Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Working and Cruising Week May 2009

20 May 2009, Wednesday:

I get to Shatoosh after lunch and see 2 boats tied up behind me from the next dock. They are installing the finger piers to the docks. It is interesting to see how they put them together. Guys up on ladders welding the frame work through the roof down to the piers. Lots of work involved for sure.

I have lots to do myself so begin right a way:

1. clean the fresh water tank and refill.

2. wash the boat.

3. vacuum every locker, every segment of bildge and all the cushions and curtains

4. clean and get rid of unnecessary items from dock locker

5. make inventories of spare volvo parts and make lists of needed purchases.

6. make inventories of supplies on hand and needed ones.

7. make up bunks with clean sheets, towels and pillow cases.

8. clean the canvas around the the aft window to get rid of dirt and mildew

9. install new wiper blade.

10. install gps back up batteries/ new D batteries for flashlight/ check battery for depth sounder

11. clean galley, stove and head.

12. clean all windows in and outside.

13. oil teak inside.

14. Have Fun

About 1600 hrs the workers finish and put the boats back in the new slips. This is good, so if I get lots done maybe I can head out sometime tomorrow afternoon.

I go into town for dinner at Ichibods which is the local family restaurant and have a nice meal.
Remember to double click the photos to enlarge them.
Also, I went off and left my log onboard, so I didn't put in mileages or times.

Scappoose Moorage to Martin Slough

21 May 2009, Thursday:

The whole morning is spent getting ice and groceries and getting everything stowed. I eat lunch at Fred Meyer while I was there. I run the engine briefly to warm up the oil and make certain the transmission is in order, then check the oil and coolant levels, the water pump and the alternator belt is ok. The batteries have enough water in them. The engine looks as though it was just installed. I place the traveling docks lines on and back out of the slip around 1300 hrs.

The sun is shining, but there is a n-nw wind blowing, so I know the Columbia River will be rough. I arrive at St. Helen's and the river is chaotic, waves are going every direction. I have never liked this place. I just tolerate it. I hug that Oregon shore and get out of some of the wind and wave lines. I see my Martin Bluff in the distance and veer out on the river to make my crossing and the full force of the wind and waves makes me stand at the helm to steer. I time my turn to starboard at Martin Bluff to coincide with the wave patterns and find a quiet segment to turn.

The high water line is significant and I pass the rocky point to port which is completely underwater. Now I have the wind and waves on my stern, I slow Shatoosh to 5 knots and head straight for my osprey nests. The owners of Martin island have done some major cutting of brush, Burke island has really been cleared. The narrow entrance to the lagoon is now expansive and the water level almost up to the top of the dikes. I have 14 feet of water under the keel. I usually go through with 7 feet. there is sailboat and powerboat anchored. This weekend there are 4 yacht clubs scheduled to be here.(I'm told later that 70 boats were in here). I tie up to the dock and have the place to myself. I can see they have cleared all my favorite blackberry bushes, left the perimeter ones intact. I'd hate not getting berries in the fall.

I was told that the 90 year old matriarch stated her family is ranching the island, and she refuses to let the government take her property by immanent domain just so they can fill the lagoon and her island with dredgings. She won her case and the government will use Cottonwood Island instead, which they apparently already own. They have increased their cattle population and I see lots of new calves this year. They are so cute as they come down to water, bucking and jumping around.

Just as the little calves had their play time, I see a new animal on the island. A coyote immerges from the trail. It appears he has been following the little ones. He by-passes the Great Blue Heron and the mallards but stands and watches the calves for a long time. He then leaves going toward the north end of the island.

I notice the owner of the sailboat anchored in the lagoon is an older lady who is singlehanding. Too bad I can't talk with her, but her hailing port is Rocky Point. Perhaps one day I will meet her.

I'm happy to be on the water and onboard Shatoosh. Another great time to be had, I wonder what the days will bring.

Martin Slough to Cottonwood Island in Carrolls Channel via Kalama

22 May 2009, Friday:

Departing Martin Slough with the mid-morning sun warming my heart and soul, I meander slowly out of Martin Slough through the deep cut, turning to port and heading down to the osprey nest watching this mother sit on her eggs. She usually has 2 babies. Its a straight shot to the Columbia River from here, a few truckers barreling down I-5 honk at me and I return a toot on my little horn. I never know what the river is going to be like, but the rustling of the Cottonwood trees indicate that the wind is blowing. I have already donned my life jacket, all the hatches are battened down and my side and aft windows tightly snapped shut. I savour my last gulp of coffee and hug the Wa. coastline to Kalama. I cruise through to see if the pump-out station is working. The out of order sign is no longer there, so will assume it is functioning. I had emailed Larry, the skipper of the Starship and he wasn't certain that it was functioning.

I pass the grain elevator and 2 tugs are getting
ready take this Philippine documented ship away
from the dock. I give them a wide berth and pull to port so I can make the Kalama river channel marker. There is a large sand bar here, so if you are not paying attention you can end up on the
bar as many people have. I remember meeting a guy in the Delta who had done that very thing.
He had a big fancy Albin 30 and was barreling down river at 12 knots and plowed right up on the bar.

Just downriver I turn to starboard and enter Carroll's Channel. The water flattens out and I'm interested in seeing the back side of the island beyond where I anchor, so I take my time poking around. The wind is blowing more than usual through here as I approach the lower end of the island. I can see several areas of dredging pipes that are laid out, but no activity. Perhaps they are getting ready to work on dredging this lower end. The Cowlitz River is dead ahead and enters the Columbia just ahead to port. You can see the Longview Bridge and the Longview lumber yards.

I anchor and have trouble setting my anchor with the conflicting tides, wind and current. They are all juxtaposing themselves, but I will set my anchor later as the wind abates. I pause for a glass of lemonade which refreshes me. After lunch I clean the galley, oil the teak, take inventory of all spare engine parts and supplies on board. I scrub my canvas along my aft window with some oxi clean and rinse it with fresh water. I have taken my small blue bowl onto the aft cabin with me. The wind is blowing and the boat rocking quite a bit. After all is done the bowl gets blown over board and I follow it drifting with the curent and tide to the opposite shore and into the shoreline. Maybe tomorrow I can row over there if the winds lighten up enough.
Going through each locker refreshes my memory of where I have stowed items. My teak looks nice and clean.

My nautical library is nice and tidy and is a great source of interesting reading for me and my guests. There is nothing so comfortable as lying up in the fore-peak, nestled in a big pile of down bedroll, with cushions and pillows and reading a book.

River Horse is responsible for me buying Shatoosh and exploring the Delta.
Undaunted Courage is responsible for me Exploring the Columbia River

The Joy of Backyard Boat Building was written by a friend, Ben McCormack who I sailed many a mile with in Hawaii.

Red Sky in Mourning was written by Tami Oldham who bought Sabra from me when I went to India. She was shipwrecked by a pacific hurricane and juryrigged her boat and sailed into Hilo harbor, Hawaii. Sabra was the first boat her grandparents bought for her after her epic tragedy and adventure.

The Curve of Time is a classic NW boating book that everyone should have onboard and
re-read often. A Canadian mother who provides a lifetime of adventures for her children onboard their little 25 foot power boat.

I pull Undaunted Courage off the shelf and begin reading to see if there is anything mentioned about the Lewis and Clark expedition on Cottonwood Island, but the warm sun beaming in through the forward hatch has a lazy effect on me and within minutes I have fallen asleep. About 15 minutes later I wake up and see that Lewis and Clarke never made it to Cottonwood island, but they did stay over on Prescott beach across from the island.

The rest of the afternoon and evening are very quiet and peaceful. This will be a perfect hide-a-way from the maddening crowds of holiday boaters. As the sun sets and casts a golden glow over the waters, the wind dies enough for me to set my anchor. Another glorious day onboard Shatoosh.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cottonwood Island--Goble--Cottonwood Island

23 May 2009, Saturday:

A very deep rumble begins to penetrate my awarenes. I say to myself, "wow, what kind of engine is this?" It must be a huge train with an exceptional load. In a few minutes the engines appear as the train emerges through a stand of cottonwood trees. I count 5, then the train continues to roll on down the line headed toward Portland. I count 94 cars. I have learned to be aware of the different sounds that the trains make. I can recognize the Portland Tacoma Amtrak train, as it is fast, and short in length and light on the rails. The track switching across the channel has its own tune made up of clanks and screeches.

Being alone on board makes my senses more acutely aware, the things I see, the smells, the sights, the sounds, the perceptions are all heightened. Feeling the tide change, paying attention to the wind as it picks up during the night, noticing a change in my visual field and sighting an animal out of the corner of my eye. Being silent and aware brings such fruits. This morning I am lamenting that I have lost my little blue plastic bowl, so I am scanning the opposite shore with my binocs, where I last saw it. Then out of the corner of my eye I spot an eagle flying and beginning to swoop down and catch an unsuspecting fish with its talons. Then out of the blue comes a behavior I have never seen: it gently lands on the water as if he were a seagull. He begins to dip his head in the river and splash the water onto his back. "Oh my gosh," I say to myself, "he's taking a bath". I have never seen an eagle take a bath. "How exciting is this?"
He then preceeds to flap his wings into the water and actually paddle himself over to shore and climbs up unto a tree branch near the water's edge where he preens himself in the sun. He stays there for 20 minutes. Meanwhile I spot 3 other bald eagles flying and landing on various heights of broken tree branches all along the shore. One has a fish that he is eating. What a spectacular scene.

I elected to just use my ice chest this time, but notice my block is dwindling fairly fast, so decide today I'm heading back out of Carroll's Channel to Goble, Or to pick up another block of ice. I decide since I have weighed anchor I will go across the channel to see if I can see my little blue bowl, but after several sweeps looking with binocs I don't see it. I motor over to the a grouping of pilings that have osprey nests on the top of them. Mother and Father are not happy I'm in their area and scream some at me, but I stay long enough to get a picture of the nest. Mother is hunkered down on the egg.

I enter the Columbia and the wind is still blowing but the waves are small. I cross the river and head over to Coffin Rocks, near the old, imploded nuclear tower site. There are 2 eagles soaring in the thermals and periodically landing in the trees on the mainland above the Rocks. I tuck inside and follow the shoreline up to Goble. Its a little marina, RV park, saloon, all of which are terribly run down. I guess a better word might be dilapidated. An old man and lady run the place and they are probably in their 80's or maybe very run down 70's. Its a place you don't want to stay long and the faster you get out of Goble seems to be the wisdom of the river. Today, I had to wait for a very skinny pathetic looking lady to check out her 2 big, bottles of wine, so I took the time to look at the photo area near the door. There was a picture of the owners in their younger years and they were quite a handsome couple. She was sitting in her recliner a few feet away. Her walker and motorized scooter were just outside. She wore her nightgown and robe. There were lots of photos of Bush, American flags, banners about the NRA and a photo of Charlton Heston at a NRA conference. Its a place that might have a gun behind the counter.
Its the closest place for block ice, otherwise I would never venture into the place.

As soon as I got my ice loaded in the chest I was out of there, back on the beeg river and moving quickly down river with the tide and current in my favor. Headed for my peaceful and tranquil anchorage behind Cottonwood island in Carroll's Channel. It all seems pretty quite for a Memorial Weekend.

I see where my anchoring spot is, but now the wind has really picked up in the channel. I motor up to my spot and drop the anchor, but by the time I get back to the helm the wind has blown me over my anchor. This is not what I want.

So, I pull up the anchor, motor back around and will try anchoring into the wind this time. I drop the anchor, and by the time I get back to the helm, the current has pushed me down river over my anchor. With each attempt in 2 different strategies, I have ended up in a limbo situation of not being able to set my anchor. I pull it up again and circle back around to drop it against the current, this time letting out out line and backing as best I can against the wind, which throws me to starboard and land. I wait and see that I am not drifting and the anchor is holding in spite of it not being set. I flex my biceps and show off my strength of 3 re-anchors. I wait for the wind to dissipate at sunset and then set my anchor, knowing it will hold during the night and I can sleep restfully.

Cottonwood Island

24 May 2009, Sunday

Early morning coffee, then a nice eggs and polish sausage breakfast. Now I am ready to put in some more work. First, on the list is to replace my favorite America Great Loop Cruising Association flag which was ripped off the mast by the headwinds coming down river on Thursday afternoon. I dive into my flag stash that my good retired Naval buddy, Glenn has provided. I pull out a brightly colored Scottish flag which certainly is appropriate for all my Scottish ancestors.

Next, I see my old anchor gloves are filthy dirty so they go into a bucket for soaking, scrubbing and then drying out in the sun. I decide to clean the anchor chain locker, which I do not remember ever cleaning. All the extra rode is pulled out and placed neatly on deck, then the locker is scrubbed and since it is all teak, I oil it later on. After re stowing all the rode, the fore peak is nice and tidy. Then I clean all the windows inside and out and replace my windshield wiper blade.

I take a break up in my favorite reading area. This time I tackle reading Endurance, Shacketon's Incredible Voyage which he took in 1915 at Antarctica. It is a very unbelievably account of terrible hardships over a 16 month period. How he and his 28 member team survived is beyond belief. I couldn't put the book down all afternoon.

Cottonwood Island to Martin Slough Via Kalama

25 May 2009, Monday

After breakfast, the tide turns and I find myself swinging very close to shore( less than a boat's length), so I head back up to the fore peak, stand up through the hatch and pull in some more anchor line. I'll be leaving in a while, so having a short scope won't matter and there isn't much of breeze.

The River is nice and calm. I am passed by a flotilla, led by the Kalama Sherriff's vessel, of kayakers and canoeists.

I find the pump out station for the head is now working again, which is most convenient. This is such a better place to pump out than St. Helens. I motor on down to the guest dock and tie up. I decide to go into town which entails a unique journey of sorts. In between the town and the marina are the railroad tracks and the interstate highway. In order to walk into town you must first cross the railroad tracks, which means you have to climb 3 open flights of stairs to get to the walkway over the tracks, then 3 flights down.

At the top of the stairs it tells how the Pacific Northern Railroad was built in Kalama linking it to Tacoma Wa back in 1870's with 700 Chinese workers plus 400 workers from Scotland, Ireland, and Germany.

The next portion is easier, you just have to walk under the interstate and then presto you are in the quaint little town of Kalama. 2 blocks away is the Mexican Resturant which I will try.

I depart about 1430 hrs with my belly full of cheese and onion enchiladas and iced tea. Martin Slough lies about 5 nm upriver. This time I hug the Wa shore and have deep water all the way. I'm bucking the current and there are several rip tides in the area. As I approach the entrance to the slough, there are several boats leaving Martin Slough, which means there might be an opening at the dock for me. If there is I'll choose to spend the night here. Which will make for a long day back home tomorrow but I'm in no hurray.

The first big boat coming out is "Its Mee" and I wave to Udo on the bridge. Bev must be down below. This means Tomahawk Yacht Club was here. Which means that Knot Enuf might still be inside the lagoon. I recognize the sailboat, Northern Exposure, and the trawler, Gypsy Rose.

The wing dam down on the far side is totally under water. I make my turn into the opening and as I enter the lagoon there are still quite a few boats rafted together at anchor and the dock looks full at first glance. I get my binocs out and can see Knot Enuf tied up and notice that Steve has spotted me and runs to the end of the dock waving me in. As I approach, I can see the boats are end tied up but there is about a 30 foot space just waiting for me. Hurray what luck, I say to myself. I point my bow in and swing my stern around coming in sweetly, as the guys grab my lines. The ladies on the dock compliment me for docking so nicely. All the men, say what a great boat this is. I get a mug of iced tea, my dock chair and join the party. I haven't seen Steve or Carol since the fall, so it is wonderful to catch up with them. After a while all the dock party leaves, so Steve and Carol and I have a fun time, laughing and telling stories.

Knot Enuf with dinghy, Still Knot Enuf, in tow: Skipper, Steve and Galley Queen, Carol depart Martin Slough after we have pupus and dinner. They head home to Kalama. Wow, it is always a delight to see them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Martin Slough to Scappoose Moorage Via Gravel Slough

26 May 2009 Tuesday

I have a long way to go today, so I don't waste much time departing Martin Slough. A couple of sailboats are still anchored, their crews asleep, so I slip quietly out at 0740 hrs. The tide is reached full flood, causing our docks to be isolated from the island and has filled the outer meadow, where the coyote was stalking the little calves.

My little reminder that my antenna is up, alerts me to place it in the lower position so when I dock into my covered slip, I don't break my VHF antenna off. I have seen this happen many times.

Alas, after days of a north-northwest wind the Columbia River is calm, but I'm going to be slogging against the current and the ebbing tide, at least I won't have the wind on my tail making me rock and roll home. I resort to my longtime strategy of hugging close to the Oregon shore in hopes of catching some gain on that current and my experience pays off, I can stay over 5 knots, which is always my goal. Its humiliating to drop under 5 knots. Then it really becomes a "Slow Boat to China". St Helens is calm and flat as a pancake, which is very unusual, as it is always like a washing machine. I see my mechanics on their work dock and swing by to say hi.

I slip into the Multnomah Channel and gain some more speed. Up River, I decide to explore what I call Gravel Slough. It is not mentioned on the chart, just a slight indentation, but this is where the big tugs haul gravel out of some pits. I've always wanted to go explore it, but the thought of running on to tugs and barges in a narrow waterway makes me cautious. I figure that after a long weekend, there might not be much action. I do remember there is a run in the am sometime and then one at night. With the high water levels it would be a good time to take a peek. I have 20 feet of water under me and the Glacier Gravel Pit is one mile upriver. I see the loaded barge and a tug tied to the dock in the background. The barge is angled across the slough blocking me from going any farther. The tug is probably getting ready to take this load upriver. They go into the Willamette River and unload it. The Indian name of Scappoose means gravel, so this area has been known for gravel for some time. I turn about and am back on the Multnomah in 5 minutes.

As I pass Coon Island there are a few fisherman anchored and the current is ripping through really fast. I continue my journey upstream and love docking Shatoosh into my slip with my new finger pier. I arrive at 1140, making my trip in 4 hours...5k/hr.-just as planned. I got lots done to Shatoosh and she is shipshape for the cruising season. We are off to a great start. Total nm 80.

Anyone interested in cruising with me, please let me know. My summer will be open to as much cruising as I can fit in.