Monday, September 20, 2010

Walker Island via Westport Slough

19 September 2010: Sunday
Scattered patches of blue sky keep my hopes up this morning. I'm in no hurry to get up river, so have that leisurely morning and enjoy an extra cup of coffee. I depart Cathlamet at 0950hrs and rather risking running aground at low tide, I take the longer, safer route on the outside of Puget Island. A freighter passes me port to port and is from Majuro.

More blue skies break out just as I am approaching the entrance to Westport Slough, so take the nun to port and find my way into this lovely slough. I'm heading for Kerry West  Marina. I usually spend the night here, but not this trip. Many of the derelict boats have gone. There are many, surprisingly, large sailboats in here and my favorite, steel motor yacht, the Florence A is still here. Many small boat slips are empty and there are many big boat side ties available.

Access to this marina is on the Oregon side at Hwy 30, east of Westport Ferry. This is a deep water slough with great protection. It is getting warm, so the flaps go up, the shorts and t-shirt goes on. Oh, I do love the sun. The mergansers and the kingfishers seem busy fishing and flitting about.

As I depart the slough the ferry boat The Waikiakum, is crossing the river and knows where to cut across the sand bar and head up the slough to the Oregon ferry landing. I watch, but would never try that on my own, as I have seen the bar at low tide.

The flooding tide is moving up river and I am doing an impressive 7.8k. The west wind starts to crank up at noon and Shatoosh doesn't mind the 1-2 foot stern waves. I tie the helm and put the flaps back down and grab an apple out of the fridge for lunch. We make steady progress and tie up to the Walker Island dock at 1420 hrs. I recognize an ole friend's boat, the Viola Helen. An aluminum custom built vessel by Zach, the owner. His friend, Bob is cruising in tandem and has a new 23 foot, Trophy.

 Zach was one of the first persons I met after I arrived on the Columbia River. I met him in the fall at Martin Slough. He generously took the time to mark special areas on my chart book, including the back way into Cathlamet! I told him that I had 6 inches under my keel last week. So, it is most fitting that I would run into him on my last voyage of the year, ending my 7 year marathon of Columbia River System Adventures.

We all sat and talked for hours and Zach shares stories of his cruise up north a few years ago to Ketchikan and back single handing his very interesting boat. He has so many ideas that stretch your imagination into a new place. I'd love to spend about a week with him to listen about innovative things I could be doing. Right off the bat was his new dinghy:
1. An Amazing dinghy: the Portland Pudgy( Portland Maine)He puts her in the river so I can row it around. I love it but it is over 100# and is too heavy for me.

2. A netbook with AIS interface. Notice his plastic screens to block the glare on his screen.

3. A composting toilet

4. A water heater for showers.
5. Then he talks about cruising without refrigeration, which intrigues me. He says many items can be stored in the bilge areas as the water keeps the hull cold. Items such as frozen salmon in sealed packages can stay for some time in the cool bilges, as most fruits and vegetables. Carrying freeze dried fruits and nuts can be kept for long periods of time. He has a small hand held gun that measures temperatures. Point and click and you know the temperature of the item, space, or cubby hole. I might have to try some of these ideas for my next outing. With this weather, I could use some warm soups.
6. I ask him, "how did you go all the way to Ketchikan without wipers"? " Wipers, who need wipers, when you have RainX.".

This rendezvous with these fellows has been so much fun today. I have run into Zach several times on the rivers, but haven't had any opportunities to talk with him. This has been wonderful. They invited me for some spaghetti, but instead finished off my squash and polish sausage. I joined them later after dark, when I heard the coyotes yelling over on Walker island. I love that sound. 

Day's run: 28nm
Total run: 170nm