beyond me? I have thought about it often.

We depart our lunch anchorage at 1330 hrs and head upriver toward Martin's Slough where we spend the night again. I tell Con how nice the v-berth is for reading in the afternoon and a nap usually ensues. She awakes about an hour later and the wind has picked up which is usual for this area and the following seas are 4 ft. We are docked again at 1510. This means only one thing left to do to add to Con's first time list, which is now into double digits, and that is to take a solar heated shower on the aft cabin. A perfect shower on the aft cabin this afternoon in Martin Slough without a boat in sight. Saturday and we are alone in this huge anchorage. Amazing.

We have a wonderful evening and a small camper boat comes in to anchor and spends the night.
Today's run: 25.6nm
Total : 69nm

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 3: Walker Island

25 September 2009: Friday

We depart about 0930 hrs and the sun is burning off the hazy sky. The Columbia is windy with 2 foot seas. We are headed for Kalama to pump out and to Goble to get ice and then to Walker island. The tide is ebbing and we make good time down river, slowing to count the 12 vultures on the wing dam upriver of Sandy island. I like to pump out at Kalama. It is easy in and out and there is good maneuvering room at the station. The water is always calm. We dump off 2 bags of trash, visit the port head and then go 2 docks over to visit with Carol on Knot Enuf. She is always a delight to visit with.

We are outbound and dock at Goble to make a short run to get ice. Con is on the bow line and I have the stern line. We are sandwiched between 2 tugs, the tide is ebbing and the wind is on our stern. Con is working her line aft and I give the command to hurray and get on board. She jumps in and in a flash she is falling back out of the boat right in front of me. I grab her and help her get back into the cockpit. The boat is now slipping away from the dock at the bow. I grab the bow line and pull her back into the dock. That was really close. I jump in and off we turn around heading out of Goble. Con states her foot slipped on the cushion. This is another close call. We will have to be very careful when docking in the future.

The Eternal Wind is docked filling her belly with grain and the Catherine Ostendorf is carrying wind turbine towers heading to Portland. She hails from Monrovia. Most all the wind generators are being brought into the docks at Longview and are registered from Bergen, Norway.

Con takes her stint at the helm, while I play around on the charts, and plotting an ETA for Walker Island 1330 hrs. I relieve her from the helm as we approach the Walker island dock. We are tied up at 1335 hrs. A huge boat is tied up also and they return in the dinghy and later the owner and his wife arrive in another dinghy One couple are guests from Seattle and the boat hails from Portland. It is 50 feet plus and a beam of 18 feet. The owner is familiar with Albins so we have to talk Albin story.

We get Pashmina ready and go up to the cove and across river with hopes of hiking some more. The tide is so low that we can't get over to the wing dams between Walker and Lord islands. We go ashore through some terrible mud and decide it is not worth the effort to continue. So back we go and spend considerable time cleaning our feet, Pashmina and our shoes. What a mess. Pashmina is stowed on top again. We have a lovely evening. It is the calmest day I have spent at Walker, but the wind comes up at night and by 0030 hrs we are rocking and rolling. I had set more fenders out at dark and readjusted the lines, so we were well set. Con sleeps through it with her ear bunnies in.
Days run: 19.8nm
Total : 43.4nm

Day 2: Beach Coaming at Its Best

24 September 2009: Thursday

I like exploring between some of the wing dams along the river, behind Martin Slough, Burke Island and various other places. We spend many hours walking in the sun and enjoying the beaches, the glorious plants, seeing many beaver signs and racoons prints. The tide is out which always is so revealing. After trekking for a while Con names me, HIRAWATHA, which seems to fit my basic nature and love of exploring.

Stretching my back on timbers of a wing dam.

Tidal carvings of the beach.

Beaver cuttings.

We see lots of wildlife, deer with twin fawns, eagles and a nest, a few remaining osprey, merganzers, killdeer, hear the cackling of migrating sandhill cranes, and a pair of wood ducks. Not to mention all the commorants, Great Blue herons and canada geese. I show Con all the pumice stones on the beaches of varying sizes still left from the Mt. St. Helens eruption.
We dinghy and walk for 3 1/2 hours.
Con has a little trouble getting back on Shatoosh from Pashmina and starts to fall back off the gunnel on top of me, but together she ends up safe on board and not in the drink. Whew, that was close! I've never had anyone fall overboard. This is one first we don't want to have.
Day's run: 6nm
Total run: 23.6nm