Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Rain

I am awakened at 0430 hrs. The rushing waters under the hull sounds like a babbling brook. The rain on the cabin top sandwiches me between the two and I'm not certain where I am. Oh yes, I remember, I'm on Walker island and I'm going on a down river trip. Shatoosh is bobbing like a cork in the eddies created from the log jam at the up river side of the dock.

The rain comes and goes all day long with a few lasting breaks later in the afternoon. All my earlier caulking attempts have paid off, not a drop is entering the boat. After a meager, non holiday breakfast, I start to tend to my list. I added some things that I want to get started on to prepare us for the pacific ocean.
1. I get the 2 survival suits out and decide that Joyce will wear mine and I will wear Jean's old one. We will wear either the suits or life jackets throughout the entire trip.
2. I pull out the manual hand bilge pump and find a new user friendly spot for it behind the cabin door.

3. I find a new place for the inverter behind the VHF radio. I charge my camera battery, as it needs 110.

4. I run the engine to charge my house batteries and check all the fluids, belts, fittings and batteries.

5. During a rain break, I untie Pashmina and unload her to the dock. Scrub her down. The rain comes again which washes off the cabin top. Thank you, Mister Rain. It clears, and then I stow her back on top and cover her up with a tarp. Later I will put the survival bag and drinking water in her. How nice that the rain cooperated with my plan.

At one point there were 3 eagles chasing each other in some kind of mating game. The male osprey brought fishes to the nesting mother, I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye; a flying single duck headed for a broken piling next to shore. It was a female Wood Duck and she landed inside the top of the piling. Wow, what a rare find. How lucky am I to get to see this one, but the rains continue and another sweet vision appears with the next rain break. Mother mallard with her newest brood of 6 adorable yellow babies out for perhaps a maiden voyage. She is heading for Shatoosh but when not able to make head way against the current she leads them to shore and I follow them for a long time with the binoculars. She weaves them through brush, over branches and they scurry as fast as they can. Some get behind, but get a burst of energy and they look like they are shot out of a cannon, as they leap forward and close the gap. I've always said to myself, all you have to do is go somewhere, anchor in a remote place and nature will provide the best show in town. You have to be quiet, just sit and watch. I'm never disappointed. Oh, majestic Columbia, you know how to please me.

My life gets very simple on board. The farther my trips stretch out, the more I fall into a deep rhythm of the river. The pull of the tides, the rush of the current, the ever changing weather. You soon surrender to it all and love every minute of it. I relax to the beat of the universe and I am happy to see another generation of life evolve out here in the back waters.  Oh Columbia, I am going to miss you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Move to Walker Island

Happy Memorial Day to all you Military Veterans, Retirees and Active Duty Personnel. Thank you for all your years of service serving our wonderful country. In celebration of this great day and holiday weekend I am fixing me another big breakfast.
This morning I'm trying one of Pam's big country eggs and her egg toast. Yummy.

The sun breaks through so I go forward to weigh anchor and surprise; a 20 foot log is entangled on my anchor line. Back to the cockpit for the camera and boat hook. I takes a few pokes, twists and jabs, but I am finally freed of the thing.

The river is fast and many ships and tug traffic are busy scooting here and there.

This mother osprey might need to be looking for a new house, if the water continues to be released out the Bonneville Dam.

I pull in to Kalama to see if I can spot my friends on Knot Enuf, but no luck. There is a lot of debris in the harbor, so I get out, as fast, as I went in. I'm not looking for trouble. Many of the waterfront places are just about awash. Kalama river houses are high on the flood list .

Joyce calls and I give her updates. It will be nice to have her onboard and she is looking forward to arriving.
I slip fast under the Lewis and Clark Bridge and here is what it looks like thru the camera, the radar and the chartplotter.

The empty shipping vessels are in a que waiting for a berth at the Longview port. I pass the Star Juventas carrying wind generator towers and remember that they all seem to come from Norway. I say, Bergen, to myself and as she passes, I read Bergen on the stern. Yes, kudos to me.

A tug loaded with 4 barges passes me to starboard heading down river and my average speed is 10k. I make my turning buoy at Walker Island and head up the channel. My speed drops to 4.5k. A large Tolleycraft is tied to the Walker Island Dock and the current is running fast all around it. I dock Shatoosh easily and later the skipper sees me and apologizes for not helping me. He didn't hear the engine. I recognize his face, but I'm not sure where I know him from. He says his name and I realize he is Tim, who hauled Shatoosh to the Snake River. He sits on the dock railing and we talk for a long time. He has lots of questions about my Snake trip and my upcoming trip. He just keeps shaking his head in disbelief about all the journeys. He prepares his boat to depart and I am alone on another favorite place. Thanks Tim for hauling me to the Snake. He is one, cool guy.

The sun continues to smile upon me today and I am one happy river rat.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Its overcast, another cup of coffee and later in the morning French Toast with homegrown eggs from Pam out in Yelm, WA. A few blueberries and syrup make a perfect Sunday brunch. I'm getting lots of well wishes and blessings for my trip down river. Thank you all.

Yesterday I took a photo of a sweet gaff rigged cat boat and today several men were in it having fun. I hailed them over and Bob, the skipper, and also the owner of a Willard 30 cutter is heading down river to set sail across the bar on the 10th. He is cruising with a group and will be following a more offshore route than we will be taking. They will not be harbor hopping. The name of the vessel is Wings of the Dawn. They are headed for BC. Perhaps I will see them again along the way..They liked the photo I took and I have sent it to his email and in turn take my camera for a sail and take some pictures of Shatoosh and me.

The weather was gloomy gray with a few prospects of sun breaks that never happened. I check in with my crossing guru, Larry, of the Starship. With so much raging water being swept down river to the ocean, perhaps this will impact my depart schedule at buoy 10. I might have to adjust. Will see what he has to say about this. This current will be colliding with the incoming tide at a much great intensity, making for a harder crossing.

No rain, which is good.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Underway At Last

Dawn came with torrents of rain, but then started to settle down.
At 1045, Paul, the end dock mate, assists my departure and I am out on the fast running Multnomah Channel. I take a few minutes to get the chartplotter up and running and then turn down river at 8.6 knots against the tide.

I stop in St Helens, on the Columbia River and top off my fuel tank and fill my extra jugs. I have 3.5 more gallons which will give me an extra 35 miles just in case of an emergency. My fuel range will be 235 miles.

I depart and and my speed picks up to 9.5k. The river is so full of water, there is one red marker  that is at water level and others are close to water level, some are about 4 feet above. I am eye level to many of the osprey nests which sit atop the markers..

At 1307hrs, I make my turn at Martin bluff and can see that all the normal landmarks for entering the narrow gap between the rocky port shore and the starboard sand spit are both under water. I switch over my gps page to trackback and settle in on my past paths of entry. After all these years of entering the slough using these specific landmarks, I find myself lost for a moment on my last visit to Martin Slough. It becomes all new for me and I begin anew, seeing with new eyes. There is lots of debris in the water and I take a few bumps with submerged pieces of wood.

This is normally a big weekend for Martin Slough, so I am coming to see how crowded the place might be. The cut into the lagoon is 20 feet deep, compared to its usual 7 ft. There is only about 25 boats here so I pick a quiet corner near the south end. The anchor sets nicely, so I am set for the rest of the day. People dinghy by or sail by in their small craft.

 Bucky the beaver swam by to see me. Its been a while, so nice to see he is still in the area. The skies are full of eagles, ospreys, great blues and even an old sea lion lifted his head and snorted me earlier in the day. All day I have been buoyed with a buffer of sun and on the outer rim are large cumulus storm clouds.

My Scottish flag blowing in the wind.
Beautiful blue sky.

My radar shows the land in black, my anchored position is at the end of the fine vertical line in the center of the inner ring. The 2 large round dots are boats anchored near by. At the bottom of the screen the cut into the lagoon shows.

About 7pm a rain squall came through from the north, but blew over in minutes and now at 8:47 pm the sun is setting and a lovely sky of golden pink is off my bow. This is a nice end to a long rainy stretch and it is nice to begin my voyage. After so many months of planning, it is wonderful to have a sunny window of opportunity to knock on my deck. I end my day, filled with gratitude for my wonderful 8 years on this majestic river. She has taught me plenty, treated me kindly and given Shatoosh, Pashmina and myself so many amazing adventures. My heart is full tonight.
Day's Run: 17.9 nm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our Final Down River Voyage Waits for the Weather

8 years ago on Memorial Weekend 2003, Too Tall Tom and I loaded up Shatoosh on a trailer, departed Oxbow Marina in the "California delta"and headed north to Oregon and the Columbia River. I had settled on mooring her on the Multnomah Channel, a side channel off the Columbia and Willamette rivers. It is located out in the country, with Sauvie Island on one side and the Oregon mainland on the other side. This has been a lovely, quiet marina to call "home". Many years passed before I actually stayed on board for more than a day. I was in and out, fast, so I could go exploring. I stayed one time for 2 weeks painting the cabins and touching up the wood work. I thought to myself, this is really enjoyable to stay here for a while. I used the laundry and showers and explored my own marina for a change. So, after all these years and over 3600 nm of cruising the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers, it is most fitting that I am again, departing on Memorial Weekend. Both cruising grounds have been most memorable for me.

The Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers birthed many adventures for Shatoosh, Hira and Pashmina as one only needs to read the 3 years of blog entries that have been made. I even birthed the blog in these waters. In fact, my niece was hospitalized with an unstable pregnancy which caused her to have to be on 3 months of bed rest. To keep herself from going crazy, she started a blog. When I heard how easy it was to establish, I enthusiastically leaped from logging my boating experiences to blogging them. My innocent intention of letting my friends and family keep track of my wanderings, soon dissolved into a world wide success story. Hira and Shatoosh would be known on first name-basis only. All one needs to do is google: hira and shatoosh, and presto, the blog is there for all to read. The audience stats still amaze me and last week Algeria and Mexico joined our expanded family, along with Iran, Aruba, Israel and most of the European and Asian countries have continued to read along. I would never have dreamed this would have happened, as I slowly meandered and jotted down my experiences through the sloughs and back water niches of this huge river system.

Today, 27 June 2011, Shatoosh and I are ready to depart, but we have watched numerous squalls march through, clear one minute and bam, another is right on its tail. The raging current hits the break waters and it sounds like a waterfall cascading over the logs, the wind rips at the tin roofs and one can imagine it being ripped off. I just walked some of the big boat docks while the wind, rain passes overhead in a northerly direction. We are champing at the bit, ready to be swept away with the current taking us to favorite sites down river, but I also want to stay and savor all my precious moments in my mind's eye, hang out in my warm bed roll, study charts and routes, and have a nice dinner. It will be my last one in my cozy slip.
We will see what the morning brings.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joyce and Zephyr

Joyce continues to feed me photos and bits of her first cruise to Roosevelt Lake in Arizona.
Shes says,"We had an amazing few days on Lake Roosevelt. The camping was fun, much to my surprise. I have not been camping for 30 years and was not sure how that part would work. I really enjoyed being in nature all day and even at night. The coyotes sang a few nights, there were no bugs to speak of and no close encounters with scorpions or rattle snakes.

It was a challenge for me to be out on a boat that I was guessing at the rigging and taking two dear friends who were not familiar with sailing. I was a bit tense and nervous the night before but I was open to trust in my sailing skills as well as keep an eye out for my crew's safety. I realize that it has been eight years since I left Hawaii and sold Sarah, my Cape Dory 27 I had for fifteen years.

The winds were brisk, coming from different directions, changing over 90 degrees from one gust to another. Zephyr was great, I have a list of projects before we go out again and Phyllis and Chris proved their salt, enjoying a broad reach the second day. To see the saguaro cactus right next to the blue lake was spectacular. We went to Tonto National Monument to visit the cliff dwellings. It is amazing to realize that the Salt River basin is now the lake. What man has created is beyond understanding and I wonder at the long term ramifications of building so many dams, especially in the Southwest.

I am ready to return this fall if the weather is not too hot. I have much Gratitude to John, the Boat Giver, who has given me this wonderful gift of challenge, creativity and fun."

Its great to see Joyce, owning a boat again and back in the cockpit with sailing gloves on. You Go, Girl.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thoughts Regarding Our Proposed Itinerary

After heading down river, and hauling out, we will cross the infamous Columbia River Bar.

For all the readers around the world, you might not be familiar with this bar. It is one of the most dangerous river bars in the world, taking over 2000 lives.  When the mighty force of the flowing waters from the mountains in British Columbia converges with the incoming waters of the Pacific ocean tremendous silting occurs. The bar is 3 miles wide and 6 mile long, with a deep water channel dredged for ocean going vessels.Winter storms are terrifying on the bar and the World Class United States Coast Guard train their rescue personnel here. All commercial ships who enter have to have a Columbia River Bar Pilot on board, who takes command of the vessel to transit the ship across the bar. Once across, then another River Pilot takes command of the vessel and takes it up the river to the numerous ports along the way. Ships come from all around the world and I have faithfully kept a log of the ships that cross my path. It becomes an interesting read which tests my knowledge of world geography and international flags..

My Scottish Gilmour ancestors, aboard the Ship, "Pekin", ran aground on this bar after a 6 month journey in 1850, from London to Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, BC via Cape Horn and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands). Mrs.Boyd Gilmour, delivered a son, who she named, Allyn Columbia Gilmour. On his birth certificate it reads, place of birth: Columbia River. While I have cruised this river, I have flown my Scottish flag and worn my orange fleece pullover with my Scottish emblem on it to honor my Columbia River Ancestors.

After crossing the bar we head north to take on the coastal Pacific waters of Washington State and our 1st port of call is Westport, WA in Grays Harbor, 2nd port is La Push, a Quilayute Indian Village on the Quilayute River.The most western points are Cape Flattery, Tatoosh Island and Duntze Rocks which lie about 10 nm west of Neah Bay. This takes us up one side of the Olympic Peninsula. Rounding the western corner is the 3rd port of Neah Bay, another Indian Community of the Makah Tribe. This is located on the Straits of Juan de Fuca, the dividing waters of Vancouver Island, British Columbia and the United States of Washington state.

The Salish Sea by Stefen Freelan/with persmission
to copy.
Once we get to Neah Bay, I will breathe a sigh of relief. I remember so well, back in 1982, when we were sailing Sabra from Hawaii to Washington and we approached Cape Flattery, in typical summer fog, that stretched all the way across the straits to Vancouver Island. 45 minutes later, we broke through the solid wall of fog and entered beautiful blue sky, the tall, green evergreens, and the snow capped Olympic Mountain range. Neah Bay was ahead and to starboard, just where she was supposed to be. After 21 days at sea, weathering calms and gales, she was a sight to behold and it is still crisp in my memory. I am visualizing calm seas, blue skies, no fog and white, snow capped Olympic mountains and Neah Bay, right where she is supposed to be.

Unlike Sabra, which was equipped with a Radio Direction Finder, a Single Side Band Radio, and Loran( in 1982 there wasn't full time GPS), Shatoosh has Radar, GPS, and Chartplotter. As long as I have my Verizon signal, I can access the internet and pick up the AIS(Automatic Identification System)on the Columbia River Bar Pilots Association site, the Wind on the water site, I can dial a weather buoy on my cell phone and get an on time report and I can get 10 day reports.The AIS gives me plots of ships traveling up and down the coast and in and out from the pacific ocean, photos of each ship, tonnage, length, speed and course and destination. So Shatoosh, my 39 year old, 25 ft. river cruiser, built by Swedish seamen, is better equipped navigationally, than my Finnish built, ocean going 36 ft Swan was in 1982. Need I say, that I am, also, better equipped to handle this adventure. My crew and first mate, Joyce, is most knowledgeable in her boating/navigational skills. She can troubleshoot/ repair anything that comes our way. She is able to maintain her "cool" under any adverse situation.  It is for these and many more reasons, that she is my first choice to come aboard and join me on this adventure. Oh, I forgot to mention, she is younger, stronger and more agile than I am!!!

The Pacific coastal waters can be Shatoosh's biggest test. While I did take Shatoosh out under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean, it was a clear, sunny, flat seas, December day. It was a piece of cake. She certainly handled those terribly confused, reflected, washing machine waves that the Columbia River Gorge can dish up, but the Pacific Ocean listens to another drumbeat. I want a window of calm water and weather, for our journey up the coast and down the Straits. It is not common to have many consecutive days of clear weather, so we might have to lay over extra days in Westport or La Push. If the weather gets bad while underway and those bars become closed,  it means we will have to stay out and continue northward and cruise at night. I can cruise at night and have lots of experience doing so, but this coast is totally dark, there are few lights, lots of crab pots, whales and fishing boats.

Recently, after the start of the Astoria-Victoria offshore race had begun, a humpback whale breached next to one of the vessels and crashed into the starboard side, severing all the rigging and dismasting her. The vessel had to be towed back to Astoria. All happening in broad daylight. I really would prefer daylight hours to see the dangers and wave sets.

So, the key is to be patient, not be in a big hurry, wait for the weather to open up and cruise the daylight hours in flat seas. I don't think I am asking too much, do you?

Giving Thanks for My Journey

Shatoosh, Hira and Pashmina have been exploring the Columbia, Willamette and Snake River Systems since 2003. They have met many wonderful cruisers and service providers. At this time I would like to thank them all for making my journey a memorable one. A journey filled with wonderful stories, sights and sounds.Thanks to all and there are many whom I have not written about, but all of you are in my memories and in my heart. Blessings to each of you who have crossed my path.

You may type in any of these names and search the blog for previous stories: use search top left hand corner.

I met Larry and the Starship in Martin Slough, WA: We share our love for Hawaii and he berths in Kalama,WA which has Hawaiian Days in celebration of the Kalama Hawaiian History.He motivated me to get LED lights, he sent me many pages of emails sharing his experiences of crossing the Columbia River Bar. He took the fear and mystery out of crossing the bar for me, so much so, I crossed it last year, single-handed. He even got me to go to a real bar late one night in Cathlamet,WA to hear he and his group of friends sing Karaoke. He is a professional singer so, it was well worth the trip into town. Oh yes, his wife, Susan, was there, as well. Larry is the one who slipped and got caught inside his new fold a boat. See early blog entries for a very funny story.

Zach and the Viola Helen: I met him one rainy fall morning in Martin Slough. It was my first big single handed downriver adventure and he kindly marked all my charts for future trips. He cleverly designed and built his own Aluminum boat, which is a must to see.

Dan and the Pilothouse sloop, Whiskyjack: He impacted me by getting me to convert my netbook into a chartplotter by installing the Sea Clear navigation program plus NOAA Raster charts and integrating my gps/radar into the whole mess. Boy, am I happy with it, even though I was slow to catch on, but, as with most things, once I get it, I get it. Another thing he taught me, which has made the blog interesting for people to read, is how to use the "print screen key" from my chart and then transfer it to "paint" and then add text/color,etc. Thank you Dan, for your patience and your attention to detail. Looking forward to you and Karen trucking Whiskyjack to the south sound, so we can go cruising together.

Russ and Marsha Matta of "too many boats to name". Russ took my favorite photos of Shatoosh underway and Marsha is a graphic artist who has just completed a beautiful illustration of Shatoosh, Hira and Pashmina departing the Columbia River. It will soon be posted on the blog for the world to see. It is an amazing piece of work. I want them to buy an Albin 25 and go cruising with me. Maybe one day it will happen, but right now Russ is building a dinghy, for his Compac 17 sloop.

Steve and Carol of Knotenuf: I met them in Martin Slough, as well. Steve got to work immediately marking my charts for the Snake River trip which was just a dream, at the time. Meanwhile, Carol with her sewing machine began to sew a hem in my forward window curtains for me. I always try to find them on the river, as one evening you might just find yourself eating fresh, warm blackberry cobbler topped with ice cream. You'll laugh yourself silly with these 2. So many funny stories. It has been great. From time to time, I cross paths, literally, with Steve as he races across the Columbia River, in his dink, to go to Sandy Island, which is just across from Kalama WA.

Too Tall Tom, aka, Back Up Billy, and now has crossed the threshold to sainthood by becoming St. John, the Boat-Giver: I met him in the California Delta and at the time he owned Skol, an Albin 25. He trailered Shatoosh to Oregon for me and helped cruise the Snake and Columbia in his 16 ft Arima. He has been a laugh a minute and keeps me from being too serious. If he weren't moving to Texas, he'd be riding back- up on the asphalt highway to support my Pacific Coastal Cruise into the Salish Sea. Too Bad.

Patti and Boots of the Patti Sue: They own a Tolleycraft and I first met them on Coon Island years ago. The NW Tolleycraft Club was having a get together and they accepted Shatoosh and I as their Mascot. Being from Texas, ya gotta luv a guy named, "Boots". While I don't see them often, I always enjoy docking in with them.

My crew: Jean, my twin; Joyce, Johanna, Ann, Linda, Glenda, Collene, Constance, Care and Carol. Thanks for all the help, support and adventures. It has been really amazing.

Service Providers:
Mike Pittman of Mayday Marine and now is yard manager of Schooner Creek Boatworks: Mike kept my volvo running in good shape and gave me good advise making the run up the coast. Toni, a British lass, took over managing the Volvo. She recently fell and broke both feet and has been unable to work. Toni, I hope you are healing and will soon be back working on boats. She has been a familiar face at St Helens Fuel dock and Marina and has a beautiful maroon sloop.

Warrenton Boat Yard: The Salmi Brothers have Finnish ancestry and run a very professional boat yard. I always feel very secure to be hauled out there and under their loving care.

Scappoose Moorage: Frankie and Jim provided me with a covered slip since 2003. It has been a great place to berth.

Norgard-Kirkpatrick Boat Hauling and Dike Marine: Tim did a wonderful job in hauling Shatoosh to the Snake River.

To All the Columbia and Snake River Lock Masters: You were so kind, patient and helpful when we were locking through the 8 locks and dams. You do a wonderful job for commercial and pleasure craft traffic.

To the Oregon State Marine Division: It is truly amazing, in this money crunch time, the state of Oregon provides so many FREE places for boaters to tie up. While the state of Washington always charges a fee.

The Columbia River Yachting Association: For managing all the Yacht Clubs use of the Docks throughout the year. Their schedule allows for non yacht club boaters to plan their trip, as well. Everyone wins. Your annual booklet has been a big help to me in making my plans.

Rocky Point, Kalama and St Helen's Fuel Docks: Thanks for the fuel and the free pumpouts.

Kerry West Marina, Westport OR: Keith, the owner gives me a small end tie, even when the marina is full. He has the best spring water on the river.

Cathlamet, WA- Elochoman Marina: This is the nicest hide-away, a favorite of all.

Astoria Maritime Museum: A beautiful, maritime museum that is a must to visit.

Astoria, OR- West Mooring Basin: A safe haven if the river and the ocean are colliding. A great place to look at boats. You see so many different vessels there.

Ft Clatsop, OR: This is where Lewis and Clark and The Corps of Discovery, spent the winter of 1805-6, before returning on their route back to the Mississippi River. One of the reasons I ventured up to the Columbia River was to have the experience of retracing many of the Corps' sites during the times of celebration of the Bicentennial of this extraordinary event in the formation of the United States. Over the years, I have driven in my van following the route from the Mississippi/Missouri rivers, over the Bitteroot Mtns and down the Snake and Columbia rivers. I rode the Lewis and Clark Train from Lindon Or to Astoria, Or and of course, I cruised Shatoosh down the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Each night, I would read about their incredible journey and hardships that they had to endure. Ft Clatsop, was the hardest winter they endured and one week before the final bicentennial celebration took place at the fort, it burnt down. I happened to revisit the Fort about 2 weeks before its demise. It is an amazing place to visit and I have been there often. The best book to read about this unbelievable triumph is, Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose.

As I depart the Columbia, Willamette and Snake River System, I cannot give thanks, without thinking of, or honoring the Corps' mission and accomplishments. Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea and the other members of the Corps live in my heart which is filled with gratitude for their incredible efforts and perseverance to finish the job that was given to them by President Jefferson.

In my gratitude for these very powerful River Systems, I have blessed each river, tributary and slough that I have cruised, with sacred water and played sacred mantras which vibrated through Shatoosh's hull. In the history of these waters, neither of these things have ever been done. I have done this, in the way of my Master's teachings, to honor all that has come before me and all that will come after I leave the mouth of the great river. It has been an incredible voyage for me.

Finally I want to thank all my friends who I have met in nature:
The wonderful Canada Geese, Eagle, Great Blue Heron and Osprey parents who do such a fantastic job of taking care of their young. I particularily like the osprey mother who births 3 chicks near Martin Slough, and the one who is next to the Walker Island dock, whose chicks keep you awake all day long screaming for food. There is no afternoon nap at this dock. I watched an eagle swim and take a bath behind Cottonwood Island, and love the howling cries of the coyotes as they search for their next meal. The beavers, otters and muskrats have kept me entertained for hours. The deer and their fawns look so serene coming to the water's edge in the evening for a drink of water. The young opposum huddled under the dock ramp on Coon Island, allowed me to sit with him and have a conversation. The migrating sandhill cranes on Sauvie Island cackled every fall to spring and always evoked the call of the wild in me. The bird list goes on forever, but some favorites are the ocean pelicans and the white pelicans on the Snake River which really stole my heart. The sea lions in Astoria can really keep you awake; day or night. Thank you for letting me peek into your worlds and see how delicate your environment is and how we need to take better care of it for your future generations and my human ones.

Warrenton Boatyard Via The Zeus Mobile, aka Prius

I'm off at 0600 with swim platform in tow(actually it is nesting in the rear area) headed on a clear, sunny morning. We have had 4 days of sun, which is a record. It has been over 200 days since we have had 4 sunny consecutive days. I pull into the Warrenton Boat Yard at 1000 hrs. and Dave removes the platform. He confirms my haulout date 7 June 2011 at 0500 hrs.to coincide with high tide. Next I head over to the Harbor Master of the marina on the Skipanon  River. Bob tells me I can dock on the end tie to wait for a good weather opportunity if need be. All the pieces are falling into place. I find where the airport greyhound bus arrives, which will be bringing Joyce, my crew. I locate the market which has a good write up on the Internet.

I drive back across Young's Bay to the Port of Astoria to look around. There is a cruise ship in, and the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain are in port getting ready for the afternoon sail and battle fights with blasting canons. The Lady Washington was actually used once in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I stop in at the Astoria Maritime Museum and buy me a new cap for my next adventure.

A quick lunch at the fish and chips boat. I sit on the curb, with wonderful sun beams hitting me and watch the tall ships sailing on their beam reaches. Life is good.

I arrive at Scappoose and buy 8 gallons of drinking water and I am delighted to find the ramp almost level. Normally, there is a 20 foot drop to the docks. They are letting out lots of water from the dams, so the river is full of water and debris, but makes my hauling slick and easy.

I run into Paul and Carol, my dock mates and later we have a nice Mexican dinner together. It has been a long time since I have gotten to see them. They are selling their custom designed/built steel cutter. Paul has built all his boats and is currently building a 30 foot steel diesel cruiser. He has taken some lines/ideas off the Albin 25. One day I hope to see it up north. Today has been wonderful.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blog Connections Amaze Me

Joyce, the new Skipper of Zephyr, now refers to Too Tall as St. John, The Boat Giver. It was last month that Too Tall, after reading the blog about Joyce, gives her the Vagabond 17, Zephyr. You might remember back in Sept 2010, while I was taking some test runs across the Columbia River bar to get my keel wet with salt water I ran across Storm Bay, the Tasmanian sloop with Chris and Margie at the helm.

I have kept up with their travels, which have landed them in the Sonora Desert of Mexico and Arizona. Storm Bay is hauled out near San Carlos, Mexico, while their Captains buy a land yacht(RV) and travel on land for a while. I figured they might like to connect with Joyce and see if she could assist them. They couldn't be a better match for friendship to flourish and Joyce was able to assist them.

I'll let Joyce take over now, for this is her first boating blog entry. I'll let her tell some sweet stories and then she will have to start her own blog. Hira's Blog continues to shine on my life. Last month, on their way up from San Carlos, Sonora Mexico, the crew of Storm Bay stops at our house for dinner and to meet for the first time. We have been introduced via our mutual and dear friend Hira, who met Margie and Chris up north on the Columbia River. They are getting ready to find a land boat, an RV, and cruise on land for a while. We have a delicious meal together and instantly connect. My partner Phyllis has lived in Australia and the three share common love of the land and interesting perceptions of the culture. We say goodbye for the night knowing they will be back after buying their RV and driving down again, back to Mexico.

Margie, Joyce Chris and Phyllis

On Sunday, May 9, the land boat Rocky arrives at our house as we get ready to leave the next morning for Lake Roosevelt to put Zephyr in the water and get some wind in her sails. It feels like a kind of role reversal, as I remember our 24' travel trailer, we had a few years ago. Chris helps me with the outboard bracket on Zephyr as it sticks, not going up and down easy. He sprays on some lube and we figure that my long shaft of the 25 ft. pd. electric motor I have will work just fine and he helps to get the solar panel connection to work to charge up my new marine battery. They stay the night in Rocky out front on the street and in the morning we say a quick good bye as we have errands before driving up to Tonto National forest.

There will be more coming about Joyce and Zephyr and in the meantime Hira is making another trip to Shatoosh getting preparations done for their upcoming adventure. Alot is taking place and the culmination of a year's planning is upon us. Excitement is building within Joyce and Hira as they are about to embark on another pacific voyage.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Last Walk Around Coon Island

The coffee water is ready at 0600hrs, as I am awakened by the early morning salmon fisherman who choose to ignore the no wake zone around Coon Island. I had a very quiet night being the only boat here. Its almost noon now and I have seen lots of fishing going on, but only 2 caught.

After breakfast I took my final stroll around the island. I have had so many great times on Coon and met many great boaters. Its overcast with some drizzle at times and some sun breaks. I was hoping to do some waxing today but that will have to wait until I get back to my slip.

I see a newly fallen tree and find a new beaver trail to the water's edge with quite a stash of saplings piled into a beaver dam along the shore.

I follow deer tracks along the north and west trail. There is always a mother deer who births twins on the island. She should be hunkered down in the meadow with them this time of year.
The soaring eagles are chasing each other overhead and I saw a few osprey nests and parents tending to them along the way down river yesterday. I thank my little island for being such a wonderful place to tie up, explore and meet new friends. I will miss this special place.

I return to Shatoosh with muddy jeans and boots which I remove before getting back onboard.

I fix me another mug of hot coffee and settle down making an inventory of stores and compiling my grocery list.

My master "TO DO List" is waning which pleases and comforts me knowing that I have covered all the bases. I've never been one to procrastinate, so when it is time to go, all I have to do is slip the dock lines and head down river with peace of mind..

Departure Is Around The Corner

Its almost 8 PM, daylight still prevails, the river is running fast and furious, the birds are singing their evening songs and my belly is warm from a hot bowl of oatmeal. I departed my slip at 1700 hrs to make a test run to Coon Island for the night. I've had several routine, maintainence things done on the engine, so wanted to get some engine time in to check her out. My chartplotter, GPS and radar are humming like an opera. Everyone is singing to each other in hushed, deep voices, stating all is ok.

I had turned Shatoosh around in the slip last week to do some work on the stern light. Its a tricky configeration that never works, so thought I'd give it a go to see if I could get it up and running, but think I had better replace it with a modern light. The thing about it, it also does double duty as a flag staff holder. If I change out the light then I have to deal with another flag holder. I like the original design, so may have to tinker some more with it.

I began packing my waterproof dry bag of emergency items, flares, water, green drinks, electrolytes, warm clothes, simple tools. This would be used if we had to abandon ship and take to Pashmina. Since I am going to follow the 3 mile line offshore, I figure I/crew can row 3 miles to shore, in an emergency. I don't anticipate needing any of these things, or that I would have to abandon ship, but it is always best to be perepared.

I'll be departing my marina Memorial weekend and heading down river to mouth of the Columbia River. I want to visit all my favorites hangouts, savoring them and thanking them for many joyous times we have had on the Columbia River. Then I will be hauling out at Warrenton Boat Yard, await Joyce's arrival, and head out for the great Pacific Ocean. Another big adventure lies ahead, so stay tuned. I'm certain it will be memorable for us all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hope, Dreams and Generosity

Recently my heart swelled with gratitude for my friends and their kindness to one another. My long time friend, Joyce, who is my next crew person on Shatoosh, has been dreaming for some time in the hot desert sun of Arizona about someday getting herself another sailboat and spending time in the Sea of Cortez.

Thousands of miles away, my other buddy, Too Tall Tom, contemplates his move to Texas. He is saddled at the moment with Too Many Boats. This prevailing predicament befalls him often, as he is quite the tinkerer. Rather than sitting on some bar stool, he finds all sorts of boat projects, carefully restoring them and re-selling them. His dilemma is, "how can I drive 3 boats to Texas, without going crazy?" The boat in question is a sweet Vagabond 17 that he has brought back to  life and she is just waiting for the wind to blow into her sails and give her perpetual life. Her name, most appropriately, is Zephyr.

Out of the blue, comes an email from Too Tall Tom. He has decided that he is going to give Zephyr to Joyce, a person he barely knows. I reply, "you couldn't give it to a more deserving person." Too Tall asks me to call Joyce and see if she would receive the gift. A few days pass before I can speak with Joyce, but upon hearing the news, Joyce breaks down in tears. God has heard her prayer and Too Tall had heard his marching orders. Together they meet in the California desert to transfer the boat and trailer to Joyce's truck.

The night before Joyce stays at the Vagabond Inn

Too Tall recounts,"We met halfway between our homes, in Barstow, CA, and I gave Joyce the pink slips

and she gave me a pretty Indian carved turtle and a flat rock from her ranch, and a nice clay pot with corn meal for the turtle to eat. I had asked for a power token to balance the deal."

Joyce and Zephyr back home in Arizona

Joyce, already making plans for her first trip.

Too Tall, "Someone once said, you don't really own something until you give it away. Well, I don't know about that, but I feel good about giving Joyce some Joy."