Monday, September 13, 2010

Cathlamet Bound

12 September 2010 Saturday
The weather report has deteriorated and next week it looks like 60% chance of rain. Bummer, but I'm heading down river. As I write this at 0715 hrs, I am hearing gun shots which means fall hunting is in progress and the boys are out to kill the Canada geese. Local flocks are now in flight with lots of honking going on. I'll keep my thoughts to myself on this one.

Last night I went on the Columbia River Bar Pilots site and clicked on weather and traffic. They have an AIS access, so I saw all the ships coming and going and, out of curiosity, I decided to continue my search of the Korean vessel, Pan Voyager. I found her berthed up the Willamette River in Portland and she, in fact does hail, from Korea. When I first saw the lettering on the bow, I thought it was Korean, but the name of the port, JeJu and the different flag threw me off. I see Korean ships from time to time but they are always flying the Korean flag. The bar pilot site also has, in script, the in and outbound vessels. Also, on the AIS info, you can click on each ship icon and see specific information on the vessel with photos, their speed and course. I have kept a list of all the ships and their ports of call that I have seen on the 2 rivers and frequently can recognize repeaters, so check them out on my list. This week has been busy with vessel traffic and there were 10 in bound vessels and 10 out bound vessels yesterday. My wobbly course through Longview on Thursday shows me weaving and bobbing between the anchored and inbound ships and the anchored fisherman.

Within minutes of departing Walker Island dock at 0900 hrs, I slip in behind the out-bound Atlantic Diana form Hong Kong. There is a beginning break in the clouds which brightens my outlook. Those sun prayers look promising. I take the dredging boats to port and hug the Washington craggy shore for a good look at the cliffs with columnar basalt in places, but nothing as dramatic as the Snake River.
Abernathy and Mill Creek have standing room only at their mouths. The fisherman are shoulder to shoulder. the ebbing tide is working for me and I slide by Mill Creek and get a quick shot of some ole tires hanging on the side of the cliff to tie up to. I'm zooming along at 8.5k. I love it.

1025 hrs: I hug the shore at Cape Horn to get inside of all the fishing boats and turn to starboard to enter the
channel between Puget Island and the Cathlamet shore in Washington. Before I realize it, I'm passing port to port with my ole friends on Knot Enuf out of Kalama. I try to raise them on the radio, but no luck. This channel, this time of year can be tricky with low water and now at the end of low tide, I'm going to have to be very careful. They have added an extra can in here, but to me it seems it takes you right over the shoals. I've hit 4 feet on numerous trips in the fall. I am vigilant watching the chart plotter and the depth sounder when I realize the waters ahead around the cans are rippling as it to say, "shoal, watch out". Then I see the shallow sand bar, the depth sounder reads 3/2ft. I turn to port, hold my breath and  I get through with 6 inches under  my keel to spare. Oh, my gosh, that is too close. Knot Enuf must know another way thru here, as he draws probably 5 feet.I'm going to have to email them.

At 1150 hrs, I am tied up safely in the lovely little marina on Elocoman Slough in the town of Cathlamet.
There is a Nordic Tug, Forevergreen, hailing from Santa Barbara. He is cruising with a Portland friend, so I go over some places for them on their charts and in no time they take off.
Up in the parking lot I see another cutie-pie. Its a British built, Cornish Crabber(shrimper?) with twin swing keels. The couple lives in Oregon and have been out cruising. Last night they tucked themselves between 2 small islands of Quinns and Welsh down near Woody Island in 4 feet of water. The tide was ebbing and upon awakening at 0130hrs, they looked out to see clear skies/stars, they had settled down on a nice sand spit and had water all around them. They turned over and got a good night's sleep. Don't you just love it?
Right when I think my Lucky Tank is over flowing, I see another friend I met last year on the river. He is like a long lost brother and I'm excited to find him at the marina. He took some beautiful photos of Shatoosh last year under way, so I have them on T-shirts, log books and anything else I get printed up at Vista Print.
Russ Matta is his name and he own lots of boats, including a beautiful BABA 30, named Circeo. He'd love to own an Albin, but he has to get rid of some, which is hard for him to do.

I invite he and is wife, Marsha, for dinner and afterwards, Marsha is just sold on the Albin. A few hours before Jo tells me that a man from Alaska just bought her Albin. Well, if that deal goes bad, I have a buyer in the wings just champing at the bit. To tease them a little more, I offer to take them out on a morning cruise, which they jump at.
Days Run: 17.9nm
Total Run: 55.6nm
Fun: tons of it.