After pulling into the Columbia and spending the remainder of the weekend with our friends in Ilwaco, it was time to take the boat up river to her resting place in Portland. The anticipated easy trip up the river would give us a chance to reflect on the past few months of open water boating.
We left San Diego in June. We made it to Santa Barbara (twice, it's a great story!). We left the boat there for a couple of weeks till coming back to her to take her north to Monterrey Bay. She stayed there a month while we went and made some more money. After a rudder replacement necessitated by a failed shaft coupling, we motored out of Moss Landing and Monterrey Bay to take her a north to Bodega Bay for her next month's home. O'Baby!! stayed there waiting for us and the good weather to return. We came back to her in August. This time our luck held and on the Labor Day weekend in September we rolled across the Columbia River bar to finally join familiar waters.
Now we were motoring up our familiar river, past points we could identify without charts. We cruised past boats we were familiar with, if not by name or ownership, then by recognition. Yes, after what seemed an eternity, we were home in our familiar grounds.
Making our way up river seemed so simple, so tame after open water cruising, that it took effort not to become complacent. I had to constantly remind myself that dangers existed here as well as they did in the ocean. While most of our attention had focused on waves, swells, and reefs, here on the Columbia we needed to be vigilant for shallows, deadheads, channels and the like. Yes, it seemed easier, but there were too many sunken boats in the Columbia to just brush it off.
Our trip up river was slow. We had attempted to time the tides so as not to fight too heavy of a current with our huge displacement hull, but didn't have the success we had anticipated. Leaving out of Ilwaco till well past Tongue Point we saw our GPS speed average down around 5 knots. It was going to take a long time to get home at this rate!
As we got farther up river we did see some gain in speed, I recall us going around Longview at 10 knots (woohoo!), but for the most part we remained around 6-7 knots. We had friends waiting for us at Debbie's house to welcome us home, but as we progressed up the river it became more evident we were not going to make it till after 11 P.M., too late for most of those who had to work. We were also running a bit low on fuel having elected not to deal with the crowded fuel dock in Ilwaco. With these factors in mind, we elected to hold up at St. Helen's and finish the trip in the morning. A quick call on the cell phone to the guests assembled at Debbie's house (who were having a great party on their own) informed them of our decision to stop for the night.
As it turned out, tying up at St. Helen's allowed us to reflect further on or trip. When we came into the mouth of the Columbia River we had deemed that the past trip was more than we had bargained for. How could it be that after only 3 days we were starting to lament the fact that it was over? Could we possibly ever want to do that again?
I sit here and write this up months after the fact. With the passage of time we find that we really miss the adventure. So we plan and dream of doing it again. Maybe it'll be in a sail boat next time. Maybe we'll crew with someone else to help them. We're dreaming again and finding that fun and healthy. Who knows what our future holds?
Currently the boat is moored under cover in the port of Camas-Washougal. We found that the rain took too heavy of a toll on her when she was tied up next to Debbie's floating home. We continue to work on her. The bow pulpit has been removed and converted back to her original lines. Dry rot is removed here and there and replaced with good wood. She's an on-going project that gives us much pleasure in the process, as well as an enjoyable vessel out on the river.
Maybe next year we'll take her up the Columbia and Snake rivers to Lewiston, or up the coast of Washington to Puget Sound. Our choices seem limitless. This is a great boat!
The story doesn't end here. Check back to see what progress we have made with her and what we do with her next. If you see us on the river, stop by and say hello. We're more than happy to share our time with our boating family.
Chuck Whitt - January 05, 2002