September 2, 2000
When we arrived in Depoe Bay it was our intention to fuel up there for our final run at the Columbia River. Unfortunately, we found out that the owner of the only fuel pump in the small harbor had taken the Labor Day weekend off. We still had 95 gallons remaining, which at our fuel burn rate of 7gph gave us 13 hours of fuel remaining. More time than we anticipated needing to get to Ilwaco. The stickler though, is that we had no idea how low the tanks could go. When I fly a plane I know how much usable fuel the tanks hold. In this boat I had no idea. I had nine inches of fuel in the starboard side, and six and a quarter in the port, just a little bit more than the lowest level we had experienced so far. How low would they go? I didn't know and didn't care to find out while out on the ocean.
Our planned destination of Garibaldi, on the Tillimook Bay was about six hours away. At 7gph that would be about 42 gallons of diesel, or about six and a half total inches. I reasoned that wouldn't be too bad and we could very comfortably make it to Garibaldi. As a precaution, I would pull each engine off from it's separate tank until the starboard side got down to three inches, or till I saw an indication the fuel pressure was beginning to drop. The I would have both engine pull off the port tank. This was a good plan for two reasons: one, I could get a feel for how low each tank could go; and two, since the feedback from the fuel pumps went to the port tank, I'd have more time there anyway.
So off we went, really hoping that fuel was available in Garibaldi.
Given our experience coming into to Depoe Bay, through the very narrow entrance, it's understandable that we harbored (no pun intended) some reservations about going out. We were fortunate though that the Coast Guard had just run out and did a bar check, with a favorable report. That settled us down a bit. Most of the charter boats were leaving at that time also, so I got to watch them exercise their technique.
We cast the lines off and got in line to leave. Since I had upset Debbie the day before with my entrance, I waited till she was below taking care of the salon till I went. The other boats would pour a lot of throttle to their crafts when going out the channel, so that's what I did. By the time Debbie was back up on the flybridge we were just about all the way through the channel. It was much easier going out than coming in. We followed the buoys out for about a mile or so before turning north, and once again we were on our way.
The weather forecast called for rain that day, a real good chance of squalls. And the sky certainly looked as though it were going to comply with the forecast. And wouldn't you know it, we had neglected to bring rain gear (obviously, we had spent too much time in California).
The seas were good to us again, giving us a swell out of the south that pushed us right along. We averaged about 8.5 knots, and even saw 13 knots on the GPS a time or two. The weather cooperated too, as the only rain we felt was that which fell on us from the periphery of all the squalls that surrounded us. You can't ask for much more than that in the great Pacific Northwet.
The Coast Guard was calling for a restriction on the bar to Tillimook Bay of 30 foot and under as we approached, but lifted it completely by the time we approached Barview (at the mouth). It was a very smooth entrance on a flood tide. And once inside that flooding tide pushed us along at eleven knots.
And hallelujah, the fuel dock was open! We motored right on up to the fuel dock, took on a hundred gallons (which is what the remainder of our meager finances would allow) and made our way to the transient dock. Oh man, we're almost home! Tomorrow, Ilwaco!