Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dragging My Keel Upriver

I reluctantly depart about 1030 hrs after a lovely morning of bird watching, coffee and for some reason I didn't eat breakfast. Jean, my twin, calls me about the time I arrive on the Columbia river which, by the way, is dead calm. This is just the way I like it. The sun shines, but the clouds have their own agenda, blocking it from time to time. I loose my river focus to answer questions about IPOD Speakers, then I'm back on track.
The river side of Goat Island is across from Martin and Burke Islands. I've often wanted to anchor along this stretch of the river. So, do so, about 1100 hrs. I have run along close to shore and the water is deep 20-30 feet, and farther upriver I find some 10-13 ft of water and anchor, but after paying out some line I find myself in 6-8 ft of water. I watch a while and decide all is well and shut off the engine.

An old osprey watches everything from a tree above. There are numerous logs washed up on the shore.  At noon I cook me up a scrambled egg sandwich to finish out the supply I have brought and also have a handful of home grown snap peas from Linda's garden. They are so cold and crisp and do "snap".

Its lovely here, the robins are singing, an eagle soars by, a pair of goldfinches hop down to the waters edge. The goldfinches over in Martin Slough have the best arrangement: the cattle wade out into the lagoon, and when the tide ebbs, it leaves all these deep hoof holes which are filled with water, giving the finches their own special bath tubs. Not here, though, the finches have to make do with little splashes of water for their baths.

I see numerous sturgeon rolling along the 8 foot line. After lunch, a tug and barge come by, so I am interested in how I weather their wake. First comes the bow wake of the barge, then the bow wake of the tug, then the stern wake of the tug and finally the reflected waves from shore. It  pails in comparison of what we went through with that British Ship yesterday. Her name, by the way, was Morning Midas. This was nothing but 1-2 footers. A piece of cake for this salty crew or should I say, brackish bunch of three.

At 1400hrs I decide it is time to get out of dodge, weighing anchor and not a moment to spare as the wind kicks up at 1410 hrs. In no time it, is blustery, but all on my stern and we ride it well to St Helens. I stop at the fuel dock and get some Fritos and run into Toni, who used to work with Mike of Mayday Marine. She is still working on boats in the area, so I get her card for future reference.

After slipping my lines I head upriver to the Multnomah Channel where it is nice and smooth. Several logs drifting downriver get my attention and so does a Bald Eagle high in a tree.

The sun is shinning and it feels good to get out of the wind. I pull into my slip easily and tie up at 1730 hrs.This has been such a wonderful trip getting to see so much wildlife, being in Pashmina exploring, getting the hull cleaned and experiencing nature at her best. And learning to use the Sea Clear program more effectively. Dan of Whiskyjack has emailed that he is sending me a new assignment. I can't wait to see how complicated it will be.
Today's run:17.1nm
Total miles: 52.5nm
PS.. 2 items of note: During this trip, I have seen lots of diving terns and in looking at the bird book, I deduced they were Caspian terns, however they were not noted in this area, so had to select a smaller tern, the least tern. They just didn't match up as the birds I was watching had definite red beaks and solid tail, while the least tern had a solid tail, it was much too small. I picked up a copy of the Freshwater News and in it they had an article on the Caspian Tern colony on East Sand island near the mouth of the Columbia River.

It is the world's largest colony....so I was correct in identifying them and they are around in abundant numbers. And, of course, they are a problem as they eat too many of the salmon fry. The fish-people want to move the colony somewhere else and the bird-people want them here.

The other item is identifying an immature eagle the other day. It was unusual in that its coloring was more reddish, golden color with a lot more white feathering than that of bald eagle immatures, so I thought it could/might be a golden eagle. I have never seen one in this vicinity, however when looking in my bird book, their immature golden did not look like the one I saw. Perhaps, some of you birders might shed some light on this. Are golden eagles in this area? After looking at many photos on line of immature goldens, I think the eagle I saw was that of an immature golden.What do you think?