Saturday, August 14, 2010

Too Tall Reports

Now that Too Tall has been back in his home port of Cailfornia, he reports that all is well and he wants to insert some of his thoughts regarding the Snake and Columbia River trip. With his humor sharpened he writes about having a crew on board with him. In actuality, his crew is made up from all his bodies; the physical, mental,emotional and spiritual. As it is with all humans, we have different voices speaking to us and they of course have different agendas, ideas and perspectives. Read on and enjoy...

"So, Hira wrote to me, “What are your summer cruising plans?”
Well, I had been thinking of the Greek Islands, the Galapagos Islands, or some such....

Instead, I left the Bay Area towing my 16 ft. boat and stayed in southern Oregon my first night. That made the next day a short one of driving to Scapoose, Oregon just off the main channel of the Columbia River. I was on the dock watching Shatoosh thread her way through the large amount of floating debris as she came in to dock. After our greetings, Hira and Ann and I walked around the marina and soon the tractor-trailer arrived on schedule and without any lost time loaded the Albin 25 on the trailer and without further adieu the driver left for Clarkston, Idaho.

The driver made excellent time and when Shatoosh was in the water he immediately left for the return trip home. It is refreshing to see an expert trucker maneuver his rig around some tight areas and back down the ramp. The trailer did not have fenders and Shatoosh had a fair amount of road crud on the hull upon arrival in Clarkston. Hira likes a clean machine and with brush and cleaner the hull was soon almost spotless.

After putting my boat in the water, my first pressing issue was determining how I, at 6’ 6”, could sleep comfortably in a 16 foot boat. I removed the two seats and unfolded my custom made, 4 inch thick, dense foam mattress and had room to spare at the foot of the bed. This set-up caused no end of laughs from the crew of Shatoosh who took a few photos. They do show, in retrospect, that the sleeping quarters are a little tight. Cozy, but adequate. During the day the folded mattress, inside its covering envelope, lived in the forward part of Shatoosh‘s cabin.

I took a bunch of MREs with me. These are military Meals Ready to Eat. The Shatoosh crew had more laughs at my fine dining intentions. Actually, I never intended to eat the MREs. They were just a ploy to make the other crew, all retired U. S. Army, feel sorry for the crew of Skol and invite them to home cooked, fresh, tasty meals. It worked as intended and my crew was very happy and until this moment did not let on. That may have been the first time in recorded history that an ex Sergeant had two retired high ranking officers cook for him. My crew did eat a couple of MREs later on and had no issues with the taste ….considering the alternative of starvation. By the way, my crew got along very well among themselves and also enjoyed the company of Shatoosh‘s crew.

It was an absolute pleasure to drive my Arima 16 Sea Chaser down the Snake River. I throttled down, tucked in behind Shatoosh, opened up my windshield, stood up and enjoyed the view. I did not have to think about depth or channel or direction. One finger on the wheel and basking in the sun. I just tagged along like a little brother behind his big sister.

My Arima, which I named Skol, in honor of my previous boat, also an Albin 25, has a Honda 50 hp engine and a Honda 8 hp kicker. Mr. Arima designed this particular boat with a 50 hp motor in mind. It has plenty of power, but others would bump it up to its maximum design rating of 100 hp. That much power would be lost on me and I don’t like that much weight on the transom. At no time on the trip did I feel the need for more power…more boat maybe, (like the Captain in JAWS says, “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat”) but the power was OK. Going that slow was not too bad on mileage. Shatoosh travels about 6 to 8 mph, unless she is exiting from a lock into fast water. I got roughly about 5 miles to the gallon. The gas tank holds 27 gallons and there were plenty of places to obtain gas.

The Arima is designed for the Puget Sound area and is as seaworthy a boat, for its size, as you’ll find. It is made for nasty weather and water. After we got on the Columbia and faced the wind and waves, Skol got a sound workout. My crew had no relief and after three hours of constant hard steering and solid water over the deck and occasionally over the windshield they were ready for relief. We were able to tuck into some quiet pools for an hours rest and minor repairs. Then back to the River. This repeated itself over the days to come. How Lewis and Clark did it when the River was wild is beyond belief. At night our two crews would get together on Shatoosh and read aloud their Journals from that spot on the River.

My crew, after long hushed discussions among themselves after dark, decided they had experienced enough terror and told the Captain they would jump ship if he did not turn around and return to Umatilla, Oregon. The Captain, after much consideration, including possibly confining them to the brig in irons, agreed with them. Skol was fine, the crew, however, was beat. It was with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, that I told Hira. She understood and, as high ranking officers sometimes do among themselves, consoled me,but did not berate my spineless crew. I made no excuses for them. Later, as they left Skol at the Umatilla Marina I over heard one quietly say to his buddy “So what are your summer cruising plans?”

Thanks Too Tall for your comments. Join me next summer for another exciting cruise.