Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pick Your Weather

Morning has broken and I'm up at dawn. The cockpit temperature is 52 degrees F, the cabin much warmer and anyway I'm hanging out in my bag with a mug of coffee. I look over my shoulder out the window and there is a small blue break in the grey skies. It looks thin, I say to myself, hoping for the best. I have my green drink and nuts for breakfast.

I have a row of old saline solution bottles that keep cereal, nuts, rice and those red/yellow/blue vitamins called peanut M and M's. The bottles are perfect for the boat and have an indentation where a bungee cord could hold them tight on a shelf. These bottles aren't just any ole bottles. I have had these bottles on board Sabra and Shatoosh and maybe some were on Jean's Gulf 32, Namaste. They came from the PT clinic, Tripler Army Medical Center, and sailed from Hawaii with me back in 1982. These bottles have had a shelf life of 29 years, so far.

I watched mother osprey. Father flies in with a fish. She gets up on top of the nest and eats, then flies to a tree and he gets down on the nest. She then flies off towards the Columbia River. This is the first time I have seen this. Perhaps they rotate roles.  Since ospreys are sea hawks, I wonder if all the male Seattle Sea
Hawks' fans know about this behavior. Probably not.

The weather report predicts afternoon thunder showers. About 1045, the clouds are beginning to break up,
and I'm thinking it might be better to be hunkered down in Westport Slough than to be hanging out in the swift current with strong winds. It can get pretty rough at this dock with upriver winds.

1105 hrs: I slip my lines from the dock and in a flash the current has taken me away from the dock. I silently thank my animal friends and thank the dock, as this place has brought me many new friends and it certainly gives everyone a safe place to rest and have fun. I see several sailboats heading up river, slowly slogging against the current. I'm glad for this healthy boost of water on my stern and under my belly. It is not long and I'm back on the main channel of the Columbia and my speed against the flood current is 10.3 k.

An in bound ship hailing from Hong Kong passes me at Crims and Gull Islands. Shatoosh takes those big bow wakes really easy. I am approaching Eureka Island, which is one of my favorite anchorages, and I come across the racing sloop, Rage. I'm thinking it might be returning from the Astoria-Victoria race that took place last month. She is long and sleek and the 3 people in the cockpit were all bundled up in heavy foul weather gear. We waved and I thanked my lucky stars I was sitting in a warm cockpit out of the weather.

The wind is picking up and we are nearing Cape Horn on the Wa side of the river. I have been in the worst seas in this section of the river, so I stood to steer, waiting for the seas and wind to build. But it didn't happen. Just some 2 foot wind waves that seemed to be crunched by the current. Shatoosh just moved right through them, not even taking spray into the windows. I pick up the next 2 sets of range markers along the Oregon shore.The Waikiakum, the ferry from Puget Island to Westport is off to starboard at the Puget Island dock.

At 1248 hrs. I take the red nun "N56" to my port and make my turn around it. This marks a shoal that extends into the entrance of Westport Slough. I slow to creeping at 3 knots, by choice. I'm thinking that the water will be deep this time, but in a matter of minutes I am in 7,6, and 5 feet of water. In hind sight, I feel that I was too close to shore and missing the deeper segment of the entrance. If one goes too far to  port then you are in the shallow shoals. Once in there is plenty of water, 30-40 feet today. Salmon were jumping and the seal lions were there having a feast.

I called the marina owner, Keith, on my cell phone, but his wife said he was out at the logging site. I found an empty slip, which is unusual, so took it and waited until Keith the owner came down. Keith has built this marina, using his own logs, drying and milling them and laying each board by himself. This slough reminds me of the Georgiana Slough in the Delta which I stayed on. I like coming here and Keith usually finds a place for me. There isn't a guest dock, but over the years, he remembers me and gets me set up. He has some of the best  spring water you will ever find. I think there are 5 springs that are on his property. I purposely didn't put much water in my tank and have been nursing my small supply, so that I could fill my tank full of the delicious liquid and brought along 4 extra gallon bottles to fill, as well.

I asked Keith about the restaurant down the road. Its a mile he says, and it is easier to walk on the railroad tracks than the road. He also adds, he'd be happy to give me a lift when I was ready to go. I asked how much for the slip. How 'bout $5.00 to cover the electricity, he says and that would do it. Don't worry about how many days. Stay as long as you like I don't think anyone is in that slip and if there is, I'll have them move. somewhere else. Got plenty of room right now, he says. He is such a kind and gentle soul and a very hard worker. If you ever need a deep water, protected place to leave a boat over the winter, this is it. Its about 40 miles to the ocean.

The NOAA research vessels went out on a nightly run. They have a fancy electric catamaran with a fish examaning system. Looks pretty complicated to me.

The sun came out in all her glory and I had to unlayer a bit, as it was getting warmer by the minute. I was doing the usual Zen thing of hauling water, but Keith was chopping the wood. I can't tell you how delighted I am about getting this water. The water in Scappoose has lots of iron in it, so to have pure, clean water makes me very happy. My tank is smiling right now and Shatoosh whispered as I was falling asleep, "we are getting closer to the ocean".

Day' run: 18.9 nm
Total: 59.4 nm